Wipfli logo
Manufacturing Tomorrow

Manufacturing Tomorrow


7 Tips for Successful CRM Implementation in Manufacturing

May 29, 2018
By: Mark Stevens

Manufacturing CRM 

Modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms help organizations improve every customer touch point, create transparency among departments, and use insights and analytics to scale their businesses. But not all CRM systems are appropriate for every industry. If your manufacturing facility is considering implementing or upgrading its CRM software, it’s important to choose a solution that provides the functionality and capabilities your company needs.

To ensure success, you need to understand and follow these seven CRM implementation best practices to get the most out of the platform so you can reach your desired business goals.

1. Establish Goals

There’s no way to know if your CRM implementation is a success without establishing goals. In other words, what do you want your CRM to do? How will it help you accomplish your business objectives?

As is true with any goal, it needs to be measurable. While “increasing sales leads” is admirable, a statement such as “Sales will submit proposals to 10 additional qualified leads in the first quarter” is much more quantifiable. You also could establish goals around metrics such as revenue increase, improved customer satisfaction surveys, the time it takes to close a deal or resolve issues, and more. Creating measurable goals is the foundation of establishing ROI.

2. Get Everyone Involved

A truly valuable CRM serves as a central hub for customer data that is utilized by every department. While arguably of greatest value to Sales because of its lead nurturing capabilities, sales analytics, reporting, and its ability to help forecast sales more accurately, modern CRM systems also help overall operations in other ways. CRM can integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, serve as a marketing tool, help Purchasing track and analyze financial data, be used by HR and project managers, and much more.

CRM isn’t just a sales tool. Everyone from Finance to the CEO should use the CRM. Since top executives often drive sales initiatives and serve as the motivators among staff, they need to set the example by using it and understanding it.

3. Provide Training

While most CRMs are user friendly and intuitive, there is still a learning curve, even if you’re upgrading from a previous system. As part of implementation, schedule mandatory training sessions for various departments and demonstrate how each can leverage the CRM’s capabilities.

Doing group sessions that visually show the dashboards and how they work helps users grasp its functionalities and opens the floor for questions. Live demonstrations can show users how easy it is to to enter information, generate reports, filter contacts, enter notes, and more. When users feel comfortable using the platform, the benefits of implementation are realized much more quickly, but it requires adequate training.

4. Establish Protocols

If everyone does their own thing when entering data into the CRM, it can quickly become a disorganized mess. Create set standards for how data will be entered into the system to ensure consistency. For example, how should names and addresses be entered? Will the word “Avenue” be spelled out or abbreviated to “Ave.”—and will it have a period after it or will punctuation be eliminated?

These small details may seem trivial, but when creating reports and filtering data, inconsistencies can lead to mistakes or incomplete information. Establish protocols for entering data starting on day one and insist they be followed.

5. Validate Information

List hygiene is critical, so before entering all that data, make sure email addresses are accurate and up-to-date. Double check information such as phone numbers, business names, assigned representatives, and the like.

If you’ve got thousands of contacts, the task can seem daunting, so delegate segmented portions of the lists to individuals in various departments. Assign customers to their respective account executives, vendor information to Finance, potential leads to marketing, etc. Give each department ownership of their contacts and provide deadlines for returning a clean list along with touch points along the way for checking in on progress prior to implementation.

6. Identify Contact Segments

Determine the types of criteria you will want to filter by in the future and how you want your contacts to be segmented. Create contact types such as prospects, existing clients, vendors, event attendees, employees, etc. You can also utilize categories such as budget amounts, product purchases, customer representatives, and a host of other fields. Many fields are already templated based on those most commonly used by various organizations, but you’ll likely have some customized information. Work closely with your provider to identify the types of reports and information you’ll want. Your CRM is only as good as the information you can extract from it, so segmentation is critical.

7. Adopt a Scalable Solution

Of course, there’s no way to fully anticipate every possible function or the ways in which your company may leverage a CRM down the road. That is why it’s critical the system you adopt is able to scale with your business. Ideally, a CRM will help your organization flourish with potential future expansion, additional product lines, or business acquisitions. Your ultimate goal is growth, so make sure your CRM can grow with you.

Choosing the right CRM for your manufacturing facility requires working with consultants and providers that are experienced in your industry and have helped other similar organizations achieve results. At Wipfli, our specialty is manufacturing, and we’re eager to help you take the next steps in reaching your growth goals. Contact us today to explore how a modern CRM solution combined with the right people to guide you through implementation can transform your organization.


Mark Stevens
View Profile