If your company is thinking about implementing Salesforce alongside your ERP, you probably have a bunch of questions about the plan: Why do we need both? Can’t we just use one or the other? If we do use both, how can get the two to “talk” seamlessly? How can we get the best of both platforms?
To start, let me take the first two questions. For companies with a long-standing ERP already in place, we recommend pairing it with Salesforce. You’re likely already using your ERP to manage your product inventory, supply chain, company financials and more. Replacing all of that with Salesforce would require a costly and time-consuming effort.
But your ERP wasn’t built to serve as a customer relationship tool. It may involve some rudimentary CRM features, but it doesn’t give you the same opportunity and quote tracking that Salesforce does. Nor does it provide the same company-wide pipeline reporting. While ERPs are designed to handle the internal aspects of your business, Salesforce provides a much better view of your customer — allowing your externally-facing teams to identify more cross- and upsell opportunities, understand long-term customer trends and better serve your clients.
The key to getting both sets of benefits, then, is an orderly Salesforce-ERP integration. When set up the right way, it helps your business get the most out of both platforms while avoiding time-consuming duplicate entry. Looking for tips on how to do that? Here are 5 Salesforce-ERP integration best practices to help you set up the connection the right way.
5 Essential Salesforce-ERP Integration Best Practices
1. Manage all of your products in your ERP
You’ll want to see all of your products in Salesforce (more on that in a bit), but they should live in your ERP. By that, I mean that your master list of SKUs should be available and updateable in your ERP. Any time you add a new product or change the pricing information of an existing one? Make that change in your ERP. That way, it remains the source of truth for all essential product data, financials and inventory.
2. Automatically sync your product information to Salesforce, but keep it uneditable there
From there, you’ll want to bring all of your product information into Salesforce so that your reps and sales managers can access pricing data and tie products to their deals (stay tuned for more on this point). This also allows real-time pricing changes in the ERP to sync over to Salesforce, making sure that your reps have the latest info and aren’t selling based on last month’s prices.
But you don’t want your core product information to be editable in Salesforce. It lives in your ERP, so if you also let people edit it in Salesforce, it’ll create a confusing system where changes bounce back and forth between the two platforms. Instead, keep it visible in Salesforce, but locked from any changes. That reinforces the idea that your ERP is the master of all pricing-related information.
3. Manage your Opportunity-to-Quote process in Salesforce
The general rule of thumb you’ll see here is that all of the financial information relating to the sales process needs to be in your ERP, but anything your sales reps need to view or report on should be in Salesforce.
So, you’ll want to run your entire sales process in Salesforce: from lead to opportunity to quote to sale. That will give your sales reps a complete view of their whole book of business to understand their next steps with each customer, no matter where they are in the deal cycle. It also provides your sales managers and executives with reporting on the entire pipeline and your sales forecast, enabling them to respond to fluctuations in either.
Some companies already have quoting functionality built into their ERP; they may be tempted to keep this legacy quoting tool. We advise against it, though. In Salesforce, Quotes and Opportunities sync back and forth to each other. Add in ERP quoting, and that means you’re building a confusing two-way integration involving three different records at a critical stage in the sales process. That kind of setup will lead to a whole bunch of tech and data headaches later on. Better to have your sales data sync back to your ERP at one well-defined point, after the sale is complete (read on).
4. Track all products used in Salesforce Opportunities and Quotes
Here’s where points 1 through 3 all tie together: While you’re tracking those deals in Salesforce, we strongly recommend associating the right products to each quote and opportunity as you go. If you’re using Salesforce CPQ for more advancing quoting, bundling and pricing, then using products is a must — they’re the basic building blocks of any CPQ quote.
But even if your team is just using standard Sales Cloud in Salesforce, pulling products into quotes and opportunities offers the following benefits:
- Automatic pricing calculation - Using products on an opportunity or quote lets Salesforce calculate the total price of that deal for you, based on the summed total of every product within it. This automatic calculation takes a lot of the guesswork and mental math out of quoting, saving your reps time and energy.
- Better sales reporting - Even without product tracking in Salesforce, you get pipeline and forecast reporting. With it though, your sales reps can also see product sales by segment, region, customer industry, you name it. This sort of reporting can make it much easier for your teams to understand which products to allocate and push where.
- Cross- and upselling opportunities - When your sales team has a complete database at their fingertips that helps them remember exactly which products each customer has bought most recently and further back in the past, that opens the door to countless selling chances. Your reps can identify the best cross-selling opportunities for each customer and approach them more seamlessly about upselling possibilities.
This information can empower your marketing team, too, to run tailored campaigns to customers who have Product A but not Product B. With all of these teams looking at the same customer data in Salesforce, they can stay consistent in their messaging to customers, driving higher conversion rates all along the pipeline.
- More responsive customer service - If your service team has Service Cloud, then product tracking in Salesforce leads to much better customer service. As soon as a rep picks up the phone, they can see exactly which products the customer already has. This lets the conversation get past fact finding and on to problem solving quicker, to the delight of the customer.
5. Once an Opportunity is won, send it to your ERP as an Order
Finally, it all comes full circle. The process starts in your ERP with your product information. And then, once the deal is done and the next steps are out of the hands of your sales team, the data should go back to your ERP. The closed deal stays in Salesforce, for accurate sales reporting, but the same information gets copied automatically over as an ERP order. That allows all of your back-office teams to respond appropriately to the new sale: Fulfillment can take action, Billing can invoice the customer and the ERP can tie out your inventory information automatically.
With these Salesforce-ERP integration best practices in place, you’ll get your entire sales process running as a complete loop through the two platforms. Your customer-facing teams can see all of the information they need to sell and serve clients better, while those in internal support roles have the back-end information they need to keep logistics, billing and fulfillment running smoothly.
Looking for more integration tips? Check out our on-demand webinar on how to handle your next Salesforce integration like an expert. It’ll give you the tools and understanding you need to figure out how to best approach any integration on your to-do list.