The Best CRM for Manufacturing Businesses

The Top 4 Manufacturing CRM Software Systems


  • Four Customer Relationship Management systems are the market share leaders in the industrial sector.
  • These four applications go beyond generic cross industry processes and deliver industrial specific capabilities that aid things like product innovation, indirect sales channels, highly configurable orders, field service support, IoT, AI and other industry requirements.
  • Each of the top manufacturing CRM software systems offer different strengths, weaknesses and value propositions, discussed below.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

In the prior post we shared the top industry specific capabilities offered by the best Manufacturing CRM software solutions. This post will deliver comparison information among the top four CRM for Manufacturing Businesses.

The Best CRM for Manufacturing Businesses

I've been evaluating and implementing Customer Relationship Management software at industrial companies for more than three decades. A popular question I get is, "What is the best CRM for manufacturing businesses?"

It's easy to say, well, that depends. So, I'm not going to say that. Instead, I'll suggest to answer the question you start by considering market share, market growth and the industry specific objectives and requirements that make manufacturing CRM software different than the more generic systems.

Best CRM for Manufacturing Business

Market Share in the Industrial Sector

So, I'll start with market share. The big 4 Customer Relationship Management solutions across all industries are Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP. Collectively they account for less than half of the total technology market but that is in large part due to a very fragmented market that includes well over 100 publishers.

CRM Market Share

The big 4 solutions are also the leaders in the industrial sector. Not because industrial companies have the same requirements; they don't. But because these vendors deliver industry specific capabilities needed by industrial companies. Things like customer insights to support product innovation, Partner Relationship Management to aid indirect sales channels, CPQ software to accelerate highly configurable orders, Field Service Management to grow higher margin post-sale revenues. These applications also support more advanced technologies such as IoT to understand product performance, AI to achieve predictive analytics and seamless integration with ERP systems to support end to end business process automation.

Even seemingly standardized processes such as sales are not so standardized for manufacturers. Unlike most industries which emphasize new customer acquisitions, manufacturers are more geared to increase repeat business with existing customers. Their objective is to source more revenue and have longer relationships with customers.

That reinforces why certain technology capabilities, such as big data, AI and IoT are needed to measure product performance and understand how customers are engaging with their products. And why customer relationships – with both customers and partners – are vital. Customer churn is more devastating for manufacturers.

CRM for Manufacturing

The Top 4 CRM for Manufacturing Businesses

Selecting the best CRM for manufacturing software is a long-term decision that should be based on weighted criteria that support your staff, customers and company priorities. Consider the following comparison points as a starting point.


Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud

Salesforce is the market share leader. The company pioneered cloud delivery, social capabilities, platform extensibility and is a relentless innovator. That innovation continues to bring advanced capabilities such as Einstein AI, an IoT cloud, an extremely broad platform and a deep AppExchange ecosystem.

CRM for manufacturing business strengths with this product include best-in-class CPQ, Partner Relationship Management (PRM), Field Service Management (FSM), extensible IoT and a Manufacturing Cloud edition with default templates designed for the industrial sector.

Among the top four solutions, Salesforce is the only CRM for manufacturing business provider that does not offer Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Supply Chain Management (SCM) applications. However, the company does offer packaged integration to SAP and several other ERP applications.

Consider Salesforce if you intend to transform your industrial business. However, recognize that acquiring the market share leader may come with a price premium. If you leverage this application for digital or business transformation your investment will pay big dividends. But if your goals are less ambitious, your growth path is more incremental or you do not leverage Salesforce's advanced capabilities, you may increase investment and total cost of ownership without the corresponding payback.


Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement

Microsoft offers a feature rich, mature application.

The Microsoft Dynamics Customer Engagement (CE) value proposition is in large part that the Customer Relationship Management software is an integrated component among a broader business application stack that includes ERP, Human Capital Management (HCM) and SCM.

That value prop is further bolstered as the ERP suite includes sophisticated discrete and process business applications so the entire solution can be appealing to industrial companies. In fact, the Microsoft ERP software has made the industrial sector Microsoft's top vertical market.

Consider Dynamics CE when you are evaluating a complete front to back office, fully integrated business application suite. This also includes large companies that use SAP at headquarters but are considering a tier 2 solution for decentralized business units or dispersed geographic locations (where SAP is considered overkill). Dynamics CE is also less expensive than Salesforce, Oracle and SAP. The investment can be even better if you have a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement.

However, some cautions exist. Microsoft's business focus is not with its Dynamics business applications (it's with Azure) and certain capabilities such as Configure-Price-Quote must be obtained from the Dynamics AppSource marketplace.



SAP is the ERP software market share leader.

Most companies only consider SAP Customer Relationship Management if they are purchasing or already own SAP ERP software. To be candid, SAP CRM software does not possess the same reputation as its ERP.

From our experience, a standout area is the company's analytics tools. These tools are particularly effective in analyzing manufacturing big data and identifying patterns and anomalies that may surface both cost takeout and business development opportunities.

For SAP customers, the customer management application may be acquired at an attractive price. SAP is known to heavily discount or even bundle in the software with an ERP purchase. In fact, it's this bundling that gives SAP its CRM market share position.

Like Microsoft, industrial companies make up one of SAP largest install bases. Also like Microsoft, the customer management software is not the company's focus (ERP software is). It's that focus that is often a predictor of innovation and continued evolution – or the lack thereof.


Oracle CX

Oracle's software is called Oracle CX. That moniker was born from a branding program designed to tap into the high growth Customer Experience software market. But branding aside, Oracle offers similar marketing, sales and customer service applications as the other top systems.

Oracle has amassed multiple products from several acquisitions. Most notably, the company acquired the first market share leader, Siebel Systems, which gives it an inside path to new product replacements.

Oracle's acquisition of Eloqua boosted its place in marketing automation systems, a top ranking it still holds today. The company's acquisition of RightNow accelerated its customer support capabilities.

For manufacturers with direct sales organizations, Oracle CX capabilities such as quota management, territory management and PRM are some of the best in the industry. Other industrial capabilities such as FSM and digital commerce are also notable.

Like Microsoft and SAP, Oracle offers a single vendor holistic solution with tight integration to ERP and SCM systems.

On average, Oracle is priced below Salesforce, similar to SAP and above Microsoft Dynamics.

See the Top 4 CRM for Manufacturing Businesses

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If you are evaluating manufacturing CRM software and would like some expert assistance, we have a structured program delivered on a fixed fee basis. We focus on the most important industrial objectives and technology capabilities to reduce the time needed by more than 50 percent.