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Salesforce for Manufacturing – Let’s get it right!

salesforce for manufacturing Let’s talk about Salesforce for manufacturing.

It’s official, we are in the middle of the manufacturing age of software evolution. Do we invest in new technology (i.e. CRM) and risk scaring away our seasoned employees? Or, dare we show our legacy ERP solution to a millennial with eyes glued to mobile devices and social media? Owners of these companies face difficult decisions about CRM technology.

I have over 10 years of experience helping manufacturing companies implement CRM solutions. I’ve put together a 3-part blog series around how I would approach things if I were calling the shots at a manufacturing organization. Naturally, I’m biased to CRM platforms that I trust, so I’ve given this series the namesake:

Salesforce for Manufacturing – Let’s get it right!

My goal with this series is to resolve fears (and mistakes) that I commonly see organizations face when considering Salesforce for Manufacturing.

Let’s get going!

Part 1: Getting your Team Ready for Success with Salesforce for Manufacturing

You can no longer operate your sales, marketing, and customer service solely from within your ERP system. Now, you start to consider Salesforce, so you’re entering uncharted territory.

Traditionally, the scars from a difficult ERP implementation or upgrade shine bright at this point. Perhaps failed CRM deployments from the past are looming in the background. The battle cry is “never again, we are going to get it right this time.” CRM implementation for Salesforce in manufacturing is not the rigid and strict experience that an ERP deployment serves up. Most failed CRM deployments in manufacturing are rooted in a disconnect between your true needs and the CRM implementation itself.

Back to the point, what should you do first as you start your Salesforce journey?

  1. Assemble the CRM task force:

    This team will represent their respective department and users. Consider a team of 3-8 people with a mixed representation of executives, end users, and outside eyes (knows a lot about what the company needs). You’ll notice this team isn’t called the implementation task force. Keep this team together after implementation (even if just for a quick quarterly meeting) to drive ongoing improvement.

  2. Define the project charter:

    The project charter is a value statement that can be relied upon when the group needs to be re-centered around priorities. It’s easy to overthink with a level of unnecessary complexity during an evaluation or implementation. A project charter will help to simplify.

  3. What business processes need to be supported?

    Focus on the high-level business processes that need to be represented. Like you’d rely on a contractor during a home remodel, let the Salesforce implementation experts worry about how to best handle the finer details. For example, we need our CRM to handle “lead capture and distribution” or “deal management in relation to Manufacturing Reps”.

  4. What are your head scratchers?

    My favorite exercise during the early stages of a project is to have the CRM Task Force each define 3-5 head scratchers. What is something that you do on a daily basis that really makes no sense or seems inefficient? Here’s a few examples:

    • Why do I have to wait 2 days to get a Year-to-date Sales report for one of my Accounts?
    • What is the purpose of these weekly Excel reports?
    • I can’t access information from my mobile device. Why?
    • What is the purpose of writing Work Orders on paper, then typing them into another system?
  5. Set expectations internally.

    Everything won’t be perfect immediately. Good CRM solutions solve for very complex relationship and process challenges. This requires iterations and evolution. Sure, you should hold all parties involved accountable for their implementation (partner) and system adoption (users/executives). However,  alarmist responses to little things are not productive. Provide a clear protocol for communication when an issue or suggestion is identified, and set expectations that the communication channel is there. We expect challenges and are prepared for it.

  6. Involve a partner.

    You do not need to have everything figured out before involving the experts. Focus on the items above, and allow a Salesforce Implementation partner to help transform your needs.

We’ll pick up on User adoption and ERP integration next time. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or want assistance – Happy CRM’ing!

Part 2 of the Blog Post Series “Salesforce for Manufacturing”: 

Part 2: User Adoption – You can’t spell it without E.R.P (Us__ Ado_tion?)

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