Manufacturers: Power Up Your Sales Teams with Digital Experiences.

by Adobe Manufacturing Team

posted on 07-27-2017

Four ways going digital improves your manufacturing sales process for better customer experiences.

A new industrial revolution — Industry 4.0 — is unfolding as companies that make widgets morph into digital manufacturing enterprises. By transforming their manufacturing systems to digital processes, they realize improvement in everything from product quality and production efficiency to finding new ways to grow revenue.

Growing revenue is the main goal of a manufacturing sales team, and a digital transformation benefits them too. As they incorporate digital processes into sales best practices — such as sharing content, negotiating pricing, and gaining approvals — they will be more successful in attracting new customers, selling more to existing customers, and closing accounts faster for top-line growth.

Demonstrate Product Solutions with Personalized and Relevant Content.
When the average B2B buyer first engages with your sales rep, they are already 57 percent finished with their purchase decision. Like any other person, they looked online. If you’re not producing personalized and relevant content that is accessible through a variety of channels, you are missing out on potential customers that you never even had the chance to engage in a one-on-one interaction.

To attract, identify, and qualify leads, you’ll need to keep potential customers engaged through their research process. Your team needs to deliver optimized content faster than ever before to serve an increasing number of audiences, channels, and touchpoints — but without increasing budgets or resources. A content management system can help you deliver this content, and ensure that it is relevant and localized. Additionally, you can receive data concerning which content pieces are most successful at different touchpoints, helping you know what is most effective with your audience.

Integrating your content management system with other digital sales tools, like a CRM, will help your sales team identify and qualify leads with gated content, and suggest and track engagement with content that anticipates and handles objections. A digital asset management system will help your sales team find the specific, up-to-date, in-compliance content it needs to create custom presentations. Once you add mobile capabilities, your sales team can create instantly and deliver presentations on the go.

For example, DuPont creates mobile apps for sales presentations, which include detailed slides, charts, and other visuals. These apps play a vital role in helping sales reps communicate benefits and value to customers. In fact, the Crop Protection Division at DuPont piloted a sales enablement mobile app with its sales team in Brazil that converted existing presentations into app-friendly slides that sales reps could access on any mobile device. One of the biggest benefits of the app is the ability to share new information quickly. Traditionally, presentation files were downloaded and shared hundreds of times, but now the app retrieves materials directly from a centralized DAM system to ensure that even simple changes to files are made available instantly to all sales representatives, who are now confident that they have updated information at their disposal.

Distributors working to market your products face a similar challenge — the inability to quickly find the content assets they need to do their job most effectively. If not centralized, assets can be located in multiple repositories or on individual hard drives, where they become difficult to locate, and to track the final, approved version.

To solve this issue, ASICS created a brand portal for reseller marketing campaigns. ASICS manufactures athletic footwear and clothing for a range of sports, and depends on retailers to market and sell its products. The company had 40,000 digital assets that were all maintained on individual folders on shared drives. With this system, it was impossible to find specific items and even keep track of what existed, let alone share the relevant assets with retailers for their marketing promotions. Benefiting from data on asset usage wasn’t even an option. ASICS upgraded to a DAM system that enabled them to easily categorize, manage, and distribute branded content worldwide. Retail partners can now use a self-service brand portal to search and view assets, and ASICS receives automated reports with valuable data on which assets are most frequently used and perform best — all of this in addition to saving 200 employee hours annually.

Negotiate Pricing.
While your customers increasingly expect a B2C-like sales experience with personalized content and guided selling online, they also are interested in maintaining the price negotiations that come with the B2B process. However, a survey from Hanover Research found that customers are frequently frustrated with quote turnaround time. A full 82 percent of manufacturers cited price negotiations as the main drag on quote turnarounds and fulfilling orders, all resulting in less business won, and lost revenue.

The volume of data available to digital manufacturing enterprises, combined with the computing power available today, results in precision that was unimaginable in the past. Having information on what is needed to attain revenue growth, forecast supply and demand, and pinpoint buying preferences and patterns can help you create the right offers, efficiently deliver quotes to your sales team and customers, and use data insights to plan an offense. Developing personalized pricing simply removes the pressure from price-slashing competition.

Traditional quoting practices were designed to protect margins, but now they just appear inflexible. On the other hand, using data and pricing algorithms can quickly deliver what today’s economy requires — quick quotes that are financially sound and consistent across distribution channels.

Process Approvals.
Minimizing the longer sales cycle for B2B transactions is another important strategy for increasing company growth. Don’t let the final order process drag on with paper shuffling that takes time to route, is easily lost or misplaced, and degrades with poor handwriting and faxing — yes, faxing in the 2010s!

A manufacturer of agricultural equipment, Kuhn Krause sells more than 2,000 machines and service parts through its network of 350 dealers in the United States and Canada. The company previously used paper forms, and dealers who were ready to make a purchase submitted signed orders via fax. Those forms were then faxed to a territory manager, dealer sales manager, and operations manager, each adding their signatures. When the hard-copy orders arrived at Kuhn Krause’s manufacturing facility, which was at least two days later, they were difficult to read, and there was no mechanism to send an order receipt to the customer.

Because order clarity is critical to producing the right machine with the right options, and delays in receiving orders could significantly impact delivery dates, Kuhn Krause adopted online forms and digital signatures. Now, order processing takes just 30 minutes and the company has eliminated errors through a much more reliable system. Additionally, customers receive confirmations of their orders, and are able to track production and delivery schedules. The data collected from online forms also gives Kuhn Krause visibility into each step of the ordering process.

Transform Relationships.
For manufacturers, transforming customer relationships means delivering what buyers need at exactly the right moment. Your flow of online content should be steady, accurate, and consistently up-to-date. Customers can use your digital platform for everything from researching solutions and placing orders, to downloading product manuals for aftermarket support. Integrating content management with your customer relationship manager, inventory systems, and analytics tools keeps your sales team in the loop with all the information they need to build relationships, provide quotes, and process orders.

Digital experiences are as flexible and diverse as your company and your customers. For them — whether distributors, partners, or the end-user — those experiences need to be seamless on every device and any location. With the right platform in place, a manufacturer evolves from just making and selling products to delivering customized solutions that result in the kind of experiences that build brand loyalty and grow top-line revenue.

Read more in our series on creating Digital Experiences for Manufacturing or learn about Adobe’s solutions here.

Topics: Content Management, Manufacturing