August 23, 2016

New to CRM? Here’s What You Need to Know

BY Caitlin Delohery IN CRM Software 0 Comment

So, you’ve begun the exciting adventure that leads to your first CRM platform! Awesome! Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you get the lay of the land.

What exactly is CRM?

You probably know that CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management (that’s probably why you’re reading this blog post!). But what the heck does that mean?

Think of CRM as one of those colorful umbrellas that’s big enough to house everything you need to have fun at the beach — your cooler of microbrews, a fine selection of beach reads, and matching beach loungers. Your CRM umbrella contains everything you need to nurture your customers through the buyer’s journey, the combination of goodies you use to keep those customers happy.

Here are some of the pre- and post- sales activities and data that fall under your CRM umbrella:

The actions your sales team takes to turn someone who is interested in your product or service into a customer

  • Meeting in person
  • Chatting on the phone
  • Emailing
  • Texting
  • Using a live chat feature
  • Mailing marketing materials
  • Engaging on social media
  • Publishing hot content that addresses your customers’ pain points

All of the fun things your team does to delight and retain customers post-sale

  • Touching base on the regular
  • Promoting the good stuff your customers do
  • Setting up awesome referral programs
  • Creating an army of brand advocates

The data your current and future customers create through their behavior

  • How many of your customers were referrals from other customers
  • Where in the sales funnel each customer is
  • How many deals your team has closed by company, region, and other factors
  • What sales strategies turn leads into customers

Your CRM software is the technology that you use to make sense of it all.

What is CRM software?

CRM software is a powerful tool that helps you manage and analyze all of your interactions, whether they’re with newbie leads or your loyal fanbase. It’s the sidekick software that helps your superhero team boost relationships with everyone who already loves you and those who will love you very, very soon.

Here are some of the ways CRM can improve follow-up, streamline workflow, and empower your sales team to do their best:

  • Track customer contact information
  • Automate emails and other messaging
  • Log phone calls and in-person meetings
  • Sync with future and current customers’ social media profiles
  • Store and share team notes specific to each contact
  • Track prospects throughout the sales funnel
  • Manage follow-up scheduling
  • Automate contact follow-up
  • Provide reports that track customer behavior and help you make sales forecasts

Think of a CRM platform as a social media feed just for your sales team to keep in touch with customers.

If you’re like me (and pretty much everyone I know), you use Facebook to remember your friends’ birthdays. When we do this, we’re outsourcing certain aspects of our personal relationships to the social media platform.

CRMs provide the same kinds of reminders for your business relationships.

Social media feed

CRM “feed”

Status updates

  • Your ex’s relationship status
  • Jealousy-inspiring pictures of tropical vacations
  • Info about what your buddy from college ate for lunch
  • Detailed contact information
  • Notes on last interaction with a customer
  • Info about what your hottest leads are Tweeting, Facebooking, and LinkedIn-ing about


  • An invitation to your niece’s 8th-grade graduation
  • A memory from four years ago when you just got back from your jealousy-inspiring vacay
  • A reminder that a lead is due for follow-up
  • A reminder that a customer-specific task will be due next Tuesday


  • Recent friend updates
  • Calendar
  • Friends list
  • Groups list
  • Recent lead and customer updates
  • Calendar
  • Contacts list
  • Companies list


A CRM superpowers your lead nurturing process and frees up your team’s time to focus more on the customer relationship part and less on the management aspect of the sales process.

What should you look for in a CRM?

Sometimes, it seems like there are as many CRMs as there are startups in San Francisco. Some come with all the bells, some come with all the whistles, some mix and match bells and whistles. But don’t get distracted by all that. Focus on the fundamental characteristics that will best guide your CRM search.

Ease of use

Inside CRM found that 55% of users think “ease of use” is the most important feature of CRM software. In fact, 72% of senior executives would give up some of those bells and whistles in their CRM in favor of usability.

When it comes to a CRM, you don’t want this:

You want this:

Easy coffee


Your system should work for you, not the other way around. You don’t want to have to change your business practices, sales tactics, and workflows to suit a CRM. A good CRM should be adaptable, flexible, and easily tailored to exactly what you need.

For example, a highly customizable dashboard makes a CRM easier to use, simpler, and more fun. Each member of your team can choose what they see right when they start their day, prioritize the information they need most, and organize modules in a way that’s intuitive for them.

This also gets your team to buy-in to the CRM — like a new office space, they can move in and arrange their CRM exactly how they like it.

Easy integrations

A CRM should play well with others. Along with adjusting to the way your team works, it should talk to the essential tools that your team uses. A CRM that can’t partner with your email program or your calendar is falling down on the job. Seek out a CRM that pairs well with the tools that are already crucial to your workflow.


Analyzing cost is about more than simply comparing price tags. It’s about making sure you’re only paying for what you’ll actually use. Before you pay top dollar for an enterprise-level CRM system, make sure it aligns with what your company needs.

What are the benefits of a CRM?

The average return on investment for a CRM is $8.71 per every $1 spent.

Mic drop

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are five ways CRM software helps your business grow, makes your sales team more efficient and effective, and frees up more time to nurture your future customers.

Saves money

Along with an off-the-hook ROI, a good CRM makes your team better at their jobs. It does just what it’s name promises — it improves your most important relationships — those with your customers. By providing data on your sales efforts, a CRM helps you focus only on those initiatives that are most fruitful.

Saves time

“I love data entry!” said no salesperson ever. Manually inputting customer information can be time-consuming and boring. Especially if you keep detailed information about your contacts, manual logging can be a major timesuck. A CRM saves your team valuable minutes on every single contact, prospect touch, and customer interaction.

Standardizes records

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes make mistakes, especially when I’m doing manual data entry. Chances are, your sales team isn’t perfect, either (though I’m sure they’re awesome).

The less complete your customer records, the less effective your sales efforts. A CRM helps you eliminate these errors, standardize the information kept for each contact, and get a clear picture of your organization’s network of contacts.

Improves follow-up

Businesses with strong follow-up are businesses that grow. In fact, 35% to 5% of sales go to the salesperson who responds first.

By automating follow-up reminders, a strong CRM platform makes sure that you never miss an opportunity to make that first touch. Further, it helps your team stay on top of regular contact, so your leads are nurtured well and your customers stay happy.

Helps your business scale up

As you grow, manually tracking customers will be more and more unwieldy. A good CRM will improve your capacity to scale up and encourage your team to grow and grow.

There you have it — a quick overview of what CRM is, what it does, and how it can benefit you.

Looking for more? Check out our blog on how a CRM helps you find, nurture, and win deals.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

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