Long-term benefits of integrating your finance and CRM systems
- Last Updated : June 12, 2023
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- 4 Min Read
Finance is the central nervous system of a business, while CRM and sales could be viewed as components of the peripheral nervous system. These systems are equally important, and it’s only natural that they work together to help a business grow and attract customers with highly customised offerings. However, if you’ve ever evaluated a CRM system or a finance tool, you've likely noticed that they aren't always a package deal. To be fair, many modern CRM vendors try to build an invoicing functionality into their systems. However, finance often becomes a secondary feature, which means it's not always as robust and compatible with the CRM as it should be.
In this blog post, we explore the reasons you should tightly integrate your CRM with financing systems, like invoicing and expensing, and the long-term benefits this process brings to your business.
Integrating your CRM with your invoicing system: How it works
Software integration can either be one-way or two-way. In a one-way integration, your data flows from one system to another, which means the system receiving the data also receives more contextual information. In a two-way integration, both systems exchange relevant data and update each other, so that people working on either system always have access to recent and accurate information. The option you should choose depends on the nature of your business and how extensively you use each system. Here are a few ways a two-way integration can be useful.
Create, send, and track invoices
Your CRM stores the details of every prospect and customer you engage with. With an integrated invoicing system, you can create invoices directly from the CRM. This means you can manage all business invoices in a single place and associate historical invoices with specific customers. This will give you a clear picture of each customer: You can categorise, filter, or sort data based on how much they've paid and how much they still owe. You can also see which customers are still undecided about purchasing. If your business sells monthly subscriptions, you can even set up recurring auto-invoices.
Turn quotes into invoices
Most consumers ask for a quote before they make a purchasing decision. Depending on the nature of your business and your customer’s decision-making process, you may be in the quote stage for a while. When your invoicing system is integrated with your CRM, you can track each potential customer's stage in the customer journey. And when a prospect is ready to purchase, you can convert their quote directly into an invoice.
Based on the complexity of your integration, you may be able to automate the quote conversion process. This means that, at the click of a button, you can convert your quote into an invoice and email it to your prospect—without any manual work. If you’ve adopted e-invoicing, it’ll be sent to your prospect’s accounting system, instead of their email address. If your prospect is eligible for specific promotions or discounts, you can enter that information in your CRM, and it will automatically apply on your auto-generated invoice. When dealing with an overseas customer, the integration will automatically adjust the currency as well.
Track expenses for each customer
Expense tracking is a handy feature if you manage employees who travel for work and claim reimbursements. If your invoicing system is integrated with your CRM, you can associate every expense they incur for the benefit of a customer. For example, if you run a plumbing services business and you get a customer call, the plumber who responds to the call can submit their expenses for the day, including transportation and refreshments, through your invoicing system. If you have a two-way integration, the plumber can also look up the customer’s record in the CRM and associate the expenses directly. When you access the CRM, those details will be available under the customer’s record. This way, when you invoice a customer, you’ll know exactly how much you’ve spent on their job, so you can charge them accordingly.
Access detailed reports
Most CRM tools come with a reporting functionality. By integrating your invoicing system, you can enrich your CRM reports with payments data. This means you can draw up reports about both your paying and free customers, analyse how much revenue you’ve accrued periodically from each customer, assess which customers are in need of a payment reminder, and even set up automated follow-ups or reminders for customers.
Discover additional opportunities
An invoice system and CRM integration makes your customers’ payment details available in your CRM, so you can easily identify your top-paying customers. It can also help you determine which customers might be interested in an upgrade or an alternative product or service, leading to great upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Ultimately, an invoicing and CRM integration provides you with valuable data for retaining customers long term, and identifying customers who need sustained support.
As essential components of the sales process, it only makes sense for your CRM and financing systems to speak to each other. You can even extend your integration so that every time a sale is closed or updated, your books are updated automatically. This is helpful when you need to cross-check your finances for end-of-year closures or tax returns. Put simply, maintaining a comprehensive finance-CRM integration helps your business operate optimally at all times.
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