It’s not that data has been missing from the manufacturing sales process, but rapid changes in the use of data in manufacturing operations has not been mirrored in the sales processes of many manufacturing companies.
Before data was leveraged to improve manufacturing processes, production was most often the part of the operation that limited growth. Today, sales may be the limiting factor. Just in time manufacturing, custom manufacturing and other innovations have made the quoting process and other aspects of the sales process cumbersome and lengthy.
The modern manufacturer has the ability to collect and analyze data in every step of the manufacturing process, up to and including warehousing and shipping of the finished product. The modern sales team needs to leverage this data to provide the more consultative approach that customers are coming to expect.
At the highest level, the manufacturing sales process is the same as it has been for decades.
- Identify and qualify prospective customers
- Build relationships while assessing needs
- Present solutions and get the order
- Fulfill the order
- Maintain relationship to gain repeat orders
A strong sales team often looks like it is just having fun…and why not? Building and maintaining business relationships should not be boring, even if there is a formal process behind it. However, selling in manufacturing is not as effective if your sales team is spending more time communicating with your operations team or product engineers than with customers.
Sales software has evolved to solve this problem by porting the large amount of manufacturing data into what are known as Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solutions. CPQ adoption is happening quickly in manufacturing, and sales teams should be educated not only on how to use the software but the underlying data that drives it.
Deloitte, in an article called “Selling Industry 4.0” advocates for the use of manufacturing data in the sales process to help the sales team communicate the full value of their solution rather than just the price. “Developing an understanding of what the data says can enable sales teams to create packages tailored to customers’ specific needs. Firms will need to find the right balance between customization and standardization, and between customer needs and firm offerings,” the authors said.
Manufacturing production has already been undergoing a data revolution and it is time for manufacturing sales to be in the spotlight. If you would like to learn more about how data can help your sales team thrive, contact us for a preliminary consultation.