As marketing leaders, our customers and team members frequently ask us questions about the industry jargon, technical details, or hyper-specific abbreviations we seem to invent and re-invent regularly. Some of these questions can be resolved quickly, but others may have even the most seasoned experts reaching for their search engine.
We understand that not everyone is familiar with digital marketing, revenue operations (RevOps), customer service, etc. We're starting a series of FAQ posts to help those who may need some clarification around common (and not-so-common) industry topics. If our series can manage to answer just one of your future questions — then we will have completed our mission!
This blog post will cover FAQs about CRM software, like the benefits of using the platform in conjunction with other marketing tools, the steps involved in the CRM process, best practices for marketing campaigns, and more. We will also discuss potential drawbacks and how businesses can ensure their CRM implementation is successful.
To find what you need without scrolling, click on the question to navigate to the right answer!
- What is a CRM Software?
- What are the benefits of CRM software?
- What is a CRM database?
- What are the different types of CRMs?
- What are the key features of a CRM?
- What sets a CRM apart from other platforms?
- How is CRM different from Marketing Automation?
- How is a CRM different from a CMS?
- How is a CRM different from an ERP?
- Why does your team need a CRM?
- When should you invest in a CRM?
- Are there potential drawbacks to using a CRM?
- How much does a CRM cost?
- How does a CRM fit into a company's MarTech stack?
- What are the benefits of integrating a CRM with other tools?
- How to get started with a CRM?
- What are some best practices for using a CRM?
- How can businesses ensure that their CRM implementation is successful?
1. What is a CRM Software?
CRM software, or customer relationship management system, is a software application that enables businesses to manage and track customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle.
CRM provides a centralized platform where teams can store and access customer data, track sales activities, manage marketing campaigns, and improve customer service. CRMs can be used by marketing, sales, and operations teams to improve customer engagement, increase sales conversions, and optimize business processes.
2. What are the benefits of CRM software?
Improved Customer Relationships: With CRM software, businesses can truly get to know their customers on a deeper level. By analyzing customer data, companies can customize their offerings to meet individual preferences, communicate in a personalized manner, and forge stronger connections.
Enhanced Customer Service: CRM is an excellent tool for businesses looking to provide top-notch customer service. By accessing complete customer profiles and historical interactions, customer service representatives can offer personalized support, address issues promptly, and provide a seamless customer experience.
Streamlined Sales Process: CRM streamlines the sales process by automating tasks such as lead generation, opportunity management, and sales forecasting. It enables sales teams to track and manage their interactions with prospects efficiently, prioritize leads, and close deals faster.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity: By centralizing all customer interaction data, CRM eliminates the need for manual data entry and reduces administrative tasks. This frees up valuable time for employees, allowing them to focus on more strategic activities, resulting in increased productivity and efficiency.
Data Centralization and Accessibility: CRM software provides a single, centralized database where businesses can store and access customer data, including contact information, purchase history, and communication preferences. This ensures that all relevant information is readily available to employees across different departments, enabling them to provide consistent and personalized customer experiences.
3. What is a CRM database?
A CRM database is a compilation of all the customer data you have collected and stored using CRM software. The contents of the database can include the following:
- Contact information: Names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, social media profiles
- Interaction history: Appointments, calls, emails, meeting notes
- Financial data: Sales records, invoices, quotes
- Demographic data: Gender, age, income, family status
- Marketing data: Campaign responses, website activity, newsletter signups
- Customer service data: Support tickets, live chats, product returns
In addition to standard customer information, such as contact details and interaction history, a CRM database can also store data from social media interactions. This allows businesses to gain valuable insights into customer sentiments, preferences, and engagement patterns across various social platforms.
4. What are the different types of CRMs?
The three main types of CRM systems are operational, analytical, and collaborative. Some CRM platforms may consist of all three elements, while others may focus on one or two.
- Operational CRMs track and manage customer data, such as contact information, sales opportunities, and marketing campaigns.
- Analytical CRMs generate insights from customer data, such as customer segmentation and marketing ROI.
- Collaborative CRMs facilitate communication and collaboration between marketing, sales, and operations teams.
An example of an operational CRM is Salesforce, which provides robust features for managing sales pipelines, tracking customer interactions, and automating sales processes. On the other hand, an analytical CRM like HubSpot CRM offers powerful reporting and data analysis capabilities to derive actionable insights from customer data.
5. What are the key features of a CRM?
There are many different types of CRM tools in the market, each offering various features. One of the key features to consider in a CRM is marketing automation, which allows businesses to automate repetitive marketing tasks such as email campaigns, lead nurturing, and social media posting. This feature can save time and effort for the marketing team while ensuring consistent and targeted communication with customers.
When considering a CRM, look for other critical factors like:
- Ease of integration
- Data synchronization
- Workflow automation
- Marketing automation
- Lead management
- Opportunity tracking
- Reporting and analytics
- Contact management
- Lead management
- Opportunity management
- Pipeline management
- Sales forecasting
- Quote and invoicing
- Campaign management
- Multi-touch revenue attribution
6. What sets a CRM apart from other platforms?
CRM exists in an already crowded selling software market. So what makes CRM any different than Marketing Automation, ERP, or CMS?
Unlike marketing automation platforms that focus primarily on lead generation and nurturing, a CRM provides a comprehensive view of the customer's journey from initial contact to post-sales support. It enables businesses to manage customer relationships holistically, integrating data from various touchpoints to deliver a personalized experience.
7. How is CRM different from Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation aims to streamline the process of taking a lead, nurturing them, and moving them to a sales-qualified lead. If a CRM is about pipeline management, qualification, and lead qualification processes, marketing automation platforms are about lead generation and personalization.
While CRM focuses on managing customer relationships and tracking interactions across the customer lifecycle, marketing automation platforms primarily aim to automate marketing tasks and workflows. For instance, a CRM can provide insights into a customer's purchase history and preferences, while marketing automation tools can automate personalized email campaigns based on that information.
By working together, the two applications can create a more efficient process to help increase the conversion rates of prospects into qualified leads. Many teams are seeing value in integrating the two — 52% of marketers say they would prioritize implementing marketing automation platforms that work well with other solutions to improve their strategies.
8. How is a CRM different from a CMS?
If a CRM enables teams to guide customers through the sales funnel, a content management system (CMS) is a tool that manages the content that supports that journey. A CMS helps teams manage blog content, landing pages, product listings, brand elements, and more while streamlining the creation and measurement of content performance.
For example, while a CMS allows businesses to create and publish blog posts, a CRM enables them to track how customers engage with those blog posts and use that information to tailor future communications.
CMS and CRM software integration is vital for any business. HubSpot CMS, for instance, unifies content creation with its powerful CRM function to tailor the buying journey, improve marketing and sales alignment, and deliver reporting that shows the direct ROI from marketing campaigns.
9. How is a CRM different from an ERP?
CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are excellent tools for optimizing revenue, but they have different central purposes. While a CRM primarily focuses on managing customer relationships and interactions, an ERP system encompasses broader organizational processes such as finance, inventory management, and supply chain. CRM systems provide insights into customer behavior, while ERP systems help optimize internal operations and resource allocation.
10. Why does your team need a CRM?
There are many reasons why businesses need a CRM:
- A CRM can help businesses manage customer data, improve customer engagement, increase sales conversions, and optimize business processes.
- By using a CRM, tea,s can better understand their customers and improve their overall customer service.
- The platform can also help departments generate insights from customer data, such as customer segmentation and marketing ROI.
A CRM can facilitate communication and collaboration between marketing, sales, and operations teams.
11. When should you invest in a CRM?
For a software development company, a CRM can be instrumental in managing client projects and tracking support inquiries. By having all relevant client information in one centralized system, the team can provide more efficient customer service, address issues promptly, and ensure a smooth project delivery process.
If the following is true for your teams or organization-wide operaqtions, consider investing in a CRM platform.
You can no longer manage all your leads using a spreadsheet and need technical assistance to track customer data. With a CRM in place, lead management processes can be automated, and you'll have the ability to track leads throughout the entire sales cycle, allowing you to prioritize building strong relationships with your customers.
You are losing potential customers because you don't have a system to follow up with leads promptly. By utilizing a CRM, marketing and sales processes can be automated, freeing up time for you to prioritize building strong relationships with your customers.
Your marketing and sales teams aren't aligned, and there's a lack of communication between departments. Using a CRM can enhance interdepartmental communication, teamwork, and collaboration among marketing, sales, and ops departments.
You aren't able to track the ROI of your marketing campaigns. A CRM empowers businesses to derive significant insights from customer data and effectively track the ROI of their marketing campaigns, enabling more informed decision-making and targeted strategies.
Customers have been complaining about their experiences with your company. Implementing a CRM can help you address customer complaints by enabling you to proactively reach out to dissatisfied customers and resolve their issues, resulting in improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Your sales team cannot keep track of customers throughout the buyer's journey. By implementing a CRM, businesses can monitor and optimize each customer's progress throughout the buyer's journey, resulting in more personalized and effective interactions.
12. Are there potential drawbacks to using a CRM?
While CRMs can be handy tools for managing customer interactions and data, there are some potential drawbacks. A CRM system can be challenging to implement effectively if you lack the technical expertise or need access to expert support.
If not correctly integrated with other systems across the organization, a CRM can also create data silos, making it difficult to get a holistic view of the customer, track interactions across different channels, and severely limit the potential of analytics and data insight functionality.
Another potential drawback of using a CRM is the challenge of effectively implementing it without the necessary technical expertise or expert support. Plus, if a CRM is not integrated correctly with other systems across the organization, it can create data silos, limiting the ability to get a holistic view of the customer and hindering the potential of analytics and data insights.
CRMs can also be expensive and time-consuming to implement and maintain. For small businesses, the cost and effort required to set up and maintain an extensive CRM may not be worth it. For larger organizations, however, the benefits of using an advanced CRM may outweigh the drawbacks.
13. How much does a CRM cost?
CRM pricing depends on the number of users with access to the system and the features included in the platform. Typically, smaller companies can expect to spend up to $20 per month per user, while enterprise-level plans may require a custom quote. Some vendors offer free versions of their software with limited features.
For example, HubSpot's CRM comes with a free-forever plan and an enhanced suite of tools under Marketing Hub (plans starting at $45/month to $3K+/month for enterprises). By carefully considering your needs, you can select the best option for your team without overspending.
14. How does a CRM fit into a company's MarTech stack?
A marketing technology (MarTech) stack aims to provide a single platform for all of an organization's marketing activities. This can help to improve coordination between different teams and departments, and it can make it easier to measure the overall performance of the organization's revenue-generating efforts.
A CRM system should be seen as a critical part of a MarTech stack that can also include a marketing automation platform (MAP), analytics tools, and other marketing software applications. While a CRM system provides the data foundation for marketing and sales operations, marketing automation and analytics tools can help turn that data into insights that guide strategies and tactics. By integrating a CRM system into the MarTech stack, businesses can make their operations more connected, efficient, and effective.
15. What are the benefits of integrating a CRM with other tools?
When it comes to marketing technologies, integration is vital. Businesses can reap many benefits by using a CRM in conjunction with other marketing technologies. For one, integrations provide a more holistic view of the customer journey, allowing businesses to understand what works and doesn't. Plus, strategic integrations can lead to more efficient workflows and better use of data.
Most importantly, integration allows businesses to provide a more personalized and relevant customer experience. In an increasingly competitive landscape, those that can offer a differentiated customer experience will be the ones that come out on top.
16. How to get started with a CRM?
To truly unlock the power of a CRM, it's important to follow some key best practices. This will help your teams work together more seamlessly, boost productivity, and ultimately drive growth and success for your business.
Define your goals: Before implementing a CRM, businesses must define their goals. This will help to ensure that the correct system is selected and implemented in a way that meets your organization's needs.
Select the right platform: There are several different platforms on the market, and businesses must select the one that best meets their needs. To do so, they should consider factors such as ease of use, scalability, and integrations.
Develop the proper infrastructure: A CRM system is only as good as the data and processes that support it. As such, businesses need to implement scalable infrastructure to ensure that their CRM is effective. This includes things like data quality control measures and workflow automation.
Train your team: To get the most out of a CRM, organizations need to ensure that their sales, marketing, and customer service teams receive proper training on how to use it.
Measure success: Finally, businesses need to measure the success of their CRM system. This can be done through KPI tracking and ROI analysis to ensure that their CRM drives impactful results.
17. What are some best practices for using a CRM?
An advanced CRM can help to create a seamless buyer's journey and provide a wealth of data that can be used to improve marketing strategies. However, there are a few best practices to get the most out of a CRM:
- First, ensure that all data is entered into the system accurately and in a timely manner.
- Perform regular clean-ups and updates to keep the data accurate and organized.
- Lastly, it is essential to train all employees using the system on how to properly use it to avoid any errors.
By following these best practices, enterprises can make the most of their CRM systems and improve their marketing campaigns.
18. How can businesses ensure that their CRM implementation is successful?
Businesses today are under pressure to do more with less, including getting the most out of their CRM. To ensure a successful CRM implementation, businesses need to take a strategic approach that starts with aligning their CRM goals with their overall revenue growth roadmap.
From there, they need to select the right CRM platform and partner and put in place the people, processes, and data infrastructure required to support it. They also need to ensure that their sales, marketing, and customer service teams are trained to use the system and are measured on its success. By taking these steps, businesses can set themselves up for CRM success.
CRM migrations are significant undertakings that require careful planning and execution to ensure a successful transformation. With the right strategy and plan in place, you can minimize risks and maximize the return on your investment.
To help you navigate the complexities of CRM migration, we have developed the CRM Migration Playbook. This comprehensive guide provides a step-by-step approach to building the foundation of your CRM migration plan. By following the playbook, you will gain a deeper understanding of the impact a CRM migration can have on your business and learn how to make informed decisions about the right timing for the migration.
Don't let the complexities of CRM migration overwhelm you. Download the CRM Migration Playbook and gain access to a wealth of knowledge that will empower you to navigate the migration process with confidence. By leveraging our playbook, you can lay the groundwork for a successful CRM transformation, ensuring that your migration is completed on time and within budget.
Tag(s): Marketing Automation
Zach leads New Breed's demand generation program. His areas of focus include in-depth market research and modeling, customer journey design and optimization, strategic application of data-based insights, technical integrations and data flow design, and technical content support.
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