Let's catch up

In the previous part of Small Business’ Guide to ERP, as we followed Spindl’s journey, we discussed some crucial concepts—the modular nature of ERP systems, and how you can use it to manage your business using monolithic software. Now that you’re equipped with a broad understanding of ERP systems and identifying what works for you, we can break down the most common modules into detailed sections. Every module contains individual processes that chain to form a workflow. It groups transactions and records that are thematically similar.

This helps to create scalable, repeatable, and inter-connected strings of actions. These strings are necessary to provide structure and create SOPs (standard operating procedures). SOPs in turn influence how your business’ workflow is made. These workflows can differ from industry to industry.

Think of this. How is pizza made?

First, the dough is prepared and fermented. Then, it’s shaped. The base is layered with a rich tomato sauce. The toppings and cheeses over the sauce. Finally, it’s baked, cut, garnished, and served. All of these ingredients are also portioned and weighed to achieve a well-balanced taste. Pizza wouldn’t be pizza if you performed those actions in a different order and in different proportions, right? (Okay, maybe some extra mozzarella isn’t all that bad.)

But, that’s why workflows are important. They ensure a repeatable and consistent process for any product or service.

A recipe for success, if you will.

Using modules, creating and maintaining these workflows becomes much easier.

Chapter 8: Customer relationship management (CRM)

As is the case with every business, Spindl's customers are the company’s lifeforce. But when Saf and Mel sink all their time into keeping their company afloat, an area that gets neglected is lead sourcing. Things fall through the cracks, folds aren’t followed up on, low-ups are not done, This, combined with deteriorating relationships with existing customers due to service issues, becomes a major factor for Spindl's stagnating revenue.

One of the key issues is a lack of organized processes for acquiring and following up with new potential customers. To achieve this, Lyn helps them implement a Customer Relationship Management module in their ERP system.

Why use ERP for CRM?

One of the most important aspects of running a business is having a fluid and optimized Customer Relationship Management system. It can help you in tracking all presales processes like lead capturing, tracking open opportunities, emails, calls, etc. It helps you build lasting relationships with your customers. It also codifies trends, allowing you to build a better knowledge of customers, anticipate needs, have smoother communication, etc.

While it’s possible to use software made specifically for CRM, it’s beneficial to use an ERP if other modules are also being utilized. Why? Because all of the CRM data integrates with adjacent modules (most importantly, Sales). Not only does this provide better insights into your business, it also reduces the workload of maintaining two separate databases.

Breaking down the workflow

Before we see Lyn’s workflow for Spindl's CRM system, let’s familiarize ourselves with some terms.

Leads

A lead is a potential customer. There can be two types of leads: pre-existing and blind. The former are those who have purchased from you before, and might be interested in doing so again; the latter are those you’ve never had any prior business transactions with (cold calls, mailing lists, etc.). These kinds of leads need to be de-duplicated, qualified, scored, and then pursued after vetting.

Lead Source

A lead source is a source from which leads are generated. Keeping track of the source from which you’re getting leads is important, as it helps you in measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and other efforts.

Opportunity

Leads can go down multiple routes. Sometimes, they’ll want to buy from you instantly. In which case, they become a customer. Sometimes, they’re just not interested (for now). Or maybe they’re somewhere in the middle - not quite sure, but definitely intrigued.

That’s when the lead turns into an opportunity.

An opportunity is created when a lead (or customer) is showing signs of making a purchase from you. Once you’ve converted a lead into an opportunity, it’ll go two ways - either they lose interest (in which case, you mark them as Lost), or they wish to see a quotation, which we will discuss under the sales management module section.

Opportunity type

Opportunity type indicates the broad category of opportunity, such as sales, support, maintenance, partnership, etc. By tracking the opportunity type, you can ensure the right sales executive is assigned to the opportunity.

Sales Stage

The sales stage indicates the level at which the opportunity is in the sales cycle (e.g., negotiation). Generally, high-value opportunities go through many phases before the final sales transaction is made. Tracking the stages helps you gain insight into how many opportunities you have at various stages.

Salesperson

A salesperson is an employee who sells your business’ products/services. ERP systems generally allow you to create hierarchies while adding salespeople to the system.

Customer Group

A customer group is an aggregation of customers that have similar qualities. Customer groups can be segmented based on a plethora of conditions. Typically, customers are grouped by market segments based on the domain in which the business operates. Most ERP systems will enable you to set price lists for different customer groups, and also help with trend analysis.

Setting up a CRM workflow

To streamline and improve their customer interactions, Saf and Mel decide to implement a CRM workflow in their ERP system.

  1. Existing lead sources are imported into the system. All web forms, emails, incomplete orders, etc. are tracked for lead collection.
  2. Customers are sorted into groups based on various parameters. This allows them to target groups with the right marketing campaigns, price lists, etc.
  3. A list of all salespeople is added to the database. Leads and opportunities can then be assigned to them.
  4. Various types of opportunities are created. This segregation allows for clearer data analysis and ensures that the right people are reaching out for each opportunity type.
  5. Leads are assigned to various salespeople. This ensures that every lead is followed up on, maximizing the opportunity for a potential sale.
  6. Opportunities are created and categorized when Leads show promise. This helps get accurate reports, and also make sure that all opportunities are being tracked and actively engaged until they reach the sales stage.