Salesforce Spring 21 Features – Lightning Sales Cloud, Einstein Sales Cloud, Manufacturing Cloud and Force
I hope everyone out there had a Happy Holidays and even though this probably wasn't…
I hope everyone had a great weekend. Summer 21 actually went live in the second wave of production instances (we’ve already requested our in-line reporting editing from customer service!) this weekend so by now, everyone has Summer 21. Normally we’re more ahead of the curve with the blogging but I’ve had some big weekends personally the last 3 weeks including my oldest son graduating from high school and visits from some family we haven’t seen since COVID started. It’s been a busy few weekends in a row – all pretty great – but, due to them, the blogging has suffered.
In our part 3 on Experience Cloud, Jill P stepped in and did a great job filling in for me – and decided to create her own award and awards ceremony in the process. Somehow she found the time around all of the pomp and circumstance to write a great blog, so she might have just landed herself a permanent spot in the release rotation. What feels like a long time ago, we wrote up Part 1 focused on Sales Cloud and all of the core features, and Part 2 centered around Service Cloud. Well, I’m back for Part 4, and for this one, we’re going to dive into all of the new features in Manufacturing Cloud and the new Rebates Management product.
Before jumping in, with both of these products being on the newer side (Manufacturing Cloud about a year and a half old, and Rebates Management just came out in Spring 21) there’s probably a good chance you haven’t seen these in action. We have two recent webinars where we walk through both products in depth from a business standpoint and then also show live demonstrations of them. Both are worth checking out if you’re in the Manufacturing space. We just upgraded our webinars section (which looks great if I do say so myself) and both of them are located here:
Introduction to Manufacturing Cloud: https://www.gearscrm.com/webinars/introduction-to-manufacturing-cloud/
Rebates Management for Manufacturing: https://www.gearscrm.com/webinars/rebate-management-for-manufacturing/
Rebates Management gets most of the Summer 21 love as far as new features go, but Manufacturing Cloud gets two really big enhancements centered around Sales Agreement management. If you watched the webinar above (or read our initial Manufacturing Cloud intro blog) you’ll know a good bit about Sales Agreements, but let me go into them again here as they have grown even more important in our current manufacturing economy. Sales Agreements are an essential part of business for any manufacturer that has a quantity-based or run-rate-based product. Basically if your product involves repeat orders over time, or you’re dealing in high quantities of your products, you’re essentially pricing your products based on volume commitments being made to you by your customers. These might not necessarily be formal contracts (more on that below), but they are agreements between you and your customer that they’ll get a price-per-unit, and that price is based on the volume you are expecting them to purchase.
If used correctly, these agreements are a powerful way to control margins and forecast demand for manufacturers. Unfortunately, most manufacturers do a poor job of managing these agreements. Let’s walk through an example of where these are used from a business stand-point, before we even get into the functionality within Manufacturing Cloud. You’re a manufacturer of electronic components and you have a customer that is another manufacturer and they want to include your components within their product. Based on their forecasted volume for the next year, you realize you will probably ship 10 million units to them and based on this volume you give them a healthy discounted price of .50 cents per unit. As every manufacturer knows – that agreement right there – is just the beginning of the process. Orders need to be placed against that commitment, product needs to actually be manufactured and then it needs to be shipped to the customer. Where a lot of manufacturers struggle is in the tracking of that process after the agreement is made.
If a customer committed to purchase 10 million units of your electrical component, what is your process to track the fulfillment of those units? The scary thing is, a lot of manufacturers really don’t track this – or they use a very manual and time-intensive process in order to do it. There are a few implications to not tracking this well, with the first simply being pricing controls. You’re giving away margin to that customer under the expectation that they are purchasing that volume. If they only wind up buying 5 million units over a year, you just gave them too big of a discount and there is no getting that back. In today’s manufacturing world where capacity is maxed and we have shortages everywhere, the one lever a manufacturer has to improve their profitability is margin control. Do you really want to be giving someone a discount for something they don’t fulfill? You also have a problem on the other side of the equation – what if they buy even more? Any non-manufacturer would say “Great!”, but manufacturing companies know that a surprise 5 million in quantity could cause capacity issues and maybe you can’t even fulfill that order. This ties into the second problem, which is predicting when that quantity is going to hit the plants. Are the 10 million units spread evenly across 2.5 million a quarter? Is it 10 million all at once as soon as the agreement hits? Or is it a hockey stick, where it’s a few million and then suddenly a big 7 million unit order to get ready for some seasonal spike? Your demand forecasting needs this type of information to understand how all of the orders across the hundreds of agreements you have are going to need to be manufactured.
In short, Sales Agreements in Manufacturing Cloud allow you to put the information your sales team needs to forecast and track these agreements into their hands. The agreement itself can be set up with forecast details on a monthly or quarterly basis so you can build the demand forecast for the agreement. As orders come in from your customers, they are associated with the Sales Agreement so you can see how it is being fulfilled. The actual orders versus the forecasted fulfillment gives your sales team the ability to see if a customer is on track, behind schedule, or even ahead of schedule with the agreement they sold. From there, your sales team can spring into action earlier to get an understanding of what is happening at that customer. Say your customer is behind schedule – this could mean the customer’s business is struggling and they had given you too high of a demand. At this point, you could make a decision to raise the price to match the now expected demand. Give them a discount appropriate for 5 million units and not 10 million. It’s possible you might lose them as a customer, but when you’re dealing with massive backlogs – wouldn’t you want your capacity going to a customer that is truly ordering 10 million or more units a year versus someone only ordering 5 million? At a minimum, even if you don’t raise the price – you’re updating your forecast to show the new expectations. Being behind schedule might also mean you simply had the forecast wrong. Maybe the rest of that volume is still coming, but it’s going to be a big order all at once and it’s coming soon. This is terrific intel to have – and you can now update that forecast to reflect this and give your demand forecasting team a heads up. What if a customer is ahead of schedule? You’re 6 months into the agreement and they’ve already hit their commit! Maybe business is booming for them and they have another 10 million units coming. Well, that’s critical to get your maxed-out plants a heads-up on. Second, you’re not the only game in town that makes these electrical components – maybe you want to take the opportunity here to offer them an even better price to ensure that the next 10 million comes through you and not your competitor. Why risk it for a booming customer like this, right? All of these types of decisions are impossible without putting timely information into your sales team’s hands. This is exactly what Sales Agreements in Manufacturing Cloud provides.
Now let’s talk about the two new Summer 21 enhancements. The first is the ability to revise these Sales Agreements in mid-stream. As I mentioned above, these agreements aren’t always formal contracts. A lot of them are handshake agreements where pricing is given. In addition – my scenario above is really simplistic. Most likely that customer is buying multiple component SKUs from you and each of them have their own volume commit and pricing. What happens when 3 months into that agreement they decide they want to buy another SKU from you? This happens all the time, but previously Manufacturing Cloud wouldn’t let you add new products to an Active agreement. Essentially that new product would need to be a new agreement – which is totally true when you’re doing this more by the book with real contracts. But in the world where most manufacturers live, there isn’t a real contract and you just want to track that customer on one Sales Agreement. This new feature allows you to do this – and it’s a huge change. All of our existing Manufacturing customers run their business this way and this is a big usability enhancement that will make managing these Sales Agreements even easier. With this new feature, you have an “Add Products” button that allows you to add one or more new products at any time to an active agreement. From there you can update the expected forecast for these new products and then have orders associated to track the fulfillment.
The second enhancement makes it easier to track the progress of these Sales Agreements. Especially with monthly agreements, seeing the full year across the screen leads to a bunch of scrolling. Now Sales Agreements (and the Account Forecasts) all have a new filtering ability that allows you to set a specific time range for what you are looking at. Definitely a nice time saver and for OCD people like myself – it’ll lead to the elimination of the dreaded scroll!
Rebates Management is a new product that launched in Spring 21 and it gets expanded a ton with Summer 21. Managing rebate programs is a major pain point for a lot of manufacturers – most of the time it’s managed in a spreadsheet with a ton of manual calculations. Instead of managing these manually, Rebates Management allows you to build out your rebate programs, criteria, payout rules, and membership all within Salesforce. Leveraging orders as they are submitted – either through an orders integration or an upload of a template – rebates are automatically calculated based on the rules you build out. This allows you to give visibility to your customers and partners of where they are in achieving their rebates goals, and overall it makes that process of issuing rebate payments easier on your finance team.
Typically rebates are not a straightforward “you get 1% back on all purchases,” which is what makes manually tracking these even harder. We go into a bunch of detail on this within the webinar, but a lot of times you want to structure rebates in a way that incents your customers to order more product. You can do that by paying a higher rebate as they cross thresholds of volume or even structuring the rebates to be based on growth goals versus making the calculation straight off of the dollar amount of the orders. Programs like these are terrific ways to provide incentives to move certain products over others, or even to reward certain customers more than others – but, these are usually a nightmare to calculate manually on a monthly or quarterly basis. The harder they are to calculate means more errors, and errors lead to a lack of trust in your rebate checks. That lack of trust then means your customers are combing over your checks trying to figure out the same really hard-to-calculate numbers manually as well – and making errors of their own. All of that leads to a reconciliation process you’re doing once a month or quarter surrounded by an onslaught of “did I get paid for this order?” questions. Leveraging Rebates Management to do this and then presenting that data to your customers with Experience Cloud will increase your data accuracy, lower your maintenance time and reduce this back-and-forth with your customers.
With Summer 21 we get some great enhancements building upon a pretty incredibly stacked initial release. A lot of these features really let you get even more sophisticated with your calculations and management, while others expand Rebates even further into your process. Let’s dive in:
Alright, that wraps up Manufacturing Cloud and Rebates Management. It’s super exciting to see Rebates getting so many new features right after it was launched and we’re really excited about where this product is headed. If you’re a Manufacturer and interested in learning more about how you can automate your rebates program – or get better visibility into your order fulfillment – reach out and let’s talk. There’s so much here that can improve your processes and we’d be happy to connect you with a Solutions Architect to discuss how. Thanks for reading. Next up will be Field Service!