Just like any other industry, manufacturing is subject to market fluctuations.
For example it was just reported that manufacturing sales for Canada were down by 0.9 percent for the month of December 2013. Sales volume declined 1.9 percent, which was the largest single drop in a year.
If you’re a manufacturing sales rep, such economic movements may seem far beyond your control; you bite your lip and close every sale you can. At the same time, however, you may be making your job even more difficult by using sales tools that don’t allow you to fully control the sales cycles you do have in the pipeline.
Many manufacturing reps are still resorting to solutions such as spreadsheets to stay on top of their sales.
This is actually a wholly inadequate solution—while you can keep track of some of the current details of deals in your sales pipeline, over time even those are going to become lost. For example, you may not be able to find details of a sale you made three years ago, and that client is coming back to you for more. What were the terms? Who did you deal with? What transpired in your interaction?
But even if you can locate that sale within your records, there is crucial data that most likely wasn’t even recorded. For example, what was their motivation for coming to you in the first place? What is their decision-making process? What collateral materials did you use? What did you actually do that pushed them over the edge to buy?
In terms of monitoring current sales, how easy is it to figure out which sales are the top priority? Or on an even broader view, how are you lined up for the current sales period (a month or quarter)?
Just on a day-to-day basis, this solution also makes it difficult to rate potential sales in terms of priority. How much time do you spend each morning just figuring out who you should call or visit that day?
A Real CRM Solution
A leading-edge CRM solution is a sales tool that allows you to record all such information and more. If the CRM application reflects your sales process (which the right one will), this saving of crucial information is a snap; you simply record it within the sales process stage to which it applies. That also makes retrieval simple and easy.
But probably the most important feature for a manufacturing rep is the facility for visually seeing your entire pipeline laid out before you.
You see where all sales cycles stand, and how they rate in terms of priority. You can readily see where you stand in terms of progress for the month or quarter, and how industrious you will have to get to meet your quotas. And as for figuring out your day, it will take minutes instead of an hour or more.
Sales Tool for Analysis and Forecasting
Then there are the tasks for which a spreadsheet solution is clearly not designed: sales analysis and forecasting. These tasks must be performed manually which is extremely time-consuming.
But beyond the hours wasted having to manually analyze or forecast sales, there is the question of accuracy. Unless you’re a real genius with spreadsheets, you’re not going to figure in factors such as closing ratios, buyer patterns and the probability of closing. Simply adding up dollar figures of potential sales is not enough, as many a salesperson and sales manager have discovered. Without precision sales forecasting, you’re truly flying blind.
A leading-edge CRM solution takes such factors into account and renders a rapid and far more accurate sales opportunity records, analysis or forecast. While this is certainly important for a sales rep, it greatly assists sales management and provides company management a great deal more confidence and security in their future prediction and planning.
The manufacturing sector is certainly subject to economic forces. But with the right sales tool, you’ll weather the market fluctuations much more easily by being in a position to take advantage of every possible opportunity. And of course, when an economy is rising or booming, you’ll have the necessary sales tool to be able to totally maximize it for yourself and your company.
Learn how a CRM solution helps you make the most of your sales cycles. Sign up for one of our free webinars.