A Complete Guide to CRM Software

Operational CRM, Analytical CRM, and Collaborative CRM - which type of CRM software is apt for your business? Read here to know everything about CRM and its benefits.

A Complete Guide to CRM Software

Have you ordered anything from Amazon, the e-commerce goliath?

Of course, who hasn’t?

We all are familiar with Amazon, a household name for online shopping. But, have you ever thought about how Amazon became the world’s leading online retailer from being just an online bookseller?

The answer is simple: through their customers and with the help of their customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Amazon provides their customers with everything they want. They provide tailored offers, personalised recommendations, and promotions based on the individual’s purchase history, and they make their customers feel valued. And this strong emphasis on customers and their choices formed the strong foundation for Amazon’s success.

Yes, being intuitive about your customers and having a strategy for Customer Relationship Management can help your business grow. But, SMEs often struggle to answer the below questions:

  • What is a CRM?
  • Evolution of CRM
  • What are the various types of CRM software ?
  • Why should you use a CRM?
  • What are the signs that indicate your company is ready for a CRM?
  • How to successfully implement a CRM?

We have answered all those questions in this blog. Let’s dive in!


What is CRM and how did it evolve?

CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. As the name suggests, the CRM software manages your relationships with your existing and potential customers. The goal of the CRM tool is simple: to improve your business relationships. How can a simple CRM make it happen?

A CRM system can help your business in numerous ways. Let’ list a few:

  • It increases sales productivity by providing your sales team with a centralised tool to monitor leads, manage sales pipelines and generate sales forecasting.
  • It provides all relevant customer information to your sales team including customer details, their preferences, key decision makers and the like.
  • It helps you stay connected with your customers, streamline the sales processes, and brings in transparency in the entire sales organization.
  • It helps your marketing team by nurturing the leads through EDM over time . Welcome to the world of Drip Marketing.
  • It helps you in understanding your customers’ behaviour and assists in optimizing your marketing strategies.
  • It improves customer retention with the help of features such as sentiment analysis, automated ticketing, and customer service automation.
  • It assists you in providing efficient customer service.

And in many more ways!

According to Investopedia, “CRM can be defined as a set of strategies, practices, and guidelines that would be followed by organizations to interact with its customers. From the organization's point of view, this complete relationship encompasses direct interactions with customers, like sales and service-related processes, and forecasting. Precisely, CRM serves to enhance the customer's overall experience.”

But, how did it all start? Let’s learn about the evolution of CRM!


The Evolution of CRM

The term “CRM'' has been coined recently. But the customer relationship management strategies and solutions started a long time ago. It is as old as the trade that dates back to 20,000 years. Considering what was required to be a successful trader or businessman back then and now, very little has changed.

The traders of paleolithic times understood the importance of nurturing customer relationships. (otherwise, how would they build their business during ancient times, a non-digital era?). They kept track of their buyers and sellers in the supply chain, their location, and their product choices.

With the increase in the trade, there was a need to maintain accounting to determine who owned what, or who owed what to whom. And with various requirements of performing a business, “CRM” took birth and evolved with time.

Early 1950s: The Rolodex

Rolodex, the primary form of CRM, was used from the early 1950s to the late 1960s. It was used along with folders in filing cabinets and personal organizers.

Early 1970s: Mainframe System

As the mainframe computers increased in popularity, the business could register necessary customer information such as name, contact details in a digital format.

Early 1980s: Database Marketing

The first CRM systems gained their popularity through the businesses that adopted database marketing. Businesses collected the customer information but had no option to organize or respond to it.

Late 1980s: Contact Management System

Conductor Software launched ACT! - a digital version of Rolodex but what made it unique is a built-in contact management tool. The tool marked the beginning of outbound sales calls or cold calls to the customers.

Early 1990s: Sales Force Automation

New features such as tracking and analyzing the customer data, were added to database marketing and the rest of the tasks were automated. This led to Sales Force automation. Siebel Systems became the most popular SFA provider.

1995: CRM Acronym

The term “CRM” was coined.

Late 1990s: Mobile CRM

Siebel Systems released the first-ever mobile CRM. It was called Siebel Sales Handheld.

1999: Cloud-based SaaS CRM System

The first ever cloud-based SaaS CRM system came into existence. This is a CRM software hosted in the cloud. In other words, the customer information will be stored and accessed through the internet.

Early 2000s: On-premise CRM

On-premise CRM industry took over in the 2000s. It was mainly invented for corporate-wide process automation of large organisations.

2004: Open source CRM

CRM systems evolved to open-source CRM systems. The open source CRM software used open source programs. The source code of the programs were available for the public for use and/or modification.

2007: Cloud-based CRM

Cloud-based application development program was combined with SaaS to enable customization of web-based CRM.

Late 2000s: Social CRM

The rise of the social media era led CRM from being just a transactional tool to an interactive tool. Customer interactions, social media automation and customer service became highly important.

2010s: Introduction of New Integration Capabilities

With the rise of business intelligence services and communication systems, integrations, improvements of data analytics and reporting, mobile access, involvement of AI and machine learning increased.

The present: CX-focused CRM

There is a transition from CRM strategy for marketing, sales, and service to CRM strategy to enhance the data personalization for customers.

Future of CRM: AI and analytics

CRM providers such as Pepper Cloud, are continually improving our products with AI, machine learning, and analytics and ensuring to provide the best to their customers.


Different Types of CRM

While the main intention of CRM is to grow the business, the reality is no one-size-fits-all. Hence, the different types of CRM fit different types of the business.

CRM are mainly of three types: Operational CRM, Analytical CRM, Collaborative CRM.

Operational CRM

Operational CRM is used for generating leads, nurturing the leads, converting them to customers, capturing the required customer data, and providing efficient service throughout the customer lifecycle. This is achieved through three main features.

  • Sales Automation: Sales CRM such as Pepper Cloud, is intended to increase sales efficiently and effectively by automating the sales process. It includes sales modules such as sales pipeline, lead management, sales forecasting, etc.
  • Marketing Automation: This process eases the marketing efforts of the team by automating mundane tasks such as coordinating email campaigns, sending out communications at a scale, etc.
  • Service Automation: The purpose of this process is to provide the best customer experience to your customers by fixing their problems. This includes customer call management, service quality monitoring, etc.

Analytical CRM

Analytical CRM helps your management, marketing, sales, and support personnel to gather data such as customer needs and behaviours, from various touchpoints and analyse it effectively.

The most important aspects of Analytical CRM are:

  • Data Warehousing: to collect, integrate, and prepare the customer data for analysis.
  • Data Mining: to discover patterns in large data sets.
  • OLAP Tools: Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tools to analyze the data stored in the database.

Collaborative CRM/Strategic CRM

As the name suggests, Collaborative CRM brings the customers’ information to your marketing, sales, technical, and support team. It aims to improvise the synchronicity among different departments of the business and provides the necessary information of customers’ needs, wants, and interests.

The two definitive components of this type of Collaborative CRM are: Interaction Management and Channel Management.

  • Interaction Management: To track every interaction between your team and your customers.
  • Channel Management: To analyse the information gathered by interaction management and decide upon which channel of communication is best suited for your customer.

Now, we have understood how different types of CRM can help different businesses. But how to know if your business is ready to implement CRM? We have answered that question.


Signs to know your company is ready for CRM

In the age of digital connectivity, a report by Gartner declared that CRM software revenues are overtaking database management systems and are progressing towards becoming the largest of all the software markets!

Why is that?

CRM is a robust tool that helps you to stay connected with the customers. But “does your business need this?" or "is your business ready for CRM?” are the questions to be answered.

Here are a few indications that show your company needs CRM.

  • It is becoming increasingly tedious to visualise the relationships between your customers, companies, opportunities, etc.
  • You are shifting from one tab to another, from one sheet to another, from one document to another to find email addresses, conversation history, and other details of customers. In other words, you are storing customer information in multiple places and it is becoming cumbersome for your team and thereby reducing team productivity.
  • An employee leaving the company causes a potential loss of customer data because data was maintained in unstructured format and hence difficult to decipher.
  • You are struggling to provide personalised customer service and your customers are feeling unvalued.
  • You are struggling to manage your customer engagement strategy, marketing strategy and unable to analyse the effectiveness of your strategies.
  • You are wrestling to find effective ways to future-proof your business.

When your business and your team is experiencing the above challenges, you know your company is ready for a comprehensive solution such as a CRM system. But how to successfully implement a CRM Software? What are the factors that influence it?


Tips for successful CRM Implementation

We all agree that CRM is a booster for business growth. But, implementing it appropriately is crucial too. From the “initial implementation” to “go-live with the final system”,  you will have to consider a few aspects for a successful CRM roll out.

  • Assess your business needs. List down the areas where you are struggling such as - generations of new leads, tracking sales opportunities, tracking salesperson performance and so on.
  • Make sure you have local support for the product. Implementing and optimising CRM takes time and with the evolving nature of technology it's very important that you engage a  company that understands your needs and keeps you ahead of the curve.
  • Be aware of the integration requirements  between various other tools being used in your company and your CRM. Common examples are - integrating CRM with your website, with various social channels like facebook and twitter and with communication tools such as WhatsApp and telephony.
  • Ensure you have the automation scenarios ready to be implemented.
  • Create a buy-in from your sales staff and provide adequate training to your team members and executives.

After you successfully deploy the CRM system, start your CRM assisted business growth journey.
Create sales pipelines as per your business needs; integrate other necessary tools such as Gmail/Office 365, Mailchimp with your CRM; create webforms and integrate it in your website and social media channels to capture lead information; set up your dashboard to track your team progress; and utilise the CRM effectively with the help of CRM support team.


In a nutshell

Businesses are posed with extensive challenges. From struggles of identifying the right lead to analysing the right mode of communication, to timely communication with the potential customer, all customer-facing activities can be tricky.

Good news? All these can be tackled with CRM systems such as Pepper Cloud.

Bad news? It doesn’t happen unless you take a step ahead and book a demo.

CRM systems like Pepper Cloud CRM resolve the challenges presented by complex workflows of fast-growing businesses. They empower your business through end-to-end sales funnel management and your sales team by streamlining and automating the process.

If you enjoyed the article and found it informative, please let us know !