Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
December 2023, 8 min. read

Thanks to automation, businesses can manufacture faster and sell more. However, the manufacturing industry often overlooks a critical area where automation can bring transformative benefits: the sales process. 

Sales automation solutions specifically designed for the manufacturing sector address key sales pain points, offering a more efficient, accurate, and adaptable way to manage sales activities.

Sales flow cycle - illustration

Sales automation software systems, like CRM systems and advanced CPQ for manufacturers play a pivotal role in how manufacturing companies manage their sales pipeline. Today’s cutting-edge tools make your teams more effective and enable a more personalized and targeted customer experience (CX). This is especially impactful in D2C manufacturing scenarios.

In this article, you’ll discover the transformative impact of industrial sales automation. Read on to learn how it can elevate your business beyond traditional boundaries.

What is sales automation?

Sales automation uses software, artificial intelligence (AI), and other digital technologies to automate manual, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks in the sales process. Thanks to automation, your sales teams can focus on building relationships and closing deals rather than getting bogged down with administrative work.

In the manufacturing industry, sales automation goes hand-in-hand with manufacturing process automation. Through sales automation, you can integrate various sales process stages, ensuring that opportunities aren’t missed and customer interactions remain timely and relevant.

Top benefits of automation in manufacturing companies

The first advantage of automating your sales is giving your departments a technological upgrade. This is indispensable to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced manufacturing landscape. 

But, this strategic investment offers more than just a tech boost. It provides a multitude of benefits for manufacturers. Here are some key advantages:

1. Cost savings

Automation for manufacturers minimizes the risk of human error. Sales automation can significantly lower operational costs by reducing the need for manual labor in repetitive tasks. The right tool can also help you to use manpower more efficiently. You’ll know exactly when to redirect your employees to more strategic, revenue-generating activities.

2. Time efficiency

Automation boosts sales productivity by handling manual tasks that take too much time. With the right tools, your team can handle more leads and close deals faster. Automated systems can quickly process orders, send out quotes, and update inventories, ensuring that you meet deadlines and keep customers satisfied.

3. Data-driven decisions

With real-time analytics, your sales force gets actionable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and sales performance. This is crucial for optimizing pricing strategies and inventory management. With up-to-the-minute information, you can accurately forecast demand and manage stock levels, ensuring you’re always one step ahead.

4. Instant customer engagement

Automation enables you to meet today’s client expectations by responding instantly to customer queries. The self-service options empower customers to find answers to their questions or resolve issues independently, further enhancing the speed and efficiency of customer interactions.

5. Personalized customer interactions

Personalization significantly increases conversion rates and customer retention. Studies show that 71% of consumers expect personalized experiences, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t find them. Automation tools offer analyzing customer data features, from browsing history to past purchases, to offer personalized recommendations. It helps create a tailored product experience that makes your clients feel understood and valued. 

6. Enhanced CX

Your customers want to easily browse product options online, receive specific suggestions, and even see real-time results as they experiment with different product configurations. These capabilities simplify the decision-making process for clients, making them feel more in control of their choices. The end result is a more engaged and satisfied customer.

7. Setting standards

Automation tools allow companies to set a standard for conducting sales activities. By covering a range of B2C and B2B sales scenarios, automation ensures that your sales procedures are consistent, efficient, and aligned with best practices. This is particularly beneficial for onboarding new staff, enabling them to start selling effectively right away. 

8. Scalability

As your manufacturing business grows, so does the complexity of your sales operations. Sales automation tools can easily adapt to increased volumes and complexities, making them a scalable solution.

Having an efficient and responsive sales process can be your differentiator. Sales automation gives you that edge, enabling you to respond quickly to market changes and customer needs.

Types of sales automation software solutions

Recognizing that one size doesn’t fit all, manufacturers increasingly invest in diverse sales automation solutions tailored to their unique challenges and opportunities. Various tools offer specialized functionalities that drive efficiency and competitiveness, from streamlining complex quote generation to enhancing customer engagement. 

Here are some key solutions that especially benefit manufacturers:

CRM Software

This stands for a Customer Relationship Management System that centralizes customer data and interactions, making managing leads and customer relationships easier. CRM records, reports, and analyzes interactions between your company and your clients.

Digital Catalogs

Digital Catalogs with advanced search and selection features are interactive platforms that allow customers and sales professionals to browse and see product recommendations based on selected criteria. These product selection tools are often integrated with real-time inventory tools and e-commerce platforms for a seamless sales experience.

Advanced search and product selection tool revolutionizes sales automation in the manufacturing industry

Read our digital catalog case study to discover how our advanced solution helped a client

Product Configurator

Product Configurators enable users to experiment with countless options, components, and accessories while adhering to predefined rules and constraints. Customers and sales reps can configure complex products according to individual specifications and see the real-time visualizations on screen.

A rule-based product configurator ensures that customers choose exactly what they require

Read our product configurator case study to discover how our web and mobile application helped a client.

CPQ Software

CPQ Software, or Quote and Proposal Automation Software, ensures rapid and accurate quote and proposal delivery. Tailor-made CPQ for manufacturing firms handles complex pricing models and multi-tiered product configurations effortlessly so your sales team can provide a professional and error-free client experience. 

Read our CPQ software case study to discover how our custom platform helped a client.

B2B Portals

B2B Portals act as dynamic ecosystems that facilitate business-to-business as well as internal interactions. These platforms empower manufacturers to centralize real-time communication, streamline order management, and offer self-service functionalities for customers, business partners, vendors, and employees. 

AI-Powered Chatbots

Chatbots and Virtual Assistant Tools automate customer interactions. These handy AI-powered sales tools are often used for the initial stages of customer engagement and frequently asked questions.

Chatbots and Virtual Assistant Tools

Sales Analytics Dashboards

Sales Analytics Dashboards are real-time reporting tools that offer insights into sales performance, customer behavior, and market trends. Powered by AI-driven analytics, these dashboards facilitate sequence planning and enable more strategic decision-making.

Lead Scoring Algorithms

Lead Scoring Algorithms are automated systems that rank leads based on various criteria, aiding sales reps in prioritizing their efforts. Enhanced with AI predictive lead scoring, these algorithms offer a more nuanced understanding of lead quality, enabling more targeted and effective sales strategies.

Sales Engagement Platforms

Sales Engagement Platforms automate sending out personalized emails based on set triggers or customer behavior. Additionally, these sales automation platforms enable automated follow-ups and multi-channel engagement, ensuring a smooth and personalized customer journey.

Inventory Management Systems

Inventory Management Systems are tools that automate tracking product levels, orders, sales, and deliveries and directly impact your sales strategy. Manufacturers gain real-time visibility into stock levels and benefit from predictive analytics for demand forecasting, enabling sales teams to make informed decisions. 

In the manufacturing sector, sales automation integrates seamlessly with existing industrial automation software. This creates a unified web where data flows smoothly between manufacturing and sales departments. 

For example, a Product Information Management (PIM) system is crucial for keeping your online product catalog up to date. It stores and manages all the essential details about your products, from digital marketing and sales information to technical specs. PIM can also automatically update inventory levels, which in turn can trigger specific actions in the CRM or other digital sales solutions. This level of integration ensures that sales reps’ access to the actual information is always guaranteed.

How do I automate my sales?

Implementing intelligent sales and marketing automation in big companies is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It requires a strategic approach to ensure that your chosen tools and processes align with your business objectives, industry standards, and customer demands. Here’s a three-step framework to guide you:

Step 1: Asses your needs

First, you need to identify the areas within your sales process that would benefit most from automation. Conduct a thorough audit of your current sales activities, workflows, and bottlenecks. This will help you pinpoint where automation can bring the most value, be it lead scoring, customer engagement, or inventory management.

Step 2: Choose the right sales automation solution

While off-the-shelf products might seem convenient, they often fall short in addressing the unique challenges of the manufacturing sector, like complex product configurations and real-time inventory management. On the contrary, custom-built applications offer a tailored approach. Opting for sales software programs built specifically for your company guarantees getting industrial automation products that align exactly with your specific business needs.

Step 3: Implement your chosen solution

Implementation of your new solution is a tricky process that involves configuring the software, integrating it with existing systems, and training your staff. Off-the-shelf products may not integrate well with your existing industrial automation software, leading to data silos and inefficiencies. Custom software, while requiring a higher initial investment, includes implementation as part of the package and provides a more targeted approach to sales automation.

Improve your sales process with automation tools

By integrating industrial automation systems into your operations, you can zero in on what you do best—creating quality products—while letting automation take care of repetitive sales tasks. The harmonious blend of sales automation and other industry 4.0 technologies empowers your business to operate with greater efficiency, agility, and profitability.

If you’re ready to go all in on sales automation, look for a solution that fits your exact needs. To learn how to truly unlock the full potential of your sales operations, consult our digital sales solutions experts today.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What is sales process automation?
    Sales process automation tools use technology, often AI sales automation, to handle repetitive and time-consuming tasks in the sales cycle. Thanks to automation, your sales team can focus on more strategic activities. This includes building relationships and closing deals while streamlining sales workflows.
  2. What is a sales automation tool?
    A sales automation tool is software designed to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks in sales operations. Custom-made applications from specialized automation solution providers offer a tailored approach that aligns closely with your specific business needs. These tools can handle complex tasks like intricate product configurations and real-time inventory management, making them indispensable for manufacturing sectors.
  3. Why is sales automation important?
    Sales automation is crucial for efficiency and growth. It eliminates manual processes, allowing your sales team to focus on tasks that require human intelligence and creativity. This is one of the unique ways to increase sales while also improving customer experience. In fact, 94% of customers surveyed indicated that excellent customer service increased their likelihood of making another purchase. This underscores the vital role that automation plays in maintaining consistent, top-notch service.
  4. What is sales pipeline automation?
    Sales pipeline automation refers to the use of software tools to automate various stages and tasks within your sales funnel. For example, it includes automatically updating the stage of a lead when they transition into an opportunity or a customer. The automation ensures that the lead record is consistently updated throughout the software, thereby reducing manual work and the risk of errors.

    Overall, sales pipeline automation can help in tracking leads, opportunities, and deals more efficiently, thereby optimizing the sales process workflow.

  5. What are the benefits of sales automation?
    The benefits of sales automation include time and resource efficiency, cost savings, and data-driven decision-making. It allows for manual process automation, freeing up your sales professionals to focus on improving their sales skills.

    Sales automation records all sales data, which can be easily pulled into a dashboard or a report with a single click, providing full visibility into the entire sales performance. It allows for quick distribution of leads and automated communication, enabling salespeople to personalize their outreach based on the lead’s past interactions and requirements.

    Additionally, automated reminders ensure that no meetings are missed and calendars aren’t overbooked.
  6. What is an example of sales automation?
    An example of sales automation could be a Digital Catalog with advanced product search and selection features. This tool automates the product selection process for both sales teams and customers. Users can find the products they are looking for quickly by applying various filters, such as size and material. Additionally, the system adheres to predefined rules like industry standards or physical conditions. The advanced search automation features can also suggest alternative or complementary products, thereby increasing the chances of upselling or cross-selling.

    Custom-built systems are developed by automation software companies specializing in sales development programs.
  7. How automation is used in manufacturing industry?
    Automation plays a pivotal role in optimizing both front-end and back-end operations. On the production side, manufacturing automation incorporates robotics and Industry 4.0 technologies to enhance assembly lines and quality control.

    Automated sales, on the other hand, streamlines activities like real-time inventory management and quote generation.

    Back office automation further complements these efforts by automating administrative tasks such as invoicing, compliance checks, and data entry. Integrating these various automation elements creates a cohesive, efficient, and agile operation.
  8. How does email automation integrate with sales and marketing campaigns?
    Email automation is a powerful tool that synergizes both sales and marketing efforts. A reliable marketing automation tool can automate marketing tasks such as segmenting audiences, scheduling targeted campaigns, and tracking user engagement metrics. Automation tools also take on sending follow-up emails and distributing newsletters tasks. This way you free up valuable sales reps’ time for more strategic activities.

    Your sales and marketing teams can get on with more strategic activities, such as nurturing leads and closing deals. Automated email marketing campaigns can be tailored to specific customer segments, providing personalized content that drives engagement and, ultimately, sales.