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What is a CRM? Why should I use one for manufacturing?

Warning! (and recommendation)

First, before you read the below, note that there are probably more different CRMs than there are people. The market is ridiculously bloated, and they are mostly similarly over-complicated. A good CRM is worth its weight in gold, but they are rare. We’ve tried about 15 of them for our own manufacturing businesses, and the one we’d recommend is OnePageCRM. It might not be suitable for a mega-corporation, but I’ve found it ideal for single users or small teams, and the way you use it is refreshingly intuitive.

It basically tracks all the communication you have with your contacts and methodically tells you what you need to do next, and when (and provides things like email templates to save a lot of time).

You can use ‘pipelines’ to manage and monitor sales progress, though to be perfectly frank my biggest issue with most CRMs is that this over-focus on pipelines often isn’t applicable to manufacturers who just want people to remember that they exist the next time they want to buy something.

Why is Factory Superstar not a CRM?

While Factory Superstar tracks things like what purchases a customer has made, when they last ordered, etc., it’s not a full blown CRM as such. We have no intention of making it one (see comment above on bloatedness, and we want to be the best at managing production instead of being half-good at lots of things).

What is a CRM (long version)

A CRM, or customer relationship management system, is a software solution that helps manage their interactions with customers and prospects. The systems are designed to help increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, and optimize customer engagement.

Some of the key features of a CRM system include:

  1. Sales management: The CRM system can help manage their sales process, from lead generation and qualification to opportunity management and deal closure. The system can also track sales performance and provide real-time visibility into the sales pipeline.
  2. Customer service and support: The CRM system can help manage customer service and support, including tracking customer inquiries, complaints, and feedback. The system can also provide tools for customer self-service and help desk management.
  3. Marketing automation: The CRM system can help automate marketing activities such as lead nurturing, email marketing, and campaign management. The system can also provide tools for customer segmentation and targeting.
  4. Analytics and reporting: The CRM system can provide with real-time analytics and reporting capabilities, allowing them to monitor performance, identify trends, and make informed decisions. The system can also provide insights into customer behavior and preferences.
  5. Integration with other systems: The CRM system can integrate with other software solutions, such as ERP, production scheduling, and supply chain management software.

Overall, a CRM system can help improve their customer relationships and drive growth by providing tools for managing the entire customer lifecycle. By using a CRM system, can streamline their sales and marketing processes, improve customer service and support, and gain real-time visibility into their customer interactions.

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