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Many big enterprises and corporations use software to manage their customer relationships and marketing efforts. But owners of small businesses and startups might ask themselves: what is customer relationship management software? How can it benefit my business processes and team performance? It all comes down to providing an exceptional, consistent customer experience.

According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report, 80% of customers consider the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services. In the same report, 85% of respondents said they expect consistent interactions across departments.

To meet the expectations of a modern customer base, companies of all sizes must implement the tools that will align their customer-facing department and create a cohesive brand experience. Keep reading to understand what customer relationship management (CRM) software is, how it can benefit each of your revenue operations teams, and tips on finding the best software for your business.

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software?

what is customer relationship management infographic
A visual representation of a CRM interface.

CRM software are cloud-based platforms that facilitate various aspects of customer relationship management, helping companies develop a great customer experience. A CRM system’s capabilities can include things like contact management, email marketing automation, marketing campaign management, social media management, and customer support ticketing.

In addition to providing lead management and marketing automation tools, most CRM tools also have reporting and analytics capabilities. CRM data dashboards can provide users with insights into their sales pipeline, customer lifecycle, and customer engagement, as well as team performance metrics.

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Who Uses CRM Software, and How?

Customer relationship management software are robust, feature-rich platforms that support multiple teams and use cases. In general, they are used by revenue operations teams, including sales, marketing, and customer support teams. Here’s a breakdown of how CRM solutions can be used by each of these teams.

Sales Teams

what is customer relationship management sales team graphic
A visual representation of how information can be sorted in CRM software.

Sales reps can benefit from a CRM system by storing and managing their contact information data, automating outreach and follow-up, and monitoring their sales cycles. Customer interactions are tracked by the software, giving users a clear overview of their history with each contact. Many tools can set up real-time notifications when specific customer actions are taken, helping salespeople act more quickly to close deals.

The software’s cloud-based storage keeps lead data organized and secure, making it easier to find qualified leads and prospects. Users can automate email and SMS communications, which helps team members reach out to potential customers and follow up with relevant, timely messaging. The reporting features of the software can facilitate sales forecasting and insights into your sales funnel, fueling more effective sales strategies.

Marketing Teams

what is customer relationship management marketing teams graphic
A visual representation of the graphs and charts available in CRM software.

A CRM platform can automate repetitive tasks like ad publishing, social media posting, and metrics reporting. Features like customizable email templates, landing page builders, and automated data entry help speed up marketing efforts. Users can connect their CRM to other SaaS tools and apps to streamline their workflows. Some tools also offer advanced capabilities like artificial intelligence-powered email drafting.

Many CRMs can help marketing teams run A/B tests and craft personalized messaging based on website visitor data, creating a more customized experience. Cloud-based CRMs often also provide a storage solution for documents and files, so users can keep marketing collateral in a single, accessible repository. Reporting dashboards provide detailed insights on the customer journey, which can be used to develop stronger marketing campaigns and tactics.

Customer Support Teams

what is customer relationship management support team graphic
A visual representation of the different components of CRM software working together.

CRM tools can be used by CX teams to onboard new customers, manage a help desk, collect customer feedback, and provide ongoing support. All customer information can be stored in the platform, like email addresses, phone numbers, company information, and customer history. A CRM can also be used to manage support tickets, make phone calls, and automate regular touchpoints to check in with customers.

In a 2022 study by McKinsey, 77% of survey respondents reported that they had built digital customer service platforms, but only 10% reported that those platforms were fully scaled and adopted by customers.

A CRM can help you build a self-serve customer support portal with supporting resources and documentation. When your team can meet customer needs without having to hand-hold every client, they’re able to focus on the interactions that matter most, providing a better overall customer experience. This can boost customer satisfaction, customer retention, and customer loyalty.

What are the Benefits of CRM Software?

There are benefits you’d expect from CRM software, like a more streamlined sales process and better customer relationship management. But there are other benefits you might not think about that can have a big impact on the success of your revenue operations teams. Here are a few extra benefits of investing in a CRM:

  1. Aligned Revenue Operations teams: When your sales team, marketing team, and customer success teams are all using the same platform, it’s easier for them to understand each other’s work and stay connected.
  2. No more KPI confusion: Your CRM can serve as a single source of truth for customer data, reducing uncertainty around KPIs. Finally, your sales and marketing teams will agree on how to measure LTV!
  3. Customer journey insights: With a CRM, you can track everything from where leads come from to the best conversion channels, time to convert, churn warning signs, and more, creating a holistic overview of your customer journey.
  4. Improved team productivity: Automated workflows, activity notifications, A/B testing, and analytics all contribute to team productivity. Teams are more efficient and proactive and can focus on the most impactful work.
  5. Increased employee engagement: When you automate menial tasks, employees can focus on work that leverages and develops their strengths, which can account for an increase in employee engagement of between 9% and 15%, according to Gallup.

How to Pick the Best CRM Software

Like with most SaaS solutions, there are various types of CRM software on the market and plenty of options to choose from. To narrow down your search and find the right CRM for your business needs, consider the following criteria:

  • Features: Consider which CRM features will have the most impact for your teams, whether its email templates, workflow automation, or social media management. Look for a software that has those specific features, rather than one that ‘does it all’.
  • Integrations: A LinkedIn integration might be useful for a B2B company, while an ecommerce business could benefit more from a Shopify integration. A good CRM is one that connects with your existing tech stack.
  • Pricing: There are several free CRM software available, while others offer free trials and demos, all of which can be good options for tight budgets. Do some research to learn how much a CRM costs, and consider the additional value each one offers before settling on a solution.

Ready to start using a CRM? Check out The RevOps Team’s list of the best CRM software for detailed descriptions of the top tools available.

Need expert help selecting the right Customer Service Software?

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CRM Software Keeps You Ahead of the Competition

For businesses large and small, investing in a CRM solution can make the difference between a good customer experience and a great one. These platforms help create consistency across your revenue operations departments and build brand affinity from your customer base. Not only that, but they can help to foster cross-team alignment and data-driven decision making.

Want to learn more about managing customer relationships? Here are a few top reads from The RevOps Team:

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By Phil Gray

Philip Gray is the COO of Black and White Zebra and Founding Editor of The RevOps Team. A business renaissance man with his hands in many departmental pies, he is an advocate of centralized data management, holistic planning, and process automation. It's this love for data and all things revenue operations landed him the role as resident big brain for The RevOps Team.

With 10+ years of experience in leadership and operations in industries that include biotechnology, healthcare, logistics, and SaaS, he applies a considerable broad scope of experience in business that lets him see the big picture. An unapologetic buzzword apologist, you can often find him double clicking, drilling down, and unpacking all the things.