by Caitlin Danforth, Digital Marketing Specialist
Manufacturers have never faced a greater need for innovation. From continuous industry consolidation, rising geopolitical uncertainty, technology disruption like the internet of things (IoT), and of course changing customer expectations as older buyers retire out and younger tech-savvy buyers become decision makers, they are challenged on all fronts of their businesses. This means that manufacturers have to deploy new business models, embrace digital strategies, and empower the changing workforce or risk falling behind their competitors. All of these drive toward business outcomes and, ultimately, predictability.
Creating predictability and transparency for manufacturers requires sales and operations alignment and the maintenance of a single source of truth for customer and partner data. Without industry-specific software, manufacturers are left to grapple with data spread across multiple spreadsheets and ERP systems. This disjointed recordkeeping is nearly impossible to distill into actionable insights and predictable demand. And without synchronization between the front and back offices, manufacturers are left struggling to adapt to changing customer demands – which, according to the 2019 B2B Manufacturer Buyer Report, can cause up to 88% of customers to switch to a competitor.
Salesforce’s latest industry-specific product launch aims to unify sales and operations teams and meet customer expectations. Yesterday’s launch in Chicago showcased Manufacturing Cloud’s most important capabilities, including interdepartmental access to and editing of sales agreements, account-based forecasting, and Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing. Leveraging these tools provides unprecedented transparency across the value chain, empowering manufacturers to be more agile and adapt faster to changing customer demands.
Manage the Sales Agreement Lifecycle
Centralized record-keeping for sales agreements, a core function of the Manufacturing Cloud software, will bring contract terms including expected order quantity and revenues into the account record. Updates can be made in real time to ensure that both sales and operations understand predicted customer needs and adapt accordingly. Graphical representations of expected vs actual orders, along other timely custom metrics, allow account teams to more easily manage the sales cycle and prepare for renewals in advance – leading to an increase in recurring revenue and improved client relationships.
Predicting demand is critical, and a lack of customer insights impedes manufacturing success. While sales teams may have insight to changing customer needs or market trends, it can be difficult to share this knowledge with the ops team to recalculate forecasted demand. Account-based forecasting allows teams to collaborate and adjust forecasts without updating dozens of spreadsheets. This, in turn, makes key metrics (like revenue and order quantity) easier to predict.
Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing
AI empowers your sales team to nurture key accounts more effectively through easy-to-read insights into sales agreement progress and account health. Using analytics drawn from past customer purchasing behavior, account teams can make data-driven decisions, rather than analyzing events posthumously. This, in turn, minimizes manual data processing and shifts focus to growing revenue and margins.
Kawasaki’s 2-Hour Implementation Success
Manufacturing Cloud is already producing successful results in pilot programs, as evidenced by Kawasaki Engines, a global engine manufacturer with sales and service cloud experience. IT Business Strategy Manager Tony Gondick outlined Kawasaki’s most urgent issue: aligning sales forecasting with real-world demand to determine production logistics and increase operational efficiency. Gondick stated that the two-hour implementation of out-of-the-box Manufacturing Cloud capabilities enabled the sales, operations, and OEM partner greater collaboration without time wasted in manual data entry. This freed up time to build relationships with customers, upsell, cross-sell, and nurture accounts who had fallen below expected sales.
Kawasaki’s innovative application of new technology allowed them to meet changing customer needs in the face of new industry challenges. Considering 99% of B2B buyers expect suppliers to prioritize innovation, creating a strategic roadmap in the run-up to Manufacturing Cloud’s launch in October can position manufacturers for success in 2020. Learn more about what B2B buyers expect from suppliers, and how to start your innovation journey, in our 2019 eCommerce Innovator Playbook.