Every company wants to improve their customer relationships and operational efficiency. But in most cases there are two different solutions used for each purpose, CRM and ERP and they don’t speak to each other. This is a pity because combining and aggregating their data can only improve customer service and efficiency. CRM and ERP systems naturally complement each other.
CRM deals with front-end information, such as recording customer interactions, sales tracking, pipeline management, prospecting, and managing marketing campaigns. ERP software handles critical backend processes, including purchase history, billing and shipping details, accounting information, financial data, and supply chain management details.
Then these systems are fully integrated employee productivity and job satisfaction is increased while ensuring stronger user adoption of applications. In addition, IT investments are protected by enabling the free flow of data from legacy back office systems. Here are some additional benefits that contribute directly to the bottom line.
1. Larger sales funnel
When salespeople have access to leads, order history and customer service calls, they stand a better chance of reaching out and closing a deal while they have a window of opportunity. For example, if salespeople know the frequency with which repeat customers place orders, they can proactively contact the customer to up-sell or cross-sell. If they know when customers are experiencing equipment problems, they can contact them to upgrade and purchase a newer model of an older product.
2. More accurate sales proposals
With a CRM-ERP integration a sales representative can use the most accurate pricing when preparing a quote by retrieving updated pricing information including any promotional or discount pricing. The latest information about product availability will result in more accurate shipment dates, and can allow for special rush orders if merchandise is out of stock to meet customer deadlines. Enabling a sales team to view a customer’s credit limit, current balance, a list of outstanding invoices and previous orders gives the salesperson a complete financial history, which can influence proposal terms. With this, information managers can make more informed business decisions, for example requiring payment in advance.
3. Quicker revenue recognition
With ERP-CRM integration, businesses can automatically turn proposals created in the CRM into actual orders executed and tracked in the ERP system without any manual intervention. This results in quicker invoicing and payments. Automatic updates keep both systems in sync and prevent the possibility of inconsistent or inaccurate data. Any alterations made in the ERP database will be simultaneously reflected in the CRM system and vice versa, including the addition or removal of custom fields, new entries or changes in the database.
4. Faster product deliveries
The free flow of data between these systems with automatic updates of changes in customer details and orders, will enable companies to ship products quicker, reduce operational costs and increase customer satisfaction. Delivering products on time helps a business stand out from the competition.
5. More accurate demand forecasts
The integration between marketing and ERP better links forecasts to production. Operation managers can forecast capacity with more accuracy, preventing the build-up of excess inventory, which ties up cash that could be better used elsewhere. While CRM systems bring in more revenue through better sales figures, ERP systems reduce overall operating expenses. Together, these systems can help businesses grow through improved sales efficiency and more productive operations.
There are many benefits of integration beyond improved IT efficiency, the elimination of duplicate data entry and improved development times. The business has even more to gain—CRM-ERP integrations add up to increased revenues and customer satisfaction.
First published in Business Computing World
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