CRM Basics

What is the meaning of CRM?

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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 does CRM mean?

The meaning of CRM dates back over twenty years ago to a system called, “Contact Management”. Contact management was a simple tool that allowed users to enter and track basic customer information. Salespeople referred to contact management as an “automated Rolodex”.
Software companies took the concept of contact management and added sales functionality. Businesses were able to start tracking all sales-related activities like opportunities, quotes, etc.
The software industry started referring to these solutions as Sales Force Automation (SFA). This term didn’t stay around for long. When SFA vendors added more features (like marketing and customer support), the name changed to Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
What does a CRM system do?
A CRM system is a ‘front office’ application. Front office applications are defined as ‘customer-facing’ solutions. Simply put, it’s an application used by employees dealing directly (face-to-face) with their customers. These team members have ongoing customer interaction. This would include sales reps, marketing, and customer service teams. 
CRM solutions cover the entire life cycle of a customer. It starts with marketing to prospects and generating opportunities. After closing the deal, your customer support team helps with questions and issues. And then you start all over again with cross-selling and up-selling. If your company does a great job during this process, the cycle will continue to go on and on.
When CRM solutions are implemented correctly, companies will increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and bring more revenue to the bottom line. But, before installing a CRM system, companies must look at their business processes. Automating these processes leads to higher user adoption of the system.
Your CRM needs to fit your business model instead of trying to force your business into a CRM solution. The system needs to be flexible enough to meet your needs.

Key Features of CRM

The four key features of any Enterprise CRM:

1. Relationship Managaement

2. Sales Force Automation

3. Marketing Automation

4. Customer Service & Ticketing System

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 communication fosters collaboration between departments providing consistent messaging to your customers.

Sales Force Automation

Sales rep create and share opportunities in the sales 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 used 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 respond to customers with more accurate information quickly. U.S. companies lose half their customers every five years. 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 solution 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 are more than likely using a CRM for their customers…do not be left behind! If your business needs a CRM system, regardless of your size, we’d love to help with your selection. Give us a call at 972.304.7100 or see a quick overview of our system here.




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