In a world where business – and particularly sales and marketing – is increasingly being driven by intense personalisation and customisation, having easy access to critical information about your customers and prospects is key. This is why many businesses rely on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to hold valuable data about their customer base.
While CRM takes care of front-end data like customer interactions, pipelines and sales forecasting, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is software that usually encompasses the operations of many departments including purchasing, finance and supply chain management details. CRM systems can be part of an organisation’s ERP system, or they can be discrete.
Whether you’re looking to use an in-built CRM like the one that’s part of the Epicor ERP product, or a stand-alone product, having this information synced between the two instances and accessible to users from either one has numerous benefits. Ultimately, connecting the two systems can help you understand your prospects and clients better, and more effectively manage relationships and your pipeline.
Here are 5 benefits of integrating your CRM and ERP systems.
Avoid “swivel-chair” data entry
Due to the nature of CRM and ERP, certain customer data will have to be stored in both systems – for example their address or their contact telephone number. If a customer’s contact number or delivery address changes, then this information will need to be changed in both systems. Without integration or a connecting application, this data will have to be entered twice, doubling the time your salesperson or customer service rep is spending on data entry and admin. A word of warning though – if you’re not using an inbuilt CRM, what needs syncing and how needs some thought, in order to avoid duplication of accounts and contacts. It can get very messy very quickly.
A complete view of the customer
Ultimately, the more data you put into your CRM system, the more information you have to hand about your customers and prospects, which will make selling, upselling and cross-selling much easier. lot of valuable data comes from your ERP system – inventory ,transaction and shipment histories, customer service issues… the list is pretty much endless. Having this data visible in your CRM system is invaluable when it comes to sales and forecasting activities.
A helpful side effect of full data synchronisation between your ERP and CRM systems is that you get access to a single point of truth. If you can successfully consolidate the two data warehouses into one, you get access to better data with less duplications, meaning end-users have to spend less time trying to process and interpret it. As a result, you get better visibility and better, more accurate forecasting. Having access to data in CRM to data that includes stock forecasting and logistics will also help salespeople and customer service reps to deliver a better customer experience.
Better user adoption
If they need to be constantly and consistently updating two disparate systems, your end-users are going to become pretty disengaged with one or both of them. And as they often need to use ERP out of necessity, the one that will get neglected is CRM. Having seamless integration between the two systems will ensure that end-users engage with both, often without realising it. This becomes even more apparent when CRM and ERP exist within the same software – they only need to be trained on one system, and they will likely be more productive if they’re not switching between programs. Technology that works with your people, not against them.
It’s not just sales people that need access to good CRM data – it’s marketing people too. Having detailed, accurate, real-time customer data at their fingertips is like gold-dust to marketing reps. Being able to segment lists based on previous purchases or order history makes your marketing team so much more effective than if they’re just guessing at what customers and prospects might be interested in. And if your CRM is plugged into a marketing automation platform too, you can start to do really clever things like warranty reminder emails, order update emails, and multi-level delivery notifications, all of which go a long way to satisfying and delighting your customers. Without this information being fed in from the ERP system, marketing will be pretty much in the dark about the buying behaviour of individual customers.
Which route is best?
The method of integration that is right for you – combined CRM and ERP or third-party connector – will largely depend on your business and what it is you’re trying to achieve. . In both cases and without question, the benefits of having the same information available to the users that need it, regardless of which department they work in , largely outweighs the investment of time and resource to get it done. If you’d like more advice on integrating ERP and CRM, our expert team will be happy to help.