In the fiercely competitive and regimented world of process manufacturing, it’s not good enough to just be able to meet today’s challenges. The strongest process manufacturers also are investing in the cloud-based infrastructure necessary to meet the next decade of challenges. Manufacturers who report that their operations are future-proofed for the next decade are 2.2 times more likely to have already moved the majority of their sales and operations systems to the cloud, according to 2021 Salesforce industry research.
Turning to cloud-based systems enables process manufacturers to boost production capacity, drive supply-chain efficiencies, close more deals faster, and serve customers more effectively. And there’s no more powerful, encompassing business ecosystem than Salesforce. Salesforce offers a full array of customized features and capabilities that are designed to meet the needs of process manufacturers. The Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud, for example, is designed specifically to help manufacturers analyze, track, and understand opportunities to optimize their operations and boost their revenue. Let’s explore three key ways that Salesforce provides customized solutions to meet the needs of process manufacturers:
Masterful oversight and optimization of sample management
For most process manufacturers, sample management is a cumbersome, inconsistent process. Despite best intentions, manufacturers lose track of the samples they produce for customers. As a result, leads evaporate, manufacturers can’t effectively follow up, and the resources expended on sample production and distribution don’t get properly tracked. Even in a best-case scenario—when a sample does lead to a sale—manufacturers do not necessarily keep the records they need to reliably attribute the sample to the sale.
Salesforce automatically corrects for all of these common issues—and also provides full visibility into all sample management activities. Using Salesforce, process manufacturers track every sample, from when the specs are generated to engineering to production and distribution. When the sample has been delivered, Salesforce sends automated reminders to the sales team to follow up with the customer. Meanwhile, during production, requests for custom samples can be routed differently than standard samples, enabling standard samples to be quickly taken care of while simultaneously allowing samples with custom specs to be reviewed and approved (by multiple approvers if necessary) before production. On the back end, Salesforce automatically analyzes data on samples, enabling manufacturers to track ROI and gain insights into who ultimately buys what after receiving a sample.
Optimal leveraging of data to generate relevant business insights
Process manufacturers typically struggle with planning, demand forecasting, and revenue tracking. Often, much of the data they need is siloed and inaccessible, or worse, incomplete and riddled with errors. As a result, process manufacturers struggle to gather basic business intelligence, such as where are the high vs. low-value opportunities within a sales pipeline, or where customers are dropping out of the sales cycle, or how specific sales trends may be indicative of changing customer expectations and tastes.
Salesforce’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform is designed to create comprehensive, 360-degree views of customers that automatically generate the relevant insights that manufacturers need. The Salesforce philosophy necessitates that all data is available to everyone—not just for sales leads, but for every aspect of the business that can benefit from monitoring this data, from operations to finance to planning. Because Salesforce does not allow important data to go unentered, the entire organization can rely on Salesforce to inform production and order management processes, track revenue against deals, and monitor and forecast future trends. Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud, meanwhile, offers additional industry-specific capabilities to further meet manufacturers’ needs. For example, Manufacturing Cloud lets manufacturers run forecasting reports in multiple time frames simultaneously—6, 12, 18 months—and harmonize these reports with sales data.
Smarter, solutions-oriented customer service
In process manufacturing, customers have high expectations: They need products delivered to exacting quality-control standards, and when they have questions, they need fast, reliable answers. Most process manufacturers are still working to deliver the ideal customer experience. Too much time is wasted trying to manage customers one at a time. Manufacturers lack standardized record-keeping systems that provide 360-degree visibility of relevant customer data. And customers don’t get the personalized, reliable service experience they expect.
In process manufacturing, there are two basic types of customer inquiries: Questions that customers can and often want to look up themselves, and questions that require personal attention. Salesforce is designed to masterfully manage both types of questions. With Salesforce Community Cloud, process manufacturers can build self-service portals that give customers access to routine, straightforward information, such as order status and invoices—they can even request additional samples! With 67 percent of customers preferring self-service options over anything else, it’s mission-critical for manufacturers to offer this type of portal. The self-service approach enables customer service teams to focus on higher-value customer interactions that require human interaction. For the latter category, Salesforce provides full visibility over customer accounts, enabling customer service teams to drill down into customer data to solve problems, sell more, and keep customers satisfied and loyal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a tangible reminder to process manufacturers that they can’t just feel confident to tackle today’s challenges. It’s the challenges still to come that require process manufacturers to turn to a powerful, all-encompassing business ecosystem like Salesforce. Salesforce gives process manufacturers the ability to masterfully manage sample production end-to-end, leverage operational data effectively to anticipate problems and identify solutions, and offer customer service in a smarter, data-informed fashion.
If you’re a process manufacturer looking to future-proof your organization for the next decade of growth and challenges, please reach out to the Salesforce implementation specialists at Simplus. We’ll be glad to show you how to use Salesforce to keep your process manufacturing organization several steps ahead of your competition.