How can a CRM system beneficial to produce performance changes in your sales process without the accounting history of your accounts and contacts? I strongly believe that it is not possible. As Salesforce has evolved from a CRM platform to a platform to integrate all systems to your customers and prospective customers, the transformation of a common, simple view of all data in one place has never been more important. Integrating accounting transaction history, credit limits, and other key data in the accounting system to the CRM account/contact view in Salesforce or any CRM drives a faster pace for decision making and simplicity. On this topic, I want to share four examples of the value of integrating your CRM and accounting systems and then conclude with a suggestion for you to consider for your organization.
Example 1 – Knowing the “flight path” of your buyer’s journey to a sale promotes a healthy forecast for your whole organization
The days of flying by the seat of your pants in sales are ending has evolved into a sales process that can be executed consistently by all sales team members. The result is relevant sales activity is captured quickly, easily, and affordably by sales deal stages in a CRM system. Over the last several years and peaking in 2020, the sales efforts must be quantified and organized for understanding and forecasting the predicted sales timing and dollar amount. When this flow of work is consistently input by all sales team members, then revenue and cash flow will be known and can build a revenue forecast that can be relied upon. When the sales team has this insight along with current customer sales history, credit limits, terms, and product/service lines used, the sales team will have all the valuable data needed to support their newest sales and find common characteristics to continue to guide their success.
Example 2 – Accrual vs Cash basis of sales opportunities
I mentioned in Example 1 how the days of flying by the seat of your pants in sales are obsolete. What this means is working on your sales deals and not tracking the progress of that deal. When this happens, a sale technically is only known when the deal closes. From an accounting perspective, if you do not accrue expenses and only book when the expense is paid, this is the cash basis method. Therefore, the same holds true in tracking deals in the CRM system. If you are not tracking sales progress in the sales process, this is equal to a cash basis sales approach. We do not have forecast or prediction capabilities until the sale is closed. Organizations need to “accrue” their sales process just as the accounting system accrues expenses and other events that are recognized but paid or closed yet.
Example 3 – Valuing the importance of information in the CRM and accounting systems equally
One thing is for sure: you cannot prepare a correct tax return for the organization without an exact and organized accounting system. The same is true about the sales process: if the sales activity is not organized by sales stage from learning about the prospect’s interest to the sale close, then there is not a reliable forecast of revenue and cash flow that can be used to capture the whole picture accurately of the business performance.
Example 4 – How and what to integrate between CRM and Accounting
If I have convinced you of the importance of integration, then the next step is how to integrate and what to integrate between your CRM and accounting systems. First, how? Depending on what CRM and accounting system is in place, there are dozens of solutions usually. If your team does not have the experience and skillset for this, then there are many innovation and technology companies that can help. Certainly, our firm can help. Second, what? This depends; but for sure at a minimum, you need insight into sales history, quotes, and other specific information like past due status, credit terms and credit limits are important. All these components from accounting need to be displayed on the account view.
I will finish with this: if you believe that integrating your CRM and accounting systems is valuable but you cannot achieve this without help, then call me. And, if you do not believe this and don’t care to achieve this then I want to know why, so call me. Having a solid integration between these two so systems will unify your information systems, enable faster decision making, and better experiences for all of your folks and your customers and future customers.