BI vs CRM: Which should come first?

Submitted on: Wed, 12.03.2014 10:49pm - Marie Haydock |


There are benefits to using both a business intelligence (BI) solution and a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. I’m personally a big advocate for both.

But which solution should you implement first?

I’ve implemented both CRM systems and BI solutions at hundreds of companies.  The impact each of them have on a company can be profound.  Whether you implement one or the other first really comes down to your goals for the company.  If it’s to have the strongest impact on profitability, then wholesale distributors need to first implement a good BI solution.  If profitability is already optimized and the goal is to fine tune the sales process, then implementing a CRM system would be a good choice.

To further explain the difference, implementing a CRM system truly can get the 20%+ increase in sales that many CRM companies claim.  Spoiler alert: companies that see that kind of result are ones that have a very simple sales process focused on one-time sales to new customers, and are usually in the service/consulting industry.  In those types of organizations, there’s low overhead costs and the only metrics the company tracks are the sales metrics.  So absolutely, if you diligently track them through a CRM system that also provides some tools for sales reps to more consistently stay on task with their follow-ups you’ll see a strong positive impact on the bottom line from the use of a CRM system.

I’ve found that wholesale distributors don’t see those dramatic increases in profitability from using a CRM system alone.  That’s because wholesale distribution is a complex business model with high overhead costs, many types of metrics, and a strong emphasis on management of existing relationships with customers and manufacturer’s reps. The biggest impact to profitability for distributors most often comes from implementing a good BI solution.  Just focusing on the sales piece with a CRM solution doesn’t have a strong impact on the business as a whole.

With a BI solution, there’s so much more that you can better understand and make decisions on that will impact profitability, from better managing your inventory to tracking pricing.   We have customers that directly attribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in profitability to using MITS Distributor Analytics.  Check out our ROI calculator to estimate the impact BI could have on your company.  Insert just 3 variables to see--with your own data--what you can expect from implementing a BI solution like MITS.

Have more questions about BI vs CRM? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.