What is CRM?

A definition of CRM
and why it's so important for your business.

What is CRM?

CRM is an abbreviation and means Customer Relationship Management and refers to a software system used to build and manage customer relationships.

CRM software helps businesses manage all of their interactions with their existing and potential customers. With a CRM platform, customer details and preferences are recorded and customer activity is tracked. This means customers receive a fully personalized and consistent experience every time they engage with a business.

CRM software also helps organizations streamline their processes and workflows so that every part of the business is on the same page. Sales and marketing teams, especially, rely on CRM to create collaboration and improve their productivity.

The overall aim of a CRM software is to provide more engaging customer experiences, increase customer loyalty and retention and drive business growth and profitability.

Check out this brief video to learn more

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What is the meaning of CRM?

When you hear people talk about CRM, they might refer to the overall strategy of customer relationship management, which typically includes goals to increase sales and profitability, create long-lasting relationships with customers and increase customer retention. The CRM strategy focuses on putting customer needs first and delivering a superior, more personalized customer experience.

On the other hand, people will often use ‘CRM’ when referring to the technology or platform, which helps to optimize sales and business processes by storing and organizing all of the customer, lead and prospect information in one place as well as tracking all customer communications and interactions.

What can a CRM system do?

CRM software maintains and manages data obtained from multiple sources and touchpoints, including email, a company website, sales rep data entry, live chat, telephone and social media, etc.

It’s a database that stores customer-specific details like buying history, specific wants and needs, purchasing preferences and financial demographics, thereby creating a holistic view of the customer and promoting more engaging and consistent interactions.

Some other features include:

  • Reporting and dashboards: A CRM provides its users with the ability to visualize important trends and business metrics.

  • Sales management: With a CRM software, a business can track its sales process from the initial lead, or prospect stage, to becoming an opportunity, all the way through to the final order conversion stage.

  • Marketing campaign management:  A CRM software allows you to manage campaigns from start to end by using automated workflows wherever necessary.

  • Service management:  CRM software manages service delivery from pre-purchase to contract delivery and renewal, whether your service is preventative or reactive, and delivered on site or remotely.

  • Insights generation: A CRM tool can also analyze and let you better understand large amounts of data to facilitate forecasting, personalize touchpoints and generate actionable insights.

In addition to enabling a business to optimize its customer relationship management, a CRM also helps in:

  • Increasing revenues by increasing sales opportunities:  A sales CRM software provides an organization with information and insights it can use to identify more sales opportunities.

  • Segment customers with ease: A CRM allows you to profile your customers based on purchase indicators like history, demographics, engagement and level of interest etc. for customization of touchpoints and communications.

  • Cross-departmental alignment: A CRM system helps in aligning your marketing customer service and sales teams, which creates collaboration and harmony within the workforce and increases productivity.

How do I choose a CRM system?

Selecting a CRM solution that fits your needs (and your wallet) can be tough. Before you invest in a particular system, it’s important to be clear about your priorities, IT competence, and budget right from the start. Our free CRM guide will help you find the right CRM product for your business.

Why is CRM important?

The customer base of a business is one of its biggest assets, if not THE biggest. Therefore, this asset deserves tight management and oversight, and may require a CRM as tracking and managing existing and potential customer interactions become more challenging when businesses grow. For example, at some point during your business growth, you might ask yourself: Who are my customers? What do they need? When was the last time we interacted with them? Is our sales pipeline healthy? Are customers engaging with our content?

You may find that your customers and prospects may start to wander off and that they aren’t satisfied with merely a high-quality service or product. They need to feel engaged, and they want a business to give them the respect and personalized experience that makes them feel like they belong.

With CRM software, you are able to ensure that you establish long-term customer relationships by knowing every detail about your customers, including their needs, preferences and behaviors, at all times. Satisfied and engaged customers are more likely to return to your company for additional purchases and to recommend your products or services to their friends and families.

Not sure if your business needs a CRM system? Check out these ten signs you might need a CRM.

A survey conducted on Act! customers revealed that 75% of users believe that their CRM software helped them grow their business1.

What are the benefits of CRM?

Collaborate through integration

Integrating data from different functions of a business helps you maximize effectiveness through collaboration. For example, potential customer contact details can be ‘pushed’ from lead capture forms on your website, into ‘hot lead’ action lists in your CRM solution – maximizing collaboration between marketing and sales.
Manage pipeline effectively

By being able to visualize your sales pipelines, you can see exactly which deal needs your immediate attention and which deal has gone stale. By periodic monitoring of deals that pass through your pipeline, you can identify areas of concern and eliminate them, ensuring a clog-free pipeline at all times. Additionally, your marketing and sales team are better connected, ensuring your sales pipeline is always filled with high-quality leads.
Automate for maximum productivity

Businesses often execute various processes every day that consist of a series of redundant tasks carried out by multiple users. A CRM system can help you automate those processes to save time and drive consistency. You can automate tasks such as scheduling follow-up activities, sending email campaigns, or assigning contacts to a new sales rep. This way, you can make sure all your team members are following the same process from start to finish, and you eliminate the need for repetitive manual work.

Engage to build lasting customer relationships

In the modern technological world, a customer expects a lot more from a company than just a reasonably-priced, high-quality product or service. They want to feel understood, and they want to have an engaging, personalized experience whenever they get in touch with the company or vice versa. A CRM captures and stores every customer’s journey from the start to the very end. By knowing their preferences, you can understand their needs, and by eventually giving them what they need, you get their loyalty in return.

Improve customer experience with shared information

For example, if a customer experiences a problem with your product, multiple teams can work together to solve the issue. While your technical support team is fixing the issue, the customer service team can communicate the solution to the customer and provide further assistance. At the same time, the marketing team can adapt their messaging.

Increase revenues

A CRM helps you improve levels of customer satisfaction, and retention – happy and long-term customers entail increased revenues. It also lets you save a lot of time by automating essential business tasks and promoting collaboration between different business functions. These time savings and productivity gains enable you to lower costs. Lastly, with a CRM system, you can create targeted marketing campaigns so that you can reach out to the right people at the right time and increase sales.

Which business functions need a CRM system?

Marketing

Marketing efforts are not just about creating the perfect campaign; they are also a lot about reaching out to the right people. CRM system paired with email marketing lets marketers divide a customer base into segments and send customized messages to every segment.

Marketing teams benefit from improved lead management. Lead capture forms on your website can be integrated into your customer relationship management software and passed onto sales for follow up.

Since all of the customers’ activity is tracked in the software, marketing can gain valuable and real-time insights into their behavior.

Sales

With CRM technology, sales can streamline the whole sales process and shorten the sales cycle. By visualizing the sales pipeline, your sales reps can identify new leads and the deals that require immediate attention and focus on the most valuable opportunities.

They can schedule calls, follow-ups and meetings and take notes and send invoices. Additionally, you can run sales reports and sales leads forecasts to track all sales activities and review performance.

Customer Service

Using a CRM software helps you store customer preferences and track all activities associated with them. If a customer tells you that they don’t want to receive weekly email updates, you can simply check a box in the CRM, and the emails will stop.

You can manage and monitor any post-sale interactions in the CRM software and share important updates with sales or marketing, enabling the functions to collaborate and address potential issues and provide solutions faster.

Want to see a CRM system in action?

Try Act! free for 14 days. Sign up for a free trial and experience the power of CRM and Marketing Automation in one.

What makes Act! unique?

Act delivers modern and innovative software and services, purpose-built for the unique needs of today’s small businesses and is a recognized leader in the small business segment for solutions that drive customer acquisition and retention.

Act! software is an all-in-one customer relationship management and e-marketing tool that allows small businesses to capture and manage contacts, activities and calendars from one place and includes built-in, intuitive marketing features like plug-n-play email templates and campaigns.

With Act! you can:

  • Organize prospect and customer engagements
  • Simplify and automate your day-to-day tasks
  • Create targeted promotions and personalized follow-up communications
  • Work on-the-go
  • Select the tier of features and functionality that best fit your business
  • Expand functionality as your business grows
Moving to a Cloud solution?

Learn more about Cloud computing solutions and download our free guide ‘Moving to a Cloud solution: 35 questions for you and your vendor’.

Who invented CRM?

Pat Sullivan and Mike Muhney released the first-ever CRM in 1987 by the name of ACT!. It was essentially a digital Rolodex that enabled its users to organize and store customer lifecycle information effectively.

In the 80’s, a lot of the features that CRM software systems have today didn’t exist yet. Act! made the development community realize the possible benefits of a software with scalability that harnesses the power of customer information to help a business manage its relationships better.

At the time, the term “CRM” did not exist. It was only in the 90’s that people started to use it, after features like sales automation, enterprise resource planning, and marketing capabilities complemented the contact management features of the software.

Wrapping up

Here’s a quick summary of what you should know about CRM:

  • Definition of CRM: CRM is an abbreviation for Customer Relationship Management and refers to software used to build and manage customer relationships.
  • CRM software: CRM software is a technology, which stores and organizes businesses’ information about all of their customers, leads and prospects in one place.
  • Importance of CRM : With a CRM software, a business ensures that it establishes long-term relationships with its customers and streamlines processes to improve customer service, and drive business growth and profitability.
  • Benefits of CRM: Building lasting customer relationships, streamlining and automating processes, creating better collaboration and communication, better pipeline management, and increased revenues are many of the benefits of a CRM.
  • Who needs a CRM? Sales, marketing, and customer service teams, as well as small business owners benefit from leveraging the power of a CRM..
  • On-premise vs. Cloud CRM: A Cloud CRM is a CRM software that uses Cloud computing technology to host the CRM application. A traditional CRM software hosts customer data on a server.
  • History of CRM: Pat Sullivan and Mike Muhney released the first-ever CRM in 1987 by the name of ACT!.