The Zen of a Connected Business

advancing a business rather than duplicating effort.

For example, a sales team member based in your office can store documents related to a key account in your company's integrated CRM and ERP solution.

Another sales team member on the road can access these documents using her mobile device. She can then act on this information prior to an important meeting with a lead.

Both team members can collaborate on one account and avoid duplicating each other's work.

4. Improve business processes. Customer information is constantly flowing through your business. As customers request a quote, make a purchase, arrange shipping, and pay an invoice, their information moves from one team or department to the next. Handling this information consistently is a challenge.

With a CRM and ERP solution, your business can configure the automatic sharing of certain financial information between sales and accounts so both departments know where customers are in their billing cycles.

These departments or teams can use this information to decide on an approach before making contact with a customer. Alternatively, they can save time by setting up recurring invoices.

A business in control of information about its customers can achieve its goals.

5. Drive profitability across your company. A 2014 IDG report found companies with more effective data grew 35 percent faster than those without it. This is because it's easier to identify sales patterns and cross-sell opportunities if you have insight into the volume and value of trade in your business.

You can spot customer tail-off and take measures to address this before business is lost. And you can convert key performance data into easy-to-understand reports and identify opportunities to boost your company's growth.

For example, if you identify a delay in your existing inventory, your sales teams can concentrate on selling other products and services unaffected by this delay. Meanwhile, you can focus on improving fill rates across the company.

Together, you and your sales team create a more enlightened business.

6. Pitch products to the right people. If you have suitable customer data, you can analyze real-time sales reports within your CRM and ERP solution and then decide what type of products to develop or ship next. And your sales team can use this information to cross-sell relevant products to existing customers.

Alternatively, a sales rep can use this information to determine if he should upsell after a customer makes a new purchase.

Using this information, you can match the right products and services with your customers' queries and give your customers what they really want.

Bryan Collins is an online marketing specialist and manages the Sage CRM blog channel.

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