How Equipment Manufacturers
Can Create More Value from
The business case for CRM technology into EM companies—with Sikich as your consulting partner
We need EMs to succeedEquipment manufacturing (EM) plays a key role in the economy. EM companies’ products are almost too many to name. They make it possible to perform medical procedures, run automated distribution facilities, produce electronics and food, motor vehicles and rocket ships – and so much more. EM customers use these products to fuel their own success, whether it be by making, distributing, or servicing their own customers. As individuals and as companies, we all benefit when EMs do well and suffer when they don’t.
THE BUSINESS CASE FOR CRM partner
Why should you think about CRM, and what can you and your customers expect from it? Customer relationships are a critical asset. CRM can help you do well by treating customers right at every touchpoint.
Customer relationships at riskToday, some EMs find that workforce turnover and changing global conditions expose their customer relationships to the liabilities of discontinuity and competitive takeovers. The pandemic accelerates and intensifies many of their challenges that were already present.
The traditional EM approach to selling and serving customers is relationship-based. Some of the most successful sales reps travel along with customers for many years. Much of the insight regarding these customers and their needs lives in the heads of long-term account reps and field service managers.
Challenges in global growth
Why is CRM SOFTWARE a good idea?
From basic priorities to strategic opportunitiesIf seasoned reps in your EM business are about to leave, your first step should be to bring their notes and insights into the CRM environment. EMs we know have created various practices to overcome new-user hesitancy. Sometimes, the new software tool is so attractive and easy to use that even reluctant technology users won’t balk at recording insights and customer data. Sometimes, EMs reward their reps for documenting their knowledge and account histories. Other organizations find embedding processes critical to the reps job (like pricing or quoting or accessing promotional material), or to their performance measures, is the most effective way to drive consistent user adoption.
However, you can use CRM for much more:
What does CRM mean for customers?No matter how and where customers prefer to do business and interact with their EM, you can manage the entire engagement consistently in the CRM software. Invitations and records of past virtual meetings, phone conferences, and face-to-face meetings. Emails, instant messages, shared documents and contracts, photos and diagrams—you can attach all these things to a customer record and keep them easily accessible. Your customers might not know that you’ve brought a new set of tools into your business, but will anything at all change for them?
For one thing, communications from your company might be more timely. A response to a sales or service inquiry may arrive faster than before, because the equipment manufacturing company’s employees could act and coordinate their steps immediately instead of researching the account or waiting for somebody else do to so. Even promotions can be more meaningful and compelling, because it’s easier to incorporate known customer interests and plans into your marketing.
CRM SOLUTIONS THAT HELP YOU MANAGE CUSTOMERS AND GROW YOUR Equipment manufacturing BUSINESS
Sikich recommends Microsoft CRM solutions that we deploy and support, and which we can help you evolve as needs change. We use a proven, nondisruptive approach that follows your priorities for productive change..
Keeping CRM real, simple, and practical
CRM may be easy to use, but it’s still a complex software product. Technology providers can take missteps if they are not deeply familiar with their customers’ industry and business model or with CRM technology. Poorly planned and managed CRM projects can fail or may never deliver the benefits companies hope for. Some customers invest in technology that is too difficult to use. Or, they omit one key step—getting buy-in from sales leadership. In those situations, user adoption typically starts small and stays that way, eventually causing a CRM project to fizzle out.
Comfortable, easy-to-use technologyFor many EMs that want to focus on managing and growing their business without distractions from complex technology deployments, Microsoft CRM solutions are the best fit. They are designed for real people in businesses who need to get work done, not expert users who have the time for experimental technology. Sikich relies on several proven Microsoft products to deliver CRM and customer insight capabilities:
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CE)
Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power Apps
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights
Equipment manufacturing sales executive moves the business forward.
Proving the CRM solutions internallyLike the businesses of our EM clients, Sikich’s success depends on healthy customer relationships built on trust and shared goals. We use Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE internally and experience the benefit of this solution every time we connect, communicate, or collaborate with a prospect or customer. Like many clients, we needed to adjust quickly when the pandemic hit, replacing most in-person meetings with virtual interactions. With our Dynamics 365 CE apps, we managed that transition without disrupting the business or losing any accounts. When conditions change and we can again travel to meet customers in person, we will still use our CRM software to manage relationships and opportunities.
Works like and with the tech tools you knowIf you know Office 365 apps like Word, Outlook, or PowerPoint, you will probably find the Microsoft CRM solutions familiar and comfortable. You don’t need extensive training to get used to them and perform the every-day functions that matter most.
From crawl, to walk, to runOnce your sales and service teams are in a flow with the new tools, we can show you how to achieve more with CRM. For instance, some EM clients find it valuable to bring in data from LinkedIn, Yelp, ecommerce systems, and social media to better understand customers’ behaviors and decisions.
New sales rep hits the ground running
After Paul lost his job selling specialty equipment for food manufacturers, he was glad to land at an equipment manufacturing business that makes automated production equipment for companies that manufacture soups and sauces. Paul’s new employer has customers and production facilities all across the country, but expects Paul to work from home.
In his previous job, Paul used spreadsheets to track his results and had a basic app to manage communications, meetings, and commitments with customers. When he invested the time to keep these tools updated, they worked for him, but as soon as he got busy or forgot to enter a detail immediately, errors crept in and some customers were left hanging when they expected a response.
Paul finds the account and reads the previous rep’s proposal and conversation notes. He feels that this customer is likely going to be open to a meeting to discuss next, best steps. He leaves a voicemail for the contact and follows up with an email.
Next, Paul reviews all active customers assigned to him. Several are planning equipment upgrades and new purchases. That means he can begin working with them, already well aware of their needs, budgets, and schedules. He realizes he will probably not have the painful income drop that he suffered in other companies as the newcomer in a sales role. The personnel change doesn’t interrupt the flow of business, and Paul can pick up where the former rep left off. He spends the rest of the day making calls, sending some more mail, and getting updates from customers, all of whom sound welcoming. A production manager says that he heard about a new ingredient-mixing tool the company is working on, and during the conversation Paul quickly accesses a SharePoint folder to share news about the product’s capabilities and ETA. The customer and Paul agree to meet next month so he can develop a proposal.
In the afternoon, the manager wants to know how things are going. Paul clicks on a button to create a summary of what he’s been working on, sends it to her, and they chat over Teams. He feels good about his first day at the new company—he can already show some results and feels at home in the new organization. Later that evening, Paul finds an encouraging response from the first customer he contacted and sets up a Teams meeting for the next day.
Managing services, keeping customers happyWarranty maintenance and field service are important sources of revenue for many EMs. Data-collection and reporting software can take in internet of things (IoT) data from sensors on the equipment you install at customer sites. You can proactively identify potential breakdowns or performance lags before they become problematic, dispatching technicians without interrupting the customer’s processes.
Taking the lid off service innovationWhen it comes to services, you can bring more of an innovative edge to your CRM environment. If you truly want to transform how customers receive field services, you can furnish your teams with mixed-reality devices and apps like Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Mixed Reality Remote Assist. Your technicians may then be able to perform inspections and assessments remotely, before they travel to the equipment location. And, once onsite, they can connect with your engineers and product specialists, give them access to share the mixed reality, and resolve customer issues together right there and then.
Equipment Manufacturing customer revives a supplier relationship
The EM’s VP of sales and distribution calls Doba and asks her for another opportunity to continue doing business together. He tells her that they have recently hired new account reps and upgraded their CRM technology. He is asking for six weeks to turn things around, and if the EM’s efforts don’t work out, he will help Doba transition to another supplier. She agrees to this without making any promises.
Next, Doba receives both an email and a call from Sean, her new rep. He knows that some dentists are asking for a particular handpiece design that the EM did not offer before, but the company now has a new product that could fit these requirements. He offers to ship a sample to Doba’s company or to any dentist who wants to try it. She is surprised and pleased that he is aware of the dentists’ request, and immediately thinks of one who would be happy to test the new handpiece.
Sean gives Doba leads of new dental practices that open in her region, which the previous EM rep never did. Soon, she notices that delivery lead times have shrunk. When she helps a dentist put an equipment order together, she can ask for delivery within ten days. This used to take as long as a month, and it was often difficult to schedule installation for a particular day. She can only assume that the EM now has a better feedback loop between sales and production, and that Sean has a more effective and accurate way of forecasting and planning.
Doba no longer feels that she’s doing business with a traditional EM, but with a customer-focused, highly motivated, fast-paced company. Before the six weeks’ trial is over, she tells Sean and his boss that she is looking forward to continue working with them.
WORKING WITH YOUR CRM PARTNER
What’s a joint effort with Sikich like? Our consultants partner with your team members to deliver results in a fast, low-risk, best practices-infused process. we share expert guidance both informally, and also in a structured, document manner. You are always in control of the collaboration and any follow-on projects or service engagements.
Managing change to your advantageEvery time you change how people do their work, the company culture also shifts. Sometimes, everybody welcomes the new tools and processes, but very often early, enthusiastic adopters set the pace. Others follow them when they see that the new approaches are effective, although some may remain hesitant. It’s part of a Sikich CRM project to assist you in managing the organizational and cultural changes that accompany a major software undertaking. Some steps Sikich typically takes include the following:
EM industry experts deliver CRM that fits your businessPart of what makes the Sikich team effective in working with equipment manufacturing businesses like you is that most of us had other careers before we came to Sikich. Our consultants, project managers, and team leads were involved in both successful and flawed CRM projects in manufacturing and EM businesses before they decided to pursue technology innovation full-time. That gives them an invaluable inside perspective, which allows for instant reality checks when working with our clients.
Sometimes, Sikich has to help a client turn around a CRM project that is taking too long, runs over budget, isn’t delivering what the company expected, or meets with user resistance. In those situations, we often find that the EM’s previous technology partner allowed the effort to become too complicated. Just like we do in new projects, we follow your priorities and make sure the effort is contained and predictable.
Getting to results rapidlyWhen Sikich delivers CRM solutions, you can put them to work immediately. We have developed a rapid methodology, HEADSTART, which reflects our experience and best practices from many successful CRM deployments over many years. You know exactly what to expect, when. You can run sales, service, and opportunity management, along with reporting, in your CRM environment within weeks rather than months. You don’t even need to have Sikich consultants travel to your location. We can perform software implementations remotely through the cloud, so there’s no risk to your team members and you don’t need to delay your CRM initiative until the pandemic ends. Your Sikich teams rolls out the new CRM tools without disrupting your workflows, but makes sure they fit into them. We manage to firm deadlines and conditions, and your Sikich project manager will always be available and accountable. We meet your most urgent needs first, but also configure the CRM solutions in such a way that they can serve you for years to come.
Taking the next step
Sikich will gladly help you explore the CRM opportunity for your EM business. Get in touch anytime to have your questions answered or move forward.
Contact Debbie Altham, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing, at email@example.com or (303)597-2471 to arrange for a demo or set up a free consultation.