If any word could be used to describe the manufacturing industry, it would be precision. It begins with the engineered processes used right on the manufacturing floor. It extends back to the exact types and amounts of raw materials ordered so that manufacturing process can occur. It extends forward to the delivery of the specific number of finished goods required to fulfill orders.
This precision must be reflected within the company’s sales process. Inaccuracies in the sales process can mean insufficient acquisition of raw materials, wrong types of goods produced, too many or too few items manufactured, and other very costly errors.
Requirement for Prediction
Behind the kind of precision needed in a manufacturer’s sales process is a word that could summarize the holy grail of the entire industry (or at least of its financial officers): prediction. Proper analysis and accurate sales forecast will play a key role. The prediction begins with the projection of how many of what items will be sold within a given period. With that figure agreed upon, raw materials can then be ordered and manufacturing process lines can be set up and readied.
A key question is: what is this prediction based upon? The more accurately a manufacturer can answer that question, the more accurate will be any prediction.
It all comes back to the sales process. A crudely expressed sales process for manufacturing might be:
- Raw Materials Acquired
- Manufacturing Process
- Finished Goods Shipped Out
Now let’s take a closer look. A company could start with—and generally does start with—simply attaching numerical values to these different stages. But a company only arriving at that point will not be operating at any high degree of precision and will run the risk of finding the manufacturing process seriously over- or under-stocked at the end of the sales period.
If we fine-tune this sales process, we find that we qualify the leads, which then become opportunities. As opportunities are created, the right opportunity management should be implemented, so that the opportunities are properly rated as to profitability, priority, and probability of becoming orders (based on past experience). With these earlier parts of the sales process in an accurate state, the amount of raw materials can be obtained with more confidence—with lead times for raw materials factored in—as well as the number of which goods manufactured.
From a sales management standpoint, we also gain an understanding of the reverse process: we can start with a quota for a given period and work backwards to know how many leads will be needed to actually fulfill that quota—given the probability of leads becoming opportunities and of opportunities becoming orders.
CRM Solution and Manufacturing Process
It should be pointed out that none of this sales process precision can occur without a leading-edge CRM solution—one through which the entire sales process can be fully and accurately visualized and brought to life. Such a CRM application also makes it possible to accurately rate opportunities so that more precise forecasts can be evolved.
For manufacturing, of course, accurate sales forecasts are crucial. From such forecasts come ordering of raw materials and planned output of goods. With a reliable forecast, the chances of under- or over-ordering raw materials or producing too many or too few goods to fulfill orders are greatly reduced.
The key to cost-effective manufacturing is a is accurate prediction. For that you need a precision sales process, held in place by a leading-edge CRM solution.
The most applicable CRM solution for a manufacturing sales process can be found here.