What is CRM?

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: September 09, 2011

What is CRM?

CRM (also known as Customer Relationship Management) is two separate things: a popular business strategy and a type of software. This article will focus on CRM software and how it can help a small business.

CRM software is a tool that helps a small business to manage its customer information. It keeps tracks of names, phone numbers, email addresses, demographics, and products that each person has purchased. This may sound similar to contact management software, but CRM is much more focused on organizing and selecting contacts out of the customer database for different purposes.

CRM has many potential advantages for a small business. First and foremost is better customer service – you can maintain customer profiles that allow you to personalize relationships with individuals. CRM can also increase company revenue since the software makes sure that your marketing campaigns are targeting people who do not already own the product.

Another benefit of CRM is that it can help a business to find new customers. The software keeps track of who is buying what, and you can look at their profiles and see if there are any shared commonalities. It could be that college students or buying a certain product, or middle-aged businessmen. You can then adjust your marketing strategy to target people who are part of the same demographics in the future.

CRM also tends to come with a common set of useful features. This includes the ability to generate leads, track opportunities, and automate workflow capabilities. Most CRM software also has strong reporting capabilities that can provide a quick snapshot of what is going on at any particular time. In addition, many CRM solutions come with collaboration tools that can help to facilitate discussions between employees at your company.

CRM used to be too expensive for most small businesses to purchase. The systems could easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and this didn’t include factors like setup and training. A large number of affordable solutions have appeared in the enterprise marketplace over the last few years, however, putting it within reach of most companies and organizations.

One of the main reasons for the drop in price is the switch from premise-based CRM to cloud-based CRM. The premise-based systems required expensive hardware to be installed in the office, while the cloud-based systems simply require each computer to download a software application. The company simply pays a monthly fee and gains a variable level of access to the CRM solution.

Featured Research
  • The Social Intranet: A guide to getting better business results

    This whitepaper describes why the shift from a traditional to a social intranet is imperative to staying competitive, and analyzes the costs and benefits associated with implementing one. You will also find useful KPIs to measure performance and further leverage your intranet's success, raising employee engagement and boosting your competitive advantage. more

  • The New 2016 SMB CRM Comparison Guide

    Selecting a CRM system is not easy. That's why our CRM expert has compiled this new SMB CRM comparison guide to provide you with the information you need on the top 40 CRM software solutions available on the market. more

  • How to Get the Most out of CRM

    Studies suggest that 63% of CRM projects fail. But your business doesn’t have to be among the failures. You can see ROI on your investment in CRM by implementing an effective plan. more

  • CRM on a Budget in 2017

    With some businesses spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on CRM, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need a hefty budget in order to purchase a quality CRM solution. Not so. more

  • 2017 CRM Buyer's Guide

    Customer Relationship (CRM) software has become one of the most important business tools in today’s world. By allowing you to better connect with new and existing customers, CRM is an indispensable tool for sales teams and customer service teams alike. But with so many choices available, it can be difficult to decide on a solution. more