ERP vs. CRM: What is the difference?

What’s the Difference Between ERP and CRM? Advantages and Recommendations

By Ricardo Singh & Luc Powell
Updated: July 10, 2024, first publication: March 2020

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, a more precise and accurate way to talk about relationship management and interactions with contacts. Your sales team can use CRM software to prospect and build customer loyalty.

On the other hand, ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, a process companies use to manage and integrate key parts of their businesses. ERP software lets you plan and manage products and services with a 360° vision.

We know, distinguishing between ERP and CRM might get a bit tricky.

Thankfully, we’re here to explain the differences, on top of providing you with a list of cloud-based solutions. From dedicated ERP software to all-in-one management software including a CRM module, you will find the tool that meets your needs! 🙌

CRM Software, the Ideal Tool for Sales Representatives

But, concretely, what is the difference between ERP and CRM software? 🤔

To begin with, CRM software are an essential tool for sales representatives. This type of software is used to:

  • manage contacts and integrate them into a database,
  • track interactions, manage sales activity,
  • analyze a company’s performance with a dashboard.

4 Benefits of Using a CRM System

A CRM system is an operational tool, which means that it’s designed to streamline, manage, and optimize the day-to-day processes and workflows within an organization

👉 For example, when you return from an appointment, you can write down that the contact has to be called back within three weeks. And, on top of that, an alert will automatically remind you when the time comes.

Moreover, you can use a CRM system to sell more by customizing the commercial offer and building customer loyalty.

© Freepik© Freepik

This type of software also allows you to improve the quality of technical support and customer service by saving all of your client issues on a single platform.

👉 For example, you can make sure that you submit a personalized offer every two months so that he feels valued.

#1 A Full Toolkit for Sales Representatives

When sales representatives are prospecting, they need to have a wide array of tools:

  • a sales pitch,
  • samples if necessary,
  • digital documents, such as commercial documents, PowerPoint or PDF presentations, in-store videos, promotional spots, etc.,
  • quotes, invoices, and purchase orders,
  • products and price sheets.

Regardless of the products they are selling, sales representatives have to manage a considerable amount of logistics. They must:

  • plan their trips and set itineraries,
  • contact prospects and make appointments,
  • optimize their time and have backup plans in case of cancellation.

And the best part? You can do all of this on-the-go. ☝️

That's why CRM software are crucial, as sales representatives can use those remotely, from smartphones or tablets, anytime and anywhere. 🌏

#2 An All-in-One Tool

Some CRM software combines information and content in the same place.

Recently, CRM softwares have become all-in-one tools for sales representatives, as they can be used to find:

  • the entire customer relationship history,
  • clients details,
  • sales support tools.

🔎During their visits, sales representatives can find the address of a potential customer they are about to visit, while having access to PDF presentations, or promotional videos, to better convey their message.

#3 Performance Monitoring

Sales representatives have a portfolio of clients to maintain and prospect objectives to achieve. To help them meet these goals, some CRMs offer collective and individual progress, with an "objective" module.

A counter shows everyone's results and this stimulates the entire team to do better.

#4 Enhanced Collaboration

Enhanced collaboration within your team is also a significant benefit to be expected from the use of a CRM. And, of course, a CRM is to be used in several departments, such as:

As such, all of them can access and share client data seamlessly.

This centralized information repository ensures that everyone is on the same page, reducing miscommunications and enabling more coordinated efforts.

👉 For instance, marketing can tailor campaigns based on insights from sales data, while customer service can provide better support, using comprehensive consumer histories.

The collaborative environment provided by a CRM not only boosts productivity, but it also leads to more cohesive and effective customer interactions, ultimately driving better business outcomes.

The Benefits of Integrating ERP and CRM Systems

As we’ve just seen, using a CRM provides many benefits. Yet, what about using both a CRM and an ERP?

Improvement of Overall Operational Processes

Integrating those systems can bring substantial benefits to your business by creating a seamless flow of information across departments. This integration ensures that operational data are shared and utilized effectively among sales and customer services. As a result, the decision-making process and strategic planning are highly improved.

👉 For instance, when a sales order is processed through the CRM, the ERP system can automatically:

  • update inventory levels,
  • schedule production,
  • and generate invoices without manual intervention.

This reduces the risk of errors, enhances productivity, and allows for real-time insights into business performance.

Improvement of the Customer Service

The integration also facilitates better customer service.

In fact, having access to comprehensive information about the clients, such as:

  • a client's purchase history,
  • their preferences,
  • and any past interactions of theirs with the company,

allows the customer service representative to provide a more personalized and efficient support.

💡 This holistic view helps in:

  • building stronger customer relationships,
  • increasing satisfaction,
  • fostering loyalty.

Additionally, integrated a CRM or an ERP system can streamline reporting and analytics, giving managers a consolidated view of key performance indicators (KPIs) from both sales and operations perspectives, thus driving better-informed business strategies.

Choosing Between ERP and CRM: Factors to Consider

Deciding whether to implement an ERP or CRM system first depends on your specific business needs and priorities. If your primary goal is to enhance customer interactions and drive sales growth, starting with a CRM system might be the most beneficial.

👇 A CRM can help you:

  • manage customer relationships more effectively,
  • track leads,
  • analyze sales data to refine marketing strategies.

On the other hand, if your business is facing challenges with inventory management, production scheduling, or financial oversight, an ERP system could be the more pressing need.

👇 ERP software will help you:

  • streamline these processes,
  • reduce operational inefficiencies,
  • provide a unified platform for managing core business functions.

You should also consider the scalability and integration capabilities of the software. If your organization has complex needs then it may benefit more from an ERP system that offers modular functionality, allowing for the addition of CRM capabilities as the business grows.

👉 Conversely, a business heavily focused on sales and customer service may start with a CRM, and later integrate ERP modules to handle financial and operational aspects. Evaluating the growth potential, the ease of integration with existing systems, and the specific features that address your current pain points will guide you in making an informed decision.

💡 By aligning the software choice with your strategic goals, you ensure the implementation of your CRM or ERP delivers maximum value and supports your long-term business objectives. Being about maximizing your customer’s satisfaction and experience thanks to data analysis software, or improving your organization’s overall efficiency, you’ll definitely be able to find the perfect match 🎯

ERP Software for Business Management

ERP software is defined as a group of modules linked to a single database. These modules may include:

  • sales and customer management,
  • HR management,
  • invoicing,
  • accounting management, etc.

At the Heart of the Company

An ERP software is a centralized management tool that ensures that all departments share the same data. The idea is to avoid data silos. 😤

👉 Let’s say, a representative creates a new contact within the CRM module, the contact data will automatically be sent to the customer file when the sale is concluded. Afterward, the same data will be sent to the invoicing tab.

And… This is the exact information entered by the accounting department. Not only does this save time, but it also internally harmonizes data.

A Global Tool

In fact, ERP software is often associated with large companies, but why is that?

☝️ First, ERPs tend to be more expensive than CRM software. ✌️ Secondly, when it comes to global and in-depth features, they are more tailored to large structures.

Thus, implementing an ERP software in a company requires training staff. Indeed, this type of software can be used by all departments, and it’s essential that everyone knows how to use it.

👉 ERP editors often:

  • analyze the environment and the associated needs,
  • deploy the solution internally,
  • teach staff how to use the software through training courses.

A Solution To Save Resources

Of course, ERP software improve internal processes by avoiding repetitions. On top of that, they also provide benefits from an organizational point of view.

👉 Most ERPs include a configuration tool, allowing the production department to duplicate products and save time. Planning tools also make it possible to forecast production capacities and workloads through tables such as the Gantt chart.

A Piloting Tool

An ERP software is also a valuable decision-making tool. At the heart of the company, it contains a set of relevant data to be analyzed.

Through an ERP, you will be able to monitor the company's situation in the form of dashboards at any given time. And, this can be done at different levels:

  • financial and accounting,
  • sales,
  • HR.

3 of the Best ERP and CRM Software

To help you make your way through the amount of CRM and ERP on the market, we selected a few cloud-based solutions.

#1 Sage 100cloud, the ERP Solution for SMEs

Sage 100cloud is a flexible ERP software that can adapt to the continuous changes of a growing company.

Sage 100cloud has an open code base. This allows you to fully configure application settings and customize the software to meet all of your needs.

Sage 100cloud’s list of features includes:

  • automated bank feeds & reconciliation,
  • custom office and visual integrator,
  • sales and customer management,
  • budgeting & planning,
  • reporting and dashboards, etc.
Sage 100

+200 reviews

the ERP solution for SMEs
Learn more about Sage 100

#2 Salesforce Sales Cloud, the World's Leading Web-Based CRM

Salesforce Sales Cloud is a cloud-based CRM software that helps you track and monitor customer information and interactions in a single platform to follow more leads.

With Salesforce Sales Cloud, you will be able to increase sales, build customer loyalty and explore new opportunities. Without any software or material to install, you can begin using the software in no time to monitor and improve your relationship with customers, employees, and suppliers.

Salesforce Sales Cloud’s list of features includes:

  • marketing automation,
  • document management,
  • collaboration tools,
  • reporting and dashboards,
  • sales force automation, etc.
Salesforce Sales Cloud

The all-in-one CRM for your business
Learn more about Salesforce Sales Cloud

#3 SAP Business One, an ERP for Small Businesses

SAP Business One is a complete business management software designed for small businesses.

With this easy-to-use ERP, you will be able to streamline your company's processes. No more re-entering data and no more loss of information!

SAP Business One covers all aspects of your business, from accounting and logistics (supply chain) to purchasing and CRM.

SAP Business One’s list of features includes:

  • financial management,
  • sales and customer management,
  • purchasing and inventory control,
  • analytics and reporting,
  • mobile application, etc.
SAP Business One

+200 reviews

Business management software for small businesses
Learn more about SAP Business One

Choose the Right One for Your Needs!

Which software should you start using first?

Your decision depends on your needs and priorities:

  • if you need to control your supply chain, ERP is the best choice,
  • if your activity requires lots of interaction with prospects, CRM is ideal (with a mobile version for field sales representatives),
  • if you want to offer a better customer experience to build loyalty by supporting your users, consider a client support module.

Also, think about your future needs as this reflection allows you to anticipate possible compatibility problems with third-party solutions that you already use, or plan to use.

Software editors also highlight the number of APIs (Applications Programming Interface) of their solutions, a reassuring argument for making your choice.

You don't have an ERP or CRM software yet? A piece of advice: opt for a solution that is either modular, and therefore scalable, or open and compatible. A precaution you won't regret! 😉

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