Find the best Distribution CRM
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Those in the distribution industry, like any other business, stand to benefit by using customer relationship management (CRM) software—through increased customer satisfaction and sales, for instance. Also, as in other industries, our research finds that distributors want a CRM tool that offers features relevant to their field.
For distributors, customer relationships are tied very closely to the products they distribute; they fall in between the customer and the manufacturer whose products they're distributing. That's why the CRM tool they use should not just let them manage customers but also the products flowing to them.
There are plenty of software vendors that are aware if this need, and thus build or modify CRM tools to suit distributors' unique requirements.
In this buyer's guide, we'll look at the core features of distribution CRM software and what you should know before making a purchase.
Here's what we'll cover:
What is a distribution CRM?
A distribution CRM is a software tool for managing customers as well as products in a centralized location. This type of software comes with monitoring and reporting functionalities that help distributors manage customer information, track product orders, generate invoices/quotes, and automate marketing efforts.
Tracking prospects, invoices, and payments in bpm'online
Common features of distribution CRM
Distribution CRMs offer certain common functionalities that cater to a wide range of distribution businesses: food distribution, consumer packaged goods, fuel delivery, and so on.
Let's look at these functionalities more closely.
Create a centralized database of customer data such as shipping address and phone number.
Track communications with contacts via multiple channels, such as emails, chat conversations, and phone calls.
Capture and store details of potential clients, in a central location, and track their conversions.
Allow sales representatives to automatically generate price quotes of products for customers.
Order and invoice management
Process orders and create invoices using shipping and billing details.
Keep inventory records based on item size, color, and other attributes. Monitor stock levels.
Track how items are arranged and stored in the warehouse and optimize their storage for quick order processing.
Create and monitor tasks that sales agents need to complete as customers move along the sales pipeline.
Store and track documents, such as bills of material, product quotes, and invoices in a centralized location.
Reporting and analytics
Monitor and analyze the performance of your sales team with detailed reports and analytical dashboards.
What type of buyer are you?
The right distribution CRM depends on the size and specific requirements of your business.
Here are three common types of distribution CRM buyers and their chief concerns:
Small and midsize businesses (fewer than 1,000 employees): These buyers typically have limited budgets for software. As a result, they're primarily concerned with a solution's pricing. This makes cloud-based CRM tools preferable over on-premise tools, as cloud-based deployment requires significantly lower upfront investment.
Large enterprises (more than 1,000 employees): These buyers need a tool with advanced functionalities. Enterprise resource planning software that offers CRM as a built-in module is a viable option for these buyers. ERP tools typically also offer accounting and project management functionalities; this can serve cross-functional needs by allowing teams to use a single solution to manage different business processes.
Best-of-breed buyers: These buyers could belong to either of the above categories. They are typically looking to solve a specific business need with software. For instance, a wholesale distributor that wants software primarily to process customer orders more quickly might need distribution inventory management software, instead of a CRM tool. Likewise, if you're looking to improve after-sales customer service, you might go for help desk software, which is a part of the larger family of CRM solutions.
To choose the right manufacturing CRM for your business, you must take into account factors such as total cost and integration requirements.
Let's look at these more closely:
Total cost of software: Understanding the total cost of software means looking beyond its procurement cost (usually a one-time license fee for on-premise and a recurring subscription for cloud-based solutions). Businesses also need to account for costs incurred during installation, customization, maintenance and support, data migration, training, and so on.
Integration requirements: As you evaluate options, you need to consider a CRM's ability to integrate with the tools you already use, or intend to use. This will ensure seamless data flow between otherwise disparate tools, reducing effort and errors due to manually copying and pasting data, and should also speed up processes. Email marketing, project management, and help desk software solutions are some popular integration options.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.