Customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have several things in common. Both are designed to streamline business operations, serving as vital data repositories. What is more, both impact multiple departments — but what sets them apart, and does your business require both?
What is CRM — and why is it important?
While an ERP system consolidates financial data, a CRM system is used to consolidate customer data — in other words, an ERP solution deals with back-office data and a CRM tool takes care of front office data.
Businesses around the world have realized the tremendous benefits they can enjoy by implementing a CRM system. It is the fastest-growing enterprise application software, and worldwide spending on CRM is expected to reach USD $114.4 billion by the year 2027. Today, countless businesses are coming to understand the value of having a tech-based strategy centered around their customers.
A CRM is a robust technology used to manage all of a company’s interactions with its leads and customers. Its central goal is to improve business relationships to grow a company’s bottom line. A CRM system helps organizations convert leads into customers, supercharge their marketing efforts, enhance customer service, and drive profitability.
Benefits of a CRM
A CRM gives relevant individuals access to data in one convenient place — increasing operational efficiency and employee productivity. Rather than spending time looking for information and sending emails to teammates, each employee can access crucial customer data with the click of a button. Businesses can provide top-of-the-line, speedy service and identify sales opportunities when everything is organized in a central database.
With a new generation CRM like Salesforce, organizations can also give their marketing efforts a serious upgrade: marketers can create campaigns using clicks instead of code and build lead journeys using a data-based approach. They can leverage built-in artificial intelligence to unlock insights that enable them to understand how to best reach a prospect, thereby increasing the chances of converting them to a customer. Marketers can even send prospects a tailored message, at the right time, through targeted journeys based on their interests and preferences.
In addition, a CRM empowers departments in a variety of ways (to name a few):
- Sales reps can work smarter with a crystal-clear view of their pipeline, which enables them to produce more accurate forecasts and convert more leads.
- Commerce teams can launch and scale e-commerce for shoppers (B2C commerce) and business buyers (B2B commerce).
- Customer service agents can respond to customers’ needs on any channel of their choosing: from social media to email to text to phone call. Connecting with customers on their preferred medium builds a stronger bond and enhances customer satisfaction.
- Marketers can use a CRM as a customer-listening engine, gaining invaluable insights into how customers feel, what they are saying, and how to improve offerings.
What is an ERP?
In a nutshell, an ERP system enables a business to connect its financial and operational systems within a central database. It provides companies the means by which to understand and manage all the resources required to run successfully.
An ERP serves as a central hub where crucial financial aspects of an organization — including the general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and financial reporting — can be assessed and managed. It encompasses:
- Supply chain management
- Inventory management,
- Order management
Benefits of an ERP
A unified, shared database for all financial and operational information simplifies the process of producing financial reports (both ad hoc reports requested by management and static monthly reports).
An ERP system can facilitate a seamless book-closing process. Finance teams account for all income and expenses, and systemize the results monthly or quarterly. Using spreadsheets or entry-level accounting systems is labor-intensive and tedious — these approaches involve endless data entry and contacting several departments to obtain financial information. When an ERP system automates many of these tasks, companies report drastic reductions in monthly close times.
Employees can generate reports automatically with an ERP system rather than spending hours or days producing reports using spreadsheets. The time saved can be used to dive into the reports themselves and focus on analysis.
Businesses can also make more agile, data-based decisions that enhance profitability and allow them to scale. An ERP system provides an organization with a better grip on its finances and a clearer picture of where it stands — and what its next move should be.
Integrating a CRM with an ERP
Many businesses choose to integrate their CRM with their ERP — and it’s easy to see why. With visibility into frontend and backend systems, the sky is the limit. Businesses can view critical information in one place and access game-changing insights that help them scale.
Business processes are simplified, supply chain management becomes virtually effortless, and productivity is significantly enhanced. A CRM and ERP integration also yields a deeper understanding of trends and buying behaviors, more accurate quoting and inventory management, and a better grasp on customer spend.
In order to help businesses overcome the challenges of integration, developers typically use a middleware solution such as MuleSoft. Middleware takes the pain out of integration by providing an out-the-box, single-platform solution. To add, businesses that want to integrate applications can utilize Anypoint Connectors and customizable integration apps without developing, maintaining, or supporting custom code.
Organizations can capitalize on the endless list of benefits CRM and ERP solutions offer. Integrating the two enables businesses to see a complete view of front and backend operations, which — allows companies to boost conversion rates, generate reports with ease, and ultimately — increase their ROI.
Do you think your business can benefit from a CRM or an ERP solution? Connect with us to find out how these tools can transform your business, and how easy integration can be!