What is CRM?


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy that companies use to manage interactions with customers and potential customers. CRM helps organisations streamline processes, build customer relationships, increase sales, improve customer service, and increase profitability.

When we talk about CRM, we usually refer to a CRM system, a tool used for contact management, sales management, agent productivity, and more. The goal of a CRM system is simple: Improve business relationships to grow your business. CRM tools help you manage customer relationships across the entire customer lifecycle, at every marketing, sales, e-commerce, and customer service interaction.

What do people mean when they say CRM?

CRM helps users focus on their organisation’s relationships with individual people including customers, service users, colleagues, or suppliers.

When people talk about CRM, they might mean any of three things:

CRM as Technology: This is a technology product, often in the cloud, that teams use to record, report and analyse interactions between the company and users. This is also called a CRM system or solution.

CRM as a Strategy: This is a business’ philosophy about how relationships with customers and potential customers should be managed  

CRM as a Process: Think of this as a system a business adopts to nurture and manage those relationships.

What does CRM software do?

CRM software records customer contact information such as email, telephone, website social media profile, and more. It can also automatically pull in other information, such as recent news about the company's activity, and it can store details such as a client's personal preferences on communications.

The CRM system organises this information to give you a complete record of individuals and companies, so you can better understand your relationship over time.

CRM software improves customer relationship management by creating a 360° view of the customer, capturing their interactions with the business, and by surfacing the information needed to have better conversations with customers. 


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Let’s start with the basics of CRM.

Use our learning platform to grasp the fundamentals behind CRM software, how businesses use it, and benefits it brings.

Why is CRM important?

CRM enables a business to deepen its relationships with customers, service users, colleagues, partners and suppliers.

Forging good relationships and keeping track of prospects and customers is crucial for customer acquisition and retention, which is at the heart of a CRM’s function. You can see everything in one place — a simple, customisable dashboard that can tell you a customer’s previous history with you, the status of their orders, any outstanding customer service issues, and more.

If your business is going to last, you know that you need a strategy for the future. For forward-thinking businesses, CRM is the framework for that strategy.


How do different business functions benefit from using CRM?

While the importance of CRM has traditionally been as a sales and marketing tool, some of the biggest gains can come in other areas, such as customer service, HR, supply-chain and partner management.

Here’s how different business functions benefit from using CRM:

Sales teams can use CRM to understand their sales pipeline better.

Sales managers can access reliable information about the progress of individual team members in achieving their sales targets, for example, and see how well individual sales teams, products and campaigns are performing too.

Sales reps benefit from reduced admin, a deeper understanding of their clients, and the opportunity to spend more time selling and less time inputting data.

Marketing teams can use CRM to make forecasting simpler and more accurate.

They can get clear visibility over every opportunity or lead, and map out the whole customer journey from enquiry through to sale, so giving them a  better understanding of the sales pipeline or prospective work coming in.

It’s also possible to include information from customers’ public social media activity – their likes and dislikes, and their sentiment about specific brands and businesses.

Customer service teams can effectively track conversations across channels.

A customer might raise an issue in one channel – say, Twitter or Facebook – but then switch to email, phone or live chat to resolve it in private.

Without a common platform for customer interactions, communications can be missed or lost in the flood of information – leading to an unsatisfactory response to a valued customer.

Supply-chain, procurement and partner management teams can manage relationships better.

They can track meetings with suppliers and partners, record requests made, add useful notes, schedule follow-ups and stay on top of expected next steps.

Reporting enables businesses to compare the efficiency of suppliers and so manage their entire supply chain more effectively.

The HR team can use CRM to accelerate the recruitment process and track employee performance.

CRM can help the HR function by speeding up the on-boarding process, automating the process of managing candidates, analysing resourcing needs and identifying skills gaps, and supporting the pursuit of staff retention targets.
Think about how convenient it would be to consolidate all the streams of data coming from sales teams, customer service staff, marketers and social media—and translate them into actionable business information. A CRM platform lets you manage these streams of information across channels without losing track, and gives sales, service, marketing, and beyond an integrated view.

How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”

Bill Gates

What are the benefits of CRM?

By collecting and organising data about customer interactions, making it accessible and actionable for all, and facilitating analysis of that data, CRM offers many benefits and advantages.

The benefits and advantages of CRM include:

1. Enhanced contact management
2. Cross-team collaboration
3. Heightened productivity
4. Empowered sales management
5. Accurate sales forecasting
6. Reliable reporting
7. Improved sales metrics
8. Increased customer satisfaction and retention
9. Boosted marketing ROI
10. Enriched products and services


Enhanced contact management

Every call, question, negotiation, and touchpoint from prospects and clients is recorded and accessible to the entire team with a centralised contact management system.

This gives both sales, marketing, and customer service teams a boost in terms of tracking, pipe progression and client history.

Cross-team collaboration

Build on the expertise of individuals — a CRM system enables people from different parts of a business to work together.

A sales team can collaborate with a product team to produce bespoke quotes, while a marketing campaign that generates a lead can equip a salesperson to have a more informed, tailored conversation with the prospect.

Increased productivity

Cut out administrative tasks like follow-up emails and "catch up" meetings with management.

With a CRM, follow-up emails can be auto-generated and tested for effectiveness, management can easily access the most recent details of a customer meeting, and customer service administrators can learn the background of a customer without leaving the call.


Empowered sales management

Empower sales managers with data to analyse customer relationships, track sales-related activity, assess deal viability, mobilise extra help when needed, and provide teams with real-time updates.

Manage sales pipeline and all the individual milestones along the way, from lead generation through to closing.

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Integrated sales forecasting

A single source of truth makes it much easier for sales managers to make accurate forecasts, thanks to their visibility of sales in the pipeline.

Sales teams are able to learn from the past and forecast the future through historical data, while predictive analytics makes use of insights from big data to anticipate future customer behaviour.

Reliable reporting

Get an at-a-glance view of its sales pipeline so it's simple to spot potential issues and nip them in the bud.

As well as making data digestible, reports improve team productivity by saving on time that would once have been spent pulling data manually or laboriously creating pivot tables in spreadsheets.

Improved sales metrics

Nurture the right prospects in a timely and efficient way by zeroing in on the leads that really matter. CRM data and reporting systems provide insights into conversion effectiveness at various points in the sales funnel.

Once a business better understands its customers, upselling and cross-selling opportunities arise– opening up additional business opportunities from existing customers.

Increased customer satisfaction and retention

Having an easily accessible view of a customer’s interactions to date makes it easier to anticipate issues and deal with complaints.

This creates a more positive experience for customers who no longer have to endure the frustrations of being bounced around between departments and channels, and having to re-explain their problem each time.

Better marketing ROI

Effective tracking helps businesses to understand what marketing activities and campaigns are effective with their client base.

Campaign tracking provides actionable insights into what type of marketing works for which type of customer, making it easier for marketers to maximise their budgets and deliver greater ROI.

Enhanced products and services

A good CRM system will gather information from a huge variety of sources across a business and beyond.

This gives unprecedented insight into how customers feel and what they are saying about an organisation — so businesses can improve what they offer, spot problems early, and identify gaps.


Why choose a cloud-based CRM system?

CRM and the cloud computing revolution have changed everything. Perhaps the most significant recent development in CRM systems has been the move into the cloud from on-premises CRM software.

Freed from the need to install software on hundreds or thousands of desktop computers and mobile devices, organisations worldwide are discovering the benefits of moving data, software, and services into a secure online environment.

A cloud-based CRM system has the following benefits:

  • Faster deployment
  • Automatic software updates
  • Reduce costs while scaling quickly
  • Work from anywhere, on any device
  • Increased collaboration

Faster deployment

A cloud-based CRM solution is extremely quick and easy to get up and running as it doesn’t need to go through any laborious installation or implementation process, and there's no hardware to set up or maintain.

This keeps IT costs low and removes the headache of version control and update schedules.

Automatic software updates

Cloud systems are updated in real time by the provider. So there is no system downtime or additional charges due to hardware, software or server maintenance or upgrading. It’s also one less thing that the IT team need to manage.

Reduce costs while scaling quickly

Generally, cloud-based CRM systems are priced on the number of users who access the system and the kinds of features required.

With reduced up-front costs and consistent, predictable pricing over time, cloud CRM can be very cost-effective in terms of capital outlay. It’s also extremely flexible – offering scaling simply by just adding more people to the system as the business grows.

Work from anywhere, on any device

Cloud-based CRM systems ensure every user has the same information, all the time. Your sales teams out on the road can check data, update it instantly after a meeting, or work from anywhere. The same information is available to anyone who needs it, from the sales team to the customer service representatives.

Increased collaboration

With a cloud-based CRM system, physically separated teams can work together without the need for significant infrastructure investment. Shared platforms make working together simpler, with common tools, formats and reporting.

Staff from different teams, sites and even territories can easily connect with each other and smartly share data to support the sales effort of the overall team.



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That’s a lot of info!

Here’s what you should take away from this article:

  • What’s the definition of CRM? CRM refers to how a business manages its relationships with customers and potential customers.
  • What’s the most popular form of CRM? The most popular form of CRM uses technology to enable businesses to track and analyse customer interactions.
  • Why is CRM important? CRM enables businesses to create more meaningful and profitable relationships with customers, service users, colleagues, partners and suppliers.
  • What does a CRM system provide? A CRM system offers a clear overview of customer activity, and then presents that information in the form of a customisable dashboard.
  • What are the benefits of CRM? CRM improves sales forecasting and productivity, increases customer loyalty, enables accurate sales reporting, maximises marketing ROI and improves service.
  • Can CRM go beyond sales and marketing? While CRM is traditionally seen as a sales tool, it can deliver powerful benefits across the organisation -- from HR and customer service to supply-chain management.
  • Why is cloud-based CRM ideal? Cloud-based CRM offers instant deployment, cost-effective scalability, and access from anywhere on any device.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is CRM in simple terms?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and it can refer to a technology, a process or a strategy. Focusing on CRM technology helps businesses build and manage relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and colleagues, primarily by leveraging analytical insights.

What does a CRM system do?

A CRM system provides a central place for businesses to store customer and prospect data, track customer interactions, and share important information between colleagues. It gives businesses a 360-degree view of their customer, enabling them to build better relationships by engaging in more personal and relevant ways.

What are examples of CRM?

  • CRM as Technology: This is a product that analyses interactions between a company and its users.
  • CRM as a Strategy: This is a business’s philosophy about how relationships with customers and potential customers should be managed.
  • CRM as a Process: This is the system a business adopts to nurture and manage those relationships.

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