Nine years ago when I started in the salesforce.com ecosystem the majority of companies using Salesforce were early adopters from the high-tech ranks. Since then, we’ve seen customers across multiple industries trust Salesforce to solve their business challenges. One of these industries is traditional manufacturing, which I see increasingly using Salesforce to help run and modernize their business.
For manufacturers that view Salesforce narrowly as just “sales,” I want to highlight the various areas where manufacturers use the power of Salesforce to get closer to their customers, run their business more efficiently, and get more productivity from their employees.
1. Application Consolidation & Modernization
Given how long many traditional manufacturers have been around they have accumulated and built a vast inventory of commercial and home-grown applications and platforms. (Excel & VBA, Access,.NET, Lotus Notes, PeopleSoft to mention a few.)
Other than the significant cost of maintaining these technologies, these older technologies could not have anticipated the factors/pressures of today’s businesses, including:
- Customers multi- and omnichannel service expectations
- Geographically distributed workforce
- A new generation of tech-savvy, mobile carrying employees who don’t want to run businesses on clipboards and Excel
- New compliance/audit requirements
- Reduced application creation and development cycle time
CIOs clearly want to rationalize their application and platform portfolio.
Familiarize yourself with the entire set of capabilities salesforce.com provides, including:
- Out of the box products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Marketing Cloud
- The development power of the Force.com (one of my personal favorites) when you need to build new or extend existing applications
- The mobile capabilities of Salesforce1
- The growing number of manufacturing-oriented 3rd party AppExchange applications built on Salesforce including FinancialForce, Kenandy, Rootstock, and CPGToolbox
- The platform integration capabilities to connect to vital backend systems
The beauty is that is that it’s one platform, one data model, one set of users, and one set of profiles on top of a powerful set of capabilities.
2. Customer Delight
Many companies including Salesforce talk about a customer revolution, meaning the unprecedented power customers have to choose, to speak, to influence, to detract, and to shop elsewhere if they are not happy. This power demands new tools and techniques spanning marketing, sales, and support.
It means knowing your customers, listening to your customer or in many cases listening to their devices (see the Internet of things), and engaging in a closer 1-to-1 relationship that was not previously possible.
Look at why you are winning or losing customers. What are customers saying about you on social media? How, where, and how regularly are you engaging your customers? Where do you need to apply technology to achieve a closer connection with your customers?
3. Partner/ Indirect Channels Management
Many manufacturers sell through networks of partners and not directly to the public. Relying on indirect channels to sell on your behalf means manufacturers need to stay close to their partners; they need to do all the following:
If partners are your largest sales channel, relying on the age-old methods of email and relationship management alone will likely leave you at a competitive disadvantage. Partners lean toward manufacturers that are easy to do business with.
Provide a Partner Community using Salesforce Communities to give your partners a collaborative environment where they are supported, listened to, and where they can easily transact business with you since you are using a single solution.
Looking at just three areas — systems, customers, and sales — we see the potential to use Salesforce-based solutions and technology in a traditional manufacturing setting. There are many other areas: sales productivity, employee collaboration, and ERP integration to mention a few. See for yourself how innovative companies are already using Salesforce.