Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a database used to track customer activities, leads, and sales opportunities. Logging this important information provides insights on your entire sales, marketing, customer service, and finance teams, and allows you to tailor interactions to enhance relationships with your customers.
It’s easy to confuse CRM with similar business applications such as content management system (CMS) or customer data platform (CDP) software. CMS software is for creating and publishing content on a website. CDP software collects customer data from multiple sources like webforms and social media accounts to analyze and predict customer behavior.
What a CRM Is
Customer relationship management systems are designed to collect and manage the wide variety of data sales teams collect on leads, prospects, and customers. The software has been around for decades but it’s risen in popularity as features become more advanced. CRM is also gaining traction as an easy-to-use method of tracking sales activities across multiple channels and as a reliable way to improve the customer experience.
What a CRM Does
CRM software does a myriad of things, from housing a customer contact database to managing mass email campaigns and tracking service tickets. Studies show CRMs improve sales efforts in several ways:
- 56% of companies use CRM data to target audiences with the help of CRM features like list segmentation and lead qualification.
- 74% of CRM users say the software enhances access to customer data with filters, advanced search, and custom reports, which can shorten the sales cycle by 8% to 14%.
CRM features vary from system to system, and even between a vendor’s individual service plans. Some systems support only sales efforts, while others also include marketing and sales tools to create a 360-degree view of the entire customer journey and all potential touchpoints.
Click through the tabs below to learn more about what a CRM has to offer small businesses.
- Customization and Artificial Intelligence: Freshworks CRM
Freshworks CRM offers a variety of useful customization options throughout its system, including custom lifecycle stages, modules, fields, and sales activity tracking. Its artificial intelligence (AI) component, Freddy, monitors patterns to learn your business needs and provide insights like identifying priority contacts and forecasting revenue. When combined, the two features work together to furnish teams with unique data assessments they can use to increase sales and improve the customer experience.
- Social Media Integration: Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM features built-in social media monitoring tools for publishing to social accounts as well as real-time listening across multiple channels for updates from customers and leads. Zoho CRM’s listening streams are customizable and agents can add leads to monitor either manually or automatically.
- Lead Management: HubSpot CRM
HubSpot CRM helps sales teams manage leads using tools like smartform lead capture, automatic lead assignment, and a meeting scheduler to set up appointments with potential customers. Live chat and conversational bots help agents connect with leads in real time, and bulk email sends give companies the ability to reach out to a large number of leads at the same time, with the same information.
- Service Desk Tools: Really Simple Systems
Really Simple Systems incorporates service desk tools into its CRM so support and sales teams alike can stay in sync with customer activity throughout the company, including any service issues they’ve encountered. It offers full case management, including the ability to assign, open, close, and re-open tickets as needed. Really Simple Systems users can also opt in to features like creating new case tickets directly from an email.
- Mobile Apps: Zendesk Sell
Most CRMs offer mobile apps with their software so sales agents can access the CRM system from anywhere. Some include basic tools like call logs, customer contact management, and team chat. Zendesk Sell takes mobile apps a step further with features like call recording, click-to-dial calling, and deal management so sales professionals can stay connected to their team as well as their customers while out of the office.
Recommended CRM Resources
To learn more about how a CRM can help your company track sales activity, keep teams connected, and provide the best customer service, we recommend checking out our informative CRM e-book and in-depth articles on customer relationship management software.