Using Manufacturing Grants on a CRM Implementation

Manufacturing grants are playing pivotal in digital transformation. Explore how these grants can be used to fund your CRM implementation project.

Picture of Mayur Mistry Mayur Mistry

Published: 26 Feb 2024

11 minutes read

Using Manufacturing Grants For a CRM Implementation - Axon Garside

When people in the manufacturing industry think about digital transformation, the adoption of robotics and the latest technologies often takes centre stage, focusing on speeding up production to get more orders out the door.

But what often gets overseen are the processes revolving around sales, marketing and customer services. The use of multiple spreadsheets and disparate systems is commonplace and leads to internal miscommunication and delays in order processing and dispatch.

A carefully implemented CRM can help you avoid these issues.

With digital transformation now a top priority for over 80% of manufacturing firms, businesses shouldn’t only prioritise improving the factory floor but also invest in an established CRM solution. This’ll streamline long-winded business processes, improve efficiency, and ultimately, boost revenue,

Thankfully, you can take advantage of a handful of manufacturing grants to assist with funding your digital transformation journey, including CRM implementation.


What is a Manufacturing Grant?

Manufacturing grants are funding opportunities available to businesses that source and produce goods. These grants are usually offered by government agencies, research institutions and private organisations. 

In the UK, and across the world, most of these grants support various goals. For example, encouraging manufacturers to adopt digital technologies, robotics and automation to boost productivity.

Some grants are geared towards funding research and development or to help invest in new processes to improve efficiency and incorporate best practices for sustainable production.

Other grants are there to upskill your workforce to onboarding when using new technologies or help your company expand into international markets.


Why Are Manufacturing Grants Available?

With the UK manufacturing sector accounting for 9.4% of the country’s Gross Value Added (GVA) and employing around 2.6m people, this industry is vital to the UK economy.

These grants play a crucial role in incentivising innovation in manufacturing to improve production output, competitiveness, and ultimately, economic growth.

The UK manufacturing sector is currently facing several challenges such as:


Lack of Digital Adoption

When it comes to digital adoption, the UK's manufacturing sector is lagging behind global competitors.

A study by ManpowerGroup found that only 23% of UK manufacturers have accelerated their digitalisation efforts since the pandemic, compared to 38% globally. This puts UK businesses at a disadvantage in the era of Industry 4.0, which uses technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation.

Accessing these grants allows your manufacturing business to invest in the latest systems, streamline lengthy processes, boost efficiency and potentially save costs.

Lead Technology Advisor Kevin Smith from Made Smarter, shared how his clients take advantage of their manufacturing grants to boost productivity.

“Our clients have used Made Smarter funding to implement a range of digital technologies from new ERP systems, which include a CRM, to industrial equipment vastly improving efficiency and productivity in the manufacturing environment.”

Embracing digital transformation is crucial for ensuring the UK's manufacturing sector remains competitive on the global stage.


Global Competition

Over £63 billion of goods were imported by UK businesses from the Far East. The low-cost production offered by this region is a major competitive factor and has been a long-standing threat.

The UK manufacturing scene needs to position itself as a global leader, and the best way to achieve this is through improving customer experience and production output - both of which can be achieved through digital transformation.


Reducing Carbon Footprint

Environmental regulations targeting industrial emissions require manufacturers to rethink their entire production line and invest in new equipment.

But there’s more that needs to be done. Manufacturers are also encouraged to explore ways they can reduce the amount of paperwork used when completing order requests, handling stock control and managing the entire supply chain.

Manufacturing grants help here because they help firms invest in software solutions to digitise these processes. For example, one option worth exploring is how a CRM can centralise all their data in one place.


The Case For Using a Manufacturing Grant on a CRM Implementation

Building strong relations with your customers, stakeholders and suppliers is key to succeeding in the manufacturing sector. But keeping on top of these interactions across multiple departments such as sales, service, marketing and product can become an unwanted juggling act.

If each of your departments works on separate spreadsheets that contain the same information, then you’re very likely to come across inconsistencies, which leaves you prone to delivering a poor customer experience.

For instance, if a customer service agent receives a query from one of your customers, then they might need to speak with the sales representative for context, as they won’t have the necessary information on their spreadsheet. When information on separate systems doesn't align with one another, it leads to siloed data.

This is where a CRM system is invaluable. It centralises all your data so you have a single source of truth, empowering your team with a holistic view of your customers as well as your supply chain.

Implementing a CRM requires a great deal of careful planning. You need to assess your business requirements, internal processes and objectives and see how it’s mapped across your organisation. You’ll also want to consider how your CRM will seamlessly work alongside your CRM.

Whichever system you should use, you need to customise it so it aligns with your business requirements.

With a bespoke CRM system being a major investment for a manufacturing company, it’s also important to set resources aside to continuously review and optimise your operations, to ensure your platform is performing to its maximum potential.


Kickstart seamless CRM implementation at your company with our guide ‘The 5 stages of CRM implementation.’

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How to Build a Business Case for a CRM Implementation

Implementing a CRM system for your manufacturing business isn't simply a matter of convenience. It's a strategic investment requiring a compelling business case that speaks to all stakeholders including leadership, sales, service and operations.

To build a robust case for CRM implementation, you need to get the decision-makers on your side.


Getting Key Decision Makers On Board

Meet with the decision maker(s) within your manufacturing business and pitch the idea of using a CRM.

A good pitch involves highlighting the important benefits while addressing any concerns, this can include:


1. Showcase Return on Investment (ROI)

Whenever you invest in a new system, you need to see a return. Demonstrate the positive financial impact of a CRM.

Quantify expected increases in sales by sharing how the CRM’s sales pipeline will bring more warm leads for sales representatives, improve cost-efficiency by highlighting the amount of time saved to close deals and reduce the number of cold leads through automation to keep your target market engaged.

Use historical data such as past performance, industry benchmarks and ROI calculators to build a solid financial justification.

You must put forward a compelling argument that positions a CRM platform as a strategic investment in future growth, not just a quick fix.


2. Showcase Productivity Benefits

Emphasise how a CRM boosts productivity across departments.

Show how automation streamlines tasks and reduces manual data entry, freeing up valuable time for more strategic activities.

As an example, highlight how much time your sales team could save with automated reporting and lead nurturing, allowing them to focus on closing deals, not generating reports.

Address the unique challenges faced by each department, showcasing how the CRM provides department-specific solutions.


3. Demonstrate Improved Customer Experience (CX)

Customer loyalty drives sustainable growth. Demonstrate how the CRM will enhance CX by: 

Personalised interactions

CRMs with personalisation tokens make it easier to tailor your customer communications to the individual by pre-populating their name.

Personalisation has a positive impact on your sales, often driving up to 10 to 15% increase in revenue.


Faster issue resolution

The best CRMs will have built-in customer service ticketing to keep track of and resolve queries more efficiently.

When you deliver great customer service, you build brand loyalty. According to HubSpot, 68% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for products from a company that delivers excellent customer service experiences.

Take the guesswork out of your CRM implementation project with our guide ‘The 5 Stages of a Successful Hubspot CRM Implementation’.

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What Manufacturing Grants Are Available?

There are several manufacturing grants, but based on our experience, these grants are quite popular.


Made Smarter

The Made Smarter grant supports SME manufacturing businesses towards digital transformation. It’s available for companies located in the North East, North West England, West Midlands, West of England, and Yorkshire & Humber regions.

The grant offers up to 50% match funding (max £20,000) and supports technology acquisition and expert consultancy.

Beyond funding, the program provides impartial advice, training resources, and workshops to support successful implementation. If eligible and aligned with the program's focus, Made Smarter grants can be a valuable tool for your digital transformation journey.


Innovate UK Smart Grants

The Innovate UK Smart Grant helps manufacturers invest time and resources into developing innovative Research & Development (R&D) projects. This grant is available to all manufacturing businesses, however, the level of funding varies depending on the size of your organisation, as outlined below:

  • Up to 70% for small businesses
  • Up to 60% for mid-size businesses
  • Up to 50% for large businesses

Applications for this grant are competitive. Each funding round focuses on specific strategic themes while tackling industry-wide challenges.

Past rounds have delved into AI, advanced materials and clean growth, showcasing the program's diverse reach. Up to £25 million is available per round.


UK Government 2025 Manufacturing Grant

In 2023, the UK government announced a significant £4.5 billion investment to bolster British manufacturing across eight key sectors including automotive, aerospace, clean energy and life sciences.

This initiative aims to accelerate growth, enhance energy security, and "level up" regional economies.

While details are still emerging, the funding will be spread over five years starting in 2025, providing long-term certainty for manufacturers. Over time, we’ll get a better understanding of how this funding will be better allocated.


How to Apply for a Manufacturing Grant: An Overview

Several steps need to be completed when applying for a manufacturing grant. While each grant is different and has specific requirements, we’ve outlined common steps to give you an overview of what to expect.


1. Preparation

Manufacturing grant applications can take time, so it’s important to plan and gather information well in advance of the grant’s deadlines.

The first thing you need to do is research and find grants that you’re eligible for. You’ll need to check if the grant is available in your region. Most of these grants are only open to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as they usually have smaller budgets - this is another criterion you need to look out for too.

Also, before you apply, you need to consider what digital transformation goal(s) you want to achieve. If it's a CRM implementation, double-check whether the grant will support you on this.

Additionally, prepare documents highlighting your business information, current digital capabilities, and financial statements.

During this stage, take advantage of any free support offered by grants. Speak to the grant advisors to get answers to any of your questions and gain guidance through the process.


2. Register and Attend The Manufacturing Grants Assessment

The next step is to register for an assessment on the manufacturing grants websites. Depending on the grant, this can either be fully or partially funded - again, you’ll need to check this.

Registering for an assessment usually involves completing a form and speaking with an advisor who will evaluate your needs and see if your manufacturing business is eligible for the grant. If you meet the criteria, the advisor will schedule you for assessment.

During the assessment, the advisor will discuss your business, current challenges, digital transformation goals and potential areas for improvement in further detail.

This assessment will help your needs and determine how the grant could support your objectives.


3. Develop a Proposal for the Application

Based on what you’ve discussed with the grant advisor, you'll be required to submit a proposal or application detailing the digital technology project you want to undertake, how it will benefit your business, the costs involved, and how the grant funding will be used.

If the option is available, collaborate with your grant advisor to create a detailed roadmap which will outline your digital transformation journey. This exercise will not only be helpful for your application, but it’ll also clarify your goals and show how you intend to use the money for the grant committee.


4. Submit the Application

Once your proposal and roadmap have been internally approved by key stakeholders within your manufacturing business, it’s time to submit your application.

This  typically includes:

  • A project summary outlining your objectives, proposed technology solutions (i.e. CRM) and expected outcomes.
  • Breakdown of project costs and the amount of grant funding requested.
  • Financial information to support your reasons for applying for funds.
  • Additional documents as specified in the guidelines.


5. Await Grant Approval

All applications are reviewed by a committee that’ll assess their alignment with program objectives, project viability and impact potential.

This evaluation process usually takes several weeks, and you’ll be notified of the committee's decision and provided with feedback.

If your application is successful, you'll receive approval and a grant agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the funding. The agreement will specify the grant amount, key objectives, reporting requirements and other obligations.


Start Your CRM Implementation Journey

Once you’ve received your grant, you need to make a start to find a suitable manufacturing CRM. This should be easy-to-use, adaptable and integrate seamlessly with your existing processes, ERP and inventory management software systems.

CRM implementation not only requires a lot of thought and planning, but it’s very resource-intensive. The last thing you’d want is to waste your grant on CRM implementation that doesn't deliver a good ROI.

Ready to get started?

To help you get your CRM implementation off in the right direction, we’ve created a free guide that outlines the 5 stages of CRM Implementation.

Explore today