What is CRM? Why Should you use it? Definition and Examples

CRM is an abbreviated term for Customer Relationship Management. Customer Relationship Management(CRM) is the process that would help an organization or a business to understand the relationship between customer and their business through information from past recorded data. Additionally, this would help you to improve your organization with time and attract more customers towards it. 

It would basically help a business to generate leads, improve customer satisfaction and even generate profits. It’s essential for your organization to focus on its target audience and their needs in order to sustain itself. CRM would analyze the data and study the potential customers in-depth and generate suggestions for improvement of your organization. 

With the advancement in technology, there is also a change in CRM. Earlier it was mainly focused on the improvement of customer satisfaction. But now it’s more of a business strategy and an essential part of today’s business.

CRM is not only based on sales and profit but it’s a strategy to build and maintain relationships with the customer or any other colleagues resulting in better business. There are many benefits and various approaches to CRM strategies.

What is CRM?

CRM manages your company relationship not only with your customers but also with your colleagues, employees, or any other organization you are working with. Its main motive is to help you to identify your potential customers and improve sales. Furthermore, it not only focuses on sales but also comes up with lead generation, improves marketing, and you can use CRM with other business parts also.

More often, when people talk about it they refer to the CRM systems, a tool that helps your company with the workflow, customer records, sales management, profitability, and much more. CRM is the strategy that would help to process customer data and keep your company updated with all the records. 

CRM lets you store all of your customer data collected from various fields, later analyzing them and providing you with better insights into it. It suggests ideas through which you can market your business and attract more customers or gain back the lost customers. 

CRM consists of a dashboard where all of the business data, insights, and suggestions are displayed, all in one place. This makes it easy to view all those complex information in one place.

History of CRM

CRM is a new term but its concept is ancient enough. In the early 1970s, customer feedback and satisfaction were collected through surveys or front-line asking. With a rise in technology, these data were then stored in flat records like spreadsheets and lists. This can be good enough for small businesses but as the business grows, all of this data needs to be stored in a single place to find out various relationships between them.

The concept of database marketing was then introduced by Kate and Robert D. Kestenbaum in 1982. After that in the late 1980s ACT was introduced by Pat Sullivan and Mike Muhney which offered a digital contact management service. All of the companies adapted to it and tried to maximize their leads’ potential.

In 1993, Tom Siebel left Oracle and designed the first CRM product Siebel Systems. Seeing the growth of these platforms the established enterprise resource planning software companies like Oracle and SAP started embedding CRM modules in their ERP.

SugarCRM developed the first-ever open-source CRM system in 2004. It was then accessible to entrepreneurs and as well as small teams due to its rapid migration into the cloud. There were a lot of changes in it in the last half-decade and until present-day CRM solutions continue to adapt new features.

Why do businesses choose a CRM system?

Business automation has increased drastically over the past few years. CRM can be very useful to cope with this increase in business automation as the best technological asset that a company can invest in is these platforms. It easily integrates with all the other software that your company uses and provides better visualization of your company.

The software can collaborate all your data streams into one whether it may be customer information or sales data and generate useful business information from it. This business information gained from the raw data would help you in identifying business areas that need improvement in work. Moreover, it represents this information in a visual format that is easy for you and your business to understand better.

Your company might have the vision and mission planned but keeping track of it is also essential to sustain over time. CRM would cover every aspect of your business clearing out your way towards your company’s goals.

CRM systems cut down a lot of human work resulting in an error-free and better quality of work. This would also speed up work and give you the entire control over it. It helps your business to cope with all the current market trends.

Advantages of using a CRM

CRM benefits your business to a greater extent if implemented properly. Ideally, it helps your business to improve relationships with existing customers, convert leads into customers and also gain back former customers. A CRM system is helpful for both small and large companies.

The main advantages of a CRM for businesses are better customer service, increase customer revenue, increases automation, simplified sales, and marketing processes, data-driven decisions, team collaboration, cost-cutting, and so on.

On the other hand, this software is also beneficial for your customers as it would improve customer satisfaction and experience, end-to-end communication, and better reach.

What Are the Different Types of CRMs?

Now, you might have had a basic idea of what CRM is. So let’s get deep into understanding the aspects and objectives on basis of which Customer Relationship Management systems are developed.

CRM systems are built to meet the changing requirements of your business and improve them. Therefore, there are various objectives that are kept in mind while developing this software. You can choose a CRM that matches most of your business requirements.

We have different CRM systems available according to the size of customer data, speed of business operations, or changes in the customer. They are classified on the basis of their prominent features as below:

  • Operational CRMs
  • Analytical CRMs
  • Collaborative CRMs
  • Campaign Management CRMs
  • Strategic CRMs

Operational CRMs

Every company has service, sales, and marketing departments to work on a particular product with customer interaction. An operational CRM assembles all of these sales, service, and marketing components of the company and aligns its goals.

This alignment in the departments of an organization helps to automate the business improving customer satisfaction and saving on labor.

Basically, operational CRM streamlines the customer interaction with service, sale, and marketing automation making it perfect for customer-facing functions. The main components of operational CRM are as below:

Service Automation

Every customer interaction gives you an opportunity to satisfy your customers and grow your business. Operational CRM can be of great help in automating these customer interactions. Your customers can gain your support through email, phone, FAQs, live chat tools, and more within minutes.

Sales-Force Automation

This department stores all the information from the first contact to converting potential leads into customers. They store all the information related to company sales. It eliminates redundant efforts from the company towards the customers by keeping track of both and even keeps track of follow-ups.

Marketing Automation

The goal of your marketing team is to convert leads into a customer by providing them with the right information and a buying environment. By automating the marketing with operational CRM,  the marketing team can save time on some repetitive tasks like sending promotional emails or posting on social media. This improves the overall marketing workflow making it more effective.

Analytical CRMs

Analytical Customer Relationship Management helps you to work smarter. It provides a structure to business decision-making and sets long-term goals. Precise and more suitable decisions can be made for your business through insights provided by analytical CRM.

Analytical CRM works behind the screen with zero customer interaction. It collects all the business data generated by your business from various sources, analyses it, and provides you useful insights into it. The data sources can be social media, face-to-face conversations, feedback forms, purchase records, and so on.

Data mining techniques are used to analyze the data, identifying patterns in it. Analytical CRM collates this data in one place making it easy for you to understand your customers. You can then streamline current sales, future trends, or any other task that might need improvement.

Basically, analytical systems make your data work for you providing you with valuable insights. The various analytical CRM available in the market is Salesforce Einstein, HubSpot CRM, and Zoho Analytics. These analytical systems work best with collaborative and operational CRM.

Collaborative CRMs

Collaborative CRM facilitates communication throughout your entire team and even with external stakeholders. Its main focus is on improved customer experience. To execute it collaborative CRM gives a platform for all of your colleges to communicate and receive customer data. Through this everyone can keep track of customer data and therefore your entire team will be on the same page.

For example, a customer contacts the service team to complain about a product and your service team would resolve their issue. Then the customer would like to buy a new product and would contact the marketing team for the same.

The marketing team without knowing the experience of the customer with your product would sell the same product that the customer faced the issue with. Thus, the customer won’t be satisfied with your company this way which would result in the loss of a customer.

This issue can be eliminated with the use of Collaborative CRM as it allows your entire team to communicate on the same platform and receive the customer data. Through this everyone would know the customer well and would be able to satisfy them completely.

Some examples of collaborative CRM are Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP Business One, Pipeliner CRM, and many others.

Campaign Management CRMs

Campaign Management CRM gives you the ability to run all your marketing campaigns from your CRM directly. Here you can even group multiple sub-campaign stages and also track your success rate.

To launch a new product or improve sales of a particular product, a company executes some campaigns. These campaigns would help your company to generate leads and even increase sales. As all companies are digitalized, their marketing strategies are even digitized.

Campaign Management CRM provides the facility to manage your campaigns digitally. It also supports email marketing campaigns and various other campaigns like google ads along with traditional campaigns. It saves human efforts by letting you segment the database and even track customer engagement.

You can easily optimize sales and profit by keeping track of the campaign spend versus the campaign success rate. Agile CRM and Really Simple Systems CRM are quite famous Campaign Management CRM.

Strategic CRMs

Strategic CRM is a customer-centric CRM type where the customer comes first. The business constantly tries to understand the customer and improve accordingly. The businesses not adapting strategic CRMs might lose customers to the companies excelling in strategic CRMs.

Strategic CRM collects knowledge about their customers and uses it to improve company interactions with them for long-term relationships. They believe that satisfied customers buy more frequently.

They understand the customer thoroughly, ask for their feedback, and also keep a record of the follow-ups to satisfy their customers to the fullest. Strategic CRM knows who its target audience is and generates leads from that target audience only. So their chances to convert those leads into potential customer increases.

Strategic CRM believes in long-term relationships with its customers.

Key features of the CRM system

Lead management

The use of this software for your company not only helps you to generate leads but also helps you to manage those leads. It provides you with all the useful information required to convert those leads into potential customers. It also guides you out to assign leads to increase the chances of potential leads

Contact Management

The software stores customer contacts in a much-organized way. This would help you to figure out when to reach which customers. CRM would keep track of your past interactions, the best time to reach your customer as well as the preferred communication platform for your customer

Deal Management

We get to learn from every unsuccessful deal also. This software records all the information for the current, past, and future deals. It suggests improvements needed on the failed deals. It pipelines the deals according to their current stage and calculates the chances of winning the deal.

Email Management

This software lets you take complete hold of your email management and saves a lot of your time on it. You can manage your customers’ interaction with your company through emails. They also remind and keep a record of all the follow-ups by analyzing the response emails.

Sales Automation

To increase the sales of your company, you would want your sales team to spend more time selling and less time on other work. Sales management tools will help you to automate these mundane tasks. These would speed up tasks for the sales team. It would also organize leads and pipeline them towards the most suitable sales representatives.

Reporting and Analytics

In today’s data-driven environment, decision-making also needs to be data-driven. CRM systems provide your company with necessary insights into your business data collected from various sources by analyzing it. It represents these insights in a visual format from basic charts to advanced reports for better understanding.

Marketing Automation

Unable to identify the real target audience and poor planning can waste a lot of your marketing budget. Therefore, healthy communication between the sales and marketing teams is a must. By implementing CRM with marketing automation, you can generate new leads, compare ad spend to sales revenue and finally get the maximum ROI(return on investment) on your marketing budget.


There can never be a single system that would work for all companies. Therefore, CRM systems are completely customizable the way you want. From custom layouts to functions, everything can be customized according to your needs or you can even build a system from scratch entirely unique to your system.

CRM – Final Summary

Customer Relationship management now plays a key role in your business success. You can leverage its functionality to gain customer insights and then make strategic decisions that will impact your business growth in the long term. Moreover, It will allow you to build and retain customer loyalty for a long time by meeting customer requirements to their best.

Finally, Make sure you choose the right CRM system according to your business that integrates with your current operations and other business tools.

More from Smashitbuck: Do check out my article on software basics, investment platforms, and youtube monetization strategies to read this year.

Commonly Asked Questions?


Who uses CRM?

Whether you are a start-up or an established business if you want to improve your customer relationship, and sales, or automate your business, CRM is the right solution for you. B2B companies, B2C companies, SMBs, and Enterprises, all use this system.

When should you use a CRM?

There is no right time to start using a CRM. If you face problems like delays in customer follow-ups, lack in generating leads, cannot manage your campaigns, your customer data being complex and hard to locate and more such barriers to your business growth then it’s time for you to invest in a CRM. It would improve your business by saving time and money.

Should I go for a free CRM or paid CRM?

There are free as well as paid versions of CRM available in the market. There are data limits and some other limitations to free CRM. The best system may vary according to your business needs. So try out the free trials offered by these systems and then decide which CRM suits best for your company and then buy it.

Are there any alternatives other than using a CRM?

With the advancement of CRM on the cloud, it is hard to get an alternative for it. CRM is quite easy to use, more effective, and also easily accessible over the cloud.

Authored By Amey Sarode
Amey Sarode is a Lead Web Developer in GOMO Group with expertise in multiple software verticals. Before starting this blog, Amey managed multiple projects for startups and now reviews the best software to run your online business.

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