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Salesforce for manufacturing: How to grow sales faster in the customer era

Manufacturers cannot stand still — they must take advantage of the newly emerging customer era by going beyond the product, connecting to customers in entirely new ways

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Salesforce, ABB, Mitsubishi Electric

Manufacturers are in the midst of a truly tectonic shift. The industry has leapfrogged simple assembly lines to embrace bold new production and design techniques. Production automation, robotics, 3-D printing, and generative design software are creating a wealth of new products, along with higher standards for efficiency. There is an equally impactful shift on the customer demand side that is being driven by advancements in technology and rapidly increasing competition.

Buyers, who are more connected than ever, expect more from the products they buy, and demand engaging ways to buy them, too. Disruption is the norm, even for makers of industry staples like cars, thermostats, electronics, construction equipment, and healthcare products. Prototypes are easier to make, funding is flowing, and the next big competitor could be a small group with a big idea. Manufacturers cannot stand still — they must take advantage of the newly emerging customer era by going beyond the product, connecting to customers in entirely new ways.

Forces for change in the customer era: The manufacturing industry is being hit by three powerful forces at the same time, multiplying the opportunities and the dangers you face in the customer era. First, the pace of change has never been quicker, and the extent of change never greater. The ways companies make, design, and sell products is under constant and profound transformation.

Second, products are more complex than ever, as are the ways to configure and market them. You can’t dumb down the challenges, but you can outsmart them. By connecting complex products and complicated front- and back-office processes, you simplify the way your business runs, and unlock huge productivity gains.

Third, your channel partners need more than a great product from you. They’re hungry to find new opportunities together, share information to close deals, and pitch in to move more product than ever. Satisfy that hunger, and your channel will reward you.

Speed is the new currency of manufacturing: Speed has become the ultimate game changer for manufacturers. Customers often ask, “How soon?” before they ask, “How much?” The first to the deal has the advantage to shape how the deal, bid, proposal, or negotiations unfold. Think fast. Speed is your new chief dealmaker.

ABB is a leading manufacturer focused on lowering environmental impact through efficient use of electricity, robotics, and production automation. This energy services giant, with 150,000 employees in five divisions across Europe, is embracing the requirements to succeed in the customer era. “It’s about opportunity,” said Giulio Capocaccia, head of group marketing and sales at ABB. “If we don’t put the customer at the center, we can’t realize the full potential of the internet of things, services, and people. Our people experience the power of speed and transparency with Salesforce.”

But it wasn’t always this way at ABB. Before using Salesforce, the company lacked a single view of all its customer information. Competing CRM systems from different vendors layered haphazardly on top of ABB’s ERP systems and back-office processes slowed the work of employees. “We didn’t have the ability to act on data,” Capocaccia said. “Sales reps had an incomplete view of their accounts with missing contact, lead, opportunity, and other kinds of data. We needed one version of the truth.” Compounding the challenge was rapidly growing data from customers and connected devices. ABB’s sales team needed to better understand account activity, transform collaboration, and raise its speed to market.

With Sales Cloud Lightning, ABB has a whole new way to connect with customers. “We need the information right now, in the right moment, in the right place,” said Fernando Bernardez Rodriguez, Key Account Manager at ABB. “With Salesforce, all the information is there
for everyone, accessible instantly.” Reps using the Salesforce1 Mobile App update records from anywhere in the field, saving time, speeding deals, and gaining insights into buying cycles. Sales and production can share real-time leads, data, and order status from any device. Collaboration breeds simplicity, and the faster delivery of products and services to customers. The most daunting sales marathon is now a thrilling sprint.

Integrate systems, unlock sales productivity: To hold the edge in speed, companies need technology that propels people forward, rather than holds them back. Their sales process and technology stack have to enable success, not create more work. Synergy between front- and back-office apps is imperative. And every sales step — from inquiry to closing to sending the order — has to be fast and fluid.

GlobalFoundries, a dominant circuit board manufacturer and operator of the largest silica foundry in the world, employs thousands of people across Singapore, Germany, and the United States. Yet it lacked the right combination of process and technology to achieve business targets and deliver product on time. The company had made a major investment in an on-premises CRM system, but suffered from low CRM usage. Every order was customized from thousands of configurations and reps worked around, not within, the new software. Plus, the integration with front- and back-end ERP was rough.

After just six months, GlobalFoundries ripped the installed software. Then, following a successful pilot managing partner relationships on Salesforce, the foundry migrated its entire CRM system to Sales Cloud Lightning in less than two months. Now GlobalFoundries has an efficient system to support its sales backed by a solid integration with its back-end Oracle ERP system.

With lead management, data cleansing, cross-company collaboration, and automated contract management, sales leaders can manage more of the process more easily. Driven by more connected data, Sales Cloud Lightning automates much of the order process to speed manufacturing and distribution, while limiting errors at every step. Customers can even control their own configurations directly, improving accuracy and accelerating timelines. “Salesforce not only improved productivity, but consistency of results, too,” said King Ou, Director of Systems and Solutions.

Channel partners are key to maximising growth: In manufacturing, channel partners come by many names: distributors, resellers, contractors, wholesalers, and retailers. Having one portal for all your partners reduces channel conflict while enhancing visibility, collaborative selling, and partner-deal registration. The overall effect is that you scale your business.

Honeywell, which pioneered the heating industry over a century ago, faced a rapidly changing market driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). New upstarts with disruptive products were capturing its customers. It was time to change how it sold, serviced, and made its products. Honeywell created a line of connected thermostats to grow sales and market share with customers. They weren’t the first IoT devices to market, but if they could be connected to Honeywell’s vast network of independent contractors, they had the most potential to enable new business models, growing revenue and change how customers buy.

“It’s not even as much about connecting the home as it is about connecting the person,” Said Tony Utley, VPGM Honeywell Home Comfort & Energy Systems. Honeywell’s connected thermostats let consumers manage and monitor their homes’ temperature and energy use from anywhere on smartphones or tablets. And thanks to the Salesforce Partner Community and mobile app, independent service technicians can also make the link — turning smart devices into a swarm of opportunities for channel growth. “Every Honeywell connected thermostat that is sold can be connected back to a contractor with the find a dealer button built into the app,” said Steve Weick, Honeywell Channel Marketing Manager. “We’re presenting contractors in their area that are willing to come out and give them a hand.”

Armed with information from the app, contractors have new ways to help customers. They can proactively schedule maintenance, load the right parts on the truck, coach customers on how to run their systems more efficiently, and find even more ways to speed service and deepen relationships. With Salesforce making the connections, these channel partners provide a new level of personalized service meeting customer needs like never before and in a way that is unmatched in the industry.

“Salesforce is really building the trust and bond between two people that maybe never would have connected,” Said David Quam, Honeywell sr product manager software solutions. “It’s become a lead generation machine.” Salesforce lets each contractor maintain client information, track leads and service requests, and schedule and track specific maintenance and repairs. Contractors can see real-time data from Honeywell’s connected thermostats and a history of customer interactions with every device, as well as predict upcoming service needs. Through Partner Community, contractors can build close, long-term relationships with customers.

Close more business with next generation CPQ: Be they airplane parts, refrigerators, custom circuit boards, or construction equipment, durable goods are only growing more complex. Manufacturers need a simple way to corral that complexity, and get orders and configurations right the first time. So how do you do that? Spoiler alert: It’s not with even more spreadsheets, email, and long approval cycles.

Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating, which makes and sells heating and cooling equipment for both residential and commercial spaces, had reps wading through faxes, email, and unnecessary paperwork instead of chasing deals. Christopher Osment, Director of IT at Mitsubishi Electric, said, “Our industry needed to elevate our sales associates and our distribution partners from the 19th century into the 21st.” Quoting involved hand-drawn faxes, emailed PDFs, and over 200 versions of Excel spreadsheets. “I even saw a salesperson come into the office and say, ‘I need to write up a quote for this buyer,’ and he had a napkin from a local restaurant,” said Osment. The results were costly: inventory gaps, unpredictable revenues, and the loss of business opportunities due to lengthy sales cycles and quoting times.

Osment knew he could relieve the pain of quoting if he could accurately forecast and deliver the product configurations on time. He turned to a combination of Sales Cloud Lightning, Partner Community, and Salesforce CPQ to modernize Mitsubishi Electric’s sales process. “About half of our incoming quotes involve a distributor bidding to sell cooling equipment to a building project,” said Osment. “By making everything online and all in one place with Salesforce, and easy to use for distributors and our sales team, we’re able to respond to projects faster and win more.” Salesforce has given Mitsubishi Electric the toolkit to improve profit and loss management and inventory planning while freeing reps from the inefficiencies of quoting on paper and with file attachments.

“There’s not a lot of leading-edge technology across the cooling and heating industry, and now we have a leg up on the competition,” said Osment. Using Salesforce, Mitsubishi Electric’s sales teams can now see leads in the pipeline, work together to convert them into opportunities, and generate accurate, up-to-the-minute quotes within a single system. Within six months of rollout, Mitsubishi Electric experienced game-changing results. Sales cycle time drastically decreased, 30% more proposals were documented, and quote approval dropped from two days to just two hours. In an industry where timeliness can make or break a deal, speed is now a major differentiator for Mitsubishi Electric.

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