Written by Linsey Billings
Manufacturing companies often work with a variety of stakeholders such as partners, distributors, suppliers, and direct customers. Each of these groups require insight into certain areas of the manufacturer’s data. For example, if you are a manufacturer, you would want to provide your outside sales reps with access to leads and accounts so that they can build relationships with new and existing distributors who want to sell your product. You would also want to provide your distributors with access to opportunities, quotes, and orders so that they can place orders on behalf of the direct customer.
Additionally, if your company utilizes an ERP system, you could also share certain back office data to your suppliers such as purchase orders, supplier invoices, and inventories. You may also want to share information with your customers such as your products and services and allow to them to make purchases on their own and engage with other community members . Often times, it is a challenge for manufacturers to get the right information to the right people without having to worry about exposing sensitive information. Manufacturers can use Communities to solve this challenge by leveraging the power of the Salesforce platform without incurring unnecessary cost.
Communities provide transparency to specific information, autonomy to your sales channels, and a collaborative environment for sharing information and ideas. If you're a manufacturing company that primarily does business with distributors rather than direct customers, a Partner Community is the best choice. However, if your sales come mostly from your direct customers, then you would be better off choosing the Customer Community. Another way to look at this is that Partner Communities are best for business to business interactions where access to sales data is necessary whereas Customer Communities are more relevant to business to consumer relationships. Partner Communities provide your outside sales reps, distributors, suppliers, and partners a platform to be self-sufficient in managing their own activities but also a platform to collaborate with internal users to resolve issues and exchange relevant information. Customer Communities allow you to showcase your current products/services and allow customers to place orders on their own behalf. They also provide a forum for customers to ask questions to your internal team, interact with other customer community users, and engage/share their opinion of your brand.
Whether you are utilizing a Partner Community or a Customer Community, you are able to provide your stakeholders with greater visibility and transparency into the specific areas for which they need access, provide greater value by leveraging a tool that is easy to use and easy to scale, and provide greater insight into KPIs, goals and objectives that otherwise would not be shared.