CRM 101

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” - Peter Drucker

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Without customers, a business will fail. However, the success of a business depends on the relationship you have cultivated with your customers. It depends on trust and loyalty. And it is crucial that you maintain this relationship. This is where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) comes in.


Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Definition of CRM 

When you type "What is CRM" on Google, you get over 50 million results. Many of them are quite exhaustive too. In essence, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to two things:

  • A collective term for ideas, practices, and strategies that help a company build strong relationships with its customers.
  • The software that helps businesses achieve this objective.

While point 1 is a matter of theory, point 2 is where things become tangible for businesses.

Think of Customer Relationship Management system as an evolved digital version of your diary, packing in 10x more features and enabling 10x more collaboration for your team.

We’re talking about software that lets a business hold every lead, every customer, every interaction and every deal under one roof, while also letting you generate reports, automate a bunch of activities and be available across devices.

What is CRM software used for?

Salespeople work hard to obtain information about their customers. And then this information is strewn across their desk—their call software contains call logs, spreadsheets contain pipeline data, sticky notes have crucial information scribbled on them, and their calendar (digital or physical) keeps track of their calls and appointments.

So when salespeople have to retrace their relationships with customers, or even if they need a quick update on a lead, they have to tread through multiple sources to piece together information. In a time-sensitive job like sales, this approach isn’t just infeasible, it’s unsustainable as well.

Enter CRM.

A CRM software brings all this information into one cohesive unit. The customer’s complete history with your business exists alongside a list of your deals; your emails, notes, and appointments live in one interface. Add to this the fact that you can get real-time notifications when your customers perform a significant activity—like when they visit your Pricing page or click on a link in your email. We’re talking about a goldmine of information available in one system, under one roof.

CRM is therefore the one-stop shop for your sales teams. It can be the difference between winning a deal and losing it. It can also be your gateway to increased sales productivity, healthier pipelines and better coordination between (and beyond) teams. But at its core, Customer Relationship Management system helps you build lasting relationships with your customers.

Why is CRM important

The technological evolution of CRM

Software on the server/cloud

CRM software was initially hosted on physical servers. But, by 2017, 87% of the business moved to cloud CRMs. With cloud CRM, you can buy the software on a subscription, customize it, and not worry about the costs of server management. According to a Gartner study, 75% of total spend on customer relationship management (CRM) software was on Cloud CRMs, continuing the rapid decline of on-premises deployments.

For your desk and on the go

CRMs are mainly web-based applications. They’re still developed primarily for desktops and laptops, but now they’re also optimized for mobile. Most CRM software are available as mobile apps on Android and iOS. According to a Nucleus Research report, companies using a mobile CRM, 65% are achieving their sales quotas.

A tool that supports integrations

CRM works at its best when you integrate with other tools such as helpdesk software, invoicing/billing software, marketing automation tools, etc. Unlike spreadsheets and email, CRMs let you collaborate swiftly and in real-time.

Benefits of CRM

Enhanced relationship with customers

From prospect to customer, their journey is captured in the CRM. These insights put you in a better position to recognize people, their needs, and how your business can work for them.

Lesser data entry

CRM lets you automate mundane tasks like creating contacts from signup forms and sending welcome emails to new prospects. Spreadsheets demand data entry; CRMs minimize it.

Better communication

The CRM software becomes a single source of truth for every member of your team. No information gaps, no back-and-forth—the customer hears a consistent voice from your business.

Healthier pipelines

Being able to visualize your pipeline makes it easier for you to prioritize deals diligently. As a result, your pipeline stays clog-free, and you remain committed to the bottom line.

Higher revenue

Since you have a well-rounded view of your customers at all times, you can cross-sell and up-sell at the right moments, with higher success rates. This also reduces the chances of attrition.

More collaboration = a strong business

Information in the CRM is useful not just for your sales team, but for marketing and support teams too. They can plan campaigns and respond to tickets better using the information in the CRM.

Who can use CRM?

Whether you are a startup, a small business, or an enterprise, in the B2B or B2C space, a CRM brings order and clarity, helps improve interactions with customers, optimizes sales performance, and streamlines business processes. Here's how different business functions can benefit from using a CRM.

Based on company size


Zero tolerance for complexity, no time for a steep learning curve—startups have very clear expectations from business software. CRMs for startups understand this. They’re easy to use, intuitive, and designed with features to help the business scale quickly.

Small businesses

Today you’re a small business, but you won’t remain small forever. You cannot afford to spend like an enterprise on a CRM platform; at the same time, your size shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying CRM’s benefits. You can set yourself up for sustainable growth with a small business CRM which provides extensive features at affordable prices.


In business you’re always looking to close deals; when you’re an enterprise business you want to close big. This means more sales teams, a wider casting net, and more opportunities. A CRM software is indispensable for any enterprise that wants to bring order, clarity, and a sense of purpose to its sales process.

Within your sales team


If you’re a Saas business, you’re reaching out to resellers, partners, and businesses of all sizes every day. Whether you’re tracking sign-ups, managing subscriptions, or setting up demos for your contacts, a Saas CRM can help you handle all this data from one spot.


In a B2C landscape, customer satisfaction and loyalty is everything. And the CRM platform should be able to help businesses rise above their competition and sustain in the market. Tracking website visits, storing customer information, identifying the hot leads, sending emails, making phone calls—these are just some of the variables that make for vital knowledge in B2C businesses.

Across business types

Sales reps

Figuring out if a lead is hot/warm/cold, reviewing previous conversations with a customer, assessing this month’s sales pipeline, logging calls, sending emails, tracking them—just some of the many uses that CRM platform has for sales reps. Fair to say that the sales rep is the biggest beneficiary of the CRM software.

Sales Managers 

If reps need insights into their leads, sales managers need all the insights they can get on their reps. Sales reports play a huge role here. CRM software can help managers pull up template reports and create custom reports for exclusive use cases. Whether it’s about tracking sales activities (like calls made, emails sent) or evaluating sales performance (deals closed), CRMs can dig deep into data.

What is the right time to adopt a CRM? 

When you introduce a CRM, it becomes an integral part of your business. This is why you need to keep the following in mind when you hunt for CRM: 

No single source of information

Constantly juggle between multiple tools to access business information

Time-wasting tasks

Spend too much time on unnecessary manual data entry

Lack of visibility

No insight into what your sales team is doing and how to prioritize deals

Inconsistent sales process

No proper steps to align with buyers leading to longer sales cycles

Unsatisfied customers

No aggregated customer data to personalize conversations

Choosing the right CRM for your business 

There are, of course, various factors to look for when you are wondering what is the right CRM for your business, and it varies depending on your industry and your company size. Here are the top three factors that remain constant though:


An intuitive user experience, a clean interface and minimal time required to get started: these are important indicators of a simple CRM solution.


Watch out for hidden costs in terms of maintenance and implementation. Look at charges for basic features like phone and email. If there’s a free CRM version, give it a spin.


The ideal CRM for your business solves your use case(s). Before starting a CRM hunt, keep your use case(s) ready and clearly defined.

choosing crm software

Cloud vs. On-Premise

While considering a CRM software for your business, you’ll be confronted with numerous choices in the market today. But, before you decide, a critical factor in your decision depends on how you want to deploy and access the CRM software— cloud vs. on-premise. Though both have their advantages in meeting specific business needs, the preference for cloud CRM has risen owing to the need to access CRM data anywhere. 

Cloud CRM

CRM and data are hosted and managed by the vendor, and you can access it over the internet using a web browser and/or mobile app. Cloud CRM has an easy pay-as-you-go model with upfront costs per user and involves no software or hardware installation cost. It offers you the flexibility to scale up and down. For example, adding or removing licenses and changing feature plans.


On-Premise CRM

CRM software and data are hosted locally on your business server and computers, and accessed through the local network. Initial costs for server and software installations, recurring monthly cost for licenses, and overhead costs. Scalability is harder as well as expensive. In some CRM software, it is not even possible.

cloud vs on premise

Essential features of a CRM


Lead management

With a CRM software, you don’t have to sift through a lead list on your email or a spreadsheet. You get a dedicated interface with the entire list of your leads. Clicking on a lead opens up a screen with a 360 degree view with everything you need to know about the lead—their demographic details, “lead score”, latest conversations with your business, activity on your website, even their recent tickets. You can also perform important actions, like emailing or calling the lead, jotting down a note and setting up an appointment, without leaving this screen. Every lead has a world of their own, and that’s what the CRM software captures.

what is crm

Pipeline Management

CRM software have what is called a deal pipeline view. This is a visual overview of all your deals, grouped under different stages, and arranged like a pipeline. One look at this screen and you know where you should start for the day. You also get nifty abilities, like being able to drag and drop deals between stages, and calling/emailing contacts associated with a deal; everything to save precious sales time.

what is crm

Built-in phone 

When a CRM has built-in phone functionality, it means a lot of things. For starters, you don’t have to use separate telephony software to make calls. You also don’t need to integrate the CRM software with call management applications. You just need to place calls with a click—the CRM software automatically logs calls, maps the recording to the respective lead’s profile, and even helps you record voicemail greetings. Plus you can purchase numbers for your region and assign them to your reps, all from the CRM.

what is crm


Switching between your email client and your CRM is a time sink. A CRM with which you can integrate your email—whether that’s Gmail, Office 365 or any other client—means you spend less time navigating between applications and have more time to think through email nurture campaigns. You can also create and save email templates in the CRM to send standard responses (among other uses). And not to forget email metrics where you can track open rates and click-through rates to understand interest of your leads.



CRMs understand that if you can’t measure your performance, you can’t improve it. And with all the data stored in a CRM software, using it to generate reports is the next logical step. You can create different types of reports—deals closed this month versus last month, leads converted this quarter versus last quarter, and so on. It’s important to choose a CRM software that offers flexibility; you should be able to whip up a standard report using a template, and you should be able to dive deep and create a report for your unique use cases.

what is crm


In sales, there are tasks you do on a loop. Like sending out invoice reminder emails. Or changing the status of deals from “Negotiation” to “Won.” All these actions are based on triggers—when the billing date is closer, for instance, you send the customer a reminder email. This trigger-action formula is the basis behind creating workflows in a CRM software. Workflows are automated tasks based on rules you define. Which means your CRM software can send important reminder emails on your behalf, at the right time.

what is crm

How to implement a CRM

A CRM software is only as good as the people using it. And the salespeople using it need a strong strategy to connect the dots behind the data. Different businesses run on different models, of course, but if you’re wondering how to implement your CRM effectively, you can start with these four points:

Define your use cases

Does your business involve extensive cold calling? Or do most of your leads come inbound? How many emails do you send on an average every day? Does your business depend on field sales or inside sales or both? These are not the exact questions you should be asking yourself, but asking such questions is the first step towards consolidating your use cases.

Like the product-market fit, look for use case-CRM fit

If your business thrives on email outreach, your CRM software should let you track email opens and link clicks in real time, while also helping you send bulk emails. If your business depends on international calling, your CRM should have an in-built phone with the ability to buy numbers from across the globe.

Have SMART expectations from your CRM software

Remember to have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) expectations from the CRM software. It’s the difference between increasing your deals and increasing the number of closed deals by 100% in 30 days.

Help your sales team engage with the CRM

CRM software can’t be imposed on your reps; they need to use it to feel happy about it. If the CRM has a free trial, get your reps to sign up right away. It’s a great way to find out everything about the CRM, including the kind of support on offer. This also ensures your team is more invested in the software if/when you make a purchasing decision.

Ready for your first CRM?

Try Freshsales, a cloud-based CRM for your sales teams. Freshsales helps businesses scale faster and puts refreshing business software in the hands of enterprises. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, ready-to-use CRM (plus a 21-day free trial to start off with), we’re here.