The manufacturing sector is a crucial cog in the global economy. In the U.S., it employs over 12 million people and contributes about $2 trillion to GDP. Globally, in the 34 largest manufacturing regions, output tops $35 trillion. This sector is also on the cusp of newfound productivity, efficiency, and innovation, as technology ushers in the next generation of manufacturing rooted in a connected ecosystem and intelligent analytics.

We intend to help drive this transformation with Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud, a new solution specifically designed for manufacturers to unify account planning and forecasting for greater transparency and collaboration across their entire ecosystem. This unified view provides a clear picture of manufacturing customers through new sales agreements and account-based forecasting solutions that enable them to accurately forecast, plan, and drive predictable (and better) business outcomes.


Helping manufacturers align sales and operations

Success in the manufacturing industry depends on great products and meeting customer demand by efficiently producing and fulfilling those products. The first step in that process is to make sure account teams have visibility into the complete book of business for a customer. That includes current business, run rate business, and new opportunities. This visibility leads to more accurate forecasts, more predictable business, and ultimately, more revenue.

Predictability is top of mind for all stakeholders in the manufacturing ecosystem. Customers want assurances around pricing, availability and delivery; distribution partners want optimized delivery channels; sales teams want pricing based on real-time volume assumptions; and operations teams want to produce and procure components based on the most accurate demand.

To achieve this, manufacturers need a clear understanding of all past shipments, current production plans, and future production forecasts. The challenge most face is information silos across multiple systems, including CRM, ERP, and supply chain planning systems. On top of that, there are usually various teams involved, which bogs down the process and makes the sales and operations process murky at best. Perhaps worst of all, sales and distribution partners — those closest to the customer — are not accurately represented!

Given the current manufacturing ecosystem, there is now a golden opportunity to link customers, distribution partners, and sales teams to change the operational planning paradigm. The next generation of manufacturing leaders will establish a new level of connection and engagement with their customers. Achieving this requires universal access to previously siloed data and the ability to extract insights from that data. One manufacturer recently told me that these advancements portend a shift from acting on the point of view of the customer to the actual needs of the customer.


How Manufacturing Cloud works

We created Manufacturing Cloud to align sales and operations, to enhance the sales forecasting process for both run rate and new business opportunities, and to extend the planning process to partners. Here’s how. 

Sales agreements empower manufacturers to unify run-rate business with data stored in ERP and OMS systems with negotiated contract terms (including planned volumes and revenue) so both operations and account teams have a 360-degree view of the customer. Changes are automatically incorporated into the sales agreement, guaranteeing a single source of truth. Account teams now have the power to manage the full sales agreement cycle with visibility into committed and actual order volumes. Moreover, they can also see the performance of the agreement against the forecast and other custom time-phased metrics.

Account-based forecasting surfaces insights across the entire business by breaking down internal silos to allow sales, finance, and operations teams to develop more accurate forecasts. Account teams can then add updates on changing customer needs or broader market demands, which allows the team to adjust plans and estimates in real time, making business transactions, profits, and revenues more predictable.

Of course, many manufacturers sell products through a network of distributors and dealers. They have feet on the ground with knowledge of changes in customer and market demand. That’s why we’re integrating them into the forecast collaboration process with a pre-built community template. 

With this game-changing capability, manufacturers have an unprecedented opportunity to derive real-time insights into customer, product, and pricing performance, and the ability to translate these insights into action quickly. 

This flexibility is the hallmark of an agile organization.


Intelligence at the core

Manufacturing Cloud is a key component of Salesforce Customer 360, which empowers manufacturers to deliver intelligent field services, lifecycle marketing, channel management, B2B Commerce, and more, in a unified view, across their entire business.

Oh, and did I mention analytics and intelligence?

Also new is Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing. Now account managers have an intelligent experience with out-of-the-box KPIs through critical data sources like account health, product penetration, price information, sales agreement progress, and demand insights. By centralizing and analyzing these data points, account managers can, for example, proactively engage with customers to grow the business relationship. Moreover, by identifying these key trends, can grow their relationship with the customer by recommending relevant upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

This level of analysis is integrated directly into the business process of the account teams with real-time insights into sales agreements, forecast performance, and customer interactions to predict the overall health of the customer relationship. In the past, account teams would get this information piecemeal from different sources and in various formats, and it was often outdated, but manufacturers now can embed it into their entire business process.

It’s all built on the Einstein Analytics platform, so it’s flexible and adaptable to whatever business needs arise. These insights around customers, products, and pricing will drive better precision and forecasting accuracy.

Manufacturers must navigate greater complexity than ever before and the disjointed, manual systems of the past won’t work in a 21st century economy. Leading manufacturers are already capturing, integrating, and analyzing data from across their organizations to drive better business outcomes.

Manufacturing Cloud enables all manufacturers to do the same, with a structure for unifying, exchanging and acting on information. It’s the fuel driving digital transformation and the next generation of manufacturing leaders.

Want to learn more? Register for the Manufacturing Cloud webinar to get a deeper look at this game-changing technology with an opportunity to chat with Salesforce subject matter experts.