Myth: Accounting systems are for the accountants and CRM is for the sales people. Isn’t that the way it goes? Not anymore.
When I think of my first introduction to CRM (Customer Relationship Management), it conjures up images from years past of that box of software called ACT! (back then it was Symantec) that had the picture of the broad shouldered business man holding a briefcase in one hand and his cell phone in another. This road-warrior was pictured towering above buildings that presumably represented his conquered sales leads. The consumer is therefore led to believe that as long as you are using ACT!, you’d never be without the birth date and spouse’s name of every prospect you’ve ever spoken with, thus, rendering you the most well equipped and superior sales person of today.
Nowadays, there’s more to CRM/Contact management than just knowing someone’s birth date and spouse’s name. In this day and age where information is power, it is worthwhile to leverage the information you have gathered and make it accessible to more than just your sales people.
Thus, CRM systems have evolved over time and have transcended beyond just the sales staff. Marketing departments are now using CRM systems to generate the leads that sales staff qualify into their pipelines. Post sale, customer service departments use CRM for Case or Trouble Ticket management. While in the past, CRM systems just gave a window into one slice of the customer lifecycle (sales), today, CRM has evolved to incorporate all of the other various, and often disparate, customer lifecycle data. Having everyone on the same page will save your business time and money.
Taking it one step further, integrating your CRM system to your accounting system empowers your CRM users with the financial information from the accounting system to market better, sell smarter and support the customer more efficiently, without giving them direct access to your accounting system. Not to mention, CRM licenses are generally less expensive than user licenses in accounting systems. Plus, not all controllers want their sales and support staff logging into the accounting system to check credit limits, run AR aging, verify if an order has been shipped or just answer a customer service inquiry about an open invoice. What often ends up happening in these situations is the accounting staff is burdened to generate this information for sales and support staff on an as needed basis.
Selling and marketing to existing customers – Who makes the list? The contacts are in CRM, but the reasons you’d add them to your marketing lists are in the accounting system. For example, you’d like to include everyone in a geographic region that has purchased product XYZ in the last 3 months. Combining these two islands of data helps sales and marketing ensure they are targeting the most appropriate customers and prospects.
In high sales volume organizations, we often see a significant benefit in the order-to-cash cycle. By reducing order entry errors, implementing workflows for overrides and discount approvals and eliminating the duplication of data entry, a cost savings is presented to the organization.
For more information on CRM and accounting systems, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 963-7811, and I would be happy to discuss how this integration can benefit you.