ERP vs CRM - Deciding Where Your Sales Team Belongs

ERP vs CRM For Sales Team

If you’re weighing ERP vs CRM as the right solution for your sales team platform, the right answer may not be obvious. Aside from the impact on your ERP evaluation checklist, making the wrong decision could result in painfully slow sales, lower sales numbers, stress in the sales process, an unengaged sales team, inaccurate quoting, or an over-engineered solution.

Where To Start

Luckily, the first step is simple. You just need to understand your existing sales process. It’s tempting to start with a technology and work backwards, but the better answer is to start with sales processes at the business level. How do leads come in? How do leads get routed to a salesperson? What kind of interactions does sales have with a lead? What checks and balances exist within the sales process to ensure success? Having a well rounded understanding of how your sales team works will help you as you consider whether ERP or CRM is a better place for sales to function.

Option 1- Sales In ERP And CRM
If both ERP and CRM platforms provide value, doesn’t it make sense to have sales taking advantage of both platforms? From our experience, that’s rarely the best option. We often see organizations who have settled for what looks like the middle ground, requiring sales to live in both ERP and CRM, but after moving the sales team to a single platform, realize the benefits of making the call and choosing one or the other. Having sales in both ERP and CRM:

  • Adds confusion and complexity to sales
  • Increases overall license consumption because a single salesperson requires 2 licenses
  • Compromises data integrity because data inevitably is modified in the “wrong system”
  • Increases application context switching, reducing efficiency

Option 2 – Sales In ERP
If sales operates only out of your ERP, that solves many of the challenges. It creates clarity for sales because there’s just one system to master. While conceptually this option may make a lot of sense, in practice, we find teams who use this configuration quickly run into unexpected challenges. Sales may use the ERP’s built-in CRM to comply with the official process, but system effectiveness is often low. Having sales in only ERP:

  • Reduces system count because CRM isn’t used
  • Might be a good fit if salespeople are fully trained on ERP
  • Increases sales process rigidity
  • In many ERPs, “CRM” functionality resembles a spreadsheet, not a sales process
  • Increases burden on ERP Selection to align with sales needs

Option 3 – Sales In CRM

Independent CRM platforms are designed with sales teams in mind. The most popular CRM platforms in the marketplace effortlessly handle sales team requirements that would have been a pain or nearly impossible in an ERP. Across the board, we see organizations succeed with this setup. Having sales only in CRM:

  • Makes the sales process simple and flexible
  • Increases sales team adoption of CRM
  • Lowers customization effort compared to ERP customization
  • Reduces friction with changing sales team processes
  • To be fully effective, requires ERP-CRM Integration

Making The Call
There are many factors that go into deciding whether sales should use ERP, CRM, or both. While it’s often true that thinking through the implications of each path will make your decision easy, that’s not always the case. If you’re still struggling to decide, consider what will make the sales process simple. It can also be helpful to talk with an ERP Evaluation expert to help frame the decision and offer advice based on what we’ve seen work for other clients in the past.