Putting the customer at the heart of the sales process sounds like an easy thing to do right?
Many companies have different ways to reach their buyers but still fail to make successful impressions on them. This is a common occurrence in the manufacturing industry where complex products are sold daily in a mostly in-person setting with a sales executive.
Now that B2B buyers do most of the research (57% according to Accenture) and purchasing online it’s important to offer them the products where they are buying them and quickly. But offering them products quickly isn’t the most important part of an omnichannel experience. Customers want self-service, they want all the relevant information on hand before they even think about purchasing your products. Your buyers want to see the full range of your offering by using a configurator and visualization technology to see the product they want.
For all the worried salespeople reading this, don’t worry your job is still criticaltomanufacturingproducts, but it’s important for your company to offer ways to eliminate the tedious processes that impede sales.
In-person selling is a proven way to sell directly to a customer, but with B2B buyers taking more time than ever to weigh their purchases it’s important to find a new way to reach them. This is where manufacturing could take a page out of the retail marketing playbook.
Once eCommerce became the main way customers bought products many retailers made products available via a website and mobile apps. Now more than evermanufacturing companies need to use an omnichannel experience to reach these customers, something that manufacturers who want to be more B2B based need to do to digitize their company.
What is an omnichannel experience?
An omnichannel experience offers your customers a seamless way to interact and buy your products across multiple channels at any time, this allows for your business to be in touch with them throughout the buying journey.
What does an omnichannel manufacturing experience look like?
This is an important way to sell products in the manufacturing industry but how can it be done with products that are complex and difficult to configure?
To truly havean omnichannel experience it isnecessary to simplify the sales process. As products have become more complex to build the longer the sales cycle has become. From the back and forth between sales and engineering to get orders right to building a unique item it can take a lot of man-hours to sell a product. This slow process needs to change to sell faster and enhance the customer experience.
The first step before a buyer contacts your sales team is researching your product offering. If you don’t have a place to showcase your unique products you will lose business to a company that can.
This is where it is important to offer items such as a configurator and visualization right on your website. Buyers don’t want to have meetings in their initial stages of buying, they want to see how the product would look and feel. Selling can be easier when you understand the tendencies of your buyer, an omnichannel selling experience allows for you to be with them at every touchpoint along their journey. Adding something like a built-in configurator will be another reason why they’d choose your business over the competition who can’t show them their product on their phone or the comfort of their own home.
An omnichannel experience for your customer can also help align the goals of your sales and marketing teams. Having an omnichannel presence can bring marketing and sales closer by leveraging the data from your customers into results. Using visualization on your website is a perfect way to drive interest in your products, but more importantly, generate high-quality leads.
Allowing your customer to reach out to a sales team member at any point is important for several reasons. Understanding which channel, the customer has come from can help your sales and marketing teams engage them with similar content or messaging as the channel they came from. This allows your sales rep to have all the information about the customer before they even walk into the sales meeting, helping them prepare the perfect pitch.
Has your business been considering incorporating cloud-based CPQ software? Now more than ever the cloud is a realistic option that can combine powerful collaboration with flexibility and mobility. Cloud-based collaboration can offer much morethat can help future-proof a business. Cloud collaboration has been used internally for years now, but it has evolved to further connect merchants and customers. With these connections, both merchants and customers can go a long way to work faster and collaborate in real-time.
How can cloud-based CPQ software digitally transform your operations?
Work anytime anywhere– Having a cloud-based solution will allow employees to work quickly from their desktop, laptop or even their cellphone when they are out in the field. Being able to work from the cloud anywhere can help show clients the newest updates to items with little to no delay.
Smooth and efficient collaboration– With team members working from all over it is important to keep everyone aligned on business goals. Having the right cloud-based solution will allow for smooth and consistent communication to reach these goals. Even when changes are needed on items like business proposals it can be done quickly and in real-time with of customers.
Set up activity feed– Enabling this feature enhances your customer experience by alerting them to any new activity in their project while providing the seller insights on what content has been interacted with and by who.
Scale for your business– The cloud helps you choose plug-ins and applications that are right for your business. With this flexibility, it is easy to help your business in growth periods as well as slower periods throughout the year.
Shorten the approval process– With so much back and forth between employees and managers over small details in thingssuch as a sales pitch can slow approving items to a grinding halt. Within the cloud both manager, employee and even potential client can track the changes in real-time and get keep the process moving quickly.
Security– Having outdated web security practices can lead to phishing attempts as well as hacking. Even having paper-based information from sales totals to employee’s personal information can lead to security breaches. These fears can easily be eliminated with a good cloud-based system that offers security measures against any possible attack.
Incorporating cloud-based CPQ software solutions not only future-proofs your business while also keeping employees connected to the latest updates and communications, but also keeps the customer happy and engaged. Discover how Bürkert used cloud-based collaboration to be more efficient and improve customer experience.
In our latest survey, we asked large and mid-sized manufacturers worldwide, if they are ready for the fourth industrial revolution – and got surprising answers.
Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution which is powered by new technologies that enable automation and data exchange. It includes cyber-physical systems, IOT, cloud computing, and cognitive computing.
The manufacturing industry has talked about Industry 4.0 for many years, but have companies started to realize the potential of the new technologies?
Tacton conducted a survey of 100 primarily large and mid-sized manufacturers worldwide, to get a better sense of how Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing trends are both impacting their businesses today and shaping their future plans.
How far have manufacturers come in their journey?
How far along are manufacturers in achieving Industry 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing priorities?
Results are decidedly mixed. When asked how well Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing were understood in the organization, a plurality (41%) responded they are aware, but not aware enough. Only 21% felt they had a very good understanding and had a Smart Manufacturing strategy in place.
Given the overall awareness of Industry 4.0/Smart Manufacturing trends, most manufacturers still feel they are coming up short in terms of creating and implementing a strategy. Only 13% of companies answered that were well advanced with the digitalization of core processes.
Manufacturers that are unable to catch up to the first movers will likely face strong competitive challenges that may impact business revenue and even long-term business viability.
Implementing Industry 4.0 – the challenges
Given this lagging progress, it was interesting to learn what the typical challenges with implementing Industry 4.0 are. The most striking response to this question was that almost half of respondents cited “lack of knowledge” as the greatest challenge presented in implementing Industry 4.0 within their organization. When combined with the 40% concerned with “lack of technical skills”, it becomes immediately apparent that the industry must move fast to catch up with the technical advances of recent years. 33% were worried about the “lack of leadership skills” – when these three responses are viewed together, it seems evident that companies have to radically reevaluate their approach if they are remaining relevant and competitive in this new era.
Customer experience – powered by Industry 4.0
Given the prominent role of Business Intelligence (BI) and big data analytics in Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing, the survey queried how this data was being used in the manufacturing enterprise. Not surprisingly, close to half of respondents stated that “understanding the market” was the primary use of BI and Big Data.
More interesting was the fact that 32% of respondents listed “understanding the customer buying process” as a primary use of data. As the customer experience moves front and center in manufacturing, some businesses are using data and BI to better connect the sales process to production processes.
When queried on which technologies are most critical for future success, IoT and Big Data analytics won the competition, revealing a very customer-centric focus that reflects the importance of the customer experience.
Production technologies such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and advanced robotics dominated the next tier of responses. One takeaway here is that manufacturers have grown familiar with the latest production technology but are now realizing the equal importance of the buying experience in order to maximize revenue potential.
To download the full report and learn how manufacturers see the role of CPQ technology in their digital transformation, download the full report.