An Honest Assessment of the CRM Software Utilized in the Manufacturing Industry

by Ian Gjertson, analyst, MAPP

Discovering and establishing new relationships can be complicated but are a prerequisite for attaining sales growth and sustainability. In addition to all the complexities involved in managing a business, developing healthy relationships is one of the most significant challenges. The more information executives and sales professionals have about their customers, the stronger the manufacturing operation’s connection will be with them.

The implementation of CRM software can help centralize, optimize and streamline communication with existing and new customers. In today’s competitive business market, it is essential to recognize and utilize competitive advantages whenever possible. Every organization is dependent on successful networking and relationship management, which is why many executives have chosen to incorporate one within their operations. Customer relationship management (CRM) is the combination of organizational communication standards, processes and policies that are considered when communicating with clients. CRM empowers organizations to obtain additional information about the people they are trying to sell to and discover exactly how to satisfy their specific needs, which endorses sales growth, brand awareness and customer retention.

Dimitri Akhrin, president at CRMDialer and IRIS CRM, recently wrote an article for in which he emphasized the importance of flexibility and feature diversity in CRM software. Flexibility is significant because the needs of a business can change as the organization grows, and the inevitable challenges executives confront in the market can be volatile and often unpredictable (as we have seen over the past year). Akhrin wrote, “A CRM that can scale and change as you demand it to is an important asset that can play a key role in the growth of your business.”

There is an abundance of CRM applications used by executives in the market for managing both existing and prospective customer relationships, but how can one determine which software programs would be the most effective? The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) produced a benchmarking report that evaluated the most common CRM software in manufacturing. The statistics in this report represent almost 200 executives serving over 13 different market segments who were encouraged to answer more than 20 questions.

CRM software overview

crm-software-chartExecutives who utilize a formal CRM system most often incorporate Salesforce, HubSpot or Pipedrive. Salesforce, HubSpot and Pipedrive are cloud-based software companies that concentrate on customer service and relationship management, sales, marketing, analytics and application development. When executives were requested to evaluate the level of overall satisfaction in their CRM software, HubSpot was the highest-rated CRM software, as 92% of its surveyed users rated it as good or excellent; Salesforce was second, as a little more than three-fourths of represented consumers provided a good to excellent rating. Mackenzie Roche, associate editor, and Brandi Johnson, contributor, with U.S. News 360 Reviews ranked HubSpot as the second-best free CRM software of 2021.

MAPP found that 52% of the surveyed executives did not use formal CRM software. Alternatively, they implemented business software with a different primary purpose (e.g., DELMIAworks and Microsoft Excel) to fulfill their organizational CRM requirements. Some executives used a combination of document management and storage applications, email, accounting software and manufacturing systems. The most common enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) used as a CRM tool among those surveyed is DELMIAworks (IQMS), which primarily is devoted to providing real-time production monitoring, quality control, supply chain management and customer relationship management.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software features

The MAPP 2021 Customer Relationship Management Systems Report evaluated the effectiveness and efficiency of each software based on 13 distinctive features. The most consistent qualities that executives demand from their CRM software include customer database, customer targeting, online case management, email utilities and lead generation. HubSpot led in all 13 categories minus automation and online case management. Salesforce was positioned as the highest in online case management and placed second or third in nine of 13 features. Pipedrive was regarded as the highest in automation and email utilities and was rated second or third in seven of the 13 categories.

Participating executives were requested to identify the three most integral features of their CRM system. This section of the report allows readers to identify which applications will satisfy the CRM needs within their organization. As one might expect, DELMIAworks (IQMS) and Microsoft Excel had the most significant diversity of features utilized by executives, as they are not intended to be used as CRM software programs but are used to satisfy that need in many manufacturing companies. HubSpot and Salesforce had the same number of primary features, and Pipedrive had the lowest level of diversity based on what executives considered as primary features among the most used CRM systems.

The MAPP 2021 Customer Relationship Management Systems Report evaluates the manufacturing standards for CRM software on numerous features, including notable details on prospecting, lead generation, customer relationship management, database utilization, analytics, automation, investment and ease of implementation. MAPP’s comprehensive report can be accessed online at