Last week, the S&P and Dow suffered their worst losses in over a month, primarily driven by data that showed manufacturing activity had contracted to its lowest point in over 10 years. And while it is no secret that manufacturing has been facing challenges for some time, it still remains a critically important component of the economy, contributing about $2T to US GDP (about 11%) and employing 12MM people.

However, with daily news about trade tensions, and industry-specific discord – such as labor disputes in the automotive sector and cancelled aerospace orders – the recent market situation can feel particularly dire. In times like these it is more important than ever for those in the manufacturing industry to keep focused on what they always have – flawless sales execution and maintaining margins by getting their products to market as quickly and as efficiency as possible.

Only 41% of sales reps’ time is spent selling. That time is often consumed by activities like customer research, creating collateral and entering data into their CRMs manually.

– CSO Insights

Yet, even in the best of times, this is hard for manufacturers to do. Despite upstream process improvements resulting from IoT, additive manufacturing, AI/machine learning, etc. Digital transformation has been slower to reach downstream, customer-facing operations in sales and marketing. As a result, OEMs, which are often complex and heavily matrixed, find it difficult to effectively communicate to their customers and channel partners the value of thousands of skus across multiple selling organizations and several global regions.

Sellers are being asked to pull more, unique products out of the bag, service teams are strained, and marketing has little visibility or data about activities in the field. This slows down the sales process and decreases sales efficiency.

But there are ways to make the go-to-market process smoother. Digital solutions, such as Seismic, that free up time for sellers so they can spend more time with their customers, while still personalizing interactions to give buyers the unique content they are looking for, can help manufacturers navigate these troubled waters.

Three ways customer-facing digital tools like Seismic can help fuel your sales engine:

1. Increasing customer engagement with personalized material

Buyers and channel partners have become accustomed to receiving unique content in their private lives, such as through Google, Amazon and Netflix – and are demanding the same from suppliers and partners in the form of value-added solutions and customized information. The right tools let you delight the customer with personalized sales collateral that can be built with the click of a button and distribute only relevant content across geographies, business units and sales teams.

2. Maximizing sales and marketing efficiency enterprise-wide with automated content generation

In matrixed organizations like manufacturers, it is easy to lose track of the core value proposition and a single source of content truth. Your go-to-market sales engagement platform should automatically surface approved content when and where the seller needs it. This gives sellers more time to sell effectively, unifies the message, and reduces risk across the organization.

3. Quantifying the ROI of sales materials with data and analytics

Without a clear view of how content is performing in the field, manufacturing companies risk reinforcing messages that don’t resonate with target customers. Sales enablement technology lets you gain visibility to your content’s impact on business results, easily audit the content library and justify marketing budgets based on real-time content-performance feedback.

These are just a few ways in which customer-facing sale enablement platforms can help manufacturers excel in these challenging times and far beyond.