ERP v. CRM: Which Does Your Team Need?
Sales, Marketing, and Operations. It takes all three departments to build a company. But what happens when these departments don't see eye to eye? Or worse, what happens when they're not even using the same tools? Integrating the three can be a nightmare, but it doesn't have to be. In this blog post, we'll take a look at two core operating systems a companies use - enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and customer relationship management (CRM) software - and how to integrate them for optimum performance. Spoiler alert: it's not as difficult as you might think!
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems
ERP solutions are great for managing your finances, human resources, project management, and acting as vital data repositories, but they're not so good at customer relations, managing a sales pipeline, or forecasting sales volume. Many businesses quickly realize that a CRM system is the missing link in their toolbox of business processes and software solutions. By integrating an ERP system and a CRM solution together, companies can take advantage of all the features of both systems and build automated sales, marketing, and operational flows so that no matter where customers go in the company, their information will always be up-to-date and available for everyone. Now that’s streamlining operations with efficiency!
ERP v. Project Management
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are different from Project Management Software in that the former is a broad system designed to manage the entire enterprise and its related processes, while the latter is more focused on managing individual projects. While both are important, too many companies get caught up in using fancy project management tools that don't integrate the entire business. Task management is important, it must be aligned with the rest of the business.
Common ERP Tools
Common ERP tools for SMBs include Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle NetSuite ERP, and Intacct. Each of these ERP solutions offer features such as real-time financial reporting, product lifecycle management, customer management, inventory tracking, order processing, marketing automation and more. With these powerful tools, businesses can trust that their data is secure and reliable while gaining visibility into how their organization operates.
Choose the ERP Features Unique to Your Business
Whether you're a professional services company, SaaS firm, or manufacturer, an ERP needs to be tailored to you. Do you carry inventory or human capital and capacity? Does your financial department need to project future orders, or simply forecast new and repeat business each month? All of this dictates what makes sense for you.
Common ERP Features
Common ERP features include financial management, manufacturing and supply chain management, human resource management, and analytics capabilities. With an ERP, companies can easily track sales orders, inventory levels, invoices, and other data in one centralized system. This makes it easy to generate reports or process transactions quickly. Additionally, ERP systems often integrate with existing third-party software solutions, allowing businesses to customize their operations while still leveraging the latest technologies.
Is My Company Too Small for ERP Software?
A common misconception is that an ERP system is going to be too costly, too complex, and too big for most SMBs. While you might not need enterprise-grade software like SAP or Oracle offer, every company needs a platform that brings together the entire organization. Some companies invest too little into a core, centralized system and they regret it quickly. Financial data ends up far off, customer service processes are too segmented, and operational efficiency tanks as growth scales.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
The sales process is essential in creating relationships with customers and experiencing success, but using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems alone may be an effort in futility. Even though CRMs are designed to help manage customer relationships, integrating them across sales, marketing, and operations can be a challenge. Combining these three areas of your business ensures seamless communication and provides your customers with the best experience possible. Your sales team will produce better outreach and conversations while your marketing campaigns will be optimized with better segmentation and behavior tracking. Therefore, combining ERP systems with CRM can benefit your organization by bringing sales, marketing, financial and operational systems together at once.
Common CRM Solutions
Common CRM tools include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle CX Cloud, Zoho CRM and HubSpot. These solutions empower companies to store detailed customer information and track customer interactions across all channels, including email, phone calls and social media. It is worth nothing; however, that every industry has niche CRMs popping up specifically focused on that industry. For example, the list of best CRMs for financial advisors is going to be very different than the list for automative, SaaS, etc.
Social CRM System
An emerging area in the sales world, Social CRM solutions have become increasingly popular in recent years as businesses aim to streamline their customer engagement processes. Social CRMs allow companies to integrate social media accounts with a comprehensive customer database, allowing for easy access to customer interactions across multiple platforms. This can provide valuable insights into customer preferences, sales and marketing campaigns, and overall customer satisfaction. By tapping into the power of social media, businesses can gain meaningful data that can be leveraged to better understand their target audiences and effectively engage them on different channels. A well-executed social CRM strategy can help increase sales, build a loyal customer base and drive brand awareness.
Choose the CRM Features Unique to Your Business
Every business is unique and shouldn't use a cookie-cutter solution. While no one should go rebuild the wheel when it comes to a CRM system, you have to choose the tool that works for you and customize it for your needs.
Common CRM Features
Common CRM features include automated emails, personalization capabilities, and detailed analytics. With automated emails, businesses can automate follow-ups and send promotional messages without manually sending them each time. Personalization capabilities make it easy for companies to tailor customer experiences by incorporating customer data into marketing efforts. Finally, analytics tools allow businesses to track customer behavior and generate insights that can inform marketing strategies.
However, it might turn out that your system needs a more social-driven capacity, phone capabilities, or something completely different. Don't buy a tool because it's mainstream. Buy one that makes sense for your organization.
Is My Company Too Small for a CRM?
ERP and CRM software are both needed by businesses regardless of size. Sales teams of one to organizations of hundreds of reps all need a way to keep track of customers. With the data we have at our fingertips, have to deal with on a daily basis, and digest while we make business decisions, it's simply impossible to keep track of prospects. Even if it was possible, your brain needs capacity to focus on what's important, not keep track of a phone number, LinkedIn profile, or email address.
ERP vs. CRM
When it comes to streamlining business processes, ERP software and CRM systems are the one-two punch of efficiency. ERP showcases unbeatable organizational benefits with its holistic approach to data management, while a CRM has unparalleled customer-facing capabilities. By combining the two systems and integrating sales, marketing, and operations accordingly, businesses can revolutionize the way that tasks are completed – decreasing overall costs while increasing output capability. It's no wonder why ERP and CRM tools have become indispensable when it comes to full-scale business success – but only if used in unison!
How to Integrate Your CRM and ERP Systems
Utilizing sales and operations tools together is no small feat. But, if you're looking to provide a seamless customer experience, while seeing your sales and marketing efforts bear fruit, then it's high time to consider integrating your ERP system and CRM software. To put it simply, this means taking data from your sales teams in the form of sales orders and sales force automation, and marrying that with the operational information stored in your ERP. From there you can create automated processes across sales, operations and marketing - so you can maximize results with minimal effort. This synergistic approach offers a host of benefits across sales systems, customer management entities, and day to day operations - so why not give it a go?
CRMs Sell while ERPs Deliver
With the immense amount of data that both ERP systems and CRM systems generate, it often makes sense to integrate them. However, this is rarely as simple as running an off-the-shelf, native integration - fortunately, there are various data synchronization tools that can be used to bridge the gap between these two powerful platforms. By using the CRM as the visible “top” of an organization’s operational funnel – allowing marketing and sales reps to log interactions, track opportunities and close deals – businesses can benefit from the invisible hand below, with the ERP taking all of this data for forecasting, delivery scheduling, capacity optimization, and highly detailed reporting. That way everyone in a business is on the same page when it comes to operations and understanding where every lead stands in their company’s process.
Pre-Built Technology Stacks
Perfect examples of this concept include Salesforce, HubSpot, and Microsoft. They are leading the way in unifying ERP and CRM systems. By combining these two services, businesses can streamline processes for better efficiency and insights. While they tend to be better at one of these than the other (those mentioned above are sales tools first), the attempt to combine growth with operations isn't an easy task. Salesforce offers a suite of products that easily integrates with existing business systems to provide a unified view of customer data. HubSpot offers powerful analytics to help businesses gain insights into customers’ behavior, while Microsoft Dynamics 365 is helping to bridge the gap between CRM and ERP. With these powerful tools, companies have the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their customers while streamlining operations.
Technical Integration for Core Business Processes
On a technical level, and depending on the type of CRM, companies may opt for APIs or webhooks integration to move data between systems in real time. Companies can also explore different third-party platform tools, such as Zapier or Microsoft Power Automate, that help bridge the gap between CRM and ERP systems. Overall, integrating these two services enables businesses to automate manual processes while providing unified customer insights.
Hire a Team to Streamline Operations
While you might need support from your development team or hire an agency, the value in an ERP and CRM integration for a centralized database that runs your entire business is invaluable. More than just automating repetitive tasks and conducting data analysis, it enables individuals to share data, maximize the sales funnel, minimize time wasted on data entry, and simplify internal processes.
Make Software Work for Your Business Model
When it comes to sales, marketing, and operations, the best way to get the most out of all three is to use a combination of ERP software and CRM systems. The question of whether you should invest in an ERP vs. CRM isn't the right question to ask. The correct questions is which ERP and CRM systems you should use and how you tailor them to your company. ERP systems are great for financial management and inventory tracking, while CRM systems are designed specifically for customer relationship management.
By integrating the two systems using data synchronization tools, you can get the best of both worlds: a streamlined business process with all the information you need right at your fingertips.