What is digital sales for manufacturing? Why do manufacturers need it?

Posted by Leo Boon Yeow on Nov 26, 2021 5:44:48 PM
Leo Boon Yeow
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Digital sales is the future of manufacturing

The B2B manufacturing industry is staring down a huge problem. Manufacturing sales is complex—and becoming a revenue bottleneck. The root of the problem is a highly complex sales process caused by product and production complexity, rising demand for customization, a high number of stakeholders involved, and the sheer number of customer touchpoints

There are multiple touchpoints across the entire customer journey and buying processThere are multiple touchpoints across the entire customer journey and buying process

These are the major touchpoints in a typical sales process. Your business could have even more touchpoints, depending on how complex your business is. Each of them is a potential barrier that makes it difficult for customers to buy from your business. Manufacturers are starting to realize that addressing these barriers can keep customers happy—and spending.  

Manufacturers are identifying more and more weaknesses in their go-to-market (GTM) strategies, and are starting to improve them with digital solutions.  Customers have experienced the convenience and speed of B2C buying and are demanding the same experience in their professional lives. The shortage of manufacturing sales talent and the daily struggle of sales teams with slow and siloed legacy systems is adding pressure on manufacturers to transform their GTM approach.  

Digital sales reduces the time spent on each touchpoint through intelligent sales automation, a 360-degree customer overview, and self-service access to your business. Entire transactions can be completed on the same day customers decide to buy. And when that happens, your business stands out as one that customers can depend on. Leading manufacturers like Satisloh have already embarked on their sales digitalization journey and are reaping the rewards, which are top and bottom-line growth, a vastly improved customer experience, and a foundation that is ready for their future ambitions.  

How leading manufacturers are digitalizing sales

Delivering best-match customer solutions from standard to lot size 1 with automated accuracy from CPQ 

  • Guide sales, customers, and dealers in Product, Service, and Solution Configuration, and discover the best solution with Interactive 2D/3D Visualization 
  • Gain full control over costing and pricing with dynamic cost estimations, customer-specific costing, smart simulations, and global pricing--all driven by ERP data 
  • Automating quotation processes with intelligent workflows, approvals, and collaboration functions 
  • Exceed buyer expectations, 24/7, across all channels 

Driving successful sales outcomes on a smart, connected platform with CRM 

  • 360-degree overview of all customers, partners, quotes, and products
  • Manage customers and their needs across all channels from their first inquiry, through after-sales 
  • Prioritize, prepare and predict with pipeline management, forecasting, and reporting 
  • Seamless and efficient collaboration across the entire sales network 

Building lasting business relationships and partner ecosystems with eCommerce

  • Build manufacturing online sales based on ERP data
  • Give customers 24/7 self-serve access to online catalogs, 2D & 3D product visualizations, and configurations
  • Smart sales guidance based on installed base and business relationship
  • Personalized customer experiences with aftersales of spare parts and consumables 
  • Enable partner, dealer, and distributor sales with complete and controlled access to your business 

Each of the digital sales tools we highlighted can address one or several gaps in the sales process. However, a Digital Sales Platform made for manufacturing can help accelerate sales transformation. Instead of simply plugging gaps, and optimizing the sales process, it has the potential to help the entire business run more efficiently—and profitably.  

With a single Digital Sales Platform, manufacturers can: 

  • Reduce costs and transfer the value to their customers
  • Gain a sizeable competitive advantage with speed and agility
  • Grow revenue faster with a greater focus on the best deals
  • Streamline the sales process with intelligent automation 

 All of what we described can be done on a single platform that is tightly integrated with your ERP and has key manufacturing sales functions deeply embedded. Because it’s a single platform, manufacturers can successfully roll out a robust digital sales solution in months—instead of spending years working with multiple vendors coordinating an unwieldy solution that can rack up millions in CAPEX and still fail to perform up to expectations.  

Thanks to cloud technology, the entire solution can be integrated into the manufacturer’s business quickly, at minimal cost, and with minimal customization. Manufacturers then simply pay a monthly subscription fee to keep the solution running. The risk versus reward ratio (or ROI) is so attractive, that it makes digital sales unavoidable for forward-thinking manufacturers.  

What’s my reward when I digitalize sales?

Manufacturers have updated their shopfloors to be as efficient as possible—and digital sales technology was conceptualized to help manufacturing sales keep up. A Digital Sales Platform connects to every part of the business. From innovations (product and engineering knowledge), securing deals, production, fulfillment, to aftersales. With digital sales, knowledge about everything you sell—engineering, products, and solutions—can be found in a centralized system and made readily available to customers, sales, and external sales channels.  

Address human resource scarcity with advanced sales automation

In manufacturing, engineering talent is in short supply. Each engineer you have is a precious resource. When their knowledge is digitized, you can reduce their involvement in the sales process, and channel their efforts to where they are needed more. The same goes for manufacturing sales talent. When the quotation process is reduced to a day, your sales team becomes more efficient (more, and bigger deals in the same amount of time) and focused. This benefit can also be extended to external sales channels like partners, dealers, and distributors, who are also empowered to start selling immediately with the full support of your digitized knowledge repository. That’s money saved in terms of human resources.  

Exceed customer expectations with a complete interaction overview

At the same time, your Digital Sales Platform also provides a 360-degree customer overview. It keeps track of each and every touchpoint your customers, or potential customers, have with your business. It gives your internal and external sales teams deep insights into deal progress or customer buying behavior. These insights can then be used to reveal opportunities early, help them prioritize effort better, or simply sell more. When you know what your customers want before they do, you can create customized offers that your competitors have no resources for—and keep them coming back for more.  

Optimize production planning and costs through sales digitalization

Knowing what your customers buy, or want to buy then leads to better planning of pipelines. You would know when to ramp up production to keep up with demand or wind it down to save on resources. With your own eCommerce portal, you can also define production activity periods by introducing promotions on the fly—effectively regulating stock and stamping out supply chain issues before they arise—just like what B2C manufacturers do with Black Friday sales.  

Enhance supply chain resilience through an optimized sales process

When you give customers direct access to your business via an eCommerce portal, the opposite is also true. You get direct access to existing and even potential customers—a massive competitive advantage. New innovations, promotions, or product updates, are instantly in front of customers to browse (or BUY) the moment you make them live in the online store. Not only does this help your business increase revenue, exploring new markets becomes a distinct possibility when your entire manufacturing business is readily accessible by potential customers in other regions.

Summary: Sales Digitalization sets the stage for business growth

In summary, digital sales not only transforms your sales process but also makes buying significantly easier for your customers. It offers a network of inter-connected benefits that enrich every part of your business. You increase efficiency from sales to production, which lowers costs across the board, leading to higher customer satisfaction and retention. With the addition of a powerful new sales channel, and a well-managed partner and distributor ecosystem, your business is set for future growth

We hope that your sales digitalization questions have been answered by this article. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact us and book a no-obligation demo with one of our manufacturing sales experts. They can answer your most pressing questions and offer guidance on how to start the sales digitalization process. You can also download our Digital Sales Software Checklist to get an in-depth look at what your business needs to accelerate sales, or turn it into a compliance table to find the best-fit software digitalization partner. 

Download Requirements Checklist Template: CRM, CPQ, Commerce
Leo Boon Yeow

Written by Leo Boon Yeow

Boon Yeow – is passionate about all things tech. His background as a journalist helps him understand complex B2B technology. His mission is to translate it into fact-based, comprehensible stories that help manufacturers improve their businesses.

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