The ready-to-use CRM for small businesses and startups.
What is CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It refers to the strategy that businesses adopt to better manage their relationships with prospective and existing customers.
This means managing every interaction with leads (people who are interested in your business) and customers in the most efficient way possible to improve the customer experience and, in turn, your business growth.
Most of the time, when someone is talking about CRM, they’re referring to the software that facilitates this strategy.
What is CRM software?
CRM software is technology that provides a central hub for businesses to easily capture, organise, and analyse all of their customer data.
That data enables businesses across three main processes: sales, marketing, and customer support — helping each user understand, collaborate, and act on customer information through dashboards, reporting, and other tools.
Some CRM systems on the market today provide integration capabilities with businesses’ existing apps as well — think: Microsoft 365 or e-Signature software.
With this composite of tools and insights on hand, Customer Relationship Management helps teams align to fine-tune the customer experience at every stage of the customer lifecycle.
While its purpose is to manage customer relationships (as the name suggests), it extends beyond too — today, CRMs are used to benefit every imaginable relationship type a company might have, from suppliers to partners, colleagues, investors, and more.
A CRM system is essentially a powerhouse that helps you improve every relationship — internally and externally — and streamline all your core processes from one place.
★ Trivia: The term Customer Relationship Management was coined in 1995 by Tom Siebel, Jagdish N Seth and the Gartner Group.
Why businesses need a CRM
Whether you're a small business or a global organisation, you need a streamlined process across your teams to understand and act on customer expectations and forge stronger customer relationships.
A CRM helps you achieve just that.
Without it, businesses are left to manually keep track of contact information across spreadsheets, notes, business cards, emails, and an array of separate software tools...
Leaving every process in siloes, too — marketing campaigns and emails disconnected from sales conversations and so on.
This makes it difficult (if not impossible) to gain a complete understanding of each customer’s interactions and provide seamless experiences.
Especially as a business scales, being able to manage all business and customer information in one centralised location becomes essential.
While the benefits of CRM vary widely by department and use case, our data indicates that these are four of the top reasons businesses adopt CRM:
Know your customers
We know that personalisation is a priority for the modern consumer, but as your customer base grows, creating tailored experiences for each one becomes increasingly difficult.
So, how then do you get them on board and keep them around, nurturing more long-term fans?
CRM provides a 360-degree view of every customer, organising and providing a comprehensive look at their history with you.
This way, you can understand how and when to communicate with them best — as well as identify where they are on their purchasing journey.
Every relevant person in your organisation can access and benefit from this information to work toward building better customer relationships.
Streamline and automate your processes
CRM simplifies the workday by organising customer and project information for each team, providing insights to work smarter, and speeding up daily tasks with automation.
With a central system to run all your processes, each team can stay on the same page and move in sync, streamlining marketing campaigns with sales insights, aligning users on task progress and objectives, and ensuring your customer experiences are cohesive to create trust.
Modern CRMs are also equipped to automate the repetitive stuff, eliminating the manual errors that might cost you a customer, like data entry, emails, scheduling, and customer support ticketing — and putting hours back into your day.
From lead to sale, CRM provides insights to speed up and refine marketers’ and sales reps’ efforts.
Businesses can target better, capture more leads, prioritise the best opportunities, and know what to say to lock them in.
And once a deal is closed, the system uncovers up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, automating personalised communications and informing sales to bring in more money.
Indeed, thanks to CRM, 45% of businesses see their revenue increase.
Facilitate data-driven decisions & reports
Businesses hold onto a lot of data — it’s crucial to have a way to visualise it.
CRM platforms provide critical data analytics that users can view in charts, graphs, etc., and unlock insights that would otherwise be invisible to them.
You can measure anything from customer satisfaction to marketing campaign effectiveness and sales performance, see what’s working and what isn’t, and more accurately forecast and refine your strategies.
Today, 91% of businesses with 10 or more employees use CRM software. With CRM tools and data insights always on hand and in one place, they can extract more value from their customers (I.e. revenue) and build more loyal relationships — all while moving faster, cutting costs, and saving time.
How does CRM software work?
A CRM captures customer data from multiple sources, such as:
- Forms on your website
- Search engines
- Social media
- Phone calls
- External databases
- Manual entry
- and more
… and stores each data point (e.g., customer name, email address, activity, etc.) in an easily retrievable way, allowing anyone in your organisation to populate relevant information at a moment’s notice.
A centralised database underpins all other CRM benefits, like customer and business insights, workflow automation, and better collaboration, allowing users to complement the information with shared notes, documents, and to-dos.
So, think of a CRM like a smart assistant for businesses; it not only stores and organises contact information like your iPhone or Android does, but it also helps businesses remember special things about each customer, such as their preferences and when they might need something.
This way, each relationship-builder in your business can give personalised attention, like the friend who always knows just what to say.
Members across your customer-facing teams, from sales to marketers or customer support persons, can easily find key information to interact with prospects and customers in a more meaningful way.
What are the most important features in CRM?
A comprehensive CRM system will typically include functionality such as the following:
that provides a 360-degree view of every contact, including their profile, demographics, business information, and interaction history across channels.
capabilities to help businesses visualise data, like segmentation, behavioural trends, and important metrics to make informed decisions.
to efficiently handle, organise, and maintain the integrity of data. This feature ensures accurate and accessible information to serve as the foundation for all other processes’ effectiveness.
to streamline your lead-to-deal workflow. Aggregate and track leads across channels and create an efficient approach to lead nurturing, communication, and conversion.
to help salespeople visualise every deal in the pipeline, get notified when prospects take action, automate routine tasks from contact updates to lead scoring and follow-ups, and sell smarter with full customer context.
to automate repetitive tasks, like email marketing and lead nurturing. Create more effective campaigns with CRM data, templates, and segmentation tools, A/B test, analyse, and optimise to maximise impact.
to facilitate issue resolution with a central hub for tracking and managing queries and support requests. Automatically match support agents to customers and ensure efficient, personalised communication.
to speed up business processes within the CRM, reducing manual errors and efforts, ensuring consistency, and improving productivity across the board.
Teams can use these CRM features to better engage customers across their channels: website, emails, advertising, phone calls, and so on. Managers can benefit from CRM software by gaining a complete picture of metrics and performance, and increase departmental efficiency through automation.
How CRM benefits different roles
Visualise the pipeline and close more deals.
CRM enables sales teams with greater visibility into all lead, opportunity, and customer data, helping them streamline the end-to-end sales process.
Sales reps can follow every action a lead takes, understand which ones to prioritise, and when to take action with notifications so no opportunity slips through the cracks.
Plus, armed with context into all their preferences and interactions, they can tailor their approach, anticipate needs, and deliver a personalised experience that resonates with potential buyers.
Centralised data in the system also ensures seamless hand-offs between team members in case of any account management changes and helps sales managers easily track all activities and performance.
And to ease up the repetitive tasks that sales professionals face, CRM tools automate things like data entry and follow-up emails, allowing them to focus on what they do best — building relationships and closing deals.
The result? Increased efficiency, a shortened sales cycles, and a more strategic approach to revenue generation.
Target with precision, increase efficiency, and make data-informed decisions.
CRMs make it simpler for marketers to attract, convert, and nurture more leads with data-driven decision-making, where every campaign is a strategic move tailored to meet customer expectations.
To get there, marketers can dive into information on customers’ purchasing behaviour, preferences, and demographics from various channels gathered in the CRM — and gain insights into which strategies are driving engagement and conversions.
CRM simplifies segmentation by enabling marketers to build custom dashboards where they can categorise customers by shared characteristics — then, target the segments that will make the biggest impact.
With marketing automation, templates, and embedded campaign management tools, each user can move efficiently and make the most of CRM data to create timely, personalised campaigns.
Moreover, CRM facilitates seamless collaboration between sales and marketing teams. Real-time data sharing ensures that marketing efforts align with sales objectives, leading to more cohesive and impactful campaigns.
Elevate customer satisfaction and loyalty with faster, personalised support.
Support agents benefit from CRM with a comprehensive view of each customer's history, preferences, and past interactions.
To add to that, it helps agents prioritise tickets and can automatically pair a customer with the right agent.
This enables them to provide swift, personalised assistance, resolving issues with a level of efficiency and empathy that fosters customer loyalty.
CRM tools also empower businesses to implement proactive support measures.
Anticipating customer needs and addressing potential concerns before they escalate not only enhances customer satisfaction but also contributes to a positive brand image.
Some CRMs offer functionality like a Knowledge Base, where customers can find quick answers to common questions or issues, empowering them to help themselves without having to contact a representative.
With CRM, Customer Support tools are a strategic asset in improving key metrics, like First Contact Resolution (FCR) and Customer Retention Rate (CRR), and creating more loyal brand advocates.
Gain a full overview of performance and uncover key insights to improve strategies.
With the help of CRM, Operations Managers can understand and improve processes across the entire customer lifecycle with analytics into customer interactions, sales, and operational efficiency.
CRM makes it easy to build visual dashboards for objectives, KPIs, forecasting, customer sentiment, employee activity, and beyond. This way, they can identify trends and areas for improvement.
For example, CRM analytics reveal customer preferences, empowering Operations Managers to tailor strategies to meet market demands and continually enhance operational performance.
With these insights on hand, they can arm their teams with workflows, templates, and automations to help them reach their objectives smarter.
Customer Relationship Management also makes it easy to generate one-click and custom reports that can easily be shared to optimise processes.
And with third-party integrations, Operations Managers can achieve a unified view of organisational processes, fostering collaboration and breaking down siloes.
What are the 3 types of CRM?
There are a wide variety of CRM products on the market, differing in capabilities, focus, or specialisations.
While the main benefits or functionality tend to overlap regardless of type, CRM is often divided into three main categories based on their focus: operational, analytical, and collaborative.
Operational CRMs focus on streamlining your daily business operations across sales, marketing, and customer support to improve customer relationships.
To do so, they provide the tools necessary to visualise and automate each step of the customer journey, no matter how complex.
They’re the most widely available CRMs as they seek to solve the very fundamental purpose of a CRM.
This breed of CRM is primarily focused on the collection and analysis of customer data; its focus is on providing the tools you need to analyse and understand your data.
It’s often considered by businesses who have a lot of data on hand but don’t know how to effectively put it to work.
Analytical CRMs collect customer information across multiple touchpoints and excel in generating insights and analytical reports that help users and business leaders make data-driven decisions, optimising their efforts based on customer behavioural patterns.
Collaborative CRMs are your workplace communication tool, specialising in bridging siloed teams around 360° customer information.
In the digital-first era, we operate on more and more channels, collaborating with colleagues in different departments, locations, and time zones. It’s easy to fall into disconnect.
Collaborative CRMs ensure real-time data for the whole team, wherever they’re located, enabling everyone to stay on the same page and create a seamless customer journey.
Cloud-based CRM vs. On-premise CRM
There are two main types of CRM development: cloud-based (also called online, SaaS, or on-demand) and on-premise. Here are the main differences:
On-premise CRMs are hosted and installed locally on your company’s servers and accessible only on-premise, as the name suggests.
This means a company will need to buy the license up-front and install the CRM hardware, requiring a larger upfront investment.
Moreover, with the responsibility of maintaining the system and its data security borne by the buyer, and more limited accessibility and integration capabilities, more and more companies are enticed by cloud-based CRMs.
The greatest advantage of an on-premise CRM is that it provides companies complete control over their system and any customisations. With their software hosted locally, it can be a good option for companies with certain security policies, such as financial services companies.
On the other hand, a cloud-based CRM's data is hosted in the vendor’s cloud infrastructure and can be accessed on-demand from any device, anytime, anywhere.
As opposed to the traditional method of hosting the CRM on-premise, cloud-based CRMs are easy to set up, more affordable, and low maintenance. The vendor holds all the responsibility of maintaining the system and providing all the necessary updates and support.
Cloud-based CRMs offer seamless integration capabilities and can quickly adapt to dynamic business needs, making them more flexible and scalable.
How to choose CRM software
Choosing a CRM is, no doubt, a process that requires careful consideration.
Before conducting your research, identify what purpose the CRM will serve for your business and your goals, and create a list of desired features, gathering input from relevant roles and departments.
Having a well-rounded understanding of your business’ requirements is your foundation for finding the right CRM. The right CRM will meet your unique needs, not the other way around.
To help you navigate the selection process, here are a few must-have capabilities you should consider to set your business up for success.
- Customisability: Businesses and users should have the ability to customise the platform to match their specific processes and preferences as they scale.
- Ease of use: Complex CRMs are by far the largest hindrance to user adoption — and without people using it, what good is it? The system should ease users’ workflows without feeling like they have to learn a new language first.
- Availability of mission-critical features: Gartner tells us that one of the main reasons businesses switch CRMs is to secure missing functionality. This complements our own research that a key deciding factor in CRM selection is having the right features. Evaluate if the CRM holds the critical and nice-to-have features your business needs.
- Integration capabilities: Your business likely already has some favourite apps you use daily. A CRM with some degree of integration capabilities is considered a must — with this capability, the CRM powers up your software go-tos by syncing them up to better align and inform all your processes.
See what other factors businesses look for most during the CRM selection — grab a full copy of our State of CRM report (+ How to Choose a CRM Guide) here.
Get to get started with CRM
Now that you’re equipped with all the fundamentals, one of the best ways to get started and get to know the software is to test one out. Try efficy CRM free — no strings attached — by booking a demo today.
If you want to get to know your customers to create truly stellar experiences throughout the entire customer lifecycle, you’ll need a method to harness all the customer information you collect. efficy CRM empowers teams to build meaningful relationships, while simplifying their workday.
Check it out in one minute!
Once you’ve gotten your personalised tour from one of our experts, you can easily get started with efficy CRM with our Easy Import Wizard or migration services.
Why is CRM important for businesses?
CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, helps businesses streamline communication, enhance customer experiences, and boost sales by organising and analysing customer data.
Is CRM only for large enterprises?
No, CRM solutions are scalable and helpful for businesses of all sizes. Small, medium, and large enterprises should opt for a customisable CRM that fits their specific needs and budget and can grow with them.
How does CRM benefit small businesses?
CRM makes it simple for small businesses to get to know their customers and build stronger customer relationships, increase efficiency, and make data-driven decisions, improving their growth in a competitive market.
How does CRM pricing work?
CRM pricing models are typically offered per user/month. Most offer tiered plans that vary by features, users, deployment method (cloud vs on-premise), customisation, and other factors.
It's important to assess your business needs and choose a plan that aligns with your goals and budget.
What's the average ROI of implementing CRM?
The average ROI of CRM implementation is roughly €7.98 for every euro spent. Businesses commonly see increased revenue, cost savings through efficiency, and improved customer retention. The long-term benefits often outweigh the initial investment, making CRM a valuable asset for growth.
To know more:
- What are the applications of a CRM in the day-to-day running of a company?
- The phases of a CRM to upsell and implement it
- What are the modules of a CRM and what are the modules of a good CRM?
- The 7 benefits of CRM use in your company
- What is a CRM Manager? What does it do? How much does it charge?
- Unlocking CRM Buying Behaviour: Insights from efficy's 2024 State of CRM Report