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What is CRM?

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Are you sick and tired of having to put your customer details in multiple different places? Are you over losing customer information because you can’t remember which location you put it? Are you done with losing potential customers because you forget when you should follow up with them because your kid burned your calendar for fun?

You need a customer relationship management (CRM) system!

With three easy payments of $18.99, all your problems will be gone! Call the number on the screen to magically erase all the sales issues you’ve ever had and increase your leads by 5,000%!

what is crm copy

Ok, I’m kinda kidding.

A CRM probably won’t magically erase every sales problem you’ve ever had and it probably won’t increase your sales leads by 5,000%.

But if you’re having these problems, you DO need a CRM. And CRMs DO have an average ROI of $5.60 for every dollar you spend on them, so they’re still pretty magical.

But what is a CRM? What does it do? What does it stand for?

A CRM is a type of software that helps you, well, manage your relationships with customers.

The primary function of a CRM is to keep track of your customers and all their information in a single place. Thus, a customer’s name, phone number, address, email address, and notes on every single interaction your company has ever had with them can all be easily looked up. Additionally, CRMs have a functionality that allows you to input the dates you next want to contact a customer, and the software will alert you on that day.

That’s a really simple CRM, and for many young businesses, the extent of what you’ll need.

However, CRM can do a LOT more than just the basics. Many CRM tools integrate with accounting and email marketing solutions to allow you to easily track your clients’ payments, and send out email blasts and newsletters. A new feature of some CRMs is the ability to track clients on social media, so you can see everything they say about you and also track your interactions with them.

This type of CRM often goes by the acronym CXM (Customer eXperience Management). CXM is likely the future of CRM, given that nearly all businesses deal with their customers on multiple channels. CXM makes tracking social, email, phone, and website interactions much easier.

Ultimately, CRMs are an important tool for a company to have for a couple of reasons.

1. Sales people don’t have to track down all their customers across multiple platforms (Google calendars, spreadsheets, you know the deal), and they get alerts when they need to contact leads next.

2. CRM makes managing a sales team easier. (Spoiler: this is usually a reason sales people resist CRM implementation.) Managers can easily check in and make sure the sales team is keeping up with all possible leads.

3. CRMs are actually magnificent for your marketing team, too! It gives your marketing team a single location to find all the emails they need for their campaigns. Plus, if you get a solution that integrates with your email marketing or marketing automation solution, your marketing team may not even have to upload contact lists and whatnot. Major score!

More?

So that’s what CRMs are and can do for you in a nutshell. Check out a full listing of CRMs on the market now, and if you have any more questions, leave them below and I’ll answer them!

Looking for Customer Relationship Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Relationship Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Cara Wood

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Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.

Comments

I am quite new in the business world and I found your website very useful. I am going to give Hubspot a try.
My question is, would my information still be on my computer when I am offline?
Thank you,
Janine

Janine – Most solutions today, including Hubspot, are web-based, so you need a browser/internet access to actually use the CRM on a desktop. If you’re wondering about whether the solution works mobilely, though, I believe that Hubspot has an app, so you can use it on the go even without wi-fi, as long as you have data.

If for whatever reason, though, your company doesn’t have access to the internet, or consistent access, you probably will want to look into installed solutions.

Are all CRMs web-based ?

Giftson – While many CRMs are web-based, there are still some solutions which are installed on your computer and hosted by you. If safety is your concern, please be aware that web-based CRMs are incredibly safe and you and your clients’ information will be extremely secure.

Cara — Nice post.

I think CXM (though we are not really calling that yet) is already here. What we call CRM software today is more like Sales Force Automation software. The comprehensive CRM solution is already CXM, I should say.

You’re absolutely right that CRM can do so much more than just storing/tracking customer information, but it’s still somehow underutilized. I’d go as far as to say that in some cases (especially for B2B companies) a proper use of a CRM system can even reduce sales costs per new contracts. If you’re interested, I’ve tapped this topic and shared some of my thoughts on how a CRM can help generate more profit in B2B here: https://www.scnsoft.com/blog/b2b-crm-system-as-a-profit-generation-tool

Which solution gives the best document storage solution. I want to see quotes, contracts, reports etc for the customer in one place…

I run a fundraising program at a Charity in Sydney Australia and I am looking for ways to improve the way we do things by working smarter not harder.
I have had experience with CRM’s but in my previous role the system was designed internally.
In my opinion any business can benefit from using a decent CRM program.
As we are a small charity I need to watch very dollar I spend, so I am looking for a system that will help track activity, donations and mass emails out re upcoming events etc. I quite like the hubspot product from what I have read. Will that product do what I need?

Hi John!

CRM software could definitely work for you, and Hubspot is great. Check out my review of their CRM here.

However, since you’re a nonprofit, you may want to look into some nonprofit-specific software. My recommendation would be to start with donor management software.

Hi Cara!

First of all thank you for all these great articles, they are very helpful! I’ve been reading several and they are very comprehensive.

I’m having difficulty finding software for the business I want to setup. I need something that keeps all my customers into in one place and that also allows to create cases when customers call in, manage these cases, update them with resolutions, etc. My business will have customers paying through a website for the services with paypal or cards and after that they can call in for service, we would check if they have a paid order and if so help them with their issue. We would need to be able to create cases and close them if the issue is solved, if not leave them open for when they call again we can see what steps were taken.

I read the info on Hubspot’s page and was hoping this CRM was suitable since its cloud based (no issues with installing on own computers) and it allows for unlimited contacts and users, however; it seems like it’s sales focused and I didnt see anything on case management. Any suggestions on a free CRM that can do what I’m looking for?

Thanks so much in advance!

Julian, what you’re looking for is actually something different from CRM (though you may still want a CRM). You’re looking for customer service software, potentially more specifically, issue tracking software. I’m not an expert on this type of software, so I can’t offer much guidance, but let me direct you to our whole blog devoted to customer service software, as well as our directory of customer service software, which I’ve pre-filtered to show just the options with issue tracking.

Hello Cara;
I am looking for CRM that has got good integration with my LinkedIn contacts.
Can you give me any specific referral?

Hi Cara,

I’ve found the articles on your blog really useful as I try to get a good understanding of CRM and all the opportunities around it. You mention in this post the point about resistance to CRM implementation, which I’m seeing 1st hand in a medium sized company. Any thoughts on raising buy-in from all areas of the business – not just sales? We’re using MS Dynamics and a year in there is still difficulty in getting staff to consistently enter information against contacts!

Perhaps you find this a fairly common situation? What do you think the average success rate is in getting employees lined up to use their CRM tools?

Many thanks in advance.

Mark –

I’m not sure what your business does, but you have to prove to them that it’s worth their time to enter the contact information. If you’re asking people in your company to just enter information without explaining how it benefits someone else’s efforts, or their own, no one will ever use the system. Case in point: when I worked for a retailer, I used to actively avoid entering people into the CRM b/c not only did no one tell me what use it was, but it actually made ringing them up extensively longer. Sometimes it even made customers angry and leave without purchasing. So spend some time figuring out how to make the benefits clear to employees who don’t necessarily see the benefits first hand.

Hi Cara
i have been doing telesales from home, then a company asked me to use their CRM database, i am not brilliant with computers and in my fifties, i did for a month or so but no longer do any work for this particular company
Would like to learn more about CRM, how to use etc for free, which CRM would be best?mainly for telesales
Do you know of any companies who would like to use telesales in uk?
Regards
Linda

Hello Cara

I’ve read some of your CRM articles and wonder if you can help me. If you think that you can, but not through this mechanism, please advise if you are available on a consultation basis.

I am a 1-man business providing intellectual property (patents etc) consultancy services. I am also active in several other areas and run all from my main computer.

Back in 2000 I transferred my address book data to the Windows Address Book in Outlook 2000. As it grew quite rapidly, my computer professionals tried and failed to transfer the data to Outlook 2003 and then 2007. The groups would transfer in part or not at all.

My Address Book currently has about 14,000 contacts and 700 groups and I am painfully aware that my old Outlook 2000 system has been hanging by its fingernails for the past 10+ years. The several professionals that I have engaged to date have kept me going, but not solved the problem of what to do.

Could you help?

Regards

Derek Bernard

Hi Derek – I don’t consult, unfortunately, but it sounds to me like you need a CRM! Don’t be afraid to make the leap! It’s very worth it. I would look into Hubspot since you have so many contacts.

Hello Cara,

Thank you for your blogs and insights into CRM systems. They have given me a broader understanding of the capabilities available.

For the business I work for, we are looking for a system to keep track of customers and all their information in a single place. We want to log customer details plus notes on their business and interactions we have had previously. We would also like to have a place to store their requirements for the future. We don’t really need it for leads and marketing purposes other than mailing lists for future publications. Which system do you think would be best for us to look into using?

There are so many options out there that have far too many capabilities for what we are looking for, I am struggling to short list which ones would be worth looking further into.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Georgia

Hi Georgia!

I would recommend looking at Really Simple Systems or Capsule. Both are excellent for small users looking just to contact manage!

Cara:

Thank you for the wonderful articles. They have been very helpful and informative.
I am actively looking for a system I could streamline data entry. I have a small consulting business and we currently use Quickbooks for accounting and Outlook as our main sources of relationship management. We desperately need a system that could bring the data together so everyone can access the latest updates on the job, contact info, and scheduling. Ideally, a system that can help us keep track of time for billing purposes and that could easily be integrated with Quickbooks. During my search I was only able to find paid and expensive services. Is there anything on a budget that you could recommend for my needs? Also, how easy it is to move the data from one system to another?

I really appreciate your input.

Sincerely,

Catia

CRM is a necessary thing for a small business!

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