Companies are beginning to become digital-first manufacturers
Digitalization has become increasingly important to companies across manufacturing. Just this year 87% of manufacturers we surveyed said digital transformation was on their agenda for 2021. Many industries are nearing a fully digital, and online buying and selling journey, but manufacturing has lagged. With more buyers moving to a fully online buying it’s critical for manufacturers to get on the same page as them and offer their products online.
What does digital-first for manufacturing mean?
A digital-first strategy places importance on a broad approach to buying, selling, marketing and everything in between that emphasize digitalizing the process whenever possible.Let’s look at a popular digital-first adopter.
Ikeas shift from in-person to digital-first
Many companies have shifted to digital-first in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, one that has got a lot of press is Ikea.During the pandemic, Ikea leveraged digital solutions such as Google Cloud to manage the increase in web traffic and scale their business to work in an online environment. While Ikea shifted to better utilizing Google Cloud, many manufacturers have shifted to Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software to help them become a digital-first company. Let’s see how CPQ is helping companies reach their digital-first goals.
Breaking down organizational silos
Your organization is unique for a variety of reasons, but you face many of the same issues as your competitors. One major problem many manufacturing companies face is dealing with organizational silos built up over time and with inefficient processes. Breaking down the silos can be an integral part of your company’s digital-first transformation.
Being able to collaborate quickly and easily is a must for selling quickly. CPQ enables your sales team to have a centralized tool to sell products accurately and fast, from anywhere. Integrating directly with the tools other teams in your organization use such as CAD,ERP, and CRM makes it easier to ensure speed, without sacrificing accuracy. These seamless connections help everyone focus on their specific role in helping the customer buy your products.
Connecting your teams through the data can allow for real-time insights into what is working and what isn’t working. Allowing the data to shape how your teams work together and make smarter decisions. Having the right tools can be half the battle when it comes to creating a collaborative and innovative company culture.
Creating customer experience and consistency
With CPQ your internal teams have finally found the consistency they have been looking for, the administrative process that used to slow down sales is gone. Now for a digital-first experience to work even better, it’s integral to provide consistency to your customer. Offering an online configurator complete with visualizations for prospects that enable them to see the products they want, fast and in their real-time environments is just a small part of creating an industry-leading customer experience.
Adding customer self-service to the mix for returning customers is a necessity for online sales helps keep the process consistent. Creating a digital journey that’s optimized for what the customer wants, whether that’s buying, or scheduling services can help keep every process in one place, online.
One solution to become a digital-first manufacturer
Becoming a digital leader takes time, and selecting the right solution is the first step in that process. Breaking down silos to create a harmonious internal process, while also valuing the customers’ need for speed and accuracy is an outcome many manufacturers have been searching for.
With Tacton CPQ it’s easier than ever to increase your customers’ time to value. The day of long quoting times are gone, ask Siemens, we helped them reduce their sales process from months to minutes. Digital leaders in manufacturing must take drastic steps in order to keep up with customer demand and increase competition. Find out how Tacton is helping manufacturers take that next step in your personalized demo.
The cost of a bad customer experience is more costly than you think
The customer journey can be a long, winding road from the first contact to a final sale. Optimizing this experience has come easy for some industries, but manufacturers still struggle with providing a fast, accurate, and sustainable approach. Sacrificing a good experience can cause customers to leave or manufacturers to give big discounts just to keep customers around. Let’s take a deep dive into what customer experience is, and how to avoid a bad one.
What is customer experience?
A great Hubspot definition: Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom-line including revenue.
This includes every touchpoint with your team, from marketing, sales, engineering, and the factory floor. Every interaction leads to the customer perception and relationship with your unique business. To sum it up, a great customer experience is integral to the continued growth of any company. A bad experience will have customers leaving for cheaper options, while a good one keeps customers loyal and coming back for more.
How important is customer experience to manufacturers?
The COVID-19 pandemic has made many manufacturers rethink how they interact not only internally, but with customers as well with a renewed focus on digital transformation. When we asked C-level, vice presidents, and directors of manufacturing operations about the most important strategic areas to remain competitive and bolster economic growth, the customer experience was an important aspect.
With 49% of respondents noting the importance of customer experience it’s time manufacturers begin taking a deep look at how to improve this aspect of their digital transformation. Driving sales and revenue is directly impacted by the customer experience.
What are some common challenges in creating a great CX for manufacturing customers?
Outdated technology- Many manufacturers are still relying on outdated tech to provide products, quotes, and delivery. Some aren’t even offering an online self-service option to buy products which is where more and more buyers are at.
Inefficient processes: This comes with using outdated technology, quoting is a long, error-prone process that leaves the customer annoyed and your sales and engineering teams scrambling to offer discounts to make sure customers don’t go to the competition.
No omnichannel strategy: Let’s face it if you aren’t offering an online way to buy products, with multiple touchpoints you’ll lose to the competition who can. The modern buyer wants products fast, error-free without talking with your sales staff. This sounds like a bad thing at first but enabling an online store will help your sales team focus on bigger deals while leaving smaller ones to configure their products online and help when needed.
What is the cost of a bad experience?
A bad customer experience has a direct impact on your bottom line. According to PWC: “Even if people love your company or product, in the U.S. 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, 17% after just one bad experience.”
Losing these customers can be the difference between rapid growth and a slow decline in your profits. So, making sure every experience is fast, accurate, and exciting will go a long way in growing your business. Loyalty goes a long way in creating predictable, recurring revenue making it important to really understand your customers’ wants and needs.
A bad reputation
Think about the last time you purchased something, shoes, clothes, anything. If you weren’t buying from a place you’ve bought from before you more than likely read reviews on the company to see if the products were worth getting. With so many options it’s a necessity to give a good experience, with customers telling more than 15 people of a bad experience word travels fast and profit can decrease.
New buyers require new solutions
The race to reinvent the manufacturing customer experience is on and has been accelerated in the past year, causing industry leaders to consider new solutions to keep up. Delivering a one-of-a-kind experience for customers and keeping a healthy bottom line sounds too good to be true? It’s not when using Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software. Let’s take a lot at what CPQ is and how it improves the customer experience.
What is CPQ?
CPQ platforms help manufacturers use self-service, guided (and remote) selling to accurately configure complex products and services for prospective customers. CPQ solutions help manufacturers ensure correct pricing, deliver personalized and highly customized quotes. CPQ also seamlessly integrates into eCommerce, CRM, CAD software, and more a smooth buying and selling process.
How does CPQ create a great customer experience?
Speed counts with CPQ
Today’s buyers simply won’t wait for a quote on your products anymore. They want to know exactly what they will get ASAP. Making configuration and pricing choices in used to take manufacturers days, with CPQ it only takes minutes. Even complex quotes can be created faster than ever.
CPQ captures the customer’s usage and commercial needs, and the configuration engine does the rest. Everything is considered – your latest product and pricing updates, local regulations, as well as your margin requirements. The software can find the solution that best matches the customer’s needs and your business goals. With advanced pricing models and built-in approval workflows, your team will position and sell the right product at the right price – every time.
Accurate, high-quality proposals with supporting documentation are generated automatically. This speeds up the quotation process dramatically, keeping you one step ahead of the competition.
Meet customers anywhere
Buyers are used to being able to buy from anywhere, at any time. Providing an eCommerce experience for manufacturers of highly complex products is a nearly impossible task without CPQ. Enabling customers to configure directly on your company website with Guided Selling lets your customers see what products are feasible fast. Giving them self-service options also enables customers to check out quickly and get their products without interacting with anyone.
Many of our manufacturing customers have found ways to shift to an online journey, and they all share one secret, visual configuration. Visual configuration is the combined use of Augmented Reality, 2D, and 3D visualization software in order to be able to configure products fast, and accurately for customers and prospects.
The new customer experience demands visuals of the product, no one is buying products sight unseen in 2021. With these visuals your customer isn’t left with any question marks when they see what their final product will look like, even configured in their real-life environment.
What is an example of how CPQ improving speed and accuracy?
One of our CPQ customers, Siemens had a challenge: Creating each of their highly complex and customizable turbines to their customers’ specific needs. Quoting took on average 8 weeks, requiring specialist engineers for every sales case. Proposals were over 500 pages long and Siemens lacked the ability to quote long-term maintenance costs resulting in poor aftersales services.
With Tacton, Siemens was able to redefine how their sales team configured, priced, and sold their products. Using CPQ enabled them to reduce quote time from 8 weeks to 10 minutes. Leaving the sales team to focus more on customer relationships. Engineers were able to refocus on research and development and jump into only the most complex sales cases. Finally, the shorter sales cycle increased the capacity for sales to find and engage with new prospects.
Your customers’ demands have changed and will continue to as customization becomes the norm for nearly every purchase. Customers also want technology that improves how they get their products, with speed, accuracy, convince, and even visuals. Calculating the cost of a bad customer experience shows just how much a change is needed for manufacturers.
Manufacturing has been looking for the next solution that will enable them to provide a better eCommerce and customer experience. CPQ software is the solution that is bringing many manufacturers into these new and exciting spaces. With CPQ it’s possible to connect every process, from the start of the customer journey all the way to purchase. At Tacton we have over 20 years of experience working with the biggest manufacturers in the world helping them transform their processes. Check out some of our customer stories such as Plus Pack, nVent and Pelco.
The classic B2B sales model is rapidly changing. Customers want B2C-like experiences in every purchase, which includes high variance manufacturing products as well. Let’s take a look and see what solutions are helping manufacturers deliver on B2C promises. While topics such as customer expectation and experience are discussed by manufacturers many companies do not even offer customers the most basic online functionalities.
53% of the B2B buyers questioned: “I prefer to search even online for information. “
59% of the B2B buyers surveyed: “I would rather not communicate with a sales consultant.”
74% of the B2B buyers surveyed: “Purchasing via a website is more convenient.”
93% As soon as I’ve decided on a product, I prefer to buy it online.
To stay competitive, manufacturing companies need digital sales tools that meet the preferences of self-service-oriented buyers and that want complex, highly variable products without those typical for B2B sales to be able to sell customer and prospect care efficiently.
A central component of B2B commerce: The Digital Customer Portal
B2B customers are increasingly gathering information online before making a purchase decision and expect to be able to order the selected product online. In view of these developments and challenges, B2B companies must rethink and reinvent their sales models in terms of consistent customer demand.A digital customer portal offers customers user-friendly websites and online shopping with simple navigation, comprehensive product information, intuitive ordering functions, and modern checkout processes.
With a digital customer portal customers can:
Better serve customer needs thanks to self-service tools
Increase your own sales by becoming the preferred provider
Develop and digitalize your own sales model according to your buyers’ expectations
Keep up with customer demands Business customers today expect a shopping experience that is similarly different from what they are used to privately from the B2C area. Conventional B2B sales and distribution processes cannot keep up with this development – and cause a lot of frustration among digitally demanding B2B buyers.
For instance, a product with 500 configurable components has 2.3×10133 possible options that can be offered. Your sales team needs a lot of expertise and must invest a lot of work hours in order to create a correct quote. That’s not even including other required information such as 3D models, drawings, product information, and documentation.
Create a wow effect for your customer
Selling has always been about the wow effect, a special buying experience that creates value for both the customer and seller. Creating this with self-service can create a decisive advantage and a more efficient sales process.
In summary: Via a self-service portal, customers and prospects can use the same tools that sales use internally to prepare offers and develop orders.
Product configuration with application-oriented guided selling
The linchpin of a self-service portal is a product configurator with functions for application-oriented guided selling. With such a solution it is guaranteed
that the actual needs of the customer/prospect are recorded intuitively
that non-technical requirements, such as total cost of ownership, energy consumption, or specific performance indicators can be translated into technical details
that the configured products are always technically correct and based on current data.
In order to enable customers and interested parties without detailed technical knowledge to put their products together independently, the system assists in resolving conflicts. For example, invalid options and variants are hidden during configuration and valid alternatives are suggested automatically.
What is special? interested parties can configure their desired product anonymously and without having to contact a sales representative – including parts lists, design data, and other accompanying documents based on the individually configured product.
The linchpin of product configuration
The linchpin of a customer portal is the product configuration. A powerful product configurator is the interface between the customer and the system and ensures that all configurations are always technically correct and – above all – can be produced.
A powerful Product Configurator is the first step to digital commerce
With a product configurator, manufacturing companies can overcome the typical bottlenecks in the sale of highly varied industrial goods.Manufacturers open new possibilities by automating procedures and processes and making them less error-prone. By using a powerful configuration solution, construction and sales processes can be automated and accelerated.
Bottle Neck sales support
The core task of technical sales support is to ensure the technical feasibility of a proposed (offered) solution. In-depth product knowledge is necessary for this, as complex, varied products go hand in hand with a complex offer, price, and discount structures.Customer-specific machines and systems must meet special requirements. A lot of expertise is necessary to ensure that the selected solution meets these requirements and can later be operated safely and successfully.
Bottleneck incoming orders
Not only the preparation of an offer is time-consuming – order entry and order processing are also. Even more: Inefficient processes and incorrect orders have serious effects (long processing times) and quickly cause high costs (warranty costs) and lead to dissatisfied customers.
Convenient self-services for users
Manufacturing companies that decide to introduce a digital self-service or customer portal benefit from holistic processes and a seamless tool for end-to-end customer interaction.
Web-based self-services are becoming increasingly important for industrial companies. When looking for information, B2B customers now research the providers’ websites first – but shy away from contacting a sales consultant. A self-service customer portal not only simplifies the registration of new customers and customer management. It also improves the customer experience and provides better service.
An interested party who was able to put together the desired product anonymously and on their own is probably also ready to take the next step: logging in with the contact details on the customer portal.
The task now is to meet the expectations of the registered prospective customer and potential customer for the functionalities of the self-service portal. After all, B2B buyers expect the same features. Now it is important to meet the expectations of registered prospects and potential customers for the functionalities of the self-service portal.
After all, B2B buyers expect the same features and functionality as those offered by leading online retailers. This includes:
All configurations previously created “anonymously” are visible
Further processing of a configured product
The current price information is displayed for the configurations created
Information and additional services are unrestrictedly accessible
The complete product catalog is available even non-configurable accessories, additional services (e.g. maintenance, extended warranties), spare parts, and consumables to the product
Request a quote based on a configuration you have made
As soon as the registered user’s request has been received, a sales representative can process, check and adjust the request and release an offer in the portal. There it can be opened and checked by registered users. If the configuration of the product has changed, it can be reloaded into the AR app, visualized, and checked by simply scanning the QR code.
Document Generation and self-service
Creating accompanying advanced documentation is an important part of self-service. Creating items such as CAD documents empowers your customers to close the deal by going the extra mile and speeding up a process that would take weeks and turning it around in minutes.
If both sides (an interested party and provider) agree with the offer, the user can confirm the offer. It will be frozen and the order will be processed. The self-service portal transfers the order directly to the connected ERP system, which processes it further.
Self-service portals increase the efficiency of the internal order processing process and the transparency of the order status. Customer advice and support can be provided more easily and cost-effectively. By eliminating manual tasks, sales and customer service can focus on interactions that create value for business customers.
A self-service portal bundles all applications and services required for the distribution and sale of industrial goods on a central platform, which can also be seamlessly connected to the rest of the technology landscape via interfaces. Check out how CPQ and Self-service work together to improve quote time, customer satisfaction and more!
A digital revolution is well underway in manufacturing and has been accelerated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This revolution is changing the way companies produce and sell products and services.
From internal operations to customer experience, manufacturers across industries are gearing up for change. If you’d like to share this click here for your instant download! Customization, from the customer buying experience to the factory floor, is essential for gaining a competitive advantage and long-term customer loyalty. Check out this infographic for a few key stats, and download the full report for more stats, customer testimonials, and more!
In our latest survey, The State of Digital Manufacturing, we asked large and mid-sized manufacturers worldwide, how they are taking on the challenges of digitalization, the pandemic and more.
A digital revolution is well underway in manufacturing and has been accelerated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This revolution is changing the way companies produce and sell products and services. From internal operations to customer experience, manufacturers across industries are gearing up for change. Customization, from the customer buying experience to the factory floor, is essential for gaining a competitive advantage and long-term customer loyalty. To help manufacturers keep up-to-date with these developments, we’ve released this report, focusing on how manufacturers are responding to smart manufacturing initiatives. The state of digital manufacturing is quickly changing are you ready?
We’re giving a sneak preview of some of the most telling results here, if you’d like the full results download the eBook here!
In short, 2020 disrupted the state of manufacturing across the globe
The impact of recent economic times didn’t slow digital transformation efforts, in fact, the majority of respondents said they have continued or accelerated their efforts. Supply chain optimization is the most critical digital transformation investment initiative among manufacturers during the current economic uncertainty, here’s what we found:
The direct impact of the pandemic
COVID-19 has given credence to many of the trends manufacturers we’re heading towards before the pandemic. An online buying journey for customers, improved quote efficiency, and automation Now that these challenges are clear, less face-to-face customer interaction, slow inefficient process, and lack of data it’s time to change how you work internally and interact with customers before it’s too late.
Many of our respondents noted the next generation of manufacturing buyers, ones who will be accustom to a fully online buying journey, with little or no interaction with sales reps or engineers. “It is all about customer experience in our industry, we need to make it easy for the next generation of entrepreneurs. We need to create value together with our customers and partners.”
Strategic Areas and Investment Initiatives
With the pandemic disrupting all areas of manufacturing many companies are trying to optimize and automate processes from sales to supply chain. Many also believe increasing product quality and driving sales through specific initiatives can help bolster growth now, while building up to future success post-pandemic.
As one respondent noted, “To avoid being obsolete as an incumbent firm, the digital transformation is multidimensional with internal, external and customer changes.”
The importance of a multidimensional approach to digital transformation is critical. Focusing on internal processes can lead to a better customer experience. Without reworks, and order errors customers are more likely to get their products faster and accurately. Manufacturers have also been looking for ways to enable customer-self service, this is nearly impossible without automating processes.
This is why many manufacturers are taking a holistic approach when looking for solution providers. Finding one solution that can bridge the gap between internal operations and customer experience can be a major driver of both revenue and product development.
Where to next?
COVID-19 has given credence to many of the trends manufacturers we’re heading towards before the pandemic. Faster operations, an enhanced customer experience, and of course cutting edge products. Now that these challenges are clear, less face-to-face customer interaction, slow inefficient process, and lack of data it’s time to change how you work internally and interact with customers.
With rapid changes in the market and a focus on customer satisfaction, manufacturers must leverage new solutions to enable the customer to do more while also improving internal operations. Today’s modern manufacturers need to transform their sales pitch to gain the attention and purchasing power of potential customers. That all begins with Tacton’s Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software. CPQ enables manufacturers to optimize every aspect of the buying and selling journey. From supply chain to reducing costs and providing customer self-service. CPQ can truly transform how companies do business.
A Manufacturing Year in Review:The move to Customer-Centricity and Digitalization
Let’s face it, the beginning of 2020 was dramatically different from where we are with less than a month left in the year. The pandemic has changed how we do everything about how we work, every industry has had to find new ways to work efficiently. Manufacturing has faced a difficult pivot, with many production lines having to close while searching for solutions to do more with less.
We wrote our annual trends guide in January of this year, how do those look in retrospect?
Like the majority of people we couldn’t foresee the COVID-19 pandemic that would disrupt every industry, manufacturing included. Trends such as online customer self-service have increased dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. With more than 70% of B2B decision-makers preferring remote human interaction or digital self-service since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic (McKinsey), it stands true that self-service is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Effective sales tools was a trend we forecasted as well, solutions such as CPQ have seen an uptick in interest. G2 notes that searches for Quote-to-Cash software saw a 48 percent jump and CPQ software traffic increasing 22 percent in the first weeks of the pandemic alone. That gives support to the idea that CPQ software is increasing efficiency in manufacturing, and buyers are beginning to note the importance of accurate quoting, sales, and improved operations.
So, what has Tacton learned talking with our customers about not only the challenges of 2020 but the opportunities for 2021 and beyond?
Now is the time to move online
Every customer and prospect we’ve talked to since March has had one similar question, “what a customer empowered digital commerce journey can look like?”A simple answer would be to provide an exciting way to buy manufacturing products. A potential customer wants to interact with your products anytime and anywhere regardless of channel.
That may seem impossible with highly configurable products, but it’s easier than ever with Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software. Integrated directly into your website, CPQ can empower your customers, anonymous or not to build your products online, complete with powerful visualizations. Without a smart CPQ system, it can be exceedingly difficult for you to provide a one of a kind online buying experience complete with automated and expedited quotes.
(The new buying journey)
Empowering anyone to configure products
An issue many manufacturers have is making it difficult for anyone other than product experts to create valid, and optimized product quotes. Guided selling can empower anyone, regardless of product knowledge, to create optimized products. With a few simple questions based on what they need, customers can start the configuration process from anywhere. Complete with visualization your customers can see what’s changed when they add or subtract certain product features. Guided selling isn’t just for customers. Your sales team will benefit by quickly being able to quote products regardless if they are a senior salesperson or new to the organization.
Connecting end-to-end processes is more important than ever
Manufacturers have also struggled with silos in their business, sales, marketing, engineering and customer-service have had trouble staying on the same page. Disconnected processes lead to product order errors, disappointed customers and discounted products. Creating a way to work in comfortable environments for your teams. With the wealth of data from different systems, it can be difficult to leverage customer buying info into actionable insights. That’s why it’s critical to optimize the information flow from the various systems that are used. CRM, ERP, CAD and more can all be connected using CPQ integrations.
Opportunity is knocking are you ready?
With such uncertainty in the manufacturing industry, it may seem like now is the time to stand pat and weather the storm. But now is the time to invest in solutions that connect you better to your buyer by creating a way for them to buy from anywhere. Making it easier to buy will ensure your company gets to continue innovating while worrying less about order errors because using CPQ offers the optimal solution every time. Every year we see a further shift to customer-centricity, 2021 will no doubt demand manufacturers become more online and omnichannel.
The eCommerce Surge in Manufacturing is here to stay
I had the opportunity to read Benedict Evans “The eCommerce surge” article, and I was really taken aback by the impact that this period of uncertainty and global crisis is having on the e-commerce business even for manufacturers.
Sure, it was logic that in a time where meeting people is not recommended, digital purchases would have increased, but the graph is very impressive:In the last few months, e-commerce has experienced the same growth as in the last few years combined.
What is happening is a revolutionary change in the way customers interact with companies, and this change is here to stay well after the pandemic.
Despite this, a surprising number of contacts I am having in these weeks tells me that they have paused or postponed their plans for digital commerce!
Sure, companies need to tackle problems caused by the pandemic, because the increase in digital sales does not cover the loss in the offline channels. But as the history of brands like Apple or Tesla tells us, when there is a radical shift of equilibrium in the world, whoever or whatever can ride that wave is destined to remain in a leadership position for the future.
A “Duck and cover” strategy can surely guarantee survival in the very short term, but it is crucial to react and try to seize anything that can turn the situation into an advantage.
Discuss the customer revolution in manufacturing together with representatives from Tacton, Intershop and our mutual customer Atlas Copco at the Tacton Smart Commerce Online Summit on November 17.
The window of opportunity is already closing.
But with budget issues, how is it possible to act in an efficient way and not put the business at further risk?
One way is to act fast and create a quick Minimum Viable Product. Open or renew a digital channel for the most important and remunerative segment of your market: it does not have to be complete or exhaustive, but it is a way to hold on to your customer, increase their satisfaction and loyalty, and why not a possibility to increase your share despite your competitors while they are struggling?
It is wise to choose a solution that comes with the most Out of the Box features, that lives in the Cloud to avoid burdening the IT department, and that requires the minimum up-front investments.
It won’t be beneficial only to the customers, but it will also free up sales resources from mundane tasks and allow them to stay closer to customers and increase margin and quality.
What happens when the wave is passed? It would be very bad to lose the gained momentum. This is why it is very important to choose a platform that not only can go live quickly but also that is sufficiently elastic and reliable to grow together with your business and be the foundation of a newly found prosperity.
Ready to learn more? Join us on November 17th for our Smart Commerce Summit with Intershop, nVent, Atlas Copco, Pelco, and more!
Note: This article was first published by Mauro Boffardi, Customer Success Leader at Intershop
This week’s author is Tacton’s Chief Growth Officer, Mikkel Drucker! Mikkel has been with Tacton since August 2018 and has transformedmarketingby doubling the team and utilizing pure digital tactics. Before Tacton, Mikkel worked with global leaders such as Nokia, Telenor, TrustPilot and Atea.
According to Forrester purchases through sales reps declined from 46% to 42% since the start of the pandemic. These numbers indicate a move to an online sales journey, something manufacturers have struggled with.
Differentiating your brand from your competition can be a tall task, believe me, I’ve spent the better part of my career working with business strategy, brand management, and business development. I’ve seen trends come and go but one thing remains the same, knocking off the competition isn’t easy, but can be done with quality products and a great customer experience.
With my crash coursein the manufacturing industry during my time with Tacton I’ve seen many manufacturers struggle to create the brand loyalty that companies in other industries have created. There is good news, breaking the status quo is part of the new normal.
It starts with generating high-quality leads
If customers are starting their buying process researching online, traditional digital marketing tactics won’t suffice. In order to generate high-quality leads in manufacturing, it’s necessary to drive breakthrough customer experiences starting in the configuration process.
The customer experience starts with researching product information, features, benefits, and vendors online. We have all heard ‘content is king, but’ it’s becoming more difficult to stand out amongst a crowded competitive field without giving an immersive customer experience.
Join us and other manufacturing leaders such as nVent, Atlas Copco and Intershop for a webinar discussing the challenges of becoming customer-centric in a time of great disruption
Once a prospect identifies their needs, it’s time for industrial manufacturers to reinvent their buying experience using Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) with Visualization— all integrated into their website and internal systems. This enables a seamless buying experience across channels that connects customers directly to your brand.
Powered by CPQ integrated into your web experience, anyone has the power to configure highly customized industrial manufacturing products based on their defined needs. Guided selling asks questions based on customer requirements, building an optimized solution in real-time. When paired with 3D visual configuration, the customer can see every change they make on their screen in real-time.
Additionally, leading visualization capabilities include augmented reality (AR) for an even more immersive B2C-like experience. A powerful CPQ paired with 3D Visualization all but guarantees you are generating high quality leads with low touch- all through your website. After all, when is the last time anyone comfortably made an eCommerce purchase without visuals?
Pro Tip: Do not let a digital transformation happen without Visualization!
It might seem tempting to hold off or move to phase two for cost purposes, but do not let digital transformation and your CPQ project exclude visualization. Reinventing B2B sales means creating an innovative B2C-like buying experience. To be successful, Visualization is a top requirement.
The ultimate opportunity
During the current crisis, manufacturers everywhere are searching for new ways to build a world-class B2C-like customer experience. That’s why it’s time for manufacturers to break free from the status quo and deploy new, and exciting ways to engage with customers in a way that builds brand quality and trust. If you’d like a little more info on how Marketing can lead the charge for digital transformation check out my piece:The Modern Manufacturing CMO
Simply put, Customer Centricity for manufacturing is about putting the customer at the core of all your business and manufacturing processes. In a Customer-centric organization, all business decisions are made with the customer’s interests in mind. This implies that customer-centric businesses structure their operations (including culture and philosophy) to meet the needs and maximizing value delivered to the customer.
In Manufacturing, this means adopting a holistic view of the business in order to identify how each business area is responding to the needs of their customers. This involves providing the right products and services that customers need, at the right time and in the way they need it. In doing so, the customer perceives a superior buying experience, a higher value, and thus a higher return on their investment.
There is an important distinction worth pointing out. Being Customer-Centric is not the same as being customer-focused or declaring that your customers are what is most important to your business. Customer-Centricity is about transforming your business processes, so they serve the needs of the customer, first and foremost.
Why is Customer-Centricity important for Manufacturers?
Customers today have access to unlimited information; they are more resourceful and more in control of their buying journey than ever before. Manufacturers that are not equipped to respond to these new trends will lose potential customers and fail to retain existing ones. Becoming Customer-Centric is the best way for manufacturers to remain competitive and ensure a sustainable future.
Manufacturers that are considering how to become truly customer-centric need to look at the entire relationship with their customer (customer lifecycle) from their first interaction to where they are currently (from marketing to customer success and everything in between) and ensure they are engaged in responding to their needs every step of the way.
Customer Centricity Starts with the Buying Journey
By the time a buyer engages with a vendor, they would have already completed 70% of the buying journey. This means that by the time they contact you, the customer has a good idea of what they want and that you have it, leaving your sales rep to help the buyer with the remaining 30%.
Manufacturers need to recognize that they cannot sit back and wait for customers to contact them. Instead, Manufacturers need to look at the entire buying journey and ensure they are supporting the customer at every step. A buyer that is dissatisfied, confused, or simply does not find the information they need, will seek out a vendor that provides them with what they are looking for.
It is for this reason that the buying journey is where B2B businesses need to start if they aim to become customer-centric. This is where first impressions are made, and where a prospect will decide to trust you or not.
Manufacturers today face an existential crisis. The pandemic that triggered a much-anticipated recession that became a catalyst for change. Manufacturers today understand that in such a competitive environment, customer-centricity is the key to gaining and retaining customers. Manufacturers can no longer rely on product centricity or engage in race-to-the-bottom-price-wars.
Becoming customer-centric involves the entire organization, and it should start with the areas that have the biggest impact on the customer experience: the buying journey. A smooth, uncomplicated, and fast buying journey is 3X more likely to increase the final deal size (Gartner) and it is the building block to a long and trusting relationship.
The technological barriers that prevented Manufacturers from offering a superior buying journey, no longer exist. Manufacturers need to fill in the gaps by embracing digital technologies for the benefit of the customer. Ensuring that the customer needs are met can also ensure a sustainable future for manufacturers.
How to DEMO Manufacturing products remotely using 3D and AR (Augmented reality).
The coronavirus is transforming how we “get to work” – in all senses of the word. With many people being asked to work from home (#WFH), it’s hard to go online and not read tips on designing your home workspace, or even the top 5 tips to host a remote sales meeting.
Few professionals,however, seem to understand the challenges of B2B sales. Particularly, the challenges of selling complex manufacturing products. It’s not as if their sales process wasn’t already complicated enough, now with everyone working from home, it’s next to impossible to make progress on their sales process. Or maybe… you just don’t have the right tools.
Just because you can’t meet your customers in person, does not mean that you can’t demo your products. Here’s how.
Imagine sending your prospects a customized product quote, along with a bar code.
For this example, let’s pretend you sell elevators (watch the video below):
It’s important to note that this was not just a 3D/AR visualization of a STANDARD product. Rather, this is a virtual demo of a CONFIGURED product – customized to the exact specifications of the client.
AR demos are becoming more commonplace and they are being used in a wider range of products. On average, 65% of people are visual learners, and they can retain 4 times more information if it’s accompanied by visual aids.
It looks simple, doesn’t it? Well, for our customers that have implemented Tacton Visual Configuration, the process is as easy as it looks. Let’s take a closer look.
It all starts with CPQ (Configure Price Quote). This is the underlying technology that guides the user through the configuration process with ease, ensuring that all components selected are compatible and viable. For configurable products (especially those with many variables that are highly complex), a CPQ is vital for ensuring the product meets the customer’s needs and that the configuration itself is error-free.
In this slightly longer version of the video, you can see what would happen if the customer is not satisfied with the product quoted. CPQ simplifies the configuration process to such an extent that even a customer can do it.
Tacton uses an AI-powered configuration engine, allowing configuration (including accurate price and realistic visualizations) to be carried out in real-time. This makes it possible for you to put together a complete quote during a sales meeting, or right after speaking to the customer. Once configured, you can send images and augmented reality (AR) demos of that exact product. This gives the customer an accurate preview of the product they are looking to buy.
The very same configuration quoted can be seamlessly transferred to the ERP systems or the PLM systems so that it is manufactured exactly as quoted. CPQ eliminated the back and forth between sales, production, and engineering.
So far, all this can be done remotely, without the need to travel or meet in person.
Do you think your organization can benefit from such solutions?
If you are interested in seeing a complete demo on how this quoting process would go, we recently hosted a 20min webinar that walks you through the entire visual configuration process in greater detail.
Would you like to try it for yourself?
We’ve created 2 fictional companies: Tructon, a Truck manufacturer; and Parker Lifts and elevator company. These are free for anyone to try out. It’s important to remember that these are “demos” and tacton provides the underlying technology. The looks and feel (UX) can be completely customized by the customer.
How to start using our AR app:
1) Download the app here: AR app available only on IOS, if you have Android, you can still test the demos on the desktop and view the 3D versions, check out steps 2 and 3).