Miller Milling Revolutionizes Sales Operations with Streamlined Systems and Automated Processes

Agriculture Bins Milling

Miller Milling Company is one of the top four milling operations in the U.S. and provides customers with safe, high-quality grain-based products. In the competitive grain-based products industry, Miller Milling stands out not only for its top-quality offerings but also for its forward-thinking approach to sales operations. Recognizing the need to empower their sales team and enhance efficiency, Miller Milling embarked on a transformative journey with Microsoft Partner Stoneridge Software to overhaul their sales process. This initiative aimed to consolidate applications and automate key processes, enabling their sales force to reduce administrative tasks and concentrate on selling.

Operational Hurdles: The Pre-Transformation Sales Landscape

Before the transformation, Miller Milling’s sales team faced several operational challenges that impeded their efficiency and effectiveness:

  • Fragmented Systems: Sales representatives navigated through a maze of platforms daily, including emails, texts, spreadsheets, reports, price sheets, and phone calls, leading to inefficiency and reduced selling time.
  • Manual Processes: The reliance on manual processes for customer relationship management, such as data entry and management of customer interactions, was time-consuming and prone to errors.
  • Lack of Unified Experience: The absence of uniform selling experience due to the disparate systems and processes made it difficult for the sales team to collaborate and access vital information swiftly.
  • Insufficient Insights: The sales team had limited insights into sales trends and customer behaviors, hindering their ability to be proactive and strategic in their sales efforts.

Miller Milling approached Stoneridge Software with a clear goal to solve these challenges and streamline their sales team’s workflow by consolidating multiple platforms into a single, efficient system.

Innovative Integration: Crafting a Unified Dynamics 365 Sales Ecosystem

To determine the full scope of the project, Stoneridge initiated a comprehensive roadmap process, a crucial first step in understanding and addressing the core challenges faced by Miller Milling. This roadmap was developed through close collaboration between the Miller Milling and Stoneridge teams, along with input from Levridge, a key industry product for agricultural-specific processes.

The roadmap was an instrumental step in identifying the pain points within the sales process and in envisioning an optimized future state that included not just the sales function but also processes for other areas of the business including those using Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply chain. Stoneridge has a depth of expertise in fostering collaboration across diverse workstreams, enabling the ability to deliver comprehensive business application solutions to our clients.

The roadmap’s insights laid the foundation for the successful implementation of Dynamics 365 Sales, achieving several key objectives:

  1. Consolidated Sales Platform: Implementation of Dynamics 365 Sales provided a unified platform for sales representatives to manage customer interactions, track sales activities, and collaborate effectively, thereby reducing the need to switch between multiple systems.
  2. Process Automation: Key processes that were previously managed manually, such as new customer onboarding and sample request processing, were automated. This shift not only saved time but also improved accuracy and efficiency.
  3. Enhanced Sales Visibility: The new system offered detailed insights into sales metrics, allowing sales representatives and leadership to monitor performance against forecasts and identify areas needing attention.
  4. Collaborative and Proactive Selling: With a consolidated view of customer interactions and automated processes, the sales team could now focus on building stronger relationships with customers and adopting a more proactive approach to selling.

Enhancing Sales Operations: Key Features of the Implemented Solution

By addressing the core challenges and leveraging technology to streamline operations, Miller Milling along with Stoneridge Software provided a solution addressing efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring the sales team is poised for continued success in the competitive market. The solution included the following outcomes:

Managing Interactions with Customers

The sales team frequently interacts with their customers and it’s vital to have insight into important topics discussed. Solution:

  • Integrated Dynamics 365 Sales with Outlook for seamless email-to-record linkage, enabling efficient tracking of customer interactions.
  • Enabled creation of new Contacts directly from Outlook, enhancing data accuracy and completeness.
  • Facilitated team collaboration, allowing sales members to seamlessly continue customer conversations in the absence of a colleague.

New Customer Onboarding and Credit Checks

There are several steps and teams involved with new customer onboarding for Miller Milling. When someone is ready to do business for the first time, they must provide a set of information that enables a finance team to execute credit checks. Solution:

  • Streamlined onboarding was built directly within the Sales app, allowing sales team to focus on lead conversion.
  • Automated credit check notifications to the Finance team via Power Automate, eliminating manual spreadsheet processes.

Forecasting Sales by Product and Mill

The sales forecasting process previously included a manual data dump from the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system by the Finance team, and review of all the forecasts by the sales team. This process was completed in Excel where there were troubles with overwriting each other’s changes and slow performance due to the large amount of data contained within the spreadsheet. Solution:

  • Automated data integration from Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations and Levridge (the ERP solution), providing detailed sales forecasts within the Sales app.
  • Enabled real-time forecast updates by the sales team, leading to more accurate and timely sales projections.

Monitoring Progress of Sales Goals

Goals are closely coupled with Sales Forecasts, where the sales team can see how they’re performing in relation to their forecasts. The Goals give a higher-level view of sales volumes, margins, and revenue to help the sales team see where they’re performing well and where improvements need to be made. Solution:

  • Improved overview of Sales Goals by building an integrated Power BI report embedded within the Sales app
  • Provided at-a-glance visual representation of sales metrics and performance for salespeople and sales leadership

Submitting Sample Requests to Mills

Before ordering a large quantity of new product, it’s common for customers to request samples of the product to determine if it fits their specifications. Prior to this project, the sample request process was largely manual. Solution:

  • Developed a custom table within the Sales app for sample requests, streamlining the process within a platform already used daily.
  • Utilized Power Automate to automate sample request submissions, improving efficiency and response times.

Viewing Sales Reports in One Place

Miller Milling has a wealth of in-house talent with the ability to build and update Power BI reports. This makes Power BI widely used across the organization with great utilization rates. The sales team relies heavily on their Power BI reports to view sales information about customers (shipments, margins, open contracts, etc.). Solution:

  • Consolidated Power BI reports within the Sales app, centralizing access to critical sales information.
  • Improved utilization and accessibility of sales reports, aiding in strategic decision-making and performance analysis.
  • Ability to use the Sales app as a home base to find most frequently used reports, instead of bookmarking Power BI reports in their browsers

A New Era of Efficiency: An Ongoing Journey 

This strategic overhaul, guided by the initial roadmap, not only solved the immediate challenges but also positioned Miller Milling for sustained success and growth in their sales operations. The sales team now has a single hub where they can perform the majority of their work, along with automated processes to reduce the number of manual tasks.

This transformation has not only enhanced their current operations but also set the stage for ongoing improvements. The partnership between Miller Milling and Stoneridge Software continues to evolve, focusing on further automating processes and streamlining critical business functions. Watch for upcoming case studies that will showcase how Miller Milling is harnessing the power of Dynamics 365 tools and Levridge to elevate their business efficiency.

Technologies Used:

  • Primary Dynamics 365  Customer Engagement App: Sales
    • Custom model-driven app for their sales team
    • Standard sales tables: Accounts (Customers), Contacts, Leads, Opportunities, Opportunity Products, Products, Price Lists, Goals
    • Custom tables for enhanced sales features: Sample Requests, Sales Forecasts, Forecast Goals
    • Dynamics 365 Integration to Outlook
  • Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations & Levridge
    • Automated data integration to Sales App
  • Microsoft Power Platform
    • Power Automate to automate manual tasks, such as sending emails when a new Sample Request is submitted.
    • Power BI to consolidate Sales Forecast and Sales Goal data into a readable and easy-to-analyze format.

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