Andrew Curtis
July 12, 2022

FuelVM Data CRM Implementation Series

Understanding the difference between ERP and CRM systems

As technology continues to advance at a staggering pace, and business systems are deliberately enhanced to do much more than originally intended, it’s no wonder there is confusion about which tools to use, especially when it comes to enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Both systems handle contacts and companies and details about orders. ERP takes the upper hand when it comes to financials and the management of factories, distribution centers, supply chains and currencies. But which one is right for your business?

Let’s start by clearing up the confusion about who uses ERP vs. CRM systems.

The primary users of CRM systems are sales and support organizations – those companies focused on customer interaction before and after the sale (and not the actual work of producing the widget or fulfilling orders). These are people who manage sales, support, and some marketing functions across markets. ERP users are typically the folks in the factory who are all about the process and logistics of producing the widget. They’re focused on production schedules, procurement, and managing inventory, et al. and rarely have the need to contact a customer except to reply to a complaint. ERP and CRM users typically do not interact because they work at different places in the organization. The only people who might be in both CRM and ERP systems at once are likely found in the IT group and charged with integration, data warehousing and analytics.

Your need for a CRM system is probably greater than your need for a dedicated ERP system.

Considering the phenomenal growth in B2C e-commerce sales in North America over the past 7 years -- $293.09 billion in 2010 vs. $660.4 billion in 2017 – the need for a CRM systems is crucial for their support of sales force automation (which is the aspect of CRM focused on things are aren’t true yet: people who might purchase, companies that might become a customer, orders that might close). CRM manages growth opportunities and the system you choose must support the following sales business processes:

• Lead qualification
• Early sales funnel (i.e. demos and call scheduling)
• Forecasting and pipeline management
• Quote generation and order configuration
• Contract generation and fulfillment
• Renewals and repeat orders
• Ongoing account management (customer feedback, repeat purchase activity, add-ons, etc.)

Other tools to look for that might be very useful to your organization are: sales pipeline models, lead monitoring, business process modeling, contract management and templates for customer quotes. There are also systems offering ROI calculators and email campaign modules that allow organizations to design, deploy and track campaigns in a single dashboard.

The ERP user is almost entirely focused on hard facts from “done deals” – addresses of companies that are customers, orders that have been placed, contracts that have been signed – so the output of your CRM should be an input to the ERP system, but only for those companies, customers and orders that have been signed. Depending on the size of your organization, ERP might be your QuickBooks archive, or a carefully curated group of Excel spreadsheets managed by your accountant. Some CRM systems have integrated ERP functions.

As your organization grows, it is helpful for your sales force to have insight to your ERP for purposes of upsell, cross-sell, and finding “like” business prospects in your market for new deals. And due to GDPR and other regulations, it is essential to keep customer data private and financial information in as few (heavily fortified) systems as possible and integrated EDP and CRM systems can help make that process easier.

CRM is an essential tool for efficient business growth and customer management and you have a lot of options. From to lead generation and contact management, to progressive brand positioning and creative -- FUEL VM leadership can help you find the solution that’s best for you.

The C-Suite.

The most coveted of audiences for B2B marketers looking to engage the decision-makers who sign the checks. Often the most visible people at any firm, they also tend to be the most elusive, and reaching them could be considered an Olympic sport. Rarely will you ever be able to make a cold-call into the organization and expect to find any time on their calendar. Unsolicited mail is unlikely to get past their administrative assistant. And forget thinking that chance face-to-face meeting at an event is going to get you very far the next day.

To be successful, you need to be much savvier than all that.

Before you ever attempt to deliver a single word to a C-suite executive you must know why they need what you’re selling.

Not only do hard facts drive credibility, they also drive who YOU target and how to best reach them. Having a clear understanding what you want out of the conversation will determine who you should talk to. If, for example, you’re looking for partnerships to support a new venture, or new leaders to join your board of directors, then you most likely want to talk to presidents, founders and CEOs. If you’re looking to sell a product or service tailored to a specific unit within a business, then you’ll want executives who oversee those units (i.e. CFOs, CMOs, EVPs, SVPs). If you’re targeting smaller organizations keep in mind that the C-suite is likely serving as executive while being an active part of the production process.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s critical that you invest the time to do the research and gather input if you want your story to be heard and respected. Know why they need what you’re sellingthen craft your message around it. Use content that “speaks” to the hurried nature of people with notoriously short attention spans who want solutions, not suggestions.

It’s no secret that business executives are relentlessly busy selling and defending decisions related to the companies they represent. No surprise they are focused almost entirely on outcomes and finding the clear path to value. Often networked to the hilt, the C-suite relies heavily on the advice and perspective on their peers and those they perceive to be authentic experts. They know what they need and don’t have time for “salesy” pitches, so craft your message with these tactics in mind:

  • Provide actionable and timely information
  • Summarize your ideas to quickly draw attention your value proposition
  • Take a multi-media approach to content delivery
  • Format your message across multiple screens
  • Target your audience through third-party publications in print and online

From contact strategy, to list development, to progressive brand positioning and creative -- FUEL VM leadership can help you effectively communicate with executives at all levels for companies in every industry.

Consider us the ladder that takes you straight to the top.

Need help? Get FUEL VM on it today.

The concept of Place. It defines where you are now. It’s the marker that grounds every moment in your history. It’s the Alpha and the Omega of every trip you’ll ever take, whether you’re alone, brushing your teeth, needing groceries, or wanting to experience the proverbial “event-of-a-lifetime.” Place is constant and affects everything and everyone, and yet identifying the “right” place when it comes to marketing is a ubiquitous challenge for even the most experienced marketer.

“How do I find the best location for my business?”

“Where do I find people who are most likely to buy my product or service?”

“What communication channel will reach most of my customers?”

“Who are my nearest competitors and where are their customers coming from?”

The answer is DATA.

Geodemography is the branch of market research that assigns the attributes of small areas – usually neighborhoods – to the consumers who live within them and, based on this assignment, divides the consumer marketplace into meaningful segments that are locatable and reachable. Think “Birds of a feather flock together.” The discipline leverages spatial and mathematical patterns that define how people live and shop to help analysts make inferences about consumer behavior. The spatial aspect relates to mapping and the Graphic Information Systems (GIS) that brought location intelligence to business databases.

So why, in an age where it seems everyone is collecting and compiling their own customer information based on actual behavior would anyone consider using data that’s inferred? Why has the number of users and the range of applications for geodemographic cluster systems grown?

The answer is DATA.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy small businesses make up 99.7% of U.S. employer firms and 49.2% of private-sector employment. Over three-quarters of small businesses are non-employers. Many small businesses simply don’t have the manpower or resources to make the collection of customer data viable and geodemographic data provides a reliable way to profile their customers in terms of demographics and behavior.

Among businesses that do collect customer data, it’s often incomplete. Except for financial services, customer income is usually not tracked nor is ethnicity, household size, presence of children, educational attainment, or lifestage. Geodemographics provides all this information and much more. Privacy is also a concern for businesses and consumers and geodemographic data is a privacy-compliant way to enrich transactional databases.

Geodemographic data can also help your business grow by defining your best potential customers based on a profile of your existing customers. Cross-sell, up-sell and retention strategies are all enhanced using cluster analysis and models supported by geodemographic data. Your business can take advantage of popular segmentation systems, such as PRIZM® Premier to understand, find and activate customers and prospects.

PRIZM® Premier defines every U.S. household in terms of 68 demographically and behaviorally distinct types, or "segments," to help marketers discern those consumers' likes, dislikes, lifestyles and purchase behaviors. Used by thousands of marketers, the PRIZM® Premier segmentation system provides the "common language" for marketing in an increasingly diverse and complex American marketplace.

The results of analysis using geodemographics and segmentation are actionable. Clusters are easy to understand, and the segments are uniquely positioned for direct marketing as well as mass targeting, which appeals to businesses regardless of product or service. Additionally, the results are measurable because marketers can tie segments back to the ground (ZIP Codes, stores, markets, sales territories, etc.), as well as to channels and to their own transactional data. Campaigns tied to segments can be measured and modified on an on-going basis.

FuelVM is a brand marketing firm with a solid data practice that brings your business over 20 years’ experience in geodemographics, segmentation, consumer profiling, and GIS. Your business can rely on us to provide comprehensive market insight for every B2B and B2C initiative. We don’t just provide DATA. We use DATA to help you grow your business and achieve your goals for sales and performance.

Need help? Get FUEL VM on it today.


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