Technologies of tomorrow that disrupt manufacturing sales today
By Colin Masson, Global Industry Director, Manufacturing at Microsoft on June 22, 2017
Filed under Discrete Manufacturing
Manufacturing is an incredibly innovative industry, accounting for more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development (R&D) in the United States. Rapid innovation makes it critical to constantly move old products to make way for the new ones. But with so much competition in the market, and the barrier for entry being very low, manufacturers need a way to continuously differentiate themselves. And because the sales experience drives 53% of customers’ buying decisions, they need to innovate their sales process to create that much-needed differentiation. Let’s look at three transformational technologies that can change and improve the selling experience in manufacturing sales today: IoT, mixed reality, and chatbots.
The Internet of Things can alter manufacturing maintenance and sales with proactive notifications
Connected devices are transforming many industries, and manufacturing is no exception. Industrial connected machinery is set to add $10-$15 trillion to global GDP within the next 20 years, increasing the impact of remote monitoring as a competitive differentiator in the sales process. One possible use case of IoT is to enable manufacturers to know when parts need replacing and how long parts typically last – empowering them to sell customers a replacement before they fail. For example, a smart sensor within a tractor engine could inform the engine manufacturer that the customer is overtaxing a specific part. The manufacturer then reaches out to the customer and sells them the replacement part before the whole tractor fails. The customer avoids costly work stoppage from a broken engine and feels great satisfaction and loyalty to the manufacturer. It’s even possible for manufacturers to leverage the sensor data to up-sell the customer on a more powerful engine that better meets their needs.
Additionally, manufacturers can leverage IoT sensor data to assess on-hand inventory levels when service requests occur, to avoid the costly over- or under-production of goods. With quick and easy replacement part sales, IoT can pave the way to predictive selling and increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Mixed reality enables consumers to see products in a whole new holographic light
In manufacturing, mixed reality has many potential applications. Manufacturers can change the sales experience with compelling product visualizations that bring complex products to life. Using Microsoft HoloLens, the first self-contained, holographic computer, manufacturers can empower their customers to visualize and configure products using holograms. This mixed-reality visualization technique enables customers to see inside products they evaluate for purchase and examine components with life-like detail. Imagine a sales team with HoloLens showing a customer an intricate product like a tractor engine as if it was in the room. The customer would be able to tailor the tractor and see holographic components and options in real time. They could walk around the tractor and interact with it, bringing the product to life. No matter the location – client’s office, manufacturing plant, a coffee shop – sellers can guide their customers through their product offerings. With highly detailed, realistic models that are configurable and visually compelling, mixed reality will transform manufacturing sales. This type of experience would transform the buying experience, radically differentiating one sales experience from another.
Chatbots change the customer experience and enhance selling
Manufacturers are experimenting with offering customers virtual assistance in the form of chatbots – artificially intelligent agents that interact with customers via a chat interface. Chatbots can provide every customer with individual attention and ensure that they get immediate answers to complex questions– instead of waiting hours or days for a response via email. For example, if a customer needs to confirm that a specific feature is included in their custom tractor, a chatbot could confirm the feature was available almost instantly. This powerful, cost-effective customer experience greatly improves manufacturers’ responsiveness and the buying process in general.
Manufacturers can also leverage chatbots to provide expert guidance to sellers. With a robust chatbot, sellers can instantly access information to finalize a sale just by asking a question to an intuitive chat interface. Using machine learning, the chatbot provides sellers with recommended cross- and up-sell opportunities that fit the customer they’re helping, guiding them step-by-step through a successful sale. Chatbots have the potential to save every seller an immense amount of time and effort while enhancing their sales effectiveness.
PROS Smart CPQ empowers manufacturers to keep up with innovative technology trends
PROS Smart CPQ, built on Microsoft Cloud technology, enables manufactures to maximize sales and provide an exceptional customer experience. Using the technology of tomorrow, the solution quickly gives sellers accurate pricing information for every product and for each customer. Plus, PROS Smart CPQ is ahead of the curve, with the current availability of mixed-reality HoloLens visualizations and with IoT-based selling capabilities and chatbots coming soon. No matter the advancement, PROS Smart CPQ is a future-facing solution that is already using advanced sales technology to keep manufacturers ahead of the competition.
Find out more about how PROS Smart CPQ will keep your company on the cutting edge on Microsoft AppSource.