I am old enough to remember when Customer Resource Management (CRM) software was first introduced. It was all the rage in sales magazines, business journals, and sales meetings. Everyone who was anyone all talked about how important it was for a successful sales organization to have a good CRM implemented for use by sales reps as well as management. This was going to be the answer to monitoring activity and sales funnels, as well as a way to manage follow-ups, communications, and support cases.
Throughout the early part of my career, I have more than a few memories of sitting in conference rooms or lecture halls, being trained by a reseller (VAR) on how to use all the bells and whistles of whichever CRM upper management had decided on. They would show us how to schedule follow-ups, change lead status so it reflected in a visual of my pipeline, enter important notes, and so on. Management would be glowing because of the detailed reports they would get and sales reps would be thrilled because of this new shiny piece of software we got to use. A thrill that, for most of us, lost its luster very quickly.
Once the training was nearing its end and it was time for Q&A, I would always seem to be the one who would inevitably raise his hand and ask, “How can I see when or what my customer ordered last? Is it possible to see if my customer is past due or current with invoices? Can I quickly view any emails received by the customer before I make a call?”
The answer was always the same. “To look up order history you will have to go into your accounting system. To view old emails, go to Outlook.” This answer was always given without the slightest inclination of how important it was to have all of this information at our finger tips, all in the same system.
Within a few weeks of a CRM go-live, sales reps could be divided into two groups. Those that grudgingly used the shiny new CRM and those that didn’t see the value and skipped its use entirely. This would make sales management crazy because their reports and forecasts were never accurate. When management would bring it up in sales meetings, the reps who didn’t use it would be like deer in headlights. When we were out having a drink together without management, they would be significantly more candid. “I have to use our accounting system, Outlook, and CRM? It’s too much. Who has time for all that?”
So, the bottom line was that if everyone used it, a stand-alone CRM was a great tool for management while being was a cumbersome distraction for the rank and file reps.
Times have changed. Now, ERP systems like Acumatica have fully integrated CRM with accounting, distribution, inventory, etc. Everything works in a single system which means all of the information sales reps need in order to provide stellar service is at their disposal. As a sales rep, I’m thrilled that I can see what and when a client’s last order was, ordering trends, payables, and so on. Management loves it even more because everything is stored in a single database, making reports and business intelligent happen in real-time and with accuracy. If that’s not enough, to make life a lot easier, Acumatica integrates with Outlook, which means emails sent and received can be viewed on the contact’s record right inside of the customer management module.
In addition, case management is fully supported in Acumatica’s CRM, which allows for rapid response to solving customer problems. But what makes the system even more powerful is Acumatica’s Customer Portal which allows customers to log into the system and submit their own cases.
We all know that technology has come a long way. That being said, having a fully integrated CRM is an answer to a challenge that has haunted us, including myself personally, since the beginning. I’d love to give you a demo of Acumatica and show you first-hand the awesome CRM integration I just talked about. Get in touch with me here. You can also view a series of information videos on Acumatica here.