posted in Sales & Marketing

It’s time to say goodbye to endless spreadsheets, notes, logbooks, emails and the occasional cross-office conflab and replace them with some real structure when it comes to sales. So how do you get away from the disorganised chaos of tracking interactions to leads, prospects, potential clients and even your existing customers? I’m not professing that the answer is simple, but there are a lot of solutions out there that make it a load easier. I’m talking about Customer Relationship Management Systems or CRMs for short and this week I’m showing you that even a 1-person sales and marketing team can and should be using a CRM…

The Benefits Of Customer Relationship Management Systems For Manufacturers

So what is a CRM System And What Can You Do With One?

All systems have their own unique features and user interfaces, but fundamentally a CRM System is a piece of software where everyone in your business can keep track of customer and sales lead interactions - giving one true view of the customer.

Capture Anything From Anywhere

You can capture all sorts of things. Emails, quick notes about conversations, telephone messages, you can even attach files and links to other programmes. Some CRM systems have really powerful integrations which allow you to track whether customers opened emails or when they last visited your website. Even basic CRMs allow you to see a stream of recent social media posts from your customer’s social media accounts.

Everything In One Place

Practically you can also track quotes and have direct access to the latest quote requests and opportunities. The key thing here is that this information is all in one place and accessible by anyone in your business, no matter where they are.

Works With Your Existing Systems

CRMs are built to work with your existing systems. A CRM isn’t a new or replacement file storage system, but it is a place where lots of information can be brought together from multiple systems and sources.

Cloud Based CRMs Are Ideal For Manufacturers

The CRMs you should consider as a Manufacturing Business will all be Cloud Based, or in other words accessible from your web browser, from anywhere. Gone are the days of ‘installing’ anything on your computer, simply just login online!

Keep Your Sales Pipeline Visible

A well maintained CRM with up to date information will help you keep your sales pipeline in full visibility. Knowing how many “live leads” and “live opportunities” you have in your business is extremely powerful, it’s a great indicator of how healthy your business is from a sales perspective. Not all leads or opportunities will convert into sales, but it’s likely you’ll have an average conversion rate. Therefore by looking at the value of current opportunities and applying a conversion rate (percentage) you can see what your future sales may look like. Using information like this, you and your team can take action on the sales front.

More Reasons And Ways To Build A Business Case For CRM

Often enough it won’t be the cost of a CRM system (Many are actually FREE) but the resistance to change and use a different system that will prevent Engineering teams buying in to using a CRM.

If I haven’t already provided enough convincing reasons why your team should get themselves a CRM here’s a fantastic Infographic helping you further build a business case...

How to Build a Business Case for CRM for UK Manufacturers [Infographic]

3 Key Takeaways

As a Manufacturing Business you may be more familiar with the concept of MRP, the process of controlling material flow through your business. CRMs don't function like MRP systems, but the certainly still help you manage flow, but this time it's flow of business (sales) into your UK Contract Manufacturing Business.

The information you capture helps you personalise your interactions with your customers. Not just YOU as a sales person, but also everyone in your business. A complete picture of your customer for everyone in the business is accessible in seconds.

There are a tonne of free or extremely cheap CRMs out there, so cost cannot be your excuse. If you're looking for a free solution you might check out Hubspot CRM, or Insightly


Final Thought

Customer Relationship Management isn't just about capturing data, it's about creating a company wide mindset. Personalisation of every customer interaction, knowing their names, their challenges, recent news, their latest interaction with your business, what they last posted on Social Media! This all helps build relationships and trust, whether dealing with top-of-funnel leads or dealing with returning customers, meaningful relationships are built when your customer believes you understand, care and are interested in their business. So before you go around the office touting CRM Systems as the answer to your Sales Funnel problems, think about Customer Relationship Management as a concept. Knowing your customer doesn't have to be limited to the sales team, with a CRM it can be the responsibility of everyone in your business, no matter how big or small...

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