What is a CRM or customer relationship management system and how do I choose one?


CRM refers to the practices and techniques employed by companies to more effectively manage, administer and analyze interactions and relationships with their customers and the data generated from them. The acronym derives from “Customer Relationship Management”.

There is nothing as valuable to your company as the relationships with your customers. You do everything you can to take care of them and deliver value to them, including sending regular newsletters, birthday cards and maybe even something to celebrate an important event. However, every year it gets a little more difficult:

  • Your spreadsheets have grown to unmanageable sizes and it can become a problem to keep them up to date.
  • Your customer relationship management plan is not working as well now that your business has grown.
  • Translating those paper notes into something usable by the whole team simply takes too much time, as well as getting your marketing and sales team together in one place efficiently.

CRMs can be powerful solutions for all types of businesses, when the right features are implemented correctly. Their main objective is to keep you and your customers in touch, as well as to inform your whole team what has been done, how and where with those customers.

Customer relationship management

All-in-one CRMs take the idea of a CRM one step further and integrate everything you need not only to organize your contacts, but also to keep in touch with them and advance their relationship through the sales funnel. It’s a smart way to organize and update your sales contacts, automate sales activities, send regular newsletters, analyze data, help with your marketing efforts and integrate with many other programs you use every day.

Some companies call their all-in-one CRM “marketing CRM” because they focus a little more on the marketing side. Either way, an all-in-one CRM can be the perfect solution for your office. They range in price from about $10 USD per user per month to thousands of dollars per month. The trick is to choose a CRM that is not only within your budget, but can scale as your business grows.

Choosing the Right CRM

The biggest complaint about CRMs, even all-in-one CRMs, is that they are difficult to set up initially and then simply not used due to a lack of intuitive features. This is absolutely a problem with some systems, so the best way to choose your CRM is to try the programs that are in your price range.

Be careful with these red flags:

  • Extra fees. Many CRMs offer a free trial or at least a discounted trial offer, but look at the configuration fees. These can vary dramatically between providers, some offer a free setup and others charge hundreds or thousands of dollars to connect to your computer.
  • Ease of use. When you open a new software platform for the first time, it can be legitimately confusing and, in the end, still be a good product. The same is true with an all-in-one CRM. The configurations you make may be practical, but when it comes to implementing your strategy, you may run into problems.
  • Problem solving. CRMs were meant to solve problems, plus all in one. Before you even start looking for systems, make sure you understand what problem you are trying to solve. For example, if you’re trying to find a way to track e-commerce purchases, but the CRM you’re looking for is designed for B2B relationships, it may not be a good option.

Make the most of an all-in-one CRM

Choosing a CRM is only the beginning of the story: you must really use it to make it worth all the effort you put into selecting it. The complete transition of your business and tools like Excel to your CRM can take time, especially if you are using marketing automation. After all, any new system will require a small investment to produce good results.

Balancing functionality with price, while keeping in mind the core questions you need to answer, will help you choose the all-in-one CRM that will work best for your needs.



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