CRM Basics

What is CRM?

Are you new to CRM? Are you investigating an automated tool to replace your current method of managing your contacts, activities, sales and customer service information? Maybe you’re using your email system or Excel spreadsheets to track and record important 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.

What does CRM Stand For?

CRM is an acronym that stands for Customer Relationship Management. Companies have contemplated the meaning of CRM for their own business for years and defined in many different ways. Over 15 years ago, CRM software was known as ‘Contact Management’. It had only the core functionalities of a relationship management tool. A lot of people called it an ‘automated Rolodex’ (you young kids may need to look up that word;). Software companies started adding on more sales features and the name changed to SFA which is an acronym for Sales Force Automation. And shortly after SFA, the software industry came up with the name, CRM.

What does a CRM system do?

A CRM system is known as a ‘front office’ application. This means that it is a ‘customer facing’ application. Simply put, it’s an application that is used by people that deal directly with their customers. This would include sales reps, marketing, customer service and management teams that cover those areas of the business. Enterprise CRM covers the entire life cycle of a customer. It starts with a prospect, you will market to them and generate opportunities and close the deal. The prospect becomes a customer who will go to your customer support team with questions and issues.  Next, you continue to market to your customers with cross-selling and up-sell opportunities. If you and your company have done a great job. The cycle will continue to go on and on.

When implemented correctly, CRM solutions will increase productivity and improve customer satisfaction while bringing more revenue to your bottom line. Before implementing a CRM solution, you must look at your company’s vision statement and business processes. Take these internal processes and use workflow features to automate and install them into the CRM software. The CRM needs to fit the business model instead of trying to fit your business into a CRM that’s not flexible enough to change to your needs. Using these processes leads to higher user adoption of the system.

Key Features of CRM

As mentioned before, the four key features of CRM, are contact or relationship management, sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer service. The core of a CRM is the relationship management database. It is a central repository that manages prospect and customer data on a web-based server platform (located on-prem or hosted by a vendor in the cloud–see more details here). All conversations, tasks and activities are stored in the client or future customer record and securely shared across your organization. This fosters collaboration between departments providing consistent messaging to your customers

Sales force automation is where opportunities are created and shared so sales managers can view real-time sales forecasts and pipelines on dashboards and reports. Quotes can be generated with a product and services catalog and then contracts can be developed as well. All this information is also stored in the customer record, providing a 360-degree view of all sales processes, activities and contact information.

Marketing automation is used for both prospects and existing customers. Personalized emails are created 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 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 these types of metrics.

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.


The most successful companies today consistently demonstrate the ability to identify, understand and cater to the needs and demands of their customers. by understanding the definition of CRM. Your competitors most likely have translated the meaning of CRM for their customers…don’t be left behind!

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