Most manufacturing companies ask how they can improve margin and reduce operational expenses. The number one response is business process automation and integrating the back office. While manufacturers are comfortable investing significantly in automation equipment on the shop floor, often manufacturers are cautious to invest in front office tools for driving sales and marketing, as well as balancing the never-ending need for the best customer service tools.
Five Benefits of Integrating Salesforce and ERP Systems for Manufacturing Firms
Whether you’re operating in wholesale and distribution or industrial manufacturing, you’re aware that today’s global economy and technology explosion have created a hyper-competitive operating environment for manufacturing firms. To help your company improve the efficiency of your business processes so you can compete, you’ve implemented an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool. Whether it’s JD Edwards, SAP or Oracle that you’re using, your ERP system allows you to get a real-time view of your entire enterprise. But what about a real-time view of your customer? Have you invested in Salesforce to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of who your customer is and what they’re purchasing? There are two very important sides of the profitability coin: the business and the buyer; the tools your company uses should address both. When properly integrated, manufacturing firms can experience major benefits from the marriage of Salesforce and ERP.
- Consolidated Sales Processes
One specific challenge that manufacturing firms face is supporting two modes of selling: a direct sales team and a distribution channel. Not only are you focused on appealing to your distributors, so they push your product, you’re managing your direct sales team and their relationships with your clients. So what happens when your direct sales team goes head-to-head with your distributor on the same project? Are you even aware of the overlap before it’s too late? Salesforce, when properly implemented, is flexible enough to support the two different modes of selling and get your teams the information they need to ensure you aren’t engaged in a bidding war.
- Increased Visibility and Improved Forecasting
Believe it or not, most sellers don’t have access to their ERP systems. This is a problem! If you don’t have Salesforce and you’re storing valuable client and product information that your sales force needs, you have a problem. Because of this lack of access and information, any hope for accurate forecasting goes out the window. When integrated, ERP and Salesforce can give your team real-time visibility into the business data so they can properly sell and have compelling conversations with customers.
- Cleaner Quote to Cash Process
The concept of having to create accurate quotes from complicated product configurations is an extremely difficult task. But with increased visibility comes an improved quote to cash process. The product configurations that a manufacturer creates can be very complex because they build to order. Every choice impacts the next and without a deep understanding of the product configuration at the beginning of the project you’re setting yourself up to fail. Unfortunately, in most cases the beginning of the sales process hasn’t paid enough attention to product configurations and how this impacts the entirety of the project’s life cycle. When Salesforce and ERP systems are integrated, your sales team can access the information they need at the beginning to accurately quote and deliver.
Now that you’ve addressed the two modes of selling, determined who is responsible for the sale, and integrated Salesforce and ERP systems properly, your team is ready to hit the ground running. Or are they? Your field team is on the road having dynamic conversations with customers and they must be able to update content at the point of interaction, not at the end of the day. You must have a mobility strategy that allows you to update pipeline and quote information on the fly. Mobile Salesforce applications allow you to capture and document this information, ultimately helping you to engage and make better decisions for your customers based off order information, historical purchases, and current production schedules; all accessible with just a swipe and a tap.
- The Distributor Portal
A current trend in manufacturing is an increased focus on keeping existing customers, rather than winning new business. This means that once you’ve made the sale, you must pivot your attention to keeping the conversation going. Cross-selling has recently become very popular in the manufacturing industry. How can your team cross-sell more effectively? Through portals updated with information from both ERP and Salesforce. Portals allow you to see where in the manufacturing process an order is, check the status and delivery of past orders, and see the account in real-time. All this information gives you valuable insight that can help you make the next sale while keeping your existing customers in the know.
Salesforce is no replacement for ERP and ERP is no replacement for Salesforce, but the integration between these two systems is essential to increasing collaboration between departments. If you’re considering integrating Salesforce with your existing ERP system, remember this: the key is to create two systems that are tightly integrated and designed in a way that creates a customer-centric environment.
Want to learn more about Salesforce and ERP integrations for manufacturing? Emelar Consulting Group can help you get actionable data into the right people’s hands at the right time, keeping your sales and production cycles moving forward.
Tim Dusek, Partner and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer is ready to help you integrate Salesforce with your ERP. Get in touch at (404) 822-5600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.