A short guide to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools

Improving customer relationships is now an essential part of managing a successful business. Customers are the lifeblood of any business as they provide direct access to revenue streams and profit opportunities.

In the past, a number of industries chose to neglect managing customers carefully. They treated them purely as a vessel for finance rather than considering that all customers have unique specifics and requirements to satisfy their needs. Consequently, one of the biggest pitfalls for businesses in the 21st century has been failing to understand exactly what customers want and expect from their business or service.

This is particularly true in the B2B world which has historically favoured a ‘one size fits all policy’. Instead, forward-thinking companies are now finding that taking a more holistic approach to customer relationship management, including employing technology to help manage these relationships is actually leading to stronger relationships with customers, better opportunities for sales and an increased ability to consistently generate revenue. This is most commonly achieved using a Customer Relationship Management Tool (CRM).

What is a CRM?

A Customer Relationship Management Tool (CRM) is the term used for a technology strategy that helps businesses manage and analyse customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. The end goal is primarily to improve business relationships with customers. However, these tools are multi-purpose as they can also support customer retention strategies and be used to help drive sales growth.

A CRM system should not be viewed as a singular object, but rather as a collection of systems, services and internet-based technologies. Ideally a CRM system should incorporate all of these aspects to use data to it’s maximum potential.

What are some of the most common CRM systems?

Some of the most common CRMs include:

  • Salesforce: A cloud-based tool with a wide range of features for sales, customer service, and marketing.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: A program combining cloud-based and on-premise capabilities, with Microsoft Suite integration.
  • HubSpot: An all-in-one marketing, sales, and service platform. There is a free and paid version available.
  • Zoho: A cloud-based cost-friendly CRM with a wide range of features.
  • Pipedrive: A sales-focused tool that focuses specifically on pipeline management and deal tracking.
  • SAP: A system for managing customer data and interactions, as well as integration with other SAP products.
  • Oracle: A rival to SAP with similar capabilities, but with added integration with other Oracle products.


What are the 3 key benefits of using a Customer Relationship Management?

Although businesses can gain a wealth of benefits by using a Customer Relationship Management system, the key benefits are:

  • Improved customer relationships: By centralising customer data and interactions, a CRM system can help a business better understand and meet the needs of its customers. This can lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Increased sales: By providing a more complete view of customer interactions and history, a CRM system can help a sales team identify and target the most promising leads. It can also help a business identify and up-sell opportunities with existing customers.
  • Enhanced efficiency: A CRM system can automate many of the repetitive and time-consuming tasks associated with managing customer relationships, such as data entry and follow-up. This can free up staff time to focus on more high-value activities, such as building relationships with key customers.

Additionally, CRM systems can also provide businesses with valuable insights and analytics on customer behaviour, sales data and performance, which can help businesses make more informed decisions. This makes them an extremely worthwhile investment for businesses of all sizes.

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