CRM Basics

What is the meaning of CRM?

The CRM acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM is a software solution that stores customer and prospect information in one location. This information can come from sales teams, marketing, and/or customer support.

Having this data in a central repository allows your teams to have real-time information at their fingertips. CRM tools can increase productivity, improve customer relationships, and drive more business. This is true for small businesses up to enterprise companies.

What does CRM mean?

The meaning of CRM dates back over twenty years ago to a system called, “Contact Management”. Contact management was a simple tool that allowed users to track basic information. This information included addresses, phone calls, and appointments. Salespeople referred to contact management as an “automated Rolodex”.

Years later, some software companies took the concept of contact management and added sales features. Businesses could automate their sales processes for the first time. They could track all sales activities like opportunities, forecasts, and quotes. The software industry started referring to these solutions as Sales Force Automation (SFA).

The software term, Sales Force Automation, didn’t stay around for long. Vendors realized they needed more than just sales features. So, SFA companies added more features like marketing and customer support. This encompassed the entire relationship of the customer.

So the name changed to Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

What does a CRM system do?

A CRM system is a ‘front office’ application. Front office applications are defined as ‘customer-facing’ solutions. Simply put, it’s an application used by employees dealing directly (face-to-face) with their customers. These team members have ongoing customer interaction. This would include sales reps, marketing, and customer service teams.

CRM solutions cover the entire life cycle of a customer. It starts with marketing to prospects and generating opportunities. Details are captured and shared throughout the entire sales cycle.

After closing the deal, your customer support team helps with questions and issues. And then you start all over again with cross-selling and up-selling. If your company does a great job during this process, the cycle will continue to go on and on.

When CRM solutions are implemented correctly, companies will increase productivity and improve customer satisfaction. Bringing more revenue to your business’ bottom line. But, before installing a CRM system, companies must look at their business processes. Automating these processes leads to higher user adoption of the system.

Your CRM needs to fit your business model instead of trying to force your business into a CRM solution. The system needs to be flexible enough to meet your needs.

Key Features of CRM

The four key features of any Enterprise CRM:

  1. Relationship Management
  2. Sales Force Automation
  3. Marketing Automation
  4. Customer Service & Ticketing System

Relationship Management Database

The relationship database is a central repository that manages prospect and customer data. The software data is on a server at your site, “on-prem.” or hosted by a vendor “in the cloud” (see more details here).

All conversations, tasks, and activities are stored with the contact details. The data is securely shared across your organization. This communication fosters collaboration between departments providing consistent messaging to your customers.

Sales Force Automation

Sales rep create and share opportunities in the sales force automation database. Sales management can view real-time sales forecasts and pipelines on dashboards and reports. Reps can create quotes using a product and services catalog and add contracts as well. So, this provides a 360-degree view of all sales processes, activities, and contact information.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is for prospecting potential customers and servicing existing customers. You can create marketing campaigns with personalized emails with templates. Then, track to see who has opened the emails and clicked the links. This helps the marketing teams know when a lead is qualified to pass to the sales team.

Marketing teams can track the success of a campaign by following customers through the sales cycle. ROI can be quickly determined after each marketing campaign or event using the same types of metrics.

Customer Service/Ticketing System

Customer service features ensure customer satisfaction and retention. You respond to customers with more accurate information quickly. U.S. companies lose half their customers every five years. It is much more difficult to capture new customers than it is to keep existing clients.

Key Benefits of CRM

The main benefits of a CRM system are improving productivity, making your customers happy, and increasing sales. These benefits are achieved by automating manual processes, having more customer interaction, and solving issues more efficiently. Each can be achieved through the four key areas of CRM.

Relationship Management Database Benefits

  • 360-degree view of your customers
  • Customer data shared throughout your organization
  • Task and activity notifications
  • Real-time access with mobile CRM

Sales Force Automation Benefits

  • Automated sales processes
  • Opportunity management
  • Up-selling opportunities
  • Sales Pipeline creation and real-time reports

Marketing Automation Benefits

  • Customized communications with prospects and customers
  • React when contacts engage with marketing data
  • Focus on quality leads
  • Constant communication and tracking engagement

Custom Service Benefits

  • Happier customers
  • Keep customers longer
  • Fast resolution to issues
  • Real-time escalation & notifications


Are you new to CRM? Or are you investigating an automated tool to replace your current method of managing customer information? Maybe you’re using your email or Excel spreadsheets to track customer information. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, a CRM solution is exactly what you need. Especially to survive in today’s competitive marketplace.

The most successful companies today have the ability to identify, understand, and cater to the needs and demands of their customers. Your competitors are more than likely using a CRM for their customers…do not get left behind! If your business needs a CRM system, regardless of your size, we’d love to help with your selection. Give us a call at 972.304.7100 or see a quick overview of our system here.

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