Blog Category: Smart Commerce

Becoming Customer-Centric in Manufacturing

Workers working to define the customer

What is Customer Centricity for Manufacturers?

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.

Conclusion

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.

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How to Collaborate with your Remote Sales Prospects

remote collaboration agreement

In remote sales, submitting a complete quote to a customer is vital. Here’s how you can collaborate remotely with your customer to co-create a successful deal.

This is the 3rd installment of our “Remote Selling for Manufacturers” series. Past posts included “5 Tips to host a video sells meeting” and “How to demo products remotely”.

Over the past couple of months, many commercial teams, including those working for global manufacturers, have gotten used to working remotely. While you may have found ways of keeping your customers and prospects engaged, chances are that many on-going sales process were stopped from one week to the next. Today, many organizations are embracing the latest technologies to carry on with their sales processes remotely. Until recently, manufacturers selling complex products lacked the sales tools to enable remote sales.

The most critical moment of a Sale

Submitting a complete quote to a customer is one of the most important moments of a sale. This moment captures all the previous engagements, meetings and discussions you had with the customer and is a testament of how you plan to meet your customer’s needs.

Given the complexity of B2B deals, it is common for an initial proposal to be submitted only to be returned with corrections and suggestions form the customer. While no side wants delays, all parties understand the need to ensure every last detail is correct before an agreement is finalized. The fewer these backs and forth, the faster both parties can get what they want.

In the past, the process of getting the quote just right would be carried out over days or weeks, by means of a back and forth (typically in writing). While e-mail, and document sharing services have managed to speed things up from the days of the fax, the process remained slow and cumbersome.

Don’t just communicate, COLLABORATE!

The process of “coming to an agreement” used to involve the back-and-forth “dialogue” between two sides, each trying to get their needs met. Today, any B2B salesperson understands that it’s never a good idea to see the other party as an adversary (win-lose), rather as a partner with a common goal (win-win). In other words, if you want to be effective today, you need to actively collaborate with your customers and help them achieve their goals.

While many may agree to this win-win approach, in theory, many organizations struggle to put it into practice. Fortunately, today there are new sales tools and software solutions that make it easier to embrace collaboration with your customers while working remotely. Here’s how.

2 Ways of collaborating with customers during the sales process

1)      Crafting a quote together, step by step, during the same sales call

Imagine if it was possible to be on a video call with your customer. As you are listening to the needs of the customer, you are able to create the quote so by the time you hang up, the quote is already sitting in their inbox. This is exactly what happens in this video.

The video was created by one of our product managers working from home, who enlisted the help of his neighbor to play the role of a buyer. This is yet another example of how we are adapting to this situation.

Here you see how within a call, the salesperson is able to make adjustments to the quote in real-time. If you watched to the end, you can see that the quote will be ready “in a few minutes”.

This is an ideal example of what collaboration with your customer looks like. The customer feels understood and feedback if acted upon right away.

2)      Asynchronously: Handing the keys to the customer

While configuring the quote at the same time might be ideal. There are cases when your customer is working half-way around the world and having a clear video call at the same time is just not feasible. To remain collaborative in these situations, you need to give the customer part-ownership of the process. There are many benefits to allowing your customers to co-create the quote with you, including tapping into what’s known as the IKEA effect.

In this 2-minute video, we can see how a prospect received a detailed quote and, like in the above video, he is able to visualize the product using AR.

Here, you can see how the customer was not satisfied with the original quote. Rather than “sending it back” to you, the customer is empowered to log in directly to a limited quoting environment and reconfigure the order to match their needs.

All that is left to do, is for you to observe the changes made and proceed with the quote.

(BONUS) The Hidden Benefits of Collaboration

We’ve just highlighted some of the practical benefits of collaborating with your customer, especially when it comes to working remotely. There are, also some additional benefits to working in a collaborative way.

1) Shorter sales cycle: The easier it is to make alterations and adjustments, the quicker both sides can come to an agreement.

2) Reduce quoting errors: With its AI-powered configurator, every quote is technically 100% error-free. This reduces the need for sales engineers to correct any order errors.

3) CPQ quotes and proposals are directly linked to Salesforce (or other CRMs) and with your ERP

4) Configured product orders from CPQ are seamlessly transferred to the PLM or other production software.

remote collaboration agreement

 Image credit: Idea vector created by stories – www.freepik.com

Is your organization still stuck on a back-and-forth sales loop? We’re here to help. Click here and request a personalized demo with one of our specialists.

Check out our Resource page where you can read customer success stories, and experience live customer demos.

HOW TO DEMO MANUFACTURING PRODUCTS REMOTELY

How to Demo Manufacturing products remotely

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).

2) Go into one of our 2 demo environments at tructon.com or www.parkerlifts.com

3) Configure your product and imagine how the products your company makes could be configured this way.

You can also see how some of our customers are using Visual Configurations here: https://www.tacton.com/resources/?resource_type=m207-live-examples

The Smart Commerce Cheat Sheet

Smart Commerce Cheat Sheet

You remember those cheat sheets your teachers in high school and college would let you make for tests? The ones where you’d jam as many notes on the back as you possibly could. In the real-world, the anxiety of tests is replaced with trying to make work as easy as possible.  

Manufacturing isn’t an exception, with so many different trends, phrases and technologies it can be easy to get lost in the information overload. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a cheat sheet of our product offering, Smart Commerce, for you. And like those cheat sheets you used in class, we’ll keep everything to the point. 

So, what is Smart Commerce?  

Smart Commerce enables manufacturers to digitally transform their business in a smart, profitable way across the buying and selling cycle by improving internal operations and delivering an exceptional customer experience  

What are the stages of the buying journey?  

  • Search: Marketing and commercial leaders must make it easier for customers to find and build custom products online.  Make it easier for your team to get quality leads that convert. 
  • Buy- Commercial leaders must empower their customers to buy their customized product solutions on any channel they prefer. Let your customers shop any time with self-service or eCommerce. 
  • Deliver: Product and engineering leaders must deliver the right solution to the customer every time. Removing order errors from the engineering process, easier said than done with so much back and forth between teams. Don’t worry we’ll get to that solution 
  • Service: Customer success and service leaders must sell and service over the entire product lifecycle. Making sure the customer is happy with the product and create potential future upsells with existing customers and new prospects. 

What are the solutions that come with Tacton Smart Commerce?  

Tacton Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) – At the heart of Smart Commerce our CPQ enables 100% accurate quotes ensuring delivery of the right product, at the right price, at the right time, every time, accelerating your sales and enhancing the customer experience. 

Visual Configuration– Empower your customers to see and interact with their custom products in real-time in their unique environment giving them a more enjoyable buying process instead of leaving visualization to their imagination.  

CPQ Integrations– Drive business processes and leverage big data through integrations to Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and any ERP and solution you can think of for a frictionless buying experience for your customers and efficient quote process for your sales and engineering teams.  

Design Automation– Free up engineering to focus on innovation by automating design to sell custom products as fast as standard by eliminating costly design errors, order changes and repetitive tasks.  

CPQ Analytics– Leveraging data has never been more important, CPQ offers a wealth of data that can inform you on how your customers buy, which products sell and much more.  

Omnichannel Sales– Expand your offering online enabling customers to shop and buy when, where and how they choose, across channels. Utilize the power of CPQ online through website and eCommerce integrations to sell highly configurable products. 

The Spark Notes Version:

  • CPQ– Enable everyone on your team to respond to customer requests in a fast, efficient manner that eliminates potential errors and allows your team to maximize profit.  
  • Visual Configuration– Quit relying on text-based descriptions that bore your customer and your sales team and give them what they want real-time visuals. From the smallest detail to the biggest create an emotional attachment to the product your customer created themselves for an increased chance of closing the deal.  
  • CPQ Integrations Eliminate spreadsheets and double work by connecting to business-critical CRMs and ERPs to move fast on any customer request. 
  • Design Automation– Allow your engineers to do what they signed up for, innovating your products by eliminating repetitive tasks.  
  • CPQ Analytics– Quit giving discounts because you don’t understand your product portfolio.  
  • Omnichannel Sales– Sell anywhere, anytime with eCommerce and self-service options.

A cheat sheet is always helpful, but so is reading our definitive guide to Smart Commerce, The Manufacturers’ Guide to Smart CommerceManufacturing is always ready for new ideas and Smart Commerce offers the most effective way to transform your operations from the factory floor to the salesroom.  

If any of these topics sound interesting schedule your demo today and learn how you can get lightyears ahead of your competition with Smart Commerce.  

Solve the Manufacturing Sales Riddle with Smart Commerce

Manufacturing Riddle

An old riddle once said “I’m not in sales, but I’m your best agent. Who am I? The answer to that is happy customers and users of your product 

Making sales is never easy; it can be as confusing as the riddle mentioned above. For instance, you can have meaningful interactions with a prospect and be close to a deal, but the deal falls through for any number of reasons. Or you could think a deal is dead and your prospect changes his or her mind and closes a deal with you.  

This riddle has gone on for every sales team in any business, manufacturing is no exception 

All your sales team wants is to enable your prospective customers before, during and after the sales process. Is it possible to meet your customers anywhere and anytime? It’s possible to do all of this and more by enabling omnichannel sales for your team.  

Search: 

The first step in an omnichannel sales cycle has shifted from cold calling to your prospects searching for products online. Much like when you meet a client for the first time it’s important to give a first good impression when prospects search for your product. With a visual product configurator, you can make a strong impression on anyone. Buyers aren’t interested in reading about your product anymore they want to see it. 80% of people remember what they see, compared to 10% what they hear and 20% of what they read. Quit waiting around for customers to call you and engage them with 3D and AR visualizations of your product.  

Buy: 

Now that you’ve captured the imagination of your new client with stunning visualization (we don’t need to let our marketing budget speak for us, our products do) it’s time to get your quoting process in line with your visuals. Sloppy quoting isn’t going to solve the riddle and make your customers happy. It’s going to make them look for better options. Losing money isn’t an option, especially with a gloomy economic picture in the forecast. Delivering the best quote, the first time will save your sales team time and stress.  

Using CPQ fundamentally changes how your sales team interacts with customers. With 100% accurate quotes sales team doesn’t have to worry about going back and forth with your engineering team to ensure a product is correct.  

Quoting isn’t the only issue CPQ solves. Integrations to CPQ (Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, SAP) save your sales team even more time. Quickly and effectively create a seamless buying journey by connecting your existing CRM systems to CPQ.  

Delivery 

CPQ and visualization have done their part and now your engineering team will have to deliver the products you’ve promised. Using Design Automation (DA) can help streamline production and reduce engineering costs by providing the correct drawings and info to engineers. Now that you’ve saved time and money it’s possible to improve your R&D and provide new products for a happier customer.  

Service: 

We’ve covered all our basis so far, marketing, sales and engineering. But what happens after the sale that can provide value? Understanding how to leverage CPQ data can provide new intel on buying patterns, delivery trends and portfolio performance. CPQ analytics can enable your organization to become more omnichannel by connecting every process.  

From the first touchpoint to the servicing of the product it’s critical to create a seamless connectivity that enables omnichannel sales. With Tacton Smart Commerce it’s possible to go where no other CPQ vendor has gone before. A true omnichannel experience that keeps you connected to prospects and current customers at every touchpoint.  

Don’t let other vendors tell you they know the manufacturing industry like we do, we’ve got over 20 years’ experience with the biggest names such as Siemens, Caterpillar and Scania.  

We’ve solved the manufacturing sales riddle in the past. Why would your company be any different? Get in touch with us and schedule your demo today 

 

So, What is Smart Commerce?

Tacton Smart Commerce Configuration

How will a product configurator drive digital transformation?

Your B2B buyers expect B2C shopping experiences. That means your buyers expect to configure and research a truck cab or a robotic pallet system the same way they expect to customize their running shoes, upholstery on a sofa, or configure their new Mercedes. They want to see and visualize what they are buying, before they buy it. They want to interact intelligently with your sales engineers and ensure they are buying exactly what they need – without a lot of back and forth. And, they want it now.

In fact, according to Gartner, buyers are 57% of the way through their buying process before they even reach out to a vendor. Additionally, by 2025, Accenture predicts 50% of all transactions in manufacturing will take place over the internet. 

For manufacturing, Smart Commerce means delivering these kinds of custom, configured experiences online. Your customers demand self-service, visualization, customization, and fast delivery across all channels. Manufacturers need to be agile and respond intelligently while delivering an accurate quote – the first time.

What needs to happen to enable these kinds of online experiences?  What needs to change? How can manufacturers sell configured, customized products online? 

The first step is eliminating inefficiency. Manufacturers have traditionally dealt with internal silos, long sales cycles, inaccurate quotes, struggles to deliver what the customer ordered, and internal inefficiencies that lead to costly delays and inaccuracies.   

As a manufacturer, that might seem like a daunting task… but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, many manufacturers have already adopted a strong digital strategy using Configure Price Quote software that has led to compelling results. 

CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) tools improve efficiencies and enable faster quoting. As a selling tool, CPQ can transform the user experience.

For example, Scania (manufacturer of heavy vehicles) wanted to enable their dealers and customers to configure trucks through their website. Using Tacton they we’re able to showcase their products in a fast, dynamic and interactive way to customers. 

So what does it all mean?

Manufacturers that fail to invest in digital commerce will lose deals to competitors. 

Making the move to CPQ does not need to be complicated. Tacton CPQ for manufacturing makes it easy with integrations to leading platforms including SAP, Salesforce.com Sales and Manufacturing Clouds, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Sales Cloud, and other ecosystems with an open API:

  • Tacton Smart Commerce extends Salesforce with capabilities that make configuring and selling custom products easier than ever. Offered through AppExchange, Tacton CPQ for Salesforce integrates your customers’ data into Salesforce. Developed specifically for the manufacturing industry, Tacton helps your sales team to configure, price and quote with 100% accuracy.
  • Tacton Smart Commerce CPQ integrates with Microsoft Dynamics and simplifies manufacturers’ unique workflows. Enable a frictionless buying experience for your customers by allowing your sales team to deliver the optimal quote every time.
  • Tacton integrates with the tools you use to run your business, whether it’s SAP C4C or Oracle Sales Cloud, we integrate seamlessly into any CRM or ERP system. Tacton’s CPQ integrations make it easy for you to connect your digital business initiatives with the tools you already use.
  • Tacton Smart Commerce for SAP ECC and VC integrates your data by eliminating manual maintenance, syncing data across your systems, automatically aligning configurations and quotes, creating a simplified, personalized buying experience for your customers, closing complex deals faster. Tacton offers out of the box integrations to SAP ECC and VC. Additionally, our open API enables integrations into any SAP system. Tacton has the expertise and smartest solution to enable manufacturers to improve their internal efficiencies, accelerate sales, enhance their customer experience, and ultimately compete on value.

Don’t get left behind! 

Learn more by downloading our free ebookThe Manufacturers’ Guide to Smart Commerce.”