Given that an ERP system often includes a CRM and possibly SCM features as well (like Blue Link ERP), it likely makes sense to go for ERP first. ERP software is often the backbone system that others are built off-of, so that is another reason to go for ERP first.
Think of what application will form the primary backbone of your operations and implement that first. For most businesses that should be ERP.
I am a bit biased towards sales growth so you'll have to forgive me up front regarding my answers. I've been in business growth consulting for 15 years in the small to medium and start up company phases.
Most companies can start and will start with some type of accounting platform. After all you must bill for your goods and have a place to do inventory. Having stated that, this is not the most important system to have. You can get quickbooks or peachtree type program to do this if you don't have one. The only take back I will have on this statement, is if you are a manufacturer that has to build from materials your product to go to market requiring you to have deeper program to manage goods, labor, parts, shipping, and so on.
This basic set up is a necessity to get started, not a business tool or driver of business for you. A CRM however, is a business driver and income generator. You must have a place to qualify, quantify, and justify your dollars in sales activities while at the same time having a database to records calls and history on your customer and lead base. If all personnel have the same information and have history on every call, you have the appearance and professionalism of a much larger organization.
It's imperative to have your sales methodologies mapped out and a plan on how you are going to tackle your market. Without a CRM solution in place the cost of starting up can be catastrophic. I'll explain.
You will have to either do your own sales or hire sales people. This cost is usually more than what most realize. What is your daily run rate for cost of operation? Most companies I've dealt with over my tenure have their overhead close to 70% or more tied up in salaries, wages, and benefits. Having said that, most companies you will do business with also have similar metrics making relationships and knowledge a key factor in doing business both internally and externally. To fail to document your sales process (external relationships) puts the control of your business into the hands of either your employees or theirs. If you cant monitor the sales process, you cant measure it, if you cant measure it, you cant meet a goal. No goals, no company.
The types of metrics my clients want to know about you cant do in an excel spreadsheet.
List key and target accounts strategies
When were each of them contacted last and by who?
since the last sales visit how many orders did we get? (easy)
since the last sales visit how many quotes did we give where we didnt get the order?
If an order is lost, who did we lose it to and why?
How is this data shared internally with the team? and what best practices against competition is being put in place?
How is the funnel being filled?
a goal for your company is calculated this way
Goal+ base business + opportunities x their close ratio
meaning how many leads does it take to get a sale? in what territory, what product line, by which sales person
do we have enough loaded into the funnel to meet our goals by company, sales person, territory, product line?
In a nutshell. More sales is the answer to any growth problem in a company. Sell more, get more equipment to enable you to sell more. Sell more to hire better caliber of employee or more employees to enable you to sell more.
So my answer to your question is CRM but not just a CRM a strategic selling model that fits how you go to market. good luck in your search and feel free to email me at any time for more information.