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Navigating an Uncertain Manufacturing Future

Define your manufacturing future today

The past year has rocked how every industry does business due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and industrial manufacturing is no exception. From closing factories to furloughing employees manufacturers have felt the pain of the pandemic. Working from home is an option for many, but keeping the factory running requires individuals to go into the factory daily to keep operations from stopping. While some countries are making a positive impact on slowing the pandemic others are facing the reality of another pause of operations. 

With so much uncertainty in the future, manufacturers must accelerate actions to digitalize their operations for agility, while also creating new and innovative products to stay ahead of any competition. One thing is certain, COVID-19 has accelerated long-standing cracks in manufacturers’ foundations. From slow inefficient internal operations through high-touch sales processes– the customer experience is disjointedWhile customer demands for highly customized products have been the norm, there is more pressure to connect systems and deliver a low-touch online experience to meet the new demand. With travel restrictions and social distancing as the new norm, manufacturers must act with urgency to digitalize their internal operations and invest in digital commerce.  

Maximizing output with less 

With cutbacks in both employees and production, it’s important that manufacturers who are seeking new digital solutions consider tools that empower existing employees to do more with less. It starts with your sales team; It starts with your customers and thinking about their buying experience. How can they sell products fast and accurately to account for the scarcity of buyers in the market? How can we sell this complex, configurable products when sales can’t meet face to face? How can we help those who need to buy remotely?  And these aren’t simple products, they are highly configurable manufacturing items that need to fit the exact unique specification of customers who are willing to find other options if needed.  

Optimizing your selling process starts with Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) tools that enable your sales team, no matter how much experience they must quickly produce custom and accurate quotes to potential customers. CPQ provides a selling and buying experience manufacturers have been looking for. Nothing is too complex to configure anymore.  

In addition to a fast buying experience, CPQ integrates directly into existing business-critical systems such as CRM, ERP, and eCommerce. CPQ software 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. 

Enable contactless buying 

Letting customers shop from anywhere is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must-have for manufacturers to survive through the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and new normal. Customer Self-Service for manufacturers can enable buyers to work with the products they want from home or the office. Working with CPQ and Guided Selling customers will always configure products that can quickly be brought to your engineers and factory.  

Empower your sales team to do more 

Your sales team benefits from using Guided Selling, which can makes selling manufacturing products that much easier. Every question in Guided Selling creates a string of answers that always leads to a valid solution at the end. Think of it as a decision tree where every question asked accounts for any previous answer. This makes sure your sales team gives product configurations that not only work but eliminate order errors down to the smallest detailGuided Selling can make every member of your sales team like your top seller, fast, knowledgeable, and ready to sell at any time. This takes the pressure off of your team by enabling them to give valid products every time. You could even extend Guided Selling for your customers to use on their own time.  

Removing errors and creating a quick way to showcase manufacturing products to customers can lead to a journey that is fast and highlighted by accuracy and optimization. The new B2B customer wants everything fast, custom, and correct the first time. Especially now with scarce leads, it’s critical to capitalize on any opportunity fast to create a happy and loyal customer who will come back for products in the future.  

Your sales team will also be able to demo products from anywhere and give stunning visuals that are accurate down to the smallest detail. Manufacturers have long struggled to showcase their product portfolio in an interactive and engaging way. Text-based descriptions won’t fly with the modern B2B buyer.  

Visual Configuration and Augmented Reality (AR) showcase your products in an impressive way eliminating reliance on old, time-consuming methods. Increase the chance of closing the deal by allowing the customer to create their own product on their own, or side by side with a sales rep to make the optimal decision faster. One of our customers was able to save between 70% and 80% of the engineering resources that were previously needed by enabling engineering, sales and customers to work together to get the smallest product details correct.  

Visual Configuration can even be extended to your website, where you can host an online configurator to showcase products online for potential leads.  

Engineer the future of manufacturing 

With high customer, demand comes the need for high-quality CAD designs that must also be as accurate and fast as sales quotes. This puts your engineering team under a lot of pressure to quickly deliver accurate rendering of each customized product. Without a proper solution, designs are often left up to guesswork that is riddled with errors and is incredibly time-consuming.  

A digital solution that enables engineers to work faster is Design Automation. Using this enables your teams to create detailed 2D and 3D designs of configured products directly from your CAD systems that are integrated with CPQ. Reducing design time and eliminating order errors will enable your team to focus on creating new innovative products instead of reworking old products over and over 

Connecting the front end and the back end 

Now that sales and engineering have ironed all every detail with customers it’s time to send the product specs to the factory to be built. Before CPQ, manufacturers would often send quotes for products that had misconfigurations. These would be costly and leave customers upset. Connecting your CPQ and ERP solution together will enable your back end to plan the production, ensure the delivery, and send an accurate and optimized invoice directly to your customer.  

Dig deep into the data 

Expectation vs. Reality can be two different things for your customers. When they purchase a product they think it will do one thing but can quickly learn that reality may be a little different. That’s why understanding how products work is important to keep a strong relationship with customers. Being able to use the wealth of data that comes from CPQ can lead to a deeper product understanding. Knowing which products in your inventory are selling, not selling or even not working will enable your business to create a lean distribution network of optimized parts.  

It’s time to define your manufacturing future with Tacton 

Right now, is an uncertain time. Every business is scrambling to stay afloat and bring a sense of normalcy to business and employee’s lives. One thing is certain, change has highlighted the cracks in manufacturing operations across the globe. A move to digital, non-touch manufacturing solution could help your business not only survive but thrive in an uncertain manufacturing future.   

That solution is Tacton Smart Commerce powered by CPQ. An all-encompassing internal tool that can be deployed to help your sales, engineering, marketing and customer service teams work better together and with customers. CPQ can extend beyond the traditional manufacturing sales cycle. Giving your customers an opportunity to configure, visualize and quote products on their own time will bring them closer to your product and more likely to purchase.  

We’ve worked tirelessly to help our current manufacturing customers navigate an uncertain time with key data-driven results. We’re just as happy to help you along your journey to digital transformation.  

Don’t forget to schedule your demo today!

Author: Michael Brassea