Empowering your Sales Team with ERP System Data and CRM

Jim Lorrig / June 19, 2017
Empowering your Sales Team with ERP System Data and CRM

If your external sales team is like many other sales teams, you receive frequent requests to provide visibility to information that is on your ERP system.  The requests range from “see my open orders”, “find an order status”, “lookup customer AR balances”, “find a shipment tracking number”, and so on.  Does this sound familiar?  If so, keep reading!

Using a CRM application to provide this information is not always the best choice.  Why?  First, you must ask whether you want your sales team to be looking up customer AR balances or finding shipment tracking numbers.  After all, activities like that indicate the sales team is performing a service function and not focused on selling.  If you have a customer web portal where a customer can inquire about order status and other order details, like shipment tracking numbers, then optimize that service channel so a customer is not contacting the sales representative for the information.  If you have a customer service department that can answer most questions without needing sales’ resources, continue to invest in keeping your customer service department knowledgeable so the sales team willingly, and with confidence, redirect customers to that service channel. 

If you haven’t jumped ship by now with those two alternatives and are still considering empowering your sales team with ERP system data and CRM, then it is likely your sales team owns the relationship with the customer and, besides selling, is on the front-line of your service channel.  There are valid reasons for this.  Many companies have very technical aspects of a sale that only a sales representative can answer and the sales representatives serves as the contact point for any product performance issues to provide feedback to engineering or manufacturing areas.  Furthermore, if your company doesn’t have a customer self-service web portal, and your sales team doesn’t have access to your ERP data, then it is likely that your sales team spends portions of its days receiving questions from customers, contacting internal resources to get information such as order status and shipment tracking information, and responding to the questions, all of which detracts from their main focus--selling.  If this rings true to you, then considering a CRM application to increase the efficiency of your sales team is a reasonable solution to pursue.

Where to start?  Do some internal legwork.  The importance of this cannot be underestimated.  Ask these questions and take these actions:

  • What is the appetite of your sales team for a CRM package? 

  • How can you position CRM to provide value to your sales team versus CRM being the “big brother is watching” tool? 

  • Have you explored CRM applications that are in the market? 

  • Have you reached out to your personal network to learn from others that have pursued this option? 

  • Have you determined an ROI for implementing a CRM application?  

  • Do you have an internal IT team that can, or more importantly wants to, support a CRM application?  If so, does IT want CRM on-premise or in the cloud?

There are many more questions that could be listed; however, my intent is to first get you to recognize the need for a CRM application and, secondly, determine if implementing a CRM application is right for your company.  Only after you have a clear understanding of your goals, have generated some excitement about using a CRM application within your sales team, ensured that your IT team is on-board and willing to support the project, and you’ve determined a budget, should you reach out to a CRM vendor.    

Jim Lorrig
About the Author

Jim Lorrig
CRM Engineer II / Analyst

Jim has over 10 years’ experience working with sales teams, large (250+) and small (3), using CRM applications that provided visibility to ERP system data.  These businesses ranged in size from $1 million to nearly $1 billion in annual sales.  Jim believes that successful companies that utilize CRM recognize that their success is not due to CRM, their success comes from creating an environment that utilizes a powerful tool, CRM, as one component to achieve their success. 

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