Have you ever spent hours looking for customer information? Isn’t it as frustrating as trying to find your keys when you’re already late for work? 

Especially for manufacturers’ representatives, their day-to-day tasks (both administrative and operational) consume crucial time that ultimately hinders productivity.

Take Jane for example! She is a manufacturer’s rep in a sales team, working her way through her daily grind, which looks like this;

Each day, she is busy:

  • Creating quotes and sending them for approval
  • Tracking bid and quote status after creating
  • Tracking all deals
  • Retrieving quote history fast
  • Handling complex quotes
  • Tracking bids company-wide
  • Analyzing the backlogs
  • Order tracking and automated notifications
  • Project status that started 2 months ago
  • Meeting new customers 
  • Generate new leads
  • Follow-up with customers
  • Communication tracking with customers
  • Collaborating within the company and sharing insights with other sales team
  • Retrieve information on the customer
  • Manage appointments and deadlines, to name a few.

These tasks, while necessary, consume Jane’s significant time, that could be better spent on strategic activities. 

By focusing on these routine operations, she was less able to engage in high-value activities like customer relationship building. 

This not only reduces her productivity but also delays cash flow, as less time is available for activities directly contributing to revenue generation.

Managing it all without error became a daunting challenge. But Jane stumbled upon a one-step solution to it! 

A CRM especially designed for manufacturers’ reps! 

From keeping track of customers and chasing leads to juggling between jobs and getting sales insights, the right CRM can make all these tasks smoother and more manageable. 

Let’s learn from Jane about the 12 ultimate essential features that a CRM for manufacturers’ reps must have in order to actually make a difference.

1. Easy and User-Friendly Interface

The transition from Excel or spreadsheets to a CRM can be difficult. That is exactly why it’s so important for the CRM you pick to have an interface that is simple and not too different from what you have been using. 

This helps in effective change management and ensures that your team can adapt fast and without a steep learning curve.

For example, Jane is a sales rep who has been using Excel to track customer interactions, sales data, and follow-ups. Her spreadsheet contains columns for customer names, contact details, the last interaction date, and the next follow-up date. When her company adopts a new CRM system, the interface mirrors her familiar Excel layout but with enhanced functionality. 

The CRM displays customer information in a tabular format similar to her Excel sheet, but now each entry is clickable, leading to a detailed customer profile. Jane can still see the same columns she’s used to but with added benefits such as automated reminders for follow-ups and a history of all past interactions. The transition feels seamless because she can immediately recognize where to find and enter data without extensive training.

This familiarity reduced Jane’s anxiety about learning a new system and enabled her to continue her work with minimal disruption. 

The CRM’s user-friendly and simple interface design means she spends less time figuring out how to use the system and more time engaging with customers, leading to a smoother transition and improved productivity.

2. Integration with Other Applications

Your CRM should work seamlessly with other critical programs like email marketing tools, WhatsApp, and mobile interfaces. This guarantees that all of your communication channels are in sync, increasing productivity and efficiency.

For example, Jane uses a CRM integrated with Mailchimp to sync customer data automatically. This integration allows her to segment her audience based on CRM insights and track the effectiveness of her email campaigns directly within the CRM. 

Additionally, Jane connects her CRM with WhatsApp, enabling her to communicate with clients in real time. Every interaction she has on WhatsApp is automatically logged into the CRM, ensuring she maintains a complete history of customer communications. 

Also helping her is Jane’s mobile-friendly CRM interface, which allows her to access and update customer information while traveling. 

This capability leads to faster response times and improved customer service. By integrating these tools, Jane can streamline her workflows, reduce manual data entry, prevent information silos, and maintain a 360-degree view of customer interactions.  

This comprehensive integration ultimately enhances her decision-making and strengthens her customer relationships.

3. Quote Management

Managing quotes is an essential function for manufacturers’ reps. A good CRM should enable you to create, send, and track quotes efficiently, ensuring that you can respond to customer requests promptly and professionally. 

For example, Jane uses a CRM with integrated quoting capabilities. When a customer requests a quote, Jane can quickly generate it using pre-set templates within the CRM, ensuring consistency and professionalism.

After creating the quote, Jane sends it directly from the CRM to the customer’s email. The CRM then tracks the status of the quote, notifying Jane when the customer opens it or if any follow-up is needed. 

This feature allows Jane to promptly address any questions or concerns, enhancing her responsiveness.

Jane can access her quotes on her mobile while visiting clients. This mobility ensures that she can update and send quotes on the spot, providing a seamless customer experience. 

By utilizing a CRM with quoting features, Jane has streamlined her quote management process, reduced response times, and maintained a professional image, ultimately improving her sales efficiency and customer satisfaction.

4. Deal Tracking

It is vital to track your deals from the initial contact to the final close. Your CRM should provide a clear picture of where each deal stands, what actions are required, and who is accountable for them, ensuring that no chances are missed. 

For example, Jane’s CRM helps her manage the sales pipeline. From the moment she makes initial contact with a prospect, she logs the interaction in the CRM, which automatically assigns the next steps and deadlines.

As Jane progresses through the sales cycle, her CRM updates the deal status, providing a visual pipeline that shows where each deal stands. 

If a deal requires action, such as a follow-up call or sending additional information, the CRM sends Jane reminders and assigns tasks, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.

Her CRM also allows Jane to assign specific responsibilities to her team members, ensuring everyone knows their role in closing the deal. 

This clarity helps Jane and her team collaborate effectively, track progress, and move deals forward efficiently. 

By using a CRM with comprehensive deal-tracking capabilities, Jane ensured that she never missed an opportunity and could close deals more systematically and successfully.

5. Commission Calculation

Calculating commissions accurately can be difficult and time-consuming. A CRM with built-in commission calculation helps to streamline the process, ensuring that reps are paid appropriately and on time. 

For this, Emma, Jane’s HR, relies on her CRM’s commission-calculating feature. As Jane registers sales and closes deals, the CRM calculates her commissions using predetermined rules and rates.

This automation eliminates the need for manual calculations, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring that Jane’s commissions are accurate. 

At the end of each month, the CRM generates a detailed report of her earned commissions, which is then reviewed and approved by the finance team.

Additionally, the CRM provides Jane with real-time visibility into her commission earnings throughout the month, helping her stay motivated and track her progress toward her targets. 

With a CRM with built-in commission calculation, Jane can now focus more on selling and less on administrative tasks, knowing that her commissions will be calculated correctly and paid on time.

6. Backlog Analysis

Understanding your backlog is important for meeting client expectations and planning resources. A CRM should have powerful backlog analysis capabilities to help you detect blockages and effectively prioritize work. 

For example, Jane uses the backlog analysis features in her CRM to keep track of pending tasks and orders.

The CRM provides Jane with a comprehensive view of all outstanding work, categorizing tasks by priority and deadline. 

When Jane notices a backlog building up in a particular area, the CRM’s analytics help her pinpoint the source of the bottleneck, whether it’s a delay in a specific department or an issue with resource allocation.

With this information, Jane can reassign tasks or allocate additional resources to address the delays. The CRM’s workflow management feature also allows Jane to set automated alerts for critical deadlines, ensuring high-priority tasks are completed on time.

By doing so, Jane can manage her team’s workload more effectively, ensure timely project completion, and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction by keeping clients informed about their order status. 

7. Order Tracking and Notifications

Keeping track of orders and receiving timely status updates allows for more effective client relationship management. Your CRM should provide real-time order monitoring and automated notifications to keep you and your customers informed. 

For example, Jane utilizes her CRM to track customer orders in real-time.

When an order is placed, the CRM tracks its progress through each stage of fulfillment. Jane receives automated notifications about key status updates, such as when an order is processed, shipped, or delayed. These notifications allow Jane to proactively manage any issues that arise, ensuring she can address potential problems before they impact the customer.

The CRM will also automatically send status updates to customers, keeping them informed about their orders without Jane needing to manually intervene. This transparency helps build trust and keeps customers satisfied by providing them with timely and accurate information.

8. Project Status Tracking

For complicated projects with various stages, having a clear picture of project status is critical. Your CRM should provide detailed project tracking, ensuring that all team members are on the same page and deadlines are met. 

For example, Jane uses her CRM to manage a multi-phase project.

The CRM enables Jane to break the project down into distinct stages, each with specific tasks and deadlines. 

Jane can assign tasks to team members and set milestones, making it clear who is responsible for what and when each part of the project is due. 

The CRM provides a visual timeline and progress indicators, helping Jane and her team easily track the project’s status at a glance.

If any delays or issues arise, the CRM sends automated alerts to Jane and her relevant team members, allowing them to address problems promptly and adjust plans as needed. 

9. Lead Generation and Follow-Up

Effective lead generation and follow-up can have a big impact on your sales pipeline. A CRM should allow you to capture leads from a variety of sources, track their progress, and automate follow-up actions to foster relationships. 

For example, Jane’s CRM streamlines her lead generation and follow-up operations.  

The CRM captures leads from various sources, such as the company website, social media, and trade shows, automatically importing them into the system. 

Each lead is assigned a status and categorized based on the source and potential value. Jane can view all her leads in one place, sorted by their stage in the sales pipeline.

As leads progress, the CRM tracks each interaction, providing Jane with a detailed history of communications and actions taken. To ensure no lead is neglected, the CRM automates follow-up actions such as sending reminder emails, scheduling calls, or triggering personalized outreach based on predefined criteria.

This automation helps Jane maintain regular contact with her leads, nurturing relationships and moving them through the sales funnel efficiently. 

Through this, Jane can manage her sales pipeline, ensuring a steady flow of qualified leads and ultimately increasing her chances of closing deals.

10. Communication Tracking

Keeping track of all client communications is critical for a manufacturer’s representative in order to create and maintain solid relationships with retailers, distributors, and other partners. A CRM designed for manufacturers’ reps should track emails, calls, meetings, and other contacts with these clients to provide a comprehensive picture of engagement.

For example, as a manufacturers’ rep, Jane relies on her CRM to track every interaction with retailers and distributors. 

When she sends out product updates, pricing information, or sales pitches via email, the CRM automatically logs these communications. 

Similarly, when Jane has phone calls or in-person meetings with clients to discuss orders, negotiate terms, or address any concerns, the CRM can record these interactions as well.

This detailed record of all communications allows Jane to stay organized and maintain a complete history of her interactions with each client. This history is invaluable for understanding client preferences, tracking the progress of negotiations, and ensuring that commitments made during meetings are followed through. 

It also enables Jane to provide personalized and attentive service to each client, ultimately strengthening her relationships and increasing her effectiveness as a manufacturers representative.

It also helps Jane identify patterns and trends in client behavior, allowing her to tailor her sales strategies and pitches accordingly.

11. Collaboration on Quotes

Collaboration is essential for manufacturers’ representatives in order to provide accurate and competitive quotes to retailers and distributors. A CRM for manufacturer’s reps should make it easier for team members to collaborate on quotes and proposals.

For example, Jane relies on her CRM to collaborate with her team members, including sales managers, product specialists, and pricing analysts, to create quotes for clients. 

The CRM allows them to access and update quote information in real time, ensuring everyone is working with the latest data and pricing information.

Jane and her team can communicate within the CRM, discussing pricing strategies, product availability, and any special requirements or discounts that need to be considered for each quote. 

They can also assign tasks to each other, such as gathering additional information or obtaining approvals from higher management.

A CRM with a quote management feature not only streamlines the entire process but also reduces errors and ensures that quotes are delivered to clients promptly and accurately.

12. Appointment and Deadline Management

From the perspective of a manufacturer’s representative, effectively scheduling appointments and deadlines is crucial for staying organized and following up with retailers and distributors on time. A CRM for manufacturers’ reps should feature powerful scheduling and deadline management tools to help the rep stay organized and on task.

For example, Jane depends on her CRM to schedule appointments with clients, such as meetings, product presentations, and follow-up calls. 

The CRM’s integration with the calendar feature allows Jane to view her schedule at a glance, making it easy to plan her day and avoid scheduling conflicts.

In addition to scheduling appointments, the CRM helps Jane manage deadlines for tasks such as submitting quotes, following up on orders, and providing customer support. 

Jane can set reminders and notifications for important deadlines, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks and that all commitments are met on time.

Her CRM can also automatically generate tasks and reminders based on predefined workflows, such as sending a follow-up email after a sales call or scheduling a product demonstration after receiving a request from a client. 

This automation helps streamline Jane’s workflow and ensures that she stays on top of her responsibilities without having to manually track every task.

Spreadsheets vs. CRM

Still stuck with spreadsheets?

Take a look at our comparative chart to see what you’ve been missing out on with spreadsheets. A CRM can transform your workflow, offering advanced features and integrations that spreadsheets simply can’t match.

Article at a glance;

Manufacturers’ representatives often struggle with daily tasks that consume crucial time, hindering productivity. 

A manufacturer’s rep in a sales team is usually tasked with creating quotes, tracking bids, handling complex quotes, tracking company-wide bids, analyzing backlogs, ordering, meeting new customers, generating leads, following up with customers, communication tracking, collaborating within the company, and managing appointments and deadlines. 

These tasks consume significant time that could be better spent on strategic activities, such as customer relationship building. 

This reduces productivity and delays cash flow, as less time is available for activities directly contributing to revenue generation. 

The ultimate solution to this challenge is a CRM designed specifically for manufacturers’ reps. A CRM can help manage tasks such as customer tracking, chasing leads, juggling between jobs, and obtaining sales insights.

The 12 must-have features of a CRM for manufacturers’ reps include:

  • Quote management
  • Deal tracking
  • Integration with other apps
  • Commission Calculation
  • Backlog Analysis
  • Order Tracking and notifications
  • Project status tracking
  • Lead generation and follow-up
  • Communication tracking
  • Collaboration on quotes
  • Customer information and management
  • Appointment and deadline management

Attention Field Sales Reps!

Are you fed up with spending hours at the desk rather than selling? Are you still using spreadsheets?

Stop using Excel now! 

Learn how to find the best alternative to your spreadsheet and Excel chaos from our sales solutions expert. Book your free consultation here: 

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🔹How can I ensure my team adapts quickly to using a new CRM?

Select a CRM with an easy-to-use interface that is similar to products your staff is currently familiar with, like Excel. This minimizes the learning curve and enables for a more seamless transfer, minimizing disruptions to everyday operations.

🔹What kind of integrations should I look for in a CRM to enhance my productivity?

Look for a CRM that works with your email marketing software (such as Mailchimp), communication platforms (such as WhatsApp), and mobile interfaces. These interfaces provide seamless communication across channels, real-time updates, and the flexibility to manage customer contacts and data from any device, thereby enhancing your overall productivity.

🔹What CRM features can help me manage my workload and ensure timely completion of tasks?

Your CRM should include tools for appointment scheduling, deadline management, and automated reminders. These features help you stay organized, keep track of important deadlines, and ensure that all tasks are completed on time, improving overall productivity.