Top Sales Operations Challenges in Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry faces new challenges every year. However, changing market demands, increasing competition, the need to recruit skilled workers, and pressure to reduce costs are ever-present challenges. Sales operations must deal with these challenges upfront while managing sales processes and data.

Sales operations challenges in manufacturing can be overcome with efficient processes and automation.

Sales operations challenges in manufacturing can be overcome with efficient processes and automation.

When it comes to sales, the manufacturing industry faces two major hurdles:

  • motivating the sales force
  • dealing with competition
  1. Motivating the sales force: In every industry, it is vital to keep the sales force motivated to sell better and faster. Sales compensation plans are the best way to do so; however, they only work if they are well structured and communicated clearly to salespeople. In a manufacturing industry up against a slowing economy, a robust sales compensation plan becomes even more essential.
  2. Increasing overseas competition: With the world getting smaller and global becoming the new local, sales teams face stiff competition over quality and price from sellers all over the world. Better-engineered and well-designed products are favored by consumers, even if they are a little more expensive. That said, if a functional product is available at a cheaper rate, customers prefer it over the local alternative. When overseas sellers compete at lower prices, competition becomes stiffer. Cheaper labor and raw materials, lower taxes, affordable shipping costs, and increasing market demand are just some of the factors that allow overseas sellers to offer lower prices.

So how can the manufacturing industry handle these challenges? By becoming more efficient and leveraging local knowledge and connections. Salespeople and sales operations staff benefit from sales compensation management tools that automate processes and enable data analysis and communication.

Better territory management and quota setting: When sales managers have access to relevant historic and current data and insights, they come up with better sales strategies and are equipped to design better sales compensation plans. A well-designed sales compensation management process makes it possible to distribute and structure territories in ways that are more efficient and profitable. Similarly, by studying past performance, sales leaders can set the right quota for each of their sales reps.

Sales managers can also use historic sales performance data to set up coaching for their reps. Recruiting and training a sales rep is expensive; it makes sense to invest in improving the efficiency of current reps, rather than in hiring new ones unless absolutely required.

Increased efficiency and productivity: Sales reps perform a lot of functions besides selling that eat into their selling time: filling out forms, recording sales, onboarding, and training are just some of them. Sales operations, meanwhile, is busy preparing sales compensation plans, calculating payments, settling disputes, and managing payouts. With automation, the sales operations staff has more time on hand to help the reps with their non-sales activities, leaving them with more time to sell.

Salespeople further benefit from automation because it makes important information  immediately available and accessible to them on all the devices they use. When salespeople can easily gain insights from customer data and readily access information about sales strategy, compensation plans, contests, and pipeline, their selling efforts become more energized.

And everyone can do the math – more selling effort equals more sales!

Improved customer engagement: A local sales force has the capacity to develop better long-term relationships with their customers. By leveraging customer data, the sales force can track the behavior of potential customers and keep an eye on upcoming demands, contract renewals, and more, enabling them to upsell and cross-sell new offerings.

Selling is not easy, and the challenges faced by the manufacturing industry are significant. Providing your sales teams all the support they require to sell faster and better makes good business sense. A sales operations management solution that can significantly impact the sales force’s productivity is worth the cost of investment.

When salespeople are supported and feel that they are being compensated fairly and in a timely fashion, they respond better to change, embrace initiatives, and are more aligned with the organization’s objectives.

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John Hitchins

Sales Director

John has over 25 years of experience in extensive business development, marketing and sales operations expertise in the enterprise software, electronic collaboration, networking, and communications industries. Recently he has consulted with series of technology companies in the US and abroad.

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