Are you using your CRM to its full potential? If you’re like most manufacturers… probably not.
In this episode of our Q&A Friday series, we share tips for aligning your CRM system and sales process to better meet customers’ expectations for immediacy, personalization, consistency, and predictive, proactive communication.
Have a question you’d like answered?
Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll talk through it on a future episode!
What's the ROI? Just six months after implementing their digital transformation efforts, luxury textile manufacturer Matouk saw a 233% return on their investments.
Jessica Vodden: Hi, and thanks for joining us for another Q&A Friday, a regular series, where we chat about issues facing manufacturing companies.
Jessica Vodden: I am Jessica Vodden, a team member here at Mountain Point. And I am joined by Andrew Rieser, our Co-Founder and President. And Luke Godwin, one of our sales development and customer success representatives.
Jessica Vodden: Hey, guys.
Luke Godwin: Hey, Jessica. How you doing?
Andrew Rieser: Hi, Jess.
Jessica Vodden: Doing well, doing well. Thank you.
Jessica Vodden: Today's topic, I think is really perennial, because it's all about improving your sales process. And I don't know a single organization that doesn't work on this, annually. I think it's an area that's constantly evolving as consumer expectations and the technology enabling sales changes. One of the central components of a solid sales process is making the best use of your CRM. And although CRM is not a new topic or tool, I think it's really true that a lot of companies that we work with feel like they're not using their CRM systems to their full potential. We want to tackle that today, and let's start with some context.
Jessica Vodden: Andrew, I know we often talk about four factors in regards to the shift in customer expectation. We talk about immediacy, personalization, consistency, and anticipation. Can you elaborate a little bit more on those trends?
Andrew Rieser: Yeah, sure. I think, like you had mentioned, when we talk about sales, and how specifically with manufacturers, sales is evolving. Everything used to be relationship-driven, so it was all about sales reps in a territory, going and meeting face-to-face with end customers or influencers, building those relationships to ultimately sell products. Selling that product could happen through distribution, or it could be direct to the end consumer. Regardless of the B2B or B2C scenario, I think that those four topics are coming to the forefront for manufacturing.
Andrew Rieser: When we talk about immediacy, really anymore, everyone has that Amazon effect or that instant gratification that they're looking for. As an end consumer or a business, the people that we are dealing with or engaging with, we're expecting first-call resolution, or in some cases, not even needing to pick up the phone to get answers to our questions. We want to have that omnichannel or multi-touch kind of way that we can get our question or issue resolved, or place an order. And then, ultimately, have that at our doorstep as fast as possible. That's kind of where the immediacy comes into play is being able to, regardless of the channel, either place orders, get information about an invoice, get a question or an issue resolved, those kinda things, that's what we mean by immediacy.
Andrew Rieser: When we talk about personalization, I think there's this big misconception around CRM, or marketing automation, or anything that involves automation. I think to kind of nip that in the bud, what we're saying is all these tools should facilitate these processes that we're talking about. There still needs to be that personalized touch. It shouldn't feel like you're engaging with a robot, or engaging with mass kind of marketing efforts, or communications. From the personalization standpoint, you still need to incorporate that into your sales process, or into your engagement with the customer, or end consumer that you're dealing with.
Andrew Rieser: A quick example about that, Luke will probably touch a little bit more on, is really knowing and understanding your buyer, their persona, and what they care about, and capturing those notes in your CRM system. So that when you do reach out, or do have important information to share, you have the context around that personalization with them.
Andrew Rieser: The next topic that we talk about is servitization, and really that's just all about serving up value-added information. And so, how do you take your traditional business models and create other value-added areas of opportunity? In the manufacturing space, we're seeing a lot of opportunity for providing additional services. So getting beyond just the product, and offering a value-add services and support around that. A quick example of that might be a traditional manufacturer that manufactures, let's just call it like a truck, like a dump truck. By being able to offer engineering services around how that truck could be specified to meet a certain application, talking about the lifecycle of when that truck needs to be services. And then also, proactively providing recommendations on when that service should occur, or the replacement parts that are available based off of known industry standards around the wear and tear in that application. Being able to offer up more value-added support and services.
Andrew Rieser: And then, that piggybacks into the proactive, which is the last piece. So traditionally in this industry, everybody has been reactive from a business standpoint, and only reacting when a customer has an issue or a problem. So when you get into the servitization world, you have a more proactive approach, so you are anticipating those needs and those challenges, and those issues that may arise, and addressing them, before they even happen. Creating those successful customer engagements, and lifetime customers.
Jessica Vodden: Yeah, exactly. What I started to say is I think that the servitization piece really rolls up those sort of last two tenets together, sort of the consistency and the anticipation. Because it's no longer in terms of consistency, it's no longer you sell a product, and then you're doing until they need another product. You kind of are there, providing service and support throughout the lifecycle of the customer's use of that product, and adding on offers or adding on value. And then also, as you said, anticipating when they're going to need maintenance, when they're going to need additional materials, when they're going to need a new product, and being ready to deliver that, sometimes even before they know they need it.
Andrew Rieser: Exactly.
Jessica Vodden: Yeah, so that offers us a great jumping off point for what we know our customer expect. But those are high expectations, right? You need solid tools to be able to meet those needs, and to align your sales processes to fulfill those expectations.
Jessica Vodden: Luke, tell us a little bit about how a CRM tool can be used. Sort of the logistics, the nuts and bolts of what we do at Mountain Point on a day-to-day basis, what we advise our customers to do, and using their CRM, so that we're satisfying that sort of Amazon-effect feel.
Luke Godwin: Yeah, that sounds like a good place to start. I want to do this from the sales person's perspective on why a process will be helpful, and why using a CRM as a tool is going to be important to grow business.
Luke Godwin: I think one of the main things about having a set process as opposed to traditional sales methods, or even just ad hoc. Just going at it the way you best feel, it's really to keep everything you do, focused on the ultimate goal of moving into the next stage in a process.
Luke Godwin: A good example of a process would be when a lead comes in, or you have a lead. Obviously, you're going to reach out to it. But setting the steps up in the CRM to make sure you're following through with a huge step of process.
Luke Godwin: Lead comes in. The way we do it here at Mountain Point and the way that a lot of our customers are recommended to do it, it's obviously assigned to a sales person. Have them vet the process out, and they can either move it to the next stage, which is to create value. And once you create the value, it can be the salesperson creating the value, or a subject matter expert creating the value. And once they create the value, then obviously you move it onto the final stage of closing deal. And that's a really simple way of looking at it, but those are the three most important stages. Obviously, you can create more stages within it.
Jessica Vodden: Yeah. So tell me a little bit more about what you mean by creating value, what is that stage all about?
Luke Godwin: Yeah. So there's multiple ways of creating value. So if you're selling a piece of hardware, you may want to demonstrate it, or you can kind of go into a discovery mode, where you can learn how they're using software or a certain product and how to grow value with that. Each company is going to be different, but there you need to ultimately know what your value-add is as a product, or a software in order to create that value that's geared towards that certain customer.
Luke Godwin: Not every customer is going to be the same. And also, not every value statement is going to be the same, but it's important to know what the value is of your product, and how you can create that messaging to get to the customer.
Jessica Vodden: Yeah. I think it goes back to that sort of old adage, that people don't buy quarter inch drill bits. They buy quarter inch holes, right? Knowing what their end game is, or what their end goal is, and then figuring out if our company or our customer's company is actually a good fit to help them meet that need, I think is a really important part of the sales process because you can't make it fit, if it's just not there.
What's the ROI? Just six months after implementing their digital transformation efforts, luxury textile manufacturer Matouk saw a 233% return on their investments.
Luke Godwin: Right. I think it's not just an important part of the thing, I think it's the most important part. I think it's where most deals are actually one in that value, that stage. Because without that, negotiation and pricing isn't going to matter, if they don't need it. Closing the deal is almost impossible, if you don't create that value upfront.
Jessica Vodden: Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew Rieser: Yeah. I was just going to hop in and say that along those lines, something that we're seeing pretty frequently in the ecosystem that we work in is we need to understand and this applies to our customers as well, what the business objectives are in the applications that a business is trying to solve. So whether it is a product or a service that is being sold, creating that business value and making sure that it can be aligned back to the organization's overall objectives and how those can be measured, and success reported off of that, I think is the key driver to all of this. So absolutely, creating value, but that value has to be died back to a business objective, and then also demonstrated of how that is going to either create revenue, streamline processes and efficiencies, or grow the business. Those are the aspects that we trying to focus on, and that we train and encourage our customers to think about when they're dealing with their customer base.
Jessica Vodden: Yeah. And again, I think your CRM is crucial there because this is where you put those notes. This is where you kind of outline the process, and their research, and the information that you're going to need to be able to keep that messaging, and that information consistent as you hand it off from sales to fulfillment to customer success, or from marketing to sales. And I think it's also really important because it helps everybody stay focused. Because as Andrew was saying, it's really easy to lose sight of the overall KPI, and just start chasing any sort of tangent that the customer may want to go down, and it can help you stay on track.
Luke Godwin: If I, as a salesperson, am working with a customer, and then I pass it off to a subject matter expert, and expect them to follow through and close the deal. At any point, the other person can get busy, or not have the previous information that we had talked about on a call with the customer. And that might make the customer lose trust in us as a company because we're repeating questions, and it also might allow the customer to fall through the cracks for us.
Andrew Rieser: But these handoffs frequently occur on the manufacturing side as well, so think about an outside sales rep that gets a specification from a prospect that has to take that specification, hand it back off to inside sales to ultimately quote it. In order for that to be quoted, they may have to reach out to suppliers. They may have to get other specs created to see if this is something that can be manufactured or configured. And then, all that kind of has to loop back around to the customer. As you can imagine, there is probably a lot of things that fall through the cracks. Not only just who owns the next stage of the process, but all that information is being captured along the way. How do we make sure that everybody is up to speed with that, so that you're creating value, not losing value by having to constantly ask the same questions, or ask for the same PDF, or ask for someone else to fill you back in on what's going on. That's where I think what we do from a services standpoint in those handoffs to make it more streamlined, and make sure that everybody knows what's going on. And then, how that translates over into what we see our customers struggling with because those same handoffs exist, and CRM is what we're proposing to streamline that into enforce better communication.
Jessica Vodden: I think we've talked a lot about the consistency piece, and that aspect of the servitization model, and we've also hit on personalization a lot, and making sure that we have context and that we're solving a specific problem for the customer. What I'd like to kind of move to is addressing how a CRM tool could help you with those immediacy and anticipation factors.
Jessica Vodden: So Luke, you're a busy guy. We don't have a large sales team. How can a CRM tool help you be very responsive to inbound leads, to inbound customer inquiries, and still keep your sanity intact?
Luke Godwin: Right. There's a lot of moving pieces going on throughout the day of a salesperson, whether it's responding to customer inquiries, or if it's keeping up with a customer that's further down the sales line, sales meeting. It's hard to keep up with. It's hard to know what the last conversation you had with a person is, as I mentioned earlier. I think it's really important to have a CRM. So like you were saying, if an inbound lead does come in, you can respond within the first five minutes because it'll pop up as a task in the CRM.
Luke Godwin: If you don't respond within the first five minutes, then a large chance that you're not going to get that deal because it's 2019 now, and people are going online to find everything. If they don't want your product, they can go to the next vendor, or the next vendor, and find a similar product that may do just as good of a job. If you're not being the first to reach out, if you're not being proactive, you'll lose that deal. It's good to live in your CRM as a salesperson because you'll get that alert. Hey, someone just filled out a landing page. Someone just gave you or one of your team members a call about wanting to know more about a certain product. I think the inbound aspect is really important. But then also, as you were talking about, keeping up with your schedule. You can have your meetings in there. You can have your meeting notes in there. It really just shows you as a salesperson. What you need to do, what you need to prioritize for the day, just to make sure not only that you're getting the most out of your day. But also, that you're not letting anything fall through the cracks on that day.
Jessica Vodden: Yeah, absolutely. I think this day and age, CRM tools are so robust. They're really engagement platforms, right? And so, if you are just using your CRM as sort of a glorified Rolodex, where you enter information manually and look at it periodically, then basically you're not doing it right, right? The way that we approach CRM is to consolidate all that inbound activity. So whether somebody is interacting with the chat bot on our website, or filling out a landing page form, like you said, or calling us, it all goes into one place and notified folks on the team immediately, so that we can respond quickly.
Jessica Vodden: And even if somebody, who is responsive, I know over Christmas, for example. I was responding to some inbound information, and I am not a salesperson, and I am not a subject matter expert here. But it didn't matter, just so long as I was there to say, "Hey, we got your message. We're happy to help explain. We've got folks on holiday. I'll get somebody in touch with you soon." We had somebody in touch with them within an hour, I think. But just responding immediately, so they know it's coming, I think is very important.
Luke Godwin: I think that personalization aspect goes a long way with customers. If they're just getting a general email saying, "Thanks for filling this out. Go to our website to check this out," I don't think that's going to really move the needle, but personalization aspect is really going to help you stand apart from your competitors. And with having an idea of what the customer wants, whether they're filling out the chat bot, or if they're filling out a landing page, or calling in. And if you can kinda have that information ahead of time to discuss with them, when you give them a call or shoot them an email, I think that'll go a long way in helping move them along the sales process.
Jessica Vodden: Absolutely. I think the one thing that we haven't hit on as much is anticipation. And Andrew, I know you have a lot of experience in working with manufacturing clients to help them take a look at their data to be able to be proactive, can you elaborate a little bit on that concept, and how your CRM tool fits in?
Andrew Rieser: Yeah, absolutely. When we talk about manufacturing and anticipation, nearly every manufactured product has some lifecycle to it. And so, the wear and tear, depending on the application, all that stuff, and it's all typically [inaudible 00:18:25]. And then, in addition to that, there's also usually some level of service that is involved with that. So leveraging CRM, once an asset is sold, as an example, and it's deployed to that company, whether it be a renewal of a service agreement, or we know that especially during the winter seasons, that this particular application, this product has these higher maintenance or higher touchpoints, being able to capture all that metadata associated around that asset that's out in the field, I think enables manufacturers to really wow their customer base by anticipating those needs ahead of time, and proactively going out and solving problems before they potentially could even arise. The real value-add to that, to the end customer is it prevents downtime. Nobody wants a machine to stop working, and be down for a couple days, because that's time, that's money, and real impacts on the business. The more that these companies can service and provide proactive support, the better.
Andrew Rieser: Another couple use cases that we have around anticipation is we deal with a lot of manufacturers that have a seasonal aspect with historical buying patterns from their distributors and consumers. And so, when you talk about like the distribution model, and selling through distribution, leveraging CRM and analyzing historical sales data tied to that company as an example, allows sales rep to proactively look at that and anticipate that customer's needs based on their buying patterns of the past.
Andrew Rieser: I think a lot of companies do this to some extent. But again, when it's out of sight, out of mind, sometimes you forget about that. So when you step into a new year and you're mapping out your accounts, and your territory, and their customer base, I think the setting the goals based off of history and knowing what those buying patterns are going to be and really tailoring your approach to your customer base based off of that data is what kind of gives you a leg up in competition.
Jessica Vodden: Absolutely. Well, guys, thank you so much. Anything to add, before we sign off for today?
Luke Godwin: I don't think so.
Jessica Vodden: Great. Again, thank you, guys, for joining me. I really appreciate it.
Jessica Vodden: For those of you, who are listening, if you have a question that you'd like us to answer or a topic you want us to tackle, please let us know. You can hit us up on social media. You can email us, call us, let us know through our chat bot on our website. We'd love to hear your feedback, and happy to address anything that you're thinking of.
Jessica Vodden: Again, guys, thank you so much, and happy Friday.
Luke Godwin: Thanks, Jess. Talk to you soon.