It’s one thing declaring you're going to start marketing and selling your manufacturing company better, it’s another to have all the necessary tools in place to do it.
That’s where we come in. We’re going to tell you what manufacturing software you need to upgrade your marketing and sales activity and show examples of the tools you can use to do it! Simple. Let’s get started.
Sales & marketing must-haves
Customer relationship manager
There’s one tool that all sales and marketing teams must use if they want coherent, clear communication and peak performance from both departments — a CRM.
Depending on what CRM you choose, the possibilities are endless. Some CRMs are tailored to specific industries, and some are tailored to different types of marketing.
Whatever CRM you adopt, it’s designed to help you interact with your prospects and customers better.
On the marketing side, automation, a CMS, SEO optimisation and reporting work better when they’re supported by a CRM. On the sales side, deal tracking, lead management and sales acceleration work better when they’re supported by a CRM.
Other types of marketing and sales like email and sales gamification don’t require CRM support, but some CRMs do have these capabilities.
There are hundreds of CRMs to choose from, so pick wisely and don't make a rash decision. Consider what you want from your CRM, and how much you're willing to spend on it.
Marketing tool must-haves
Email marketing platform
All the negative press would have you believe email is bad. Privacy breaches. GDPR. It’s enough to put anyone off hitting the send button.
Well, we have news — if you collect prospect information lawfully and distribute information sensibly, email is the best lead nurturing tool in your marketing artillery.
Whether you want to send your product brochures or some helpful information about the industry you operate in, email can do it.
You can drip feed targeted information to your prospects with email, so you don’t have to keep pestering them with material that isn’t relevant to them.
If you want a standalone email marketing tool or you’re dipping your toe in, MailChimp is the best software to go for. If you want an email tool that includes supporting marketing tools, try the free version of HubSpot.
Social media scheduling tool
Social media in manufacturing? How are we going to make hydraulic cutters sound interesting? Firstly, social media isn’t solely for harping on about how amazing your product is, you can share helpful resources, information about your team and other people’s work.
You can schedule all your social media manually, but it can take hours if you have various social platforms. If your marketing staff are already loaded with jobs, social media is often ignored.
That’s where a social media scheduling tool comes in. Schedule everything in one block, rather than arranging time every day to do it. It saves time and a lot of stress in the process.
If you want a standalone social media scheduling tool, you can use Planoly (Instagram), or Hootsuite or Sprout Social. If you want a social media scheduler that has supporting marketing tools, you can use HubSpot, although the social media tool isn't free.
Check out these Top 4 Social Media Tools for Business Growth
Content Management System (CMS)
It’s baffling to think that some manufacturers don’t have a blog. Surely you have something to say?
Presuming you do have something to say, you need a content management system to store your opinions. A CMS usually houses blogs, but you can create domains for videos, podcasts and infographics.
A CMS makes it easy to access your content, tag it, assign keywords to it, and add relevant media. If you plan on increasing your content output, you need a CMS that can cope with the workload.
If you’re getting started with content creation, you could try a free WordPress blog (if your site is a WordPress site), or whatever CMS works with your site.
If you want a CMS that’s part of a full marketing solution, you guessed it, try HubSpot.
If you want to know the ROI from your marketing activities, a reporting tool is a must-have! It’ll be vital when showing your yearly results to the board or CEO.
Reporting tools also come in handy for justifying future decisions. For example, if you know that your product e-shots are performing well, you could suggest ways to improve them or send out two per week instead of one.
Reporting is holistic, and you need to cover all areas of your marketing. It’ll vary depending on what you want to measure, for example, if you’re going to measure email click-through rates you can use MailChimp or HubSpot. If you’re going to measure organic traffic, you can use Google Analytics or HubSpot reporting.
Marketing tool nice-to-haves
SEO software monitors the web profile of your company, and there are three types. On-page SEO measures whether your page content is optimised, technical SEO measures whether your site is optimised and off-page SEO measures the strength of your backlink profile.
If you want to improve your site’s favour with search engines, SEO marketing is crucial. There are opportunities to find keywords, relevant content, improve your backlink profile, remove toxic links and find out how to improve site speed.
The reason we put this in the nice-to-haves is because it’s a paid tool, and you’ll need a marketer with platform experience to get the most out of it. If you’re serious about marketing, it’s a fantastic investment.
Project management software
If your marketing is in its infancy, you won’t need a project management tool yet. Although if you want to be proactive, we won’t deter you!
Project management does what it says on the tin. When you’re delivering large scale marketing projects, you need tools to help you manage those projects.
There are different tools for different tasks. For example, you can use Trello or Notion to give you a visual project overview or Slack to keep everyone up-to-date with developments. It all depends on the project requirements.
Automation can take your marketing to the next level. For example, if you have a small customer base or email list, you can send personalised messages out because you’ll have more time to engage with people.
However, as that list or customer base starts to grow, your time spent emailing everyone on the list will increase, which reduces the time for other tasks.
That’s where automation comes in, you can create automated emails that send once a specific action has been taken. Let’s say someone visits a particular page or fills in a form on your website, you can send a corresponding email.
Automation also creates consistency, you don’t have ten different people sending out mixed messages and causing confusion. You have to be careful though, automation can come across as impersonal if it isn’t executed correctly.
Sales tool must-haves
Prospecting & lead handling
Your sales team need a method of prospecting and handling leads; otherwise, you may as well stick to picking up the phone and dialling every number in the phonebook.
If your sales team have an idea of who’s better to contact, they’ll spend more time engaging with the right leads.
Sales teams can also use predictive lead scoring to determine whether someone is ready for a specific action. Prospects get a score based on whether they meet specific criteria.
For example, if a prospect has visited 20 pages on your website, viewed 15 product pages, downloaded a resource, and is from the UK, they’d get a positive lead score.
If someone came to your website, viewed one page and bounced, they’d get a negative lead score.
There are tools explicitly created for lead management such as Leadfeeder, which doesn’t require someone to be in your CRM for you to give them a lead score.
Analytics & reporting
Like marketing, sales need to be able to report on their activity as well. That’s how you get the best out of your team and improve processes in the future.
You need to be able to track metrics like emails sent, calls made, as well as deals closed and lead conversion rates.
All this information can be relayed back to marketing so both departments can determine how to improve performance.
e-Signature & document tracking
Sending contracts and documents out via post is so 1990s, and maybe 2000s come to think of it. You need to get with the times and get software that makes document creation and signing simple.
It makes the process simpler and saves everyone time. You can also create templates for proposals, contracts and HR documents.
Sales tool nice-to-haves
There will always be a time and a place for face-to-face meetings, but if they can be avoided, why not? Conference calls make it easier for businesses to communicate and are a prime example of how the rise of technology has helped salespeople.
As well as reducing the time salespeople spend travelling to meetings, conference calls improve meeting attendance and give you a sustained competitive advantage.
Sales acceleration tool
Sales acceleration refers to the practice of moving leads through the marketing and sales funnel at an accelerated rate. Acceleration requires various tools and you’ll need a versatile CRM to be able to carry out all the necessary tasks.
For example, rather than casting a wide net and sending scattered emails out to the wrong people, create buyer personas and send emails out to specific personas. You’ll accelerate the time to sale by targeting the right people.
If you want a sales acceleration tool, you’ll need to conduct a detailed comparison of each platform and decide which one best suits your company.
Healthy competition. Every productive sales department has it. It’s how you keep staff interested in the job and make your team more productive.
Sales gamification is the process of making sales into a game — with competitions, leaderboards and trophies. The software creates a video game atmosphere which adds some lighthearted fun to selling.
It can also help Sales Managers identify where reps excel, and where some need more training. Whether you like the tool all depends on your disposition, some see it as a bit of a gimmick or an unnecessary expense.
Some other handy tools
Shared file storage system
We’ve got nothing against people having files on their desktop unless nobody else can see them! That crucial sales proposal, it’s on Dan’s desktop. And he’s off for a week. And we need it by the end of today. Great.
There’s a way you can keep everyone in the loop, by using a file storage system. It does what it says on the tin, stores your files and makes them accessible to whoever you want to access them.
Picture the horror on your face as the proposal you sent out has a glaring error in it. Stick your content into a grammar checker, and it’ll bring up all those pesky errors so you can send perfect documents. Some examples include Grammarly and WhiteSmoke.
You’ve been doing all this fantastic selling and marketing, but do you care about the impact of it? If you’ve made 200 sales from your product e-shots this month, do you have a follow-up tool that buyers can use to rate the experience?
A survey tool helps you collect data that can improve your marketing and sales cycle, as well as your products and services.
You can ask questions about how well a product works, whether the company was happy with its purchase and whether the product spec was explained well by a salesperson.
Time to go shopping?
Get your business credit card at the ready, you’ve got some manufacturing software to buy! In fact, let’s be sensible. Have a think about it. What works for your business and both your marketing and sales teams. You’ve got all the resources you need, go and create a plan and start getting the most from your marketing and sales activities.