Let's catch up

In the previous part of Business’ Guide to ERP, 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 know the basics of ERP systems and can identify 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 interconnected strings of actions. These strings are necessary to provide structure and create SOPs or standard operating procedures. SOPs 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 are spread over the sauce. Finally, the pizza is baked, cut, garnished, and served. All the ingredients are portioned and weighed to achieve a well-balanced taste. Pizza wouldn’t be pizza if you performed those actions in a different order using different proportions, right? (Okay, maybe some extra mozzarella isn’t all that bad.)

This is 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 simpler.

Chapter 8: ERP Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

As is the case with every business, Spindl's customers are the company’s life force. 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, and 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?

An important aspect 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, but 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.


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.


Leads can go down multiple routes. Sometimes, they’ll want to buy from you instantly. In this 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 intrigued.

That’s when the lead turns into an opportunity.

An opportunity is created when a lead (or customer) is showing signs of purchasing 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.


A salesperson is an employee who sells your business’ products/services. ERP systems generally allow you to create hierarchies while adding salespeople and help track the targets for each salesperson and provide reports.

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.


A Campaign is a full-scale implementation of a sales strategy to promote a product or service. Most ERPs have features to track and maintain digital campaigns like tracking leads generated by a campaign, setting up email schedules for email campaigns, or scheduling social media posts for the configured social media handles.


In the context of CRM, it is an informational and product-focused email that is sent to existing and potential customers to softly push the subscriber to do the required actions. ERPs help you send our newsletters to a specific group of subscribers periodically or share information with employees, investors, etc.

CRM Reports

Using standard CRM reports, you can know the desired details or perform necessary analysis:

  1. Lead Details: This report provides lead name, address, contact details, lead source, territory, and other details.
  2. Sales Funnel: By using the sales funnel report, and by quantifying the number of prospects at each stage of the process, you can get an idea of your potential customers

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 leads along with their source are imported into the system. All web forms, emails, incomplete orders, etc. are tracked for lead collection.
  2. Leads are assigned to various salespeople. This ensures that every lead is followed up on, maximizing the opportunity for a potential sale.
  3. Opportunities are created and categorized when Leads show promise. This segregation allows for clearer data analysis and ensures that the right people are reaching out for each opportunity type. This helps get accurate reports, and also makes sure that all opportunities are being tracked and actively engaged until they reach the sales stage.
  4. Customers are sorted into groups based on various parameters. This allows them to target groups with the right marketing campaigns, price lists, etc.
  5. A list of all salespeople is added to the database. Sales targets are set based on certain parameters like item categories or territories so the actual sales can be monitored against the expected sales for every salesperson.

Aftereffects of using an ERP's CRM module

Saf and Mel could clearly see and enjoy the benefits of having an ERP CRM in place:

  1. A central system ensures the team attends to the leads/customers timely and captures the history of the relationship with them.
  2. The purchase and manufacturing team could keep an eye on new opportunities/customers and prepare for the next month's orders.
  3. Auto-generated reports help the team to identify issues and work on course correction. The decision-making becomes much easier with real-time reports right in front of them.
  4. A transparent system helps Saf and Mel keep track of the company and employee growth.