CRM Software and Systems

CRM systems

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer

What is CRM Software?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Broadly speaking, a CRM system allows companies to manage information and data associated with their customers, therefore improving business relationships and ultimately increasing sales.

A CRM system also describes the processes that companies use to compile and analyze data throughout the customer lifecycle. This is because CRM software documents and records different customer interactions, such as emails, phone calls, social media correspondence and website visits, whilst tracking personal information, purchase history and preferences.

Consolidating various pieces of data as well as any relevant internal documents into one database, CRM software streamlines information management for companies. Additionally, it automates tasks and appointments, and allows managers to monitor productivity among their workforce.


Benefits and features

Business and data organization

When managing dozens, hundreds or perhaps thousands of leads and customers, having a robust contact list is critical.

You need to be able to access email, phone and other information without digging through files or other hard-to-manage software, or trying to recall details from memory.

Plus, many CRM systems let you search for customers with broad keywords, rather than entering specific details. The bottom line is, the more organized your business is, the more successful it will be.

More quality leads and improved sales

CRM software lets you segment your contact list in a variety of ways, and separate valuable leads from those who haven’t yet actively pursued your products and services.

As a result, you can target your marketing campaigns to different segments. In turn, you save time and money by addressing only the most relevant customers, rather than trying to reach everyone at once.

The more data you collect, the more opportunities you’ll find for sales.

For example, by tracking the purchase history of a particular customer, you’ll get a more refined sense of their interests.

The next time you launch a product similar to an item they bought in the past, you can notify them, increasing your chances of another sale, while letting customers know that you remember their personal tastes and will improve client relations, as they will not receive emails or phone calls that are not relevant to them.

Project, task and time management

With CRM software, it’s almost impossible to miss important deadlines. If you enter tasks into the system, it will send you an email reminder to keep you or your team on track.

Many programs also synchronize to your calendar and remind you of upcoming events, ensuring that you allocate your time appropriately.

Additionally, you can set the system to alert you of a customer milestone, such as a birthday. By sending out birthday wishes, you can improve customer relations.

When working on a particular project or campaign, you can use CRM software to create and monitor tasks.

Many systems let you establish project milestones, and allow you or your team to leave comments and attach important files as the campaign progresses.

Integration with other systems

While different CRM providers offer slightly different integration options, most can share data from major applications such as Outlook, Sharepoint and Office 365. Meanwhile, certain CRM systems integrate with email providers like Gmail, allowing you to create dynamic email campaigns.

It is also possible to integrate open source CRM systems with various databases, enterprise resource planning systems, finance solutions, expense, marketing and lead generation tools.

A WordPress website can also be incorporated into your CRM, allowing you to gather information every time a customer visits your website.

Social media integration is now also offered by most CRM providers.

Typically, all you have to do is enter a contact’s email information into the system, and the CRM software will automatically connect to the social media profiles associated with that email account.

Reporting and analysis tools

Without analysis, CRM would just be another way to store data. Which is why all providers offer options for maximizing your information. You can pull data from different fields within the system, and segment it with conditional filters.

Some CRMs allow reports to be retrieved from external databases, such as an SQL server. Excel integration with CRM systems is also becoming a reality, so that you won’t need to export data or switch to Excel, to make calculations or manage sales forecasts.

This type of information is key to your business, as you can quickly see how many successful projects you have had over the past year, week or month, or build an individual report, which results in a more complete picture of each individual customer.


Mobile and Cloud Solutions

Mobile

Most CRM systems are now fully cloud based, meaning there is no need to have software installed on-site which is perfect for mobile businesses and dispersed companies.

If you have an internet connection, you can access your CRM tool from any location in the world. Many CRM systems also have accompanying mobile apps which allow even further compatibility with mobile phones and tablets.

This means whether you’re traveling or working remotely, you can access the same wealth of data that you’re used to having on your desktop computer in the office.

Recent advances mean that some CRM’s are also available so that you can update data offline, which is a distinct advantage if you temporarily have no internet access. As soon as you reconnect to the internet, the data is automatically synchronised and updated.


CRM Case Studies

Leviev Extraordinary Diamonds

Leviev, a premium diamond retailer, prides itself on exceptional customer service. The relationship with the customer is just as important to them as the quality of their diamonds.

With only a handful of boutique locations spread across the globe, Leviev wanted a way to stay connected with its traveling clientele.

Using Salesforce’s CRM, the company was able to track customers’ personal info, as well as purchase and travel habits.

In addition to following up on birthdays and anniversaries, Leviev knew if a client, for example, traveled to the south of France during the summer.

In turn, this helped its international sales force plan the kind of relationship-building activities essential to building a business. The company targeted its clientele at the right time and place, and improved relationships as well as sales.

JetHub

JetHub provides a charter service offering private flights to more than 7,000 airports around the world. The company specializes in connecting their clients with their preferred private jet of choice, whenever possible.

As a result, maintaining good customer relationships is key.

However, JetHub’s previous CRM was outdated and lacking in some necessary features. Sales agents’ contact lists weren’t secure, allowing anyone to access and disrupt the system.

Additionally, the company needed a much more streamlined customer data center, as its employees all worked remotely around the country.

The solution? Zoho’s cloud-based CRM system. JetHub was now able to follow up with leads from its website by forwarding them to its sales team.

In addition, the company set up important tasks and alerts to give its customers exceptional and personalized customer service.


CRM Providers

Zoho

Zoho’s CRM platform is designed to generate sales and streamline work. The company emphasizes its system’s ability to automate tasks and improve workflow, while building leads and creating more sales opportunities.

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Additionally, it can automatically assign leads to particular agents, prioritize prospects, and track and measure all marketing activities.

Its plans start at $12 per user per month for small businesses, and run through $50 per user per month for large, customer-centric organizations.

Salesforce

As perhaps the most popular CRM, Salesforce claims it can improve customer satisfaction by 37%.

The company offers separate sales solutions for B2C and B2B companies, as well as various powerful platforms including Salesforce1, its most popular service.

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You can take advantage of individualized self-service portals or complete call center solutions that integrate with the CRM itself.

It also offers a marketing cloud platform that lets you connect all of your digital marketing solutions with your contact database.

For $25 per month per user, small businesses can use the service’s basic features. Other plans include more enhanced functions and run as high as $270 per month per user.

The company offers separate sales solutions for B2C and B2B companies, as well as various powerful platforms including Salesforce1, its most popular service.

You can take advantage of individualized self-service portals or complete call center solutions that integrate with the CRM itself.

It also offers a marketing cloud platform that lets you connect all of your digital marketing solutions with your contact database.

For $25 per month per user, small businesses can use the service’s basic features. Other plans include more enhanced functions and run as high as $270 per month per user.

Insightly

Insightly offers CRM at a fair price for small businesses. Insightly has a dynamic mobile app and integrates well with third-party programmes.

Insightly is a great CRM option for small businesses as it offers easy to use CRM and project management features. Insightly software comes with a helpful app allowing team members to access and manage customer information on the move.

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Insightly offers many price tiers to suit any business or entrepreneur, starting with a basic but functional free service. At the other end of the scale their Enterprise option includes everything a small business could need and is billed at $99 per user per month if paid annually or $129 per user per month paid monthly.

SalesNexus

SalesNexus allows sales leaders to focus on growth and salespeople to focus on customers by providing a simple, all in one, completely customized solution at a price that any business can afford.

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SalesNexus is a complete solution for sales teams from 20 to 100. SalesNexus combines complete CRM and Sales Automation, Marketing Automation and Lead Generation capabilities with comprehensive implementation services and consulting to ensure customers reach their growth goals.

SalesNexus gives you metrics to manage sales and marketing, automated campaigns to generate leads and maximize revenue, and complete 360 degree customer management.

SugarCRM

SugarCRM is a full-featured CRM software, offering 3 different levels of service and cost to suit any business.

SugarCRM emphasizes its ability to give you a 360-degree view of each individual customer. By providing contextual intelligence for your data, you get a more complete picture of your customers’ interests.

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The system’s unique features offer real-time collaboration with experts across your organization, social selling, and more.

Pricing breaks down to $35, $60, or $150 per user per month, depending on your company’s size and demand.

Maximizer

Maximizer is a cloud-based CRM system that offers multiple sales and marketing features to suit any business type.

Maximizer offers an on-premise or cloud-based CRM that includes 3 powerful tools: sales management, customer service, and marketing automation.

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The company’s highly configurable web-based interface makes data management easy, while its reporting offers pre-built Excel reports and granular analytics for increased sales opportunities.

At $55 per user per month, Maximizer offers one major CRM package, which includes all of the expected management features, as well as an accompanying smartphone app for enhanced mobility.


The price of CRM software depends largely on the size of your business. However, even small companies can take advantage of feature-rich systems without breaking the bank. Some providers even offer free CRM options which could suit small start-ups.

On the low end, Zoho offers a plan at $12 per user per month. The system is basic, but still meets the needs of smaller businesses that want to manage and optimize customer information.

On the high end, many companies offer dynamic CRM platforms for enterprise organization. At $250 per user per month, Salesforce’s CRM plan is ideal for managing a large number of contacts across multiple channels.

Rob Binns
Rob Binns Senior Writer
Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, social media monitoring, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.
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