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Sales CRM 101: The Ultimate Guide to Customer Relationship Management

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Sales CRM: The Ultimate Guide to Customer Relationship Management

Even if you've never used CRM software before, you've probably heard the term bantered around in your industry.

Over the last few years, CRM software has evolved tremendously.

Did you know that the customer relationship management software market is expected to grow in size to $43.5 billion globally in 2024?

Regardless of the size of your business, you know how important customer relationships are to success. CRMs are powerful tools that facilitate your business growth while eliminating friction, automating administrative tasks, managing your deals, syncing data, and more.

But, what is a sales CRM, and what does it do? And more importantly, how can a CRM benefit your business?

In this guide, we'll cover -

  1. What is a sales CRM software and who is it for?
  2. How does a CRM work?
  3. How can sales CRM benefit your business?
  4. How can sales CRM improve your sales process?

What is a Sales CRM Software?

CRM stands for customer relationship management, and it is a technology for managing and supporting customer relationships.

A sales CRM tool helps you engage with customers, including future customers, at every touchpoint throughout the sales process and maintain a positive customer relationship.

The CRM system streamlines every task of the entire sales pipeline and improves the overall customer journey with the aid of automation.

It helps teams across marketing, sales, customer support, commerce, and IT with the tools and information they need for personalized and enhanced customer experiences that drive actual business value.

In short, a CRM system helps businesses stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.

47% of CRM users mentioned that leveraging the tool has a substantial improvement on customer retention since it comes with a set of features that are designed to help your team perform better.

The result: efficiency, better organization, improved time management, and happy clients.

Who is a CRM Tool for?

A considerable amount of people think and confine the CRM platform's features to sales teams, given the fact that the end goal is to boost sales, but everyone in the organization can benefit from a CRM.

Short answer - anyone who runs a business can profit from a CRM platform.

A CRM tool helps you identify sales opportunities, manage sales and marketing campaigns, respond to service issues, store customer information, and maintain business relationships, all in one central location - and makes it easily available to anyone at your organization who might need it.

Businesses of all sizes use a CRM system - from mom-and-pop stores to small businesses, mid-size businesses, and even large corporates.

Everyone can benefit from better organization, centralized task management, and sophisticated AI and automation tools that help your team to work better and faster with less effort.

The effectiveness and importance of CRM can be implied by the fact that 91% of companies with more than 11 employees now use CRM software.

With easy visibility and access to data, the collaboration between teams to increase productivity has never been easier.

How does CRM for Sales Work?

At its root, a sales CRM tool allows sales and marketing teams to manage, maintain, and analyze customer relationships and close deals.

A CRM extracts information from sources such as email, voice calls, sales tools, and other channels to help you attract more customers and retain the ones you have. It helps you to maintain and organize your workflow, sales funnel, and sales strategy so your team can collaborate, close more deals, and improve productivity.

In practice, a CRM should work the way your business works to make it seamless.

The Basics of CRM for Sales

CRMs include a myriad of functionalities to help your team expedite business growth through various touchpoints, including -

  1. Search engines
  2. Voice calls
  3. Emails
  4. Social media
  5. Contact forms

CRM systems are generally designed to streamline and improve customer interactions by improving efficiencies across workflow and the sales funnel by automating tasks and analyzing data.

The best CRM software provides an all-in-one solution for managing your customer data, including voice, chat, and email touchpoints.

With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, your sales teams can save time and keep themselves from getting burnt out on cognitively distressing tasks.

Intuitive features such as click-to-call, automation, and cross-platform functionality make it a breeze to collaborate from anywhere, make your organization more agile, and save an incredible amount of revenue too.

CRMs, in addition to marketing automation, provide marketing teams and sales teams with a set of tools to manage their entire sales pipeline, marketing funnels, deal management, and more.

Here's a list of functionalities offered by a CRM -

  1. Lead Generation: A CRM tracks and analyzes the company's leads, assisting marketing teams to feed in new leads into the software.
  2. Marketing Automation: Intuitive CRM systems offer marketing automation modules to automate certain administrative tasks. The system can automatically send emails to customers or publish social media posts, scheduled by the team. The goal of marketing automation is to keep potential customers interested and help them turn into paying customers.
  3. Sales Automation: As stated above, CRMs can easily track customer interactions across various touchpoints and automate selected sales activities that are necessary to follow leads and attract new customers.
  4. Artificial Intelligence: CRM solutions offer AI capabilities built into the system to automatically identify triggers leading to successful sales to help your sales team to build more accurate sales strategies.
  5. Analytics: CRM software in the market offers built-in analytics and reporting tools that offer granular insights to analyze and fine-tune sales data, and in turn, create successful workflows to boost customer retention rates.
  6. Personalized Customer Experience: CRMs can also be largely leveraged by sales teams alike to create personalized and consistent customer experience across various touchpoints to help increase conversions and brand awareness.

What are the Primary Types of CRM for Sales?

Customer relationship management software or CRM solutions help organizations track, identify, analyze, manage, and interact with their customers.

The goal of having a CRM is to reach more prospects, accelerate conversion rates, maintain a high level of customer satisfaction, and overcome sales objections to make sure they come back for more.

There is a multitude of CRM solutions but they can be segmented into three primary types -

  1. Operational
  2. Analytical
  3. Collaborative

1. Operational CRM Systems

Operational CRMs help businesses streamline their business process to build better customer relationships.

Humans are not built to do repetitive tasks; they tend to make mistakes.

Operational CRMs provide tools to handle customer journeys more efficiently, even with a high number of touchpoints. The CRM tracks customer interactions right from the beginning throughout the whole lead management process as they move through the sales pipeline, and continues to analyze even after becoming a customer.

On the sales and marketing side of the team, operational CRM automates processes related to keeping tabs on customer data and customer satisfaction, forecasting the sales cycle, clerical tasks, and more, so they can focus on what actually matters.

2. Analytical CRM Systems

Analytical CRMs go with the primary focus on helping you analyze customer data to gain actionable insights.

This type of sales CRM aggregates customer data from various sources to shadow patterns that are otherwise invisible to the human eye, usually slipping through the cracks.

The market is brimming with a ton of tools and technology to provide data, but the vital step required to turn that data into actionable insights is a difficult feat.

Reports suggest that over half of the data collected by companies never gets utilized.

An analytical sales CRM provides features that help you use the data to help you understand customer behavior. Using this information, your business can understand better how to mimic successful sales strategies, steps to increase customer retention, and what the most common problems are.

3. Collaborative CRM Systems

The primary focus of collaborative CRM systems is to break down silos.

Also called Strategic Sales CRM, this type of CRM centralizes customer data that can be easily accessible by the sales, customer support team, and marketing teams.

For bigger organizations, each department is separated based on factors such as geography, channels they serve, and products they sell. In order to provide a seamless customer experience throughout the sales process, you need a way to share important information in real-time.

Collaborative sales CRMs encompass two major elements: Interaction Management and Channel Management.

Interaction management keeps track of all customer interactions and channel management leverages the insights gained through interaction management to decide which channel to communicate with.

Since this data is shared across the organization, each department can act on it as and when required.

In addition, the seamless integration between all departments and channels saves customers from the dreaded experience of repeating themselves over and over again. Each employee can interact with the customer from the last point and easily pull up records of previous interactions to stay up to date.

How Can Your Business Benefit from a Sales CRM?

A sales CRM plays an integral role in how each stage of your sales process functions.

With a sales CRM tool, your business can benefit in more than one way -

Centralize Sales Operations

On a typical day, most sales reps spend a significant amount of time juggling everything from prospect research to cold calls to sending follow-up emails, manually.

On the other hand, sales managers keep themselves busy by monitoring their teams' performance and coaching team members that need extra assistance.

Without a centralized system, managing day-to-day operations can not only get extremely daunting but can quickly become dysfunctional in the respective department.

A sales CRM is designed to be a one-stop solution to simply everyday workflows.

These systems have the ability to integrate with your existing tools and communication channels, making it seamless to manage all tasks from a unified platform.

The CRM allows sales reps and team members from other departments to find the most accurate, up-to-date information in relation to the prospect to follow-up. Not just that, they can also engage with leads across all communication channels without having to switch tabs and lose data.

Identify and Categorize the Lead Generation Process

A sales CRM helps you identify and add new leads easily and even categorize them correctly.

Sales reps can prioritize opportunities that have a high tendency to convert, and marketing can identify leads that need more nurturing to become quality leads.

With accurate, centrally stored information about prospects and customer information, sales and marketing teams can focus their attention on the right clients.

Recognize Bottlenecks in Your Sales Funnel

For businesses that do not leverage a sales CRM, it is hard to analyze performance issues.

They have to compile massive amounts of data into spreadsheets, only leading to human errors and confusion.

With a sales CRM, analyzing and handling data becomes easy, since it does it for you. Customer information is automatically compiled into the system in real-time and provides insights into how well your sales department is functioning.

Some of the capabilities of a sales CRM are -

1. Sales Funnel Analysis 

A sales funnel report can give an overall view of where and how the prospects are moving within the sales pipeline and provide insights into how deals are being won or lost. 

2. Forecasting 

A sales CRM can predict the expected closure of deals and revenue by analyzing the estimated close date, tendency to convert, and the likelihood of sales in your funnel. 

3. Goal Reports 

These reports are to track your team’s progress towards revenue goals. 

4. Conversion Reports 

Sales managers can leverage these reports to assess how well individual sales reps are moving potential customers through the pipeline. They can also be used to view general conversion rates across your teams. 

5. Activity Overview Reports 

Get a complete breakdown of the activities being performed by your sales reps, including the number of calls made, emails sent, tasks completed, and more to keep track and improve their performance if needed. 

These reports can be easily customized and filtered based on pipeline stages, individual sales rep’s performance, sales activities, and more. 

Shorten your Sales Cycle with a Sales CRM

Building a loyal customer base is all about building and maintaining healthy relationships. 

A sales CRM automates repeated administrative tasks and data analysis tasks that typically eat up a sales rep’s time, so they can focus on other important tasks at hand. 

Meaningful customer relationships can be established in less time, with more prospects in the sales pipeline, allowing sales reps to move through the pipeline quickly. 

Simplify the Sales Process 

A sales CRM is a tool for managing all touchpoints of customers throughout the sales process, right from their first interaction till they drop off the website. 

A touchpoint refers to any interaction - direct or indirect - between sales reps and their leads. The sales CRM tracks communication with prospects, automatically organizes customer data, sends reminders to follow up, and more. 

A sales CRM is designed to simplify the process and also assist with lead nurturing. 

With both administrative tasks and data operation being automated, your sales teams can spend less time on manual data entry and focus more on building meaningful relationships with prospects. 

Here’s How a Sales CRM Can Future-Proof Your Business 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, a business's ability to be responsive to external changes can make or break. 

While some businesses have pivoted the change and been able to adapt their product to the change, some have collapsed. 

So, what can a sales CRM do for your business?

Let’s look at how a robust system can ensure your business is ready for all storms and be at par with the age of the connected customer, who expects a consistently excellent user experience. 

1. Boost Customer Experience with a Unified Sales CRM System for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Support Teams

A unified sales CRM can connect various teams in your business such as sales, marketing, customer support, and product to create a holistic view of your sales pipeline and provide accurate information about your customers. 

With 62% of customers prepared to share a bad experience with others, the benefits of ensuring an optimal customer journey cannot be understated. 

66% of millennial customers expect real-time responses and 40% of them will not do business with a company if they cannot use their preferred modes of communication. 

A unified sales CRM will store all these interactions, across all devices and time zones to improve the overall customer experience. 

2. Improve the Decision-Making Process and Productivity With AI-Enabled Sales CRMs 

With 64% of customers expecting personalized experiences, AI can collect data from past interactions to predict your customers’ behavior and provide the best-suited response. 

Businesses can make smarter decisions with the help of artificial intelligence. 

A sales CRM powered by artificial intelligence can track users across various channels and devices to assist sales reps with their decision-making process and focus better on leads that are more likely to convert. 

3. Provide Excellent Customer Experience Through Hyper-Personalization 

In order to truly personalize the customer experience, businesses need to ensure that each interaction within their website is defined by the customer directly. 

According to reports, 61% of millennials are happy to share personal data if it leads to a more personalized experience. It is exactly this cohort that is indeed embracing the benefits of hyper-personalization. 

Hyper-personalization refers to customizing products based on the customer’s preferences, leveraging omnichannel data to personalize communication or even real-time engagement. 

Creating hyper-personalized experiences for customers leads to an improved user experience, coupled with increased customer satisfaction with improved sales. 

4. Improve Customer Retention Through a Customer-Oriented Process 

84% of customers claim that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

Providing an enhanced customer experience and extended support is what drives retention. 

Likewise, retention is inextricably linked to a company’s bottom line. 

Keeping this in mind, 89% of customers are more loyal to companies they trust and 65% of them have stopped purchasing from companies that do not satisfy the quotas.

A sales CRM can supercharge the way your customer support and sales team function by keeping the customer at the center of all processes and improving customer retention drastically. 

Who Gets Value From the Sales CRM?

Any team that interacts with customers regularly within your organization can greatly benefit from using a sales CRM, including sales, marketing, and customer support teams. 

Sales CRM for Sales Teams 

a) Sell Smarter 

A sales CRM software allows sales reps to manage their deals and conduct all their sales communications from a central location. 

By integrating your sales CRM with existing business tools - including email, calendar, and social handles your sales reps do not have to waste time and effort switching back and forth between programs. 

A sales CRM software also provides complete insights to the status of every deal in the progress, establish quotas, coach peers, and track individual sales reps’ performance. 

b) Stay in the Loop

Modern cloud-based CRM software can be accessed from anywhere, any time. 

With the mobile CRM app, sales reps can access their dashboard and stay in the loop about any progress via mobile notifications so they do not miss anything important. 

c) Know What’s Working and What’s Not 

Ditch the guesswork and start making decisions powered by data to track deals. 

The sales CRM analyzes a customer’s data patterns and interactions via sales reports. This can be leveraged by sales managers to determine what strategies are effective and which need to be improved. 

Sales CRMs for Marketing Teams 

a) Learn How Potential Customers Find You

A sales CRM helps you to track how potential customers find your business via online searches, paid marketing campaigns, or even industry-specific trade shows. 

By having access to your company’s sales interactions, your marketing teams can better understand your prospects’ concerns and frequently asked questions and leverage this information to make better content. 

b) Keep Customers Engaged 

Sales CRMs capture a wealth of valuable data that your marketing team can utilize to nurture prospects into customers and customers into loyal advocates. 

Modern CRMs have the capability to integrate with a myriad of marketing tools so marketers can create effective email nurturing campaigns, forms, landing pages, ads, and more to keep potential customers moving steadily through the funnel. 

Sales CRMs for Customer Support Teams 

a) Personalized Customer Experience 

Knowing the history of past customer interactions with your customers helps your customer support team to deliver excellent customer service every time. 

By providing detailed customer notes and interactions, CRMs let your customer support reps build a personalized customer experience. 

b) Solve Customer Issues Sooner

Faster response times for support tickets mean improved and more enjoyable customer satisfaction. 

In addition, a sales CRM links important information - including products purchased, previous interactions, customer history, and more - to each support ticket so your sales reps can solve customers’ issues quickly and more effectively. 

c) Consolidate All Customer Communications 

In addition to logging email conversations and phone calls, a sales CRM can be also integrated with online tools such as support-related channels so all customer chats are saved in your CRM. 

Customer support teams can later review these saved chats in the future or send saved chat summaries to customers post the resolution. 


A sales CRM is all about upping sales, saving time and money, and providing stellar customer service so they keep coming back for more. 

To run a successful business, your sales process does not have to be complex, it’s all about how you handle it and how you can simplify the process. 

A sales CRM is a tool that enables you to not just grow your revenue engine, but also grow your relationships with customers without a hassle. 

Whatever the size of your business, a sales CRM tool exists to fit your needs. 

If you’re looking to leverage an intuitive sales CRM tool, book a demo with our experts now

Frequently Asked Questions

What does sales CRM stand for?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM is a technology for managing and supporting customer relationships across teams and it helps businesses build and grow customer relationships across the entire customer journey.

What are the 3 types of CRM?

There are three major types of CRM - Analytical CRM, Operational CRM, Collaborative CRM

What are the 5 steps in the CRM process?

The five steps in the CRM process are a collaborative effort between sales, marketing, and customer support - Generate brand awareness, Acquire leads and categorize them, Convert leads into customers, Provide superior customer service, Drive upsells.

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