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What Does CRM Stand For? A Beginner’s Guide

What is CRM?


CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and there’s a lot to these three little letters. Organizations looking for CRM want to grow and need a software tool to help. However, there are a few things you should know before you begin shopping; keep reading to answer three questions:

  • What is CRM?
  • What is the difference between Contact Management systems and CRM systems?
  • What can’t CRM systems do?


CRM is…


You might be asking yourself, “What does CRM stand for?” CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. When people think CRM, they often think of technology and software systems, but that’s not the whole story.

Customer Relationship Management goes beyond technology – it’s the entire process of selling to, serving and supporting your customers.

CRM involves your entire organization – not just your sales team. With good management processes, you can build, maintain and grow outstanding customer relationships. While it starts with your sales team, it’s up to your entire organization to fulfill that promise.

CRM Systems are technologies that support customer relationship management. When these systems were first created, they were unwieldy beasts that only large enterprises could afford. Now there are many systems available with price tags and functionality appropriate for every size business.

Whether big or small, a good CRM system will help you do at least three things: centralize & share customer data, take action on that data and manage & report on customer data.

Centralize & Share Data


CRM systems allow you to collect information on your customers and prospects and house that information in a single location, a database. Data is no longer scattered on multiple sales rep’s spreadsheets and laptops, but rather centralized in one safe, secure location.

Perhaps more important than collecting the information is the ability to share information, which is essential for account management. Even simple CRM software supports businesses with multiple account managers – should one of those account managers be unavailable, customer orders and accounts can still be accessed by the rest of the team. The ability to share accounts is one of the primary reasons companies invest in a CRM system. It’s like Contact Management software on steroids, and we’ll talk more about contact management later.

Take Action on Customer Data


Once all your customer data is in one location, you will want to do something with that data. Some of the top tasks include sending email blasts, segmenting leads for marketing, tracking sales pipelines and scheduling follow-up calls. Many CRM systems can do much more, such as generate price quotes and manage sales activities for your team. With some systems you can even take lists of customers and plan sales routes.

Manage & Report


Finally, the best CRM systems make it easy for executives to access reports and manage employee activities. A CRM system can provide a 360-degree view into your business performance. You can analyze how many leads your sales team is contacting, the profitability of different customer segments, lead times for orders, length of sales lifecycles and track customer communications. Many systems allow you to view relevant data about your business in a variety of ways including Excel based reports and colorful dashboards.

Contact Management Systems are useful for a number of organizations. Contact management helps companies organize their information and communicate with customers. While that frequently means mass emails, these systems can support auto-dialing phone numbers and adding contact notes.For a great example of CRM features, check out the Features Guide for Claritysoft CRM

Contact Management Systems versus CRM Systems


The difference between Contact Management Systems and CRM systems is that CRM Systems tend to have more functionality. CRM Systems can store more information about account and purchase histories and provide greater detail for customer segmentation. CRM systems help you generate and manage price quotes, follow-up on leads and most importantly, manage sales team activities. In addition to greater day-to-day functionality, CRM Systems also provide more support for reporting and managing the sales pipeline.

Just because CRM systems do more, doesn’t mean they cost more. Depending on the size and needs of your organization, a CRM System may offer more functionality at a lower price.

What CRM systems Can’t do for you


According to Temkin’s 2014 Report, Comcast, Time Warner and AT&T all provide terrible customer service and they all have CRM systems. (www.temkinratings.com)

CRM systems do not fix bad customer service processes.

When it comes to managing customer relationships, smaller companies have the upper hand. A personal experience is often why customers choose smaller vendors over mega-suppliers. The challenge is to maintain that personal experience, even when you grow bigger. A CRM system can help you manage the information you need to take care of customers, but it’s not a substitute for providing great customer service. It comes down to treating customers the way they want to be treated, and that begins and ends with the people in your company.