Even in the manufacturing software industry, every company has a different tactic for building profits. Understanding the sales process can tell you a lot about the company.
By Lisa Kessler, Customer Relations with CIMx Software
In her blog (a blog I often take time to read), The Irreverent Sales Girl states, “I think the biggest mistake salespeople make today, is that they try to pretend they’re not salespeople.”
Companies need to make money, but when they haven’t taken the time to ensure their product adds value to the customer and profit to their business, they struggle to build trust with customers (a common problem for some MES suppliers) and resort to smoke and mirrors to hide the true cost of their product. Every business needs a mechanism or system for generating profit. Without it, you have no way to pay salaries or grow the company.
For some MES suppliers, that may be through service charges. These companies will offer a smaller base product and have a whole “implementation” team to build out your system with modules or add-ons. Other suppliers might focus on building a custom system. Or they may sell the software at an extremely high initial price, then pass it to the customer to use and implement as they see fit. Future sales may focus on upgrades. Many companies that offer extensive analytics, but only rudimentary MES functionality, often generate profit this way. These strategies can be very profitable for the supplier, but do not support the long term success of the implementation.
Whether you’re selling a 20oz. porterhouse, classic cars, or software that can run a manufacturing shop floor, the ultimate goal is the same…make the sale and grow profit. But, for CIMx a sale is worth nothing if it comes with a dissatisfied customer because of how we have designed our sales process to generate profit. Customer relations are vitally important, if not more important than the sale itself. Our goal is to build trust from the start. Building trust brings loyalty in the future.
CIMx builds a relationship with our customers – fine tuning our sales process around the customer’s needs. We want our customers to rely on our software for many years, and to come to us with their manufacturing challenges. It wouldn’t do any good to rush through a sale, dump a less than stellar product, and then disappear. Our goal is to offer an outstanding product that adds critical value to our customers. As their business grows, CIMx grows with them. We must help the people we’re selling to.
When working with CIMx, here is what you should expect:
- We research our customers – We’ll take a look at our customer’s website prior to talking to them. We try to understand what they make, how they function, and what their priorities are so we know what questions to ask. We take the time to ensure the first call is of value.
- Have more than one call – Selling MES software is not a race to the finish (unless you are only concerned about dollar signs). Manufacturing is a complex business, and taking the time to fully understand our customers adds value and benefit.
- Move at our customer’s pace – We’ll ask about timelines – a customer in investigative stages will have different priorities than one already at requirements. Pushing a customer forward before they are ready doesn’t make anyone feel comfortable.
- Learn our customer’s processes – Our goal isn’t to sell software with custom code, but we do want to design a solution for our customers. We do this by mapping the customer’s processes to our software. It is important to show how our software can specifically help the company. Our goal in the sales process is to help manufacturing companies be the leanest, most efficient they can be, and we do that by using their material and processes.
- Focus on ROI – We aren’t selling shoes here – an MES is a much bigger investment. We know our customers need to see an ROI to prove the software is a worthwhile investment, so we base our sales process on the ROI. Our goal is to solve the prospects manufacturing challenges and ensure there is a return.
- Follow-Up – For CIMx, the sale is only the first step in the process. We make sure our customers are not just satisfied, but happy. We’re available to our customers, and care about how the system is helping them succeed. Installation is just a first step.
We’ve seen this process work. Many of our sales have come from referrals from our current customers.
Every MES company and every salesperson has their own process and way of generating income. It is important to keep your eye on the prize…which for us isn’t just the sale. For us, the goal is knowing our product is helping manufacturing companies thrive. Knowing our customers are happy, knowing they feel comfortable with us and our product, and knowing they’ll stick with us for years to come. If we succeed in the sales process, then we know when our customer’s face another manufacturing challenge, we’ll be the first supplier they call to seek a solution.
If you are interested in learning more about MES and how it can benefit your shop floor give us a call. No matter what stage you’re in, we will move at your pace, discuss your needs, and make sure you are comfortable at each step along the way. We are happy to help and look forward to speaking with you.