Every organization has its own unique reason for implementing Salesforce, but we still see certain industry patterns. Healthcare providers frequently want help in attracting and retaining patients. Professional services firms seek more efficient ways to tackle resource allocation. Software companies strive for fast growth. But manufacturers?
They’re not always looking to change or grow — especially those that have been around for decades. Such longevity means they’ve almost necessarily found an effective business model and sufficient customer base. And if business is good, why mess with it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Fair point. But here’s the problem: Just because your company’s systems and processes are serving you now doesn’t mean they always will. Every year, new technologies are reaching sectors previously untouched by the digital transformation, and they’re changing how manufacturers operate. In order to hit the same revenue numbers, one day soon you’ll likely have to adapt — just like a coach who stays in the game for 40 years has to adapt to new ways of playing.
In this post, we’ll highlight two reasons why it might be time to implement a new technology like Salesforce — even if you’re happy with the current state of your business.
Reason #1: Your existing tech won’t last forever.
If your firm is like most manufacturers, your ERP serves as your system of record — it’s the platform that you run your business through. Orders, quotes, inventory, price books. It’s all there.
Your ERP is also probably pretty old. Plenty of organizations we work with have been using the same platform for decades.
In itself, this isn’t a problem. Newness isn’t an inherent virtue, and if your company can use an older technology to its benefit, that’s great. The problem arises when support for your older technologies is no longer available. As more organizations transition to cloud-based solutions, technology companies will naturally move their resources to where demand lies. One day, your ERP will need repairing, and there may not be anyone to repair it. Worst case scenario, you’ll lose an immense amount of valuable data.
That’s one reason why it makes sense to integrate your ERP with a cloud CRM like Salesforce. Beyond adding all the advertised capabilities, you’re also essentially creating a massive data back-up. So even if you don’t see an immediate need for things like activity tracking, sales forecasting and reporting, you absolutely must protect your core business information.
Reason #2: The majority of today’s workers expect newer systems.
However long you’ve had your ERP, chances are good that you’ve got a number of people on your team who predate it by a fair bit. Manufacturers tend to see low turnover, and many employees spend their whole careers at a single company. That kind of loyalty is refreshing to see, but it does (or should) leave you with a pretty big question: What happens when those folks retire?
With an older platform in place, recruiting Millennials — the largest population in the workforce — could be a challenge. Younger workers, whether they’re engineers or sales reps, expect modern technologies to help them perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively. They want to be able to base key decisions on data and to collaborate digitally. If your firm doesn’t offer systems that meet their desires, you’re liable to lose applicants to competitors.
There’s also the matter of onboarding. Older platforms tend to have quirks that long-standing employees have learned to live with, but that are hard to explain to new hires. Maybe your ERP doesn’t support the addition of new fields without extra cost, for example, so users have to repurpose old ones to track something new. Not exactly intuitive. And how are new team members supposed to know which old fields to repurpose?
A new solution like Salesforce, on the other hand, comes standard with the training tool called Trailhead: New users can log in and access modules on all kinds of topics to learn whatever they need to. This is an attractive benefit for job seekers, and it makes an improved onboarding experience at scale entirely possible.
Tip: It’s okay to start small.
All that said, we understand it isn’t easy breaking from your usual ways of doing business. If you’re unaccustomed to significant change, large scale technology implementations can certainly intimidate. Thankfully, you don’t have to dive into the deep end with Salesforce. You can start with a smaller build focusing on basic CRM functionalities — contacts, accounts, etc. From there, you can expand as you feel ready.
What’s most important is just letting go of the idea that change is something you’ll deal with one day down the line. With that attitude, you’re bound to run into problems that threaten the health of your business. It’s much better to start now, even if you only plan to dip your toes in at first.