India is on the threshold of major reforms and is poised to become the third-largest economy of the world by 2030. The tech-savvy and educated population, skilled labour, and a strong commitment to calibrated liberalization of India will enhance the achievement of its economic vision. India's manufacturing sector has evolved through several phases and today Indian manufacturing companies in several sectors are targeting global markets and are becoming formidable global competitors. Many are already amongst the most competitive in their sectors.
These facts show that the manufacturing industry is booming like ever. However, every firm in the industry may not be successful. There are certain factors which together decide the success of a firm. Customer is one among them. Customers have now become the core part of any business. During the last few decades the world has changed its perception from a product oriented approach to a customer oriented approach. These things have led to the development of Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Well, what’s really CRM? There are many definitions for CRM, and best-practice companies adopt one that is shared across the organization. Otherwise, the very term “CRM” will conjure up many things to different people and lead to confusion. These companies see CRM as a series of strategies and processes that support and execute a relationship vision for the enterprise. In their eyes, CRM is a series of strategies and processes that create new and mutual value for individual customers, builds preference for their organizations and improves business results over a lifetime of association with their customers.
In case of manufacturing their customers may be distributors. The following factors may help manufacturers improve their interactions with distributors.
· An emphasis on capability building
Since sales representatives deal with many different product lines, including some that may be outside their area of expertise, they appreciate manufacturers that help build their knowledge and capabilities. For instance, they may respond favorably if manufacturers provide technical and support staff. Ideally, manufacturers will provide in-person training using a field-and-forum approach, in which sales representatives attend a classroom or online session and then apply their skills in the workplace before returning for more instruction. Whenever possible, manufacturers should supplement these sessions with remote training, such as online modules with tests that representatives can complete at their convenience.
· Availability of frontline coaching
The easiest way to lose customers is by appearing slow or unresponsive to their questions, including requests for price quotes. Manufacturers can help distributors provide rapid answers by holding real-time chat sessions or by placing employees on site at the distributor to work directly with sales representatives. Some manufacturers have also created small teams to support distributors in specific regions, allowing them to respond to customer questions within 24 hours.
· Strong supporting materials
Manufacturers should create a variety of supporting materials, such as sheets with frequently asked questions, brochures, videos, and podcasts. Case studies and white papers that describe how distributors can provide full solutions are particularly important. All materials should be easily accessible through online portals or other means.
· Clear expectations
Manufacturers should also be straightforward about the benefits that they are willing to provide, including the percent margin that a distributor will receive for demand creation and fulfillment.
· Appropriate organizational and IT systems
Manufacturers should reexamine their organizational structures when determining how they can improve distributor relationships. For instance, they may need to create new roles or hire additional personnel to manage the distribution channel. All IT systems should be easy for both end customers and distributors to use, and they should be capable of handling a large volume of transactions.
· A willingness to assist with marketing
The best sales efforts will involve marketing from both sides, with the distributor interacting directly with customers to push sales and manufacturers attempting to stimulate general demand through various measures, including social media.
Thus, in combination with other improvement levers, manufacturers can significantly improve their relationship with distributors by providing them the type of support described above.