It’s no question that the better a wholesale distribution business can manage the relationships with its customers and suppliers, the more successful it will become. Customer relationship management software or CRM for short is a pivotal tool to retain existing customers and expand the business by gaining insight into buying behavior. However, we often speak with wholesale distribution businesses who ask to integrate their existing CRM or new CRM software they're looking to purchase with our accounting ERP software. While in some cases it would make sense to do so, many are unaware of already built-in CRM functionality in the accounting ERP software itself.
The culprit here is the confusion in terminology. When people think of accounting ERP software, they often associate it with general business management software that has features such as inventory management, sales order/purchase order management, accounting etc…they don’t think of it as a CRM system. However, depending on the ERP vendor, the existing CRM capabilities already built into the system may be sufficient enough for your contact management requirements without having to integrate a costly, standalone CRM software.
For example, Blue Link’s contact management and CRM functionality is part of an integrated all-in-one accounting ERP software. On top of inventory management, order entry, invoicing, warehouse management, the CRM functionality in the system comes into play when managing multiple customer and supplier communications. If you think about why you want to implement a more robust system like accounting ERP software, it's usually because you don't want to deal with multiple systems. By choosing an accounting ERP system with CRM capabilities you eliminate the need for a secondary standalone system used primarily to manage your sales processes.
Let’s take a look at the type of CRM functionality that can be found in Blue Link's accounting ERP Software.
Tracking Customer and Vendor Information
One of the key benefits of utilizing CRM functionality in accounting ERP software is that all data is stored in a centralized location. You can store unlimited contacts with an unlimited number of companies and quickly look up customer and vendor information by company code, company name, phone number, etc. as well as the functionality below.
- Set meeting dates
- Manage archived emails
- Log communication such as sales notes
- Track contact information
- Shipping addresses
- Order history
- Phone numbers and email addresses
Having all this information in one system can also benefit many departments other than Sales and Marketing such as accounting who needs to access billing addresses of a customer. Not to mention the increase in security - you are lessening the risks of confidential contact information getting into the wrong hands by storing the data in one, centralized, secure system.
One of the key purposes of CRM functionality is to make more sales. It’s important that the CRM functionality in the accounting ERP software enables the Sales and Marketing department to track leads as and prospects as they move through the businesses’ sales cycle to ensure that there are no missed opportunities. Some functionality to aid in this are:
- Set statuses, next action dates, appointments and more
- Enter comprehensive notes and track detailed communication
- Acts as a sales dashboard for follow-ups
- Manage marketing lists
- Look at quotes (more on this below), sales orders and purchase orders relating to a contact
Again, having this information in a centralized system can come in handy – for example, when a salesperson is away on a vacation, other team members can review any notes left on customers and prospects and pick up where the salesperson left off.
Manage Quotes and Automate Emails
Blue Link's CRM functionality allows for easy creation of quotes, sales orders, purchase orders and links them to customer and vendor accounts. You can look at open and expired quotes and each salesperson can convert the quotes to orders with one click.
Proper accounting ERP software will allow you to send customized reports and automatic email notifications to customers. This includes quotes and invoices, as well as tracking information if they order a product that needs to be shipped. You also have control to send statements which lists any outstanding balances and/or order history during specific time intervals - weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.
It's important to add here that you can also report on any customer/vendor information from within the system. For example, a sale-by-customer-by-product report allows you to drill into your customers purchasing habits and patterns. Another useful report is profit-by-customer/product report which allows for a detailed view of which customers are buying the most and which product is selling the most to make actionable, smart decisions on your business.
CRM Software Integration - What's Involved?
If your wholesale distribution business decides that additional/more robust CRM functionality is required, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to integrating outside CRM systems with accounting ERP software.
- Consulting time - it's important to set a budget for consulting time to work with the accounting ERP software vendor to determine exactly what you want to do in the 3rd party CRM software and how you want it to interact with the ERP software.
- Be prepared with an outline of objectives that you're hoping to achieve with the CRM system to discuss with the accounting ERP software vendor team. A good vendor will let you know what processes will work in the system and offer alternative approaches to those that do not work.
- Integration work - most vendors also work with an integration partner which requires an additional cost.
- Timeframe - be sure to speak with the accounting ERP software vendor to get an idea of the amount of time involved in the integration for both pre and post-implementation activities.
If you’re still having trouble deciding whether to integrate your CRM with an ERP system or to implement an all-in-one accounting ERP software which includes CRM functionality, check out the below demo video for a detailed view of the built-in CRM functionality in Blue Link’s accounting ERP software. If you have any questions, contact us for a free consultation!