You’ve already made the decision to install a financial system or a warehouse management system or a distribution system. But you’ve held off on implementing a CRM solution. Why?
Old thinking: It’s another system
Typically, CRM solutions for SMBs are not integrated with business systems for financials and inventory. A CRM solution is usually from another vendor, so it has a different look-and-feel. And it’s often a standalone system and not easily connected to your financial or warehouse management system.
So this calls for another round of decision making: research products, send out RFQs, review proposals, select a product, find an implementation partner, integrate with your business software – and don’t forget about training your employees. And the costs of integration are not a one-time expenditure. An upgrade to either system means more complexity and additional costs.
What’s in it for me?
SMBs face a myriad of legal requirements that govern the data and business processes for accounting and human resources. And once a warehouse is bigger than a small meeting room, companies are motivated to implement an inventory management system.
But what’s the motivation for CRM? Sales reps often work out of a home office, or are on the road. They may find such systems tedious and time consuming as they spend hours in a hotel room entering data. Furthermore, they may feel that they lose control of their information when they have to manage their opportunities in a sales force automation system.
Does upper-level management – your CFO, CIO, CEO, and others – really care about CRM data? Maybe the sales manager does, but only if reporting and analysis is quick and easy. The sales manager could use this data to provide insight and assistance to his staff, but it’s often a tradeoff. If managers have to do all the work to find the data – generate reports, run analyses, compare sales figures – then they doubt the usefulness and value of the CRM application.
I don’t see the value
This is really the bottom line, isn’t it? The ROI. Maybe the sales force or customer service reps would perform at a higher level. But is it measurable – and with a small staff, you’re wondering if it’s worth the effort? What’s a few more phone calls or e-mails? And the spreadsheets and homegrown databases are working OK. Issues such as these, including errors caused by duplicate data or different versions of the data, aren’t viewed as mission-critical problems.
Why you need Customer Relationship Management: It’s everyone’s business
Each lead and each customer have value to your company. You need to exhaust every opportunity – any phone call, any meeting, any time you sit next to someone on the train or in a taxi.
Anyone in your company can meet a potential customer. And you need a fast, easy, and economical way to capture that information. If your shipping clerk meets someone on the tennis court who’s interested in buying chain saws, the clerk should have easy access to a customer-lead entry screen from the same application he uses to track shipments. The lead-entry transaction should have the same look and feel as the shipping transaction: same field names, same font size and format, same paradigm, same real estate on the monitor.
When you have an integrated business management system that includes CRM, it’s easy for every employee to be a customer service rep.
Don’t let key information walk out the door
When an employee leaves your small company, it’s a big loss. Especially if that person walks out the door with key information about your customers in her head and nowhere else. Every company has a person like Betty. She knows each customer – their birthdays, names of the kids and dog, favorite colors – and their payment history. She tailors her contact with each customer according to this knowledge. “Let Betty deal with Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ. She knows how to tell him we shipped his order to Moline, not Mobile.”
When you have an integrated business management system that includes CRM, Betty’s knowledge would be everyone’s information – when it’s appropriate and relevant. Naturally, some of Betty’s information is confidential, like her salary or commission structure. But when there’s a need to know, all employees can access Betty’s knowledge.
Keep it consistent
Remember the story about the IRS. To test advice given by IRS agents, a reporter asked 10 agents the same question – and got 10 different responses. Is this happening in your company? “I talked with Syd last week, and he said I didn’t have to pay for shipping. But Suzanne in accounting says that I have to pay for expedited shipping plus the late charge. When I talked with Gerd yesterday, he said I could get normal shipping, and he’d waive the late charge.” Did anyone write any of this down? How many times do you have to write off legitimate charges like this?
When you have an integrated business management system that includes CRM, everyone has access to the same information. They can see the history of service calls, and how they were resolved. And from the service call, they can go anywhere – to the customer master record, to invoices, to the payment history, to the sales history, to the sales rep – anywhere.
And using approval procedures and alerts, the system monitors processes and escalates issues when there are violations of policy or service level agreements. The system brings the problem to you.
Make it easy to use
Everyone is involved in CRM, so the interface has to be transparent and easy to use for all users, whether it’s someone who’s on the PC eight hours a day, or the occasional user. It has to be an integral part of the tool set they use to do their job – whether they are an accountant, expediter, or HR generalist.
Do you have seasonal or part-time employees? With an easy-to-use and integrated interface, you don’t have to spend hours training users who’ll be gone next week – while providing consistency and reducing user confusion.
When you have an integrated business management system that includes CRM, everyone benefits from the same easy-to-use interface to the tasks they need to do their job – including customer service.
Get the full value of your investment in the system that runs your business. Make it work harder for you by opening it up to everyone in your company. There’s data in there that everyone can use. Plus, when CRM is embedded in your business management system, you have only one system to implement and maintain.
SAP Business One offers a different approach to CRM. We believe that everyone in your company is involved in customer service. So we make sure each employee has the tools they need to keep your customers calling – not with problems, but with new business.
SAP Business One, with its enhanced CRM capabilities, is built from the ground up to integrate all the capabilities needed by small and midsize businesses. Your employees can use the same software that runs the business to manage relationships with customers. They can view financial reports, inventory information, customer accounts, sales and contract information, and employee records – all from the same desktop. And they can see how this information relates to all activities of the business: sales, accounting, and service.