CRM and Order Management – Integration for small businesses
Linking a CRM and an effective order management system together can result in a powerful end-to-end solution to streamline and improve sales.
To be competitive in today’s economy, businesses are driven to make their operations more efficient. For sales teams, this means embracing technology. One of the systems that helps improve sales efficiency is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. CRM optimizes sales performance and gives sales managers relevant reporting.
When the products and services of a seller are even modestly complex, it also helps to have tools for efficient order management. Linking a CRM and integrated order management system (OMS) can result in a powerful end-to-end solution. The challenge is how to achieve this without a large enterprise budget. Below we highlight some options that bring the functionality and implemented cost in range for a small business.
For more than 25 years, we have helped companies implement Maximizer CRM. This is a web-based CRM platform that can be installed on your server or hosted in the cloud. The per-user costs are reasonable ($65.00 to $79.00 per user/mo.), and the services to configure a 10-user company are low - taking only 1-2 days.
If you manage a product catalog, you might encounter an overlap between your order management process and the work you do in the CRM. Quoting is a good example. You want to send out a professional quote, with accurate yet profitable pricing, and you want to do it quickly and reproducibly. If you sell something simple, you may write up your quote in an email or in a Word or PDF document, but that won't be sufficient if you are constantly referring back to a large product list or if the pricing on that list changes often.
In that case, you might be interested in adding a technology to really help with your order management and link it with Maximizer. There are a few existing order systems that have integration built into Maximizer. You also have the option to create your own links if you have a preferred system. Maximizer can be seamlessly integrated with any external software and offers specific integration with these order management systems today:
These are all affordable solutions with prices in the range of $10.00 to $40.00 per user/mo. and about 2-5 days to deploy. It is instructive to look at how the CRM can be set up with an order management software to create a seamless user experience.
Of the three solutions, OCAT provides a native integration with a visual representation of the order residing within the CRM record. Once you locate your client in the CRM, you can navigate to the orders tab, and have access to view or build orders right within your CRM.
What does the order management solution add to my CRM?
Centralized Product Management
Developing quotes on the fly is relatively common but it requires close attention to detail or you risk sending out the offer with incorrect pricing or terms. Maintaining a product catalog brings all elements of the item details into one system that can be shared with users who are making quotes, with your e-store or other 3rd party software. The OCAT catalog is easy to manage and flexible enough to share data with other systems.
Having a product catalog that is centrally managed permits the company to:
- Update products once and use them in all modes of selling.
- Globally manage price changes.
- Add graphics to the product for display in the catalog or on quotes.
- Copy products to present them under different categories.
- Maintain specialized price lists for key accounts or seasonal sales.
- Share the same catalog between tele-sales, field sales and the on-line store(s).
Below we will explore other ways that a product catalog can improve the work of quoting and selling.
Accurate & Profitable Quotes
Maximizer CRM will help build your business relationships and generate prospects who want to buy or at least consider your offering. Once you identify an opportunity, Maximizer integrated with OCAT will help you generate quotes from a dynamic product list. This means you can manage your product list in one place – either in OCAT or in another software that talks to OCAT, and use it throughout your operations.
When you generate a new quote in Maximizer, the OCAT system will make sure:
- You have the item in stock or that it is otherwise available for sale.
- You have the price of the item listed.
- You also have the cost of the item and a way to visualize the impact of discounts.
- If the client doesn’t exist yet in OCAT, it can be added from the Maximizer record.
- Create or update opportunity records for the sales pipeline.
When OCAT is used to create quotes, the process is fast and consistent. Users are able to copy a previous quote or order and use it for the same or a different customer. This is one of the many time savers available when CRM and order management systems are linked.
While most businesses sell based on a list price, many businesses give sales staff some flexibility to deviate from the list price. Doing so can compel a client to purchase but it can also open the seller up to discounts that jeopardize profit. OCAT presents both the sales price and the purchase cost, so the margins are clear to the salesperson making the quote. Don’t underestimate the value of being able to generate a quote while applying a discount and seeing the impact it has on the bottom line.
Historically we can send a price quote as a file (PDF, spreadsheet, etc.) via email and the client can respond with questions or comments by phone or email. While the OCAT quote can go out as a file, it is also deliverable as a linked proposal. This provides the user with important feedback as to when the offer is opened and gives the recipient the ability to comment on the offer directly. Having the ability for your clients to interact with your quote can shorten the sales cycle, get questions out of the way quickly, and allow the salesperson to modify the quote for a rapid close.
A critical feature of an interactive OCAT quote is allowing the recipient to approve it. The system allows the approval to be immediately shared with the seller who can start to process and ship it. Some sellers provide the buyers with a unique code that they can enter to limit who can approve quotes.
Once approved, the order can be set up with online payment processing (like Stripe) or you can bill the customer on account. Either way, the approval automation speeds up the initiation of shipment, gives you a live view of order status.
For sales teams who manage a pipeline, the OCAT quote can generate or update an opportunity record in Maximizer.
One important benefit of order management systems is being aware of how much available stock there is. A good view of inventory and order management allows you to know how much stock is available in real-time. Managing that stock out of multiple locations is a more complicated task that OCAT performs. For resellers, this can drive and guide the process of replenishing inventory when stocks run low. Good inventory control allows you to anticipate shortages and get your purchase orders out quickly.
Just as we can see relevant sales and cost pricing when we pick a product for a quote, we are also able to visualize inventory at the same time (and on the same screen). OCAT presents the product with the # of units on this quote, # of units in inventory, and # of units on order (from your vendor). This is a detailed picture defining your access to the item in question. You get this view directly when you are making a quote. No need to close the quote and hunt around the warehouse system.
When an order is placed, the inventory is automatically deducted from your existing stock. In practice, clients find it helpful to set minimum inventory levels for certain products, so you know when to re-order your supply.
While the items that are big sellers are beneficial to keep in inventory, some specialized products may sell so infrequently that it doesn’t pay to stock them in-house. These items can be set up as non-stock products, and are sold as a back-to-back order. You buy it when you sell it – and the fulfillment process can be configured to ship directly to your client. Given the supply chain challenges of the pandemic, this gives you the flexibility to manage customer expectations.
OCAT allows you to set items up this way and facilitates both the sale and purchase side of the order while maintaining accurate details like shipping address throughout the process. The address is created in Maximizer, and passed to OCAT (and later will be passed to the accounting system) – one entry, three uses!
Product Purchase History
Having a quote and order solution linked to a CRM system will help the sales team to work faster and with greater accuracy. As an added bonus, your linked orders allow you to build a list of customers in your CRM based on the purchase of a certain product or service. You can look up all clients who purchased lab equipment and now see if they want to order the probes that go with it. Always look to leverage sales data that has been collected to generate more follow-up interest.
What if you have some larger clients who buy in bulk? Looking over recent orders gives the salesperson an idea of where the pricing has been, and what price was offered for a given size of purchase. It might help to remind the buyer that you gave them a large discount based on the volume of a prior order.
You are also able to maintain expiry dates on some of the products in your catalog. This can be extremely useful if you sell perishable goods or if you sell rental/subscription contracts. Being able to keep track of when items are expiring helps your team follow up on potential renewals automatically.
In addition to supporting your team in driving sales via CRM, you may also allow clients to place orders directly in an e-commerce store. OCAT can be connected to Woo Commerce or Shopify to automate orders from the store and to update the product catalog that the store is presenting. Centralizing the catalog in one place, and providing tools to keep it updated, can reduce hours of work.
Even if a majority of your business is done over the phone, you can supplement (or replace) that volume with an e-commerce site. OCAT can perform some useful tasks via integration with Woo Commerce. Here are a few examples:
- An order placed on Woo Commerce can automatically be passed into OCAT. Now you can manage orders, from either quotes or online orders and see it all in one place.
- The integration will automatically create new clients in OCAT from the Woo Commerce site.
- You can maintain multiple catalogs in OCAT and share them with different Woo Commerce sites. For instance, you might have one for retail clients and another for commercial distributors/wholesale dealers. The products, pricing, inventory, description, order fulfillment, and thumbnails are all managed in one centralized system.
Accounting and CRM integration
Once an order has been accepted and processed, OCAT can pass the details on to the billing and accounting system. There is a built-in integration with QuickBooks Online and Xero. Additionally, OCAT can push a file with the order details into any accounting software package (these are file transfers called feeds).
Working from the OCAT tab, users can see invoices from QuickBooks, and be aware of any open balance that is due.
There is a lot to be gained by streamlining the various stages of your sales process. Acquiring a single ERP software that can manage CRM, quoting, orders, and billing can be exceedingly costly and require a very long time to implement.
Still, there is value in improving how you manage your operations, even if the enterprise systems seem out of reach. Small businesses can establish the same type of functionality by linking best-of-breed applications. By starting with a good understanding of your process, you can create a unified system with a coherent flow from inquiry to sale to shipment and billing. Being more efficient and making the sales team’s job easier will increase the investment, and help you increase your company’s bottom line.
Jon Arancio, Vice President
Jon Arancio, Vice President of Wintec Group Inc., is a leading expert in CRM Application Deployment, renowned for his proficiency as a top Maximizer Business Partner since 1996.
Armed with a B.S. in Engineering Chemistry and Biochemistry from Stony Brook University, Jon's not just about technology; he's all about building lasting client relationships and turning objectives into practical CRM processes.
Outside of his professional achievements, Jon enjoys running and swimming outdoors. With a reputation for integrity and diligence, Jon is a seasoned professional and a trusted advisor in the realm of CRM, earning loyalty and respect from his clients.
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