By Paul Ziliak, Co-Founder xkzero
As a manufacturing company, process improvement is your credo. It’s what you preach to your supervisors and ingrain in the minds of your new hires. It’s in your DNA. This means you are continually revising R&D, quality control, production planning, customer service, accounting, logistics and everything in between.
Technology has given shape to most of the great process improvements in manufacturing business over the last 30 years. Personal computing has allowed for paper-based and manual processes to be identified and targeted for upgrading in order to drive relevant information and faster communication throughout your business. The goal? So you can create a better products and experiences for your customers, save time and increase your profits.
Today, mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) is ushering in the next wave of process improvements. Yet, perhaps ironically, there is one process inside most manufacturing companies that has received the least amount of attention in the past 30 years from the process improvement waves: the sales process.
How can this be? The segment of your business most responsible for generating revenue growth, and most able to convey directly to your customers the experience of doing business with you has been stuck using the same tools and methodologies since Regan was President and the only thing you could do with first cell phones was make a call.
A great many sales processes at manufacturing companies today are still built around:
- Printed product catalogs
- Price books
- Spec sheets
- Order forms
- Phone calls back to the office
These sales reps have little or no visibility into real time to customer status, product pricing and current availability. This hinders them from having the critical ability to close new deals on the spot or present cross sell opportunities.
Whether the sales rep is onsite with a customer or prospect, at a special event, staffing a tradeshow, or roaming a showroom floor, the chances are they have a smart phone in their pocket. But the chances are almost as great that the smart phone will NOT have intelligence to help them generate new sales or otherwise assist the customer.
Mobile technology is available now that can provide sales reps with far more meaningful interactions with customers. Sales apps that are connected with your Sage ERP and CRM systems abound. The key is finding the right level of enablement for you and your sales team.
As a manufacturing company, this should be easily enough done because it’s all about making the selling process – the experience your customer has doing business with you – a faster, better informed and more complete experience.
And that is exactly what you should expect to accomplish for your sales team.
About the Author
Paul Ziliak is the co-founder of xkzero which specializes in Sage ERP integrated mobile sales, route sales, and direct store delivery automation for small and mid-sized manufacturers and wholesale distribution companies. Connect with Paul on Twitter @PaulZiliak.
Reprinted from the Summer 2016 issue of Bellwether.
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