Unleashing Sales Effectiveness in the Semiconductor Industry Using Technology: Use Cases and Benefits
High-Tech | 7 min READ
    
Semiconductor Industry: The Importance of Robust Salesforce
The semiconductor market size was valued at $427.6 billion in 2020, which is expected to reach $698.2 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 5.9% during the same period. Increased investments in memory devices and Integrated circuit components are driving technological improvements in the semiconductor sector. While this is good news, semiconductor and component manufacturers face the challenge of managing complex networks of multi-tiered original design manufacturers (ODM) relationships, distributors, contract manufacturers, and a dynamic end customer landscape in different target markets.
Nitesh Mirchandani
Nitesh Mirchandani

VP and Global Head

Communications, Media & Technology (CMT)

Birlasoft

Aditya Dikshit
Aditya Dikshit

SVP - IT Transformation Services

CRM and Testing

Birlasoft

 
To flourish in this highly complex market, sales teams need to capture every possible socket with solution selling, identify additional addressable opportunities, ensure clear understanding of customer needs and improve forecast accuracy for improved pipeline and product planning. If the sales team can achieve this feat, they will enhance their customer base and gain superior visibility into the channel. The complexities of the industry, demand that semiconductor companies move towards a CRM modernization strategy that is not only tailored to their particular requirements but is also geared to effectively support their salesforce in the future
The Case for Salesforce Transformation in the Semiconductor Industry
When we talk about the semiconductor sales funnel, there is always a constant flux about who the end customer is. Additionally, the growing research, testing, and compliance requirements significantly stretch the sales pipeline to as long as 8-10 years. For instance, if a company manufactures (computer) chips used in a medical device, those medical devices have to go through a rigorous testing cycle of approx. 8 – 10 years.
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Semiconductor companies need to track these tests and track the chips in those tests to know their pipeline and arrive at the potential forecast for the next few years. In addition such long cycles mean potential changes in stakeholders as well as sales churn during the sales cycle. This needs not only continuous efforts around relationship management but also poses a challenge in terms of keeping track of all activities, data and prospect information. Keeping tabs on such long-term projects is often done through a combination of software, spreadsheets, and other disparate tools that aren't integrated well with each other.
New-age technology tools like a good CRM, though, can help capture the entire sales process, no matter how long or complex. They can also reflect the client history and suggest the next steps for the salesperson.. There are immense possibilities of group selling and gaining insights from various locations to help the sales representatives get more business. With a strong CRM in place, companies can build on features such as guided sales processes, incorporate machine learning, and utilize data from across the entire tech stack for integrated analytics and reporting.
The Rescue Act by Technology: Use Cases
The deployment of the right technology tools can empower semiconductor companies to increase top-line revenue by capturing every socket through solution selling, improving sales effectiveness, and reducing sales costs. These tools also assist companies in global price and quotation management.
Customer Segmentation for a focused sales approach
With a high portion of supplier-addressable market (SAM) being left out, there is a need for sales teams to focus on the right customers and opportunities. This is where customer segmentation can play a critical role in helping release sales bandwidth for exploring newer opportunities. Semiconductor companies should segment their customers (and their divisions in case of large customers) into multiple tiers based on revenue and margins as well as current and potential wallet share focusing most on the ones with high revenue, margin and highest potential to gain wallet share and ensuring the highly penetrated ones with high revenue/margins are maintained with a good level of interaction and service as well.
Business Forecasting
A robust salesforce monitors the entire business with a complete view of the total pipeline. It also aids in forecasting for complex sales teams, which is especially the case with semiconductor manufacturers. Sales teams can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) tools to make forecasts highly accurate. Factors such as forecast type, adjustments, time, and currency help in determining the near-accurate forecast.
Overlay Splits, in this case, can facilitate crediting the right amounts to sales overlays by revenue, contract value, and more. Sales forecasting helps organizations gain confidence in their services, and accurate sales forecasting enables business leaders to flourish in this highly competitive market.
 Use Cases and Benefits
Cross-functional Collaboration
Customers can take quite long, , moving through the funnel in the semiconductor industry because the projects and products are invariably technically complex and usually spread across different locations and time zones, involving several key decision-makers.
The long sales cycle involving multiople dvisions necessitates not only a complete tracking of all activities and submissions but also a strong collaboration between sales, marketing, technical teams. The sales and marketing alliance,, can reinforce value message at the correct points during the process ensuring the prospect is kept in the loop on key differentialtors, value adds and even new developments showcasing the long term viability.
A collaborative effort also keeps the technical team involved ensuring no details are skipped, test runs are conducted appropriately, feedback is involved in design and leaves sufficient time for actual fulfillment readiness that often comes with tighter deadlines. A CRM platform can be the cross-functional collaboration tool between the multiple teams to address these challenges.
Onboarding
Semiconductor companies find it challenging to efficiently train and onboard new clients while sustaining the same personalized experiences they could offer during the initial phase of their journey. A standard automated onboarding journey can enhance the client experience and bring in the respective teams as per the need to ensure there are no bottlenecks at any point of time.
A good CRM system can build in the onboarding process to ensure a complete link with upstream opportunity closure and downstream fulfilment to ensure smooth onboarding journey and complete visibility to both sales and service.
 Use Cases and Benefits
Sales Effectiveness
Sales teams spend a bulk of their time either facing the customers/prospects or preparing for sales calls spread across farming and hunting. A smooth sales call needs proper preparation and any related information about the customer/ prospect, stakeholder and opportunity can be invaluable. Complete informtion about opportunities including stage, probability and recommended steps can help the sales team plan the next steps.
Stakeholder importance can help in planning the most useful sales calls. Information about stakeholders right from their preferences to support can improve the outcome of relathionship calls. Alerts about long-pending issues and potential roadblocks can help sales team in escalating internally and be well informed while facing the customer.
A strong CRM can help sales team view the required information and plan the activities. It can also provide guided business process flows to standardize the sales process and ensure recommended sales steps are completed along with capture of reasons for win/loss. It can hence help in realizing optimal value for the time spent on customer calls/preparations.
Key Account Management
With focused selling approach, sales teams need to drive repeat as well as new business from key accounts and increase their wallet share as well. This requires a strong planning exercise to break down targets by accounts, product lines and divisions, look at competitor presence, target sales and marketing activities at key stakeholders.
This also needs a complete view of the customer with any useful information to drive growth including sales & opportunities across divisions and group companies; stakeholders information; identification of advocates and detractors; contract, order and fulfillment information; account health; potential showstoppers; customer issues; and inputs from field teams. A strong CRM system can help the sales & marketing teams to plan and execute account management activities with a complete view of the customer information
Using a CRM for success
A highly scalable customer relationship management (CRM) system and a consolidated IT stack can prove to be the critical success factors in enhancing semiconductor companies' sales effectiveness. An already lean, simplified, and highly digitized process makes it easy for firms to deploy advanced tools, such as machine learning and cognitive agents.
Based on their requirements that reflect their starting point, the structure of the sales value chain, the competitive landscape, and customer preferences, companies should choose the right implementation approach. They should put in place appropriate incentive mechanisms and communicate with all relevant stakeholders. As manual tasks are lowered significantly, leaders can increase productivity targets and incentivize representatives on customer-oriented KPIs, such as revenue growth or acquisition rate.
The semiconductor industry operates through multi-level sales channels, which multiplies the complexity of tracking opportunities, forecasting, managing quotes, managing samples, etc. Factoring all these challenging scenarios, knowing that there is no one-size-fits-all, companies need to evaluate thir needs and evaluate in detail before investing into a solution to reap tangible long-term benefits!
This article was first published in EM Media LLP - Magazine February 2022
 
 
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