SalesforceSalesforce for Manufacturing: User Adoption and ERP Integration

When implementing Salesforce for Manufacturing, we have a good understanding of what your team needs. Now I want to discuss the manufacturing space, and how valuable ERP integration is to CRM success. This is one of my favorite topics, and the root of my passion and excitement for this industry.

Salesforce adoption is valuable to end users, and it costs much less than expected.

I’ll steal from Goldilocks on her journey to find the right porridge to illustrate my point. We need to find a balance of value and efficiency, without extensive costs and timelines.

Too Cold: Salesforce without any ERP Integration

Sometimes companies new to Salesforce will keep things too simple out of the gates. It’s well-intended, but how does that story typically end? Consequently, it ends with very mild adoption of the software by a sub-set of users. Then it’s followed by complaints by your users of “entering data for no reason.” Typically, the CRM is misused and neglected.

This is not because of bad intentions or technical capabilities of users. It’s because we haven’t provided anything valuable to the users. Manufacturers typically can’t lean on the generic solutions for CRM adoption.

Lead and opportunity management is slightly misaligned with reality. Common scenarios:

  1. Your company deals with a high volume of sales transactions, and creating opportunities for each of them is inefficient.
  2. You sell through manufacturers’ representatives, and your sales team isn’t informed unless you helped with a quote.
  3. Client and distributor orders are placed through customer service without sales involvement.

Standard opportunity management doesn’t always work with manufacturers.

Sales responsibilities tend to be more about account relationship management than managing individual deal cycles. The value of CRM to a sales user comes from understanding these behaviors over time.

Want to test this out? Ask a sales person about how things are going with a top account this year. You’ll probably see them shuffle some papers on their desk to grab an order summary printout from the ERP. Don’t expect CRM adoption unless you can deliver something of value.

Too Hot: CRM with extensive bi-directional ERP integration

I often encounter the “we need every possible integration now” mentality. While I commend organizations that understand the value of the integration, unfortunately it doesn’t work well that way.

People are good at identifying every possible bi-directional integration. Sometimes they go as far as to build beautiful diagrams. But typically, 12 months later you’ll still be tweaking an over-engineered integration. And your users are still operating without a CRM. Not to mention, your executives are upset with you about paying licensing costs without any tangible results.

Don’t stop yourself from documenting your list of potential integration desires!

Perhaps use this barometer to prioritize and simplify your true initial needs. For example:

  • It should foster accountability and process automation.
  • Enhance the workday experience for my employees
  • Unlock capabilities we cannot access (or easily access) today
  • Is delivered in a timely fashion

If you remember one thing from this post, it’s that integration is not an all-or-nothing effort.

Maybe we still ask users to do one manual data entry task initially. Or we use a workflow notification rather than full integration for some processes. Just acknowledge it, articulate why this decision was made, and let users know that we expect to solve that inefficiency in the future. Take a deep breath and don’t over-complicate it!

Just Right: One-way sync into Salesforce

In most cases, about 90% of the value of the ERP integration comes from simply passing valuable data into Salesforce nightly.

  • Account Record:

    • Access to Orders & Order status (from mobile devices as well).
      • Roll-up Summary of Order data can provide instant access to KPIs for Account Management. No more struggling to pull Sales reports from ancient ERP interfaces!
        • Last order date (reads date from most recent order)
        • Year-to-date/Month-to-date Sales
        • Current Period vs. Previous Year Current Period Sales (Trending)
        • Rolling 90 Day Sales
  • Order Notifications:

    • Create Salesforce notifications to the sales user when orders are posted that meet certain criteria. Or even better, notifications when orders are trending down in relation to historical order behavior.
  • Cases / Ticket Logging:

    • Now that orders are in Salesforce, we can log cases in relation to the orders for issues or problems.

These are just a few examples of the power that even a basic ERP to Salesforce integration provides. By initially cutting out the complexity of integration, we can deliver a Salesforce solution that unlocks new value.

How do we approach the Integration?

We find that we can typically handle the integration needs of Manufacturers in one of two ways:

  • A batch process integration that runs on a scheduled basis
  • We can often leverage an inexpensive middle-ware to perform a similar sync at the database level

If you are interested in more of the technical details, please contact us today!

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