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Is your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System Dying on the Vine?

Is your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System Dying on the Vine?

 

Hi, I’m Brad Feakes with the Estes Group. Now, with summer a distant memory and autumn full upon us, the winter still ahead, it’s a fitting time if you’re the leader of a manufacturing company to ask yourself whether your legacy ERP system is dying on the vine.

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when your company first turned on its new ERP system and went live? Everything was blooming with possibilities, and your company was in its earlier season with its ERP system.

And then the years slipped away, and now your organization finds itself struggling with its legacy system’s withering limitations. And these limitations become an inhibitor to future growth. The truth is, winter is coming for manufacturing companies living on legacy ERP systems.

But you don’t have to hang your head over it, the ERP market is blossoming with different options, such as Epicor’s Version 10, with it’s Microsoft centered stack, and rest service compatibility, it offers the perfect platform for scalable growth.

As you assess your organization and its IT infrastructure, you need to ask yourself the question, have you harvested all the benefits of your legacy ERP system? Are you tired of endless patches? Are you frustrated with the narrow field of vision that your current system affords you? Is your legacy ERP system a husk of its former self? And are you ready to put it to pasture? Are you ready to leave your legacy ERP system behind.

I’m Brad Feakes with the Estes Group, and I’d love to talk to you, see if could help put some spring back in your business systems. 

Have a question for Brad or another one of our experts? Let us know.

Can I Run Quickbooks and Compete in Smart Manufacturing?

Can I Run Quickbooks and Compete in Smart Manufacturing?

You’ve heard the term Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0; but what does that really mean for your manufacturing company? Can a company be “Smart” and use basic software like Quickbooks or do you need to have a real Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system?  The short answer is: yes, your company needs an ERP system to truly adopt Smart manufacturing and be ahead (or even keep pace) with the competition.

For those still wondering what Smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0 are, don’t worry, the terms are newer and only recently been used in a fairly regular manner. Smart Manufacturing is, simply put, the melding of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT). Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing are really the newest phase or a new Industrial Revolution if you will hitting manufacturing on a worldwide scale.

In order to remain competitive, manufacturers must invest in inter-connectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data analytics.

Holding together various systems needed to properly track and analyze the smart manufacturing data captured, is a strong ERP system, which can marry the shop-floor data with cost breakdowns, operational information, job details, and customer information, etc. I find it interesting how many manufacturers still run homegrown systems or rely on access database, excel, etc to track production, which is clunky, prone to data corruption, and does not collect all relevant data to provide a company with true business analytics.

One of our clients used a homegrown system before deploying Epicor ERP a few years ago. They noticed immediate improvements in inventory control, accurate cost measurements for their products, and better shop floor scheduling. Now, image if the same company deployed machine learning and automation married with real-time data analytic software? The potential to outpace the competition is dramatically increased.

So to get back to the second question, no, Quickbooks or other smaller software systems will not support manufacturers focused on growth since they lack the basic shop floor data collection and analytics needed to streamline your business. Manufacturers that wish to remain competitive, and have an optimized business require an ERP system.

 

Is your company looking to move away from small accounting systems and move to a manufacturing ERP system? Or do you have an ERP system and need to work on optimizing it? We would love to talk with you about how we can work together to make your business run better.

Becoming A Better Salesperson that Sells for a Manufacturing Company

Becoming A Better Salesperson that Sells for a Manufacturing Company

The Prospect has Objections
What are the Common Ones
&
How Do You Handle Them?

Prospect objections arise for different reasons and have different implications on whether you selling anything or not. Some objections will be legitimate, but many times prospects will just make the statement when they’re just trying to brush you off. Below are four common prospects “delay or blow-off” statements and a few suggestions on how to handle them.

  1. “We’re just starting to review our purchasing options”What it means is: Your prospect is in the early stages of their buying/bidding process. They tell you they’re “just looking” because they want to continue to maintain control of their buying process and it’s too early for them to engage with a salesperson right now.
    Most manufacturing salespeople will take that at face value and allow the prospect to end the conversation. But this is the wrong approach, because the next time you contact them, they’ll most likely provide you a similar answer.A better way to handle the objection might be: To stop selling and acknowledge that if you’re a little early in their buying/bidding process that you’re not trying to sell anything, but you’re just inquiring to what products they might need you to quote on down the road so when they do go out for bid, you’ll be prepared to be of service. A common, but the wrong response is, “I’m glad to hear you’re looking. Here are a dozen reasons I think our products, company, services, etc. would be a great fit for you.”

    The correct response accomplishes three (3) things.
    First, you’ve shown that you listened to the prospect by acknowledging they’re not ready to buy. Many prospects use this delay phrase because they’ve gotten the hard sell too early far too many times before. If you’re polite and calm with your prospect they shouldn’t be afraid to continue the conversation and give you a little more information.

    Second, you’ve let the prospect know you’re interested in getting to know them, so you can be helpful and provide a service at a later time.
    Third, maybe the prospect didn’t think they had other buying options. Providing a quick example of how you’ve helped your customers with a similar approach of getting a list of parts/products earlier to start thinking about Vs when it’s actually out to bid/quote might provide them a viable reason to engage with you further either on your current call or subsequent calls. If you’ve gotten a better understanding of your prospect’s problem, you might tell them, that you’ll follow up your call with some helpful information, not on your company, product or service, but with some information that can be of help to him/her, so they remember the next time you contact them that you’re not one of those salespeople that’s only interested in selling stuff.

  2. “We’re going with the lowest bid/quote when we make our decision”What it means is: You haven’t established the value of your service, product or company.How to handle it: This objection might come at several points in the sales process but is a common sales objection manufacturing salespeople need to address when it comes up and your prospect is trying to blow you off.

    Your job is to show your prospect the value of having them work with you Vs just considering the price. You need to emphasize your value over price. Remember “Value Statements” about your product/service/company need to be specific that can be tied to a dollar equivalent that represents your higher price (i.e. If you work with XYZ manufacturing, because of our cloud ERP system we can provide you an online portal that you can monitor your inventory levels of your product(s) as well as order online which saves you “X” numbers of hours/month, etc. etc. )

  3. “We’re not ready to make a buying decision right now.”What it means is: This objection is commonly heard when a salesperson is trying to close the business. Assuming your prospect has the authority to purchase your product or service and you have thoroughly qualified the opportunity (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe (BANT)), this objection means they still might need more information or it could signify that they’re waiting to hear back from your competition.How to handle it: Take a step back. Don’t be defensive. Ask your prospect if you can review their buying process to make sure you haven’t missed any steps to cause the delay? If you’ve taken the time to understand their buying process (which oh, by the way, should resemble your selling process) and documented that process and shared it with your prospect along their buying journey, it might expose the prospect, in a nice way, to provide you information about your competition to gain an edge when it comes time for final negotiations. It might also be noted here if you’re in a competitive situation, ask what points of vendor differentiation your prospect is examining, and provide resources that show why your offering is the best option. If they simply need more information, drill down to the area of your solution they’re still uncertain about.
  4. “Is this your best price?”What it means is: “Can I get a better deal” (i.e. your value statement, above, didn’t help and the price is probably still the primary determining factor of who they’ll buy from.How to handle it: Your prospect’s voice tone is important here. How you respond to this objection depends on your ability to read your prospect. Do they sound like they’re ready to play hardball, or are they asking, because that’s expected in your industry?

 

You can either give a discount or hold firm. Your product is priced the way it is for a reason, so don’t give away the store! Remember if do go down the path of offering your prospect a discount you need something in exchange for the discount (i.e. a longer-term commitment, a signed contract on the spot, a larger quantity purchase, etc., etc.).
There are of course hundreds of other objections or variations of the above objections a manufacturing salesperson hears if they’re selling long enough. The bottom line here is if you take the time to get to know your prospects and thoroughly understand their buying situation (BANT), you should be able to overcome most objections like the ones above; which should result in more sales. Don’t be just another bid or quote.