The 5 things that happen when your CRM & ERP are fully integrated.

Don’t be mean. Share your data to amplify the customer experience.


To be blunt, there’s zero point in having good customer data if you're not going to share it.

360-degree customer information shared through integrated financial and customer relationship management systems = vastly amplified customer experience and lifetime value.

Your CRM holds your leads, opportunities, your presales work, and all of your customer communications. And your ERP has all the actuals like sales orders, invoicing and payment history. When you combine those two sets of data, you open up a world of opportunities to upsell, cross-sell and improve the customer relationship and drive sales.

And if you don’t?

The 5 main issues you’ll experience by not being integrated:

Now, if you think you’re doing ok without integration, let me convince you why you aren’t.

1. Creating unnecessary work

You’re doubling up on time and effort when you manually convert a quote to a sales order. And you risk errors. Enough said.

2. Faulty forecasting

You have no visibility of the difference between sales orders and actuals. For example, you have an opportunity logged for $500,000. The customer says ‘yes, let’s go ahead’, but between the opportunity and the sale, the order amount drops to $200,000. So you end up with a discrepancy in data between your CRM and ERP, and if you use the CRM for forecasting future sales, the results are skewed.

You also don’t get to see recurring patterns where you’ve invested (or even wasted) a time and effort on those customers who dream big and require lots of attention, but invariably order small – if at all.

3. Reality reporting

Let’s talk about reporting on real-time stock availability and scheduling. A lack of visibility of opportunity vs actuals means you can’t see what’s coming through the system.

Your salespeople have to hope that there are enough widgets in stock or on back-order or scheduled for production to fulfil the order in a timely fashion. But what if the widgets your customer needs aren’t going to be available for another eight weeks? How will your salesperson set expectations and manage disappointment? Will the lack of visibility lose your business the order, and give your competitors a lovely new opportunity on a plate?

4. Left hand, meet right hand

When you lack integration and therefore have no shared data, your business units (and salespeople) end up working on isolated information. And that lack of customer knowledge impacts the ability to deliver exceptional customer service.

There’s nothing worse for a salesperson who’s out in the field to walk into a customer’s office without a full picture of their history and interactions with your business. Across all departments. And including all unresolved support or payment issues. Making a significant sale to a customer who has (without justification) an account that’s well and truly in the red is a hollow victory. And trying to sell more to an unhappy customer is rubbing salt in an open wound. Forewarned is truly forearmed.

Conversely, if the customer is in raptures about a recent purchase, it’s a great time to upsell them a service and support agreement, cross-sell consumable supplies, or invite them to exclusive product launches and events. Your marketing spend should be validated by customer knowledge, not dissipated on low-value opportunities.

5. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

You’ve probably heard time and time again the phrase ‘a single source of truth’. In essence, all of your data is in one place and has a meaningful relationship. Phone numbers and addresses are up-to-date and right, all sales and opportunities captured and sitting side by side. No-one is chasing their tail (and wasting time with spreadsheets) trying to pull together data from multiple sources. It just makes sense to have it in one place. Right?

Ok, enough of the bad. What are the benefits of fully integrated (and accessible) data?

1. Use predictive sales to drive business

Imagine this: Two pipelines - one for new business and another for predicted business.

This is how it works: Normally, a customer asks for a quote, and you happily add the dollar value to your standard opportunity pipeline. With predictive sales, any pattern of a customer making repeat purchases (i.e. a regular three-monthly purchase, as captured in their sales history in your ERP) gets automatically added to your CRM opportunity pipeline. Even though the customer hasn’t contacted you, an intelligent, automated prediction anticipates their likely behavior based on their past actions.

So instead of passively waiting for the order to come in, your salespeople can proactively contact or visit the customer and prompt the sale. They can also plan territory visits based on actuals and opportunities, and identify the high-value, high-priority visits that should top their list for the day or week.

You also empower your marketing team to generate focused, personalised activities based on pipeline and actuals. Safe in the knowledge that you are spending money to make money.

And all of a sudden your opportunities pipeline blossoms.

2. Recognise, classify and reward high-value customers

Integrated data allows you to consolidate information to achieve a complete picture of the value of your customers, sales interactions (and the cost of those interactions), potential sales, and current open issues.

When you give your marketing and sales team visibility of true customer value and status, it clarifies where time and effort needs to be spent to deliver an ROI. Pouring limited marketing dollars and repeat face-to-face visits into cultivating high-maintenance/low-spend customers may be optimistic, but rarely generates profitable results.

With shared data, you can confidently identify and nurture customers based on pipelines and actual sales. You can rank your customers based on value to the business (think gold, silver, bronze, A, B, C etc.). If a salesperson can see a customer is ranked gold by another department but has only minimal interactions with other business units, they can concentrate on developing a stronger overall level of engagement across the business.

3. Develop real-time relationships

Smart integrations mean your salespeople can see your inventory and give customers an immediate response as to its availability, backorder status, or manufacturing dates. It also allows you to convert a quote against an opportunity to a sales order in an instant - without double entry or errors through manual input.

And transactional details can be pushed in real-time to customer portals so clients can see the status of their order, and their sales and payment history. Address details or contact names can be added, updated or altered by your customer and the information directly saved in your master data repository.

Top takeaways

Sharing data is the key to delivering exceptional customer service and an outstanding customer experience. If you don’t integrate your ERP and CRM, you’re never going to get a 360-degree view of your customer, and their view of you and your products and services will always be blinkered.

With solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365, integration is an inherent attribute. One you can use to enable a great customer experience, and use to amplify sales opportunities.

Finally, as a side note: Sadly, I see many businesses who have integrated systems but have chosen to lock the shared data down in the name of security – which defeats the purpose. The information isn’t available to the people who can leverage this information for the good of the business and customers, so the value of integration is lost.


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