How Does Sage CRM Manage Customers Differently Than Sage 300?

Posted by EQ Tech on Mon, Jun 20, 2016

customer management in Sage CRM

For many companies using Accounts Receivable in Sage 300, the options to store and maintain customer data provide enough functionality to support day-to-day invoicing, collections, and communications. However, as a business grows and builds relationships at a faster pace, it can be difficult to stay on top of each customer contact, interaction, or opportunity using only a limited set of customer screens designed primarily for accounting needs.

At this stage, companies reach a crossroads – either they can attempt to maintain a large and diverse collection of customer data in a restricted set of fields, or they can evaluate investment in a CRM solution that is built to support countless dynamic interactions.

Here’s how Sage CRM and Sage 300 are completely different when it comes to managing and leveraging your customer data.

See Also: What is CRM Infographic? 

Sage CRM Supplements Your Accounting Data

Sage 300 can provide sufficient customer data management capabilities for smaller businesses with limited needs. But as a business begins to establish a dedicated approach to growth through sales and marketing, Sage CRM should be considered a supplement to, not replacement of, your ERP system.

While there is an overwhelming number of CRM systems available on the market that can run stand-alone, companies currently using Sage 300 software should take advantage of the tight integration with Sage CRM to maximize the potential information shared between systems and the resulting efficiencies in sales, reporting, and operations.

Although the customer lifecycle is complex, for the purposes of this article we can distill this critical process into three major stages: acquisition, conversion, and sale.

Sage CRM manages relationships in each of these stages whereas an ERP system alone would only capture transactions directly before (quote), during (order/shipment/invoice) and after (payment) a sale.

Customer Acquisition

Consider the following scenario: Your business is participating in an industry tradeshow and your sales manager Jim has just returned with over 100 business cards from people that stopped by your booth. Jim can enter a ‘Lead’ in Sage CRM to record each person he met and the company they represent.

Sage CRM will store critical details such as the source of the lead, products they are interested in, and other company statistics including annual revenue, industry, and number of employees. A sales rep can also be assigned to the lead or the lead can be added to a particular marketing campaign. Once the contacts exist in Sage CRM, it is easy to manage follow up activities (schedule calls, set reminders, send literature, etc) for each relationship and work toward the next stage in the customer lifecycle (arrange a demo, send a quote).

Sage CRM Lead Acquisition

Customer Conversion

Now that Jim has provided a new source of potential customers, your sales team can begin to reach out to each lead and determine their interest in further developing a business relationship. In addition to individual follow-up, you may also choose to include them in an ongoing marketing campaign or send out an email blast specifically for the people that attended the tradeshow.

Sage CRM makes it easy to group contacts together based on a variety of factors in order to direct your marketing efforts to a targeted subset of the contact database. The leads that express an interest in getting more information, seeing a demo, or request an estimate can be converted into an Opportunity in Sage CRM – thus advancing to the next stage in the sales process and prospective customer relationship.

Taking it a step further, let’s say one of the contacts from the tradeshow has requested an estimate for the cost to purchase several pieces of equipment. Both Sage CRM and Sage 300 have the ability to create the estimate. But the benefit to generating the quote through CRM would be that your ERP system would not become cluttered with quotes and prospects/contacts that may never reach the stage of an actual sale.

The Sales Pipeline in Sage CRM provides a graphical snapshot of opportunities in different stages, creating a simple and efficient way to determine the status of the sales forecast, projected revenues, and other ongoing activities. Workflows built in to Sage CRM generate a simple path to push opportunities down the pipeline as they are approved.

Sage CRM Workflow

Completing the Sale

In this final stage, the prospect has approved your estimate. The relationship that began as lead and then converted to an opportunity will now become a customer. At this point, Sage CRM will “pass the torch” to Sage 300 to handle the next steps in the transaction and transfer all of the customer data captured in CRM to the back office without any duplicate data entry or other manual effort. This is one of the (many) advantages of an integrated approach to ERP and CRM.

For businesses that do not currently use a CRM system, their sales cycle is likely to start with the entry of a quote or order in the ERP system. However, if a business has a low quote to order conversion rate and a high volume of transactions, it may be wise to prepare quotes outside of Sage 300 or set expired quotes to clear relatively quickly to prevent an unnecessary build-up of lost sales that can clutter and slow the performance of your accounting database. 

ERP and CRM Systems Compared

The following chart compares the functionality available in Sage 300 and Sage CRM for a variety of different areas relating to customer data management.

 

Sage CRM

Sage 300 A/R Customer

Number of Contacts

Unlimited

Two

Custom Fields

Unlimited, flexible placement on various screens/views and can easily add to search finders.

Standard optional field functionality.

Reporting

Customizable, color-coded dashboards and widgets in addition to traditional reports. Can see customer A/R and O/E data from Sage 300 within CRM.

Crystal Reports and Sage Intelligence limited to setup reports, customer listing with contact information, aging and transactions that have an accounting impact (ie invoice, payment, credit).

Communications

MailChimp or Swiftpage E-marketing integration. Exchange and Outlook e-mail integration. Phone/task/calendar appointment and communication logging between customers and CRM users.

Customer statements, letters and labels available to print and send out.

Notes

Unlimited internal customer notes.

Unlimited comments attached to customer profile; can setup comment ‘types’.

Databases

Can contain customers associated with multiple Sage company databases.

Customers for one company database.

Document Management

Can upload unlimited number of documents of any size or file type. Can drag and drop from file on your desktop or drag and drop messages from Gmail/Outlook into CRM. Documents can be attached to cases, communications or placed in ‘Shared Documents’ that is accessible to all users across the system.

None out of the box. Could use third-party add on product to allow attachment of documents in A/R screens.

Relationships
/Categorization

Can setup custom relationships between companies and track unlimited relationship types between various companies.

One national account can be set per customer to associate a “parent” company. Customer groups can be used to separate customers for reporting and setup purposes.

The Best of Both Worlds

The strong integration between Sage CRM and other Sage ERP systems ensures that you never have to choose between having a powerful ERP system or a robust CRM system – and never have to enter the same data more than once.

While companies just starting out or with a small number of customers may find most of the functionality they need in an ERP system, any organization looking to expand business, grow sales, or build new relationships will benefit greatly from the tools available in CRM. A CRM system will support interactions in all stages of the customer lifecycle – Acquisition, Conversion, Sale – and help to maintain those relationships over time to ensure that customers remain satisfied and loyal. 

Topics: Sage CRM

Submit a Comment

Need Help Now?

Request a Call