CRM Basics

What is CRM?

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What does CRM Stand For?

The CRM acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM is a software solution that brings together all of your customer’s information and interactions in one location. Having this data in a central repository allows your teams to have real-time information at their fingertips. CRM tools can increase productivity, improve customer relationships and drive more business to your bottom line.

What is the meaning of CRM?

The meaning of CRM originally dates back over 15 years ago to “Contact Management”. Contact management was a software product that allowed users to manually enter very basic contact information like names and addresses and track customer interaction like phones calls and visits. A lot of people called referred to contact management as an ‘automated Rolodex’ (you young kids may need to look up that word;).

Software companies started taking the concept of contact management and added more sales features and functionality (opportunity management, quotes and forecasts). As a result, the software industry started referring to these solutions as Sales Force Automation (SFA). This term didn’t stay around for long. Once SFA vendors started adding more functionality like marketing and customer support the industry changed the name to Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

What does a CRM system do?

A CRM system is often referred to as a ‘front office’ application. This means that it is a ‘customer facing’ application. Simply put, it’s an application used by people that deal directly (face-to-face) with their customers. People in your organization that have ongoing customer interaction. This would include sales reps, marketing, and customer service teams.  Enterprise CRM covers the entire life cycle of a customer. It starts while marketing to prospects and generating opportunities. Then, after closing the deal, your customer support helps with questions and issues. And then you start all over again with cross-selling and up-selling and marketing, and so on. If you and your company have done a great job, the cycle will continue to go on and on.

When CRM solutions are implemented and rolled-out correctly, companies will increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction whiling bringing more revenue to your bottom line. However, before implementing a CRM system, customers must look at their company’s vision statement. This includes going through your business processes. And then use workflow automation to install these processes into the CRM. The CRM needs to fit the business model instead of trying to fit your business into a CRM that’s not flexible to change to your needs. Using these processes leads to higher user adoption of the system.

Key Features of CRM

As mentioned earlier, the four key features of an enterprise CRM are contact (relationship) management, sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer service. The core database of a CRM is the relationship management database.

Relationship Management Database

The relationship database is a central repository that manages prospect and customer data. The software data is on a server at your site, “on-prem.” or hosted by a vendor “in the cloud” (see more details here). All conversations, tasks, and activities are with the contact and securely shared across your organization. This fosters collaboration between departments providing consistent messaging to your customers.

Sales Force Automation

Sales rep create and share opportunities in the sale force automation database. Sales management can view real-time sales forecasts and pipelines on dashboards and reports. Reps can create quotes using a product and services catalog and add contracts as well. Consequently, this provides a 360-degree view of all sales processes, activities and contact information.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is for prospecting and existing customers. You can create marketing campaigns with personalized emails with templates and tracked to see who has opened the emails and clicked the links. This helps the marketing teams know when a lead is qualified to pass to the sales team. And marketing teams can track the success of a campaign by following customers through the sales cycle. ROI can be quickly determined after each marketing campaign or event using the same types of metrics.

Custom Service/Ticketing System

Customer service features ensure customer satisfaction and retention. You are able to quickly respond to customers with more accurate information. U.S. companies lose half their customers every five years–see more here. It is much more difficult to capture new customers than it is to keep existing clients.

Key Benefits of CRM

The overall benefits of a CRM system are improving productivity, making your customers happy and increasing sales. These benefits are achieved by automating manual processes, having more customer interaction and solving issues more efficiently. Each can be achieved through the four key areas of CRM.

Relationship Management Database Benefits

360 degree view of your customers

Customer data shared throughout your organization

Task and activity notifications

Real-time access with mobile CRM

Sales Force Automation Benefits

Automated sales processes

Opportunity management

Up-selling opportunities

Sales Pipeline creation and real-time reports

Marketing Automation Benefits

Customized communications with prospects and customers

React when contacts engage with marketing data

Focus on quality leads

Constant communication and tracking engagement


Custom Service Benefits

Happier customers

Keep customers longer

Fast resolution to issues

Real-time escalation & notifications



Are you new to CRM? Or are you investigating an automated tool to replace your current method of managing customer information? Maybe you’re using your email or Excel spreadsheets to track customer information. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, a CRM is what you need to survive in today’s competitive marketplace.


The most successful companies today consistently demonstrate the ability to identify, understand and cater to the needs and demands of their customers. Your competitors most likely have translated the meaning of CRM for their customers…don’t be left behind! If your business needs a CRM system, regardless of your size, we’d love to help with your selection.

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