Customers are the lifeblood of any business. No matter how good a product or service is, if there are no customers, there is no business. So, attracting and keeping customers should be a top priority, and customer relationship management (CRM) software is designed with this in mind.
According to Grand View Research, in 2020, the global CRM market size was valued at USD 43.7 billion. It is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6% from 2021 to 2028, and it is trending toward a higher demand for Software as a Service (SaaS) deployment. As such, growing or established organizations that have yet to invest in cloud-based customer management software, or organizations that are relying on legacy CRM solutions, may see their ability to compete in the digital economy decline significantly.
If you’re in the market for CRM software, or if you’ve just realized you should be, this article will help you understand the “must haves” that the right CRM solution should contain. If you’ve already implemented CRM software, read on to make sure it has these “must haves”—and move on to a new choice if it doesn’t.
First, what is a CRM solution?
According to Technopedia, “CRM works to ensure that all customer-interfacing organizational functions (i.e., sales, marketing, technical support) are efficient and synchronized, ensuring that former and potential customers are adequately and appropriately served.”
Acumatica’s Aliya Rakimgulova, Sr. Director of Global Technical Support, adds her own definition in Better Data, Better Support: Boost Customer Satisfaction with the Right CRM. She says that “Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a powerful customer service tool for businesses of all sizes, in any industry. It increases customer service quality by managing leads, contacts, opportunities, customer accounts, and customer cases….[H]igh-quality customer service builds customer loyalty, and customer loyalty increases profitability.”
CRM software helps businesses manage the customer lifecycle in one complete solution. The marketing team, at the top of the marketing funnel, gathers and vets leads before passing them on to the sales team. The sales team turns the leads into opportunities, qualifying them and then submitting proposals. The customer support team then assists with requests and concerns once a customer is on board. CRM software stores real-time customer data (e.g., contact and lead information, quotes, requests, emails, and more) for all these teams and streamlines the customer lifecycle, from lead to closed deal. The software makes this data available to all authorized employees, providing a clear, 360° view of the business.
The Four ‘Must Haves’ of CRM
How do you know which customer management software best fits your business? The right CRM solution must:
1. Be embedded within a cloud-based ERP solution.
Unlike separate CRM and ERP systems (which are expensive to build and maintain), CRM software that is integrated with an ERP solution stores, manages, synchronizes, analyzes, and distributes data in real time, acting as a single source of truth. These systems don’t require separate business intelligence engines, and they save companies from having to undergo complex, data-synching integrations.
Seamlessly combining CRM software with a cloud ERP solution results in a single database that can be accessed by every employee with one click of a button. This creates an exponentially more usable system, leading, as mentioned above, to higher quality customer service and, ultimately, increased customer loyalty.
2. Offer a 360-degree-view of customers.
An ERP solution with integrated CRM software should give employees, company-wide, a consolidated view of customer records. Written quotes, invoices, and support cases should all be available within one system, providing a 360° view of customer records and activities. You should also be able to track campaign expenses and revenue, display lead analysis and lead response time metrics, see marketing email deliverability (clicks, opens, unsubscribes), respond to customer requests rapidly throughout the sales cycle (including forecasting and demand planning), share information with every team member, and so much more.
3. Provide integrated sales quotes.
Integrated sales quotes are another crucial component of CRM software combined with an ERP solution. Users should have access to inventory, cost, and price information generated from ERP data. That data should automatically be distributed across the ERP system. For instance, addresses for contacts—even if there is more than one address per contact—should automatically be shared between the business account and contact forms. Users should also be able to create multiple quotes for a single opportunity, and, when an offer is accepted, they should be able to generate a sales order and invoice (in Acumatica 2021 R2) based on that quote.
4. Include a customer self-service portal (for account management, support, shipment tracking, ordering and other features).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are now purchasing many goods and services online instead of in traditional, brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, eCommerce sales in 2020 exceeded 4.2 trillion USD worldwide. For many, eCommerce is popular because it is a quick, easy way to shop. Because of this, people are now expecting customer service to be equally quick and easy—with ways for them to get answers to their questions, express their opinions, and return items online. CRM software integrated with an ERP solution should offer a self-service portal, through which customers can open support cases without making phone calls (which may be time consuming) or sending emails (which may not receive immediate responses).
Finding the Right CRM Solution
Researching CRM software, evaluating the options, and choosing the best solution for your business is not a light undertaking. So, it is important to listen to the advice of companies that have already completed the process. Take, for instance, Power Storage Solutions.
Power Storage Solutions installs and services DC power backup systems for data centers and for telecommunications, utilities, and petrochemical companies. Power Storage Solutions was running on five best-in-class systems that were a “nightmare” to integrate. They wanted to replace these with one powerful business management solution, and consulting firm Client’s First led them to Acumatica Cloud ERP.
Derrick Elledge, VP of Operations at Power Storage Solutions, says: “Acumatica offered a full quote-to-cash cycle overlaid on top of our accounting system. Acumatica offered a service package with purchasing, inventory, client relationship management (CRM) quoting cycles, project management, and sales order management—all right there in one operating system.”
Power Storage Solutions implemented Acumatica Customer Management, Acumatica Financial Management, and Acumatica Intercompany Accounting (adding Acumatica Service Management later). As discussed in their Customer Success Story, Power Storage Solutions billed $1.7 million USD straight out of Acumatica in the first month. They saved $40,000–$50,000 USD per month because they stopped wasting time trying to gather information from disconnected systems. They reduced month end close by more than 15 days, improved communication, scheduling, quoting, and gross profits, and increased efficiency with seamless software integration and customized dashboards. Since Acumatica charges for resources used rather than per user, Power Storage Solutions was able to connect multiple employees to the ERP system with a single license.
Derrick goes on to say: “In 60 days, we went from nothing in Acumatica to launching a $24 million company with 20,000 parts, 5,000 customers, and our sales orders, projects, inventory, accounts payable, and accounts receivable [all in one solution]. It’s astronomical when you look at what we did and how Acumatica’s cloud ERP system supports us.”
More about Acumatica CRM
Built into Acumatica from our cloud ERP solution’s inception, Acumatica Customer Management is not an afterthought. Our integrated CRM software contains the four “must haves” described in this article. It puts all customer data in front of all team members, providing a 360° view of business activities, from financials and marketing to sales and customer service—and beyond.