CRM: What is it and what is it not?

What is CRM?

You’d be forgiven for being a little confused, as many other business decision-makers are left scratching their heads when they’re pressured to choose between different sales technologies. But we’re here to help clear this up for you.


Put simply, customer relationship management (CRM) is a process that businesses use to administer their interactions with customers, using data analysis. This is usually automated through a CRM system which compiles data from a range of different communication channels. These channels include the organization’s website, phone, email, live chat, marketing materials and even media. The goal of CRM is to help companies to learn more about their target audiences and how best to cater for their needs – all in the service of sales growth and customer retention.

CRM is like a digital Rolodex full of important customer data. It’s a digital tool that enables marketing teams to generate leads and interact with potential customers, run promotional campaigns, and keep track of the customer journey. CRM data is used to segment your customer database according to relevant criteria, enabling focused messaging to specific customers, and it includes managing the initial customer funnel, following up on new prospects until they become part of the sales cycle.


It’s important to realise at this point that CRM is not a Marketing Automation (MA). Marketing automation refers to technologies that automate, track and report on communication and engagements with prospects and customers, such as mass emails, social media posts and visits to your website. It also tracks the effectiveness of these engagements in generating leads, converting them into customers, and retaining them.


Sales, marketing, and finance teams work on different aspects of the business, have different touchpoints with customers, and use different software platforms to manage these interactions. When these platforms can’t communicate in the same language, it often results in incorrectly processed orders, billing errors, late deliveries and too many product returns. This is another problem you won’t have to worry about with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, as it can be setup to seamlessly integrate with almost any other platform you may be using.


All this, supercharged with a real time field sales automation platform, means all your blind spots are covered. So, CRM software only really contains accurate customer data if it captures all interactions between your outside sales teams and customers in real-time and has an updated view of their financial account status.


Customer relationship management (CRM) is often confused with Sales Force Automation (SFA) – sometimes referred to as field sales automation. One of the fundamental differences is that while SFA looks after the entire sales process and tracks the efforts of salespeople and their face-to-face relationships with customers, CRM is all about customer profiles, data tools, office sales, account management and communicating with clients from a distance — from the office, for instance.


SFA software is used by sales managers to monitor the activities of sales staff, assign tasks, and analyze performance against goals and success growth targets. SFA software helps businesses manage and drive every aspect of the sales cycle from inquiries and orders, all the way to invoicing and payment: all in real-time. It automates and helps manage the sales process for new and existing customers, while CRM focuses on creating a single view of all customer engagements across the business (Sales, Marketing and Support) with the intention of increasing retention of these customers. CRM then continues the interaction with customers via marketing, general communication, and promotions.


Click here to read a more detailed description of the differences between CRM and Sales Force Automation tools.


Adopting new sales technology can be made so easy. To learn more, download Skynamo’s Beginner’s Guide for Moving to Sales Technology to understand how technology can help you and your business, or get in touch with Skynamo, the easy-to-use Field Sales app for manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.