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The ultimate guide to CRM and CRM software in 2022

Rebecca Wojno

    CRM and CRM software. You hear the terms thrown around a lot in business meetings, emails, and reports. It feels very important, but no one seems to have the same idea of what it actually means.

    What’s the difference between the two and how do you go about making the right choice when there are so many options out there?

    No need to spend hours researching the definition of CRM or comparing different softwares—we’ve done the work for you!

    In this guide, you’ll learn the definition of a CRM, the different types of CRMs, and exactly what you should look for when choosing one for your team.

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    What does CRM mean?

    Stripped down to its most fundamental level, customer relationship management (CRM) can be summarized as:

     The practice of managing interactions with customers and potential customers to increase sales and keep current customers happy. 

    Companies practice CRM so they can boost sales, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately increase profitability. It also has the effect of enhancing the reputation of the company in the customer’s eyes, which is a powerful marketing asset on its own.

    CRM is planned on paper but enacted and developed using CRM platform software.

    What is CRM software?

    A few decades ago, companies relied on spreadsheets and lists to manage this process. With the introduction of database marketing in the early 1980s and the first contact management system, CRM technology started to evolve.

    A ‘CRM platform’ is software that helps organizations enhance customer relationships through a customer portal that tracks customer engagements to expose CRM opportunities and weaknesses.

    What can you achieve with CRM software in 2021?

    Today, the CRM software experience offers a wide variety of functions, including marketing and workflow automation, sales management, advanced analytics, and much more.

    What is an example of CRM? For instance, let’s say you manage a customer service team.

    • You’d use a CRM to store customer profile information to personalize support.
    • You’d use a CRM to give your team quick access to customers’ history and other relevant information to speed up service.
    • You’d use a CRM to record customer conversations to improve their experience in the future, as well as inform your own data-driven campaigns.

    If you run a digital marketing agency, a CRM platform helps you keep in touch with potential customers, score them based on conditional data, and move them throughout the sales cycle.

    And if you manage a hotel, a good CRM software helps you personalize your guest’s experience, automate and optimize communication, and drive repeat business.

    In short, the role of CRM is to help you better understand who your potential and current customers are and improve how you communicate with them.

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    The benefits of CRM software

    A CRM system brings every aspect of customer relationship management together. It’s often synonymous with CRM software or even just CRM, but it’s the most robust version of these tools and strategies.

    Let’s take a closer look at what powerful CRM systems can do that a simple spreadsheet just can’t:

    • Consolidate your data: instead of one platform for marketing data, another for the sales team, and then a 3rd tool for customer service, a CRM connects it all in one spot. Data updates in real-time, and you can keep an eye on it with a customizable dashboard.
    • Build and manage your sales pipeline: a good CRM solution makes your sales process more efficient by helping you define stages for your sales pipeline or customer journey so every team — not just sales — can stay on the same page. And since a CRM acts as a single source of truth, any team member can jump in to assist customers in exactly the way they need, exactly when they need it.
    • Automate your workflows: CRM software can boost efficiency even further by automating parts of the sales process. Move prospects to new stages, trigger follow-up emails, and more to close more sales and keep customers happy.
    • Sync with other tools: bring together everything your sales process needs by syncing other tools. on the most robust solutions, you can integrate your CRM with everything from Mailchimp to Shopify to your old CRM like Salesforce or Pipedrive.
    • Manage your contacts: use a CRM system to create a centralized database for every customer or business contact your company interacts with. Sales, marketing, support, and more can update contact information right on the card, eliminating inaccurate information or endless back-and-forth.

    And this is just the tip of the iceberg, CRM software offers so much in terms of capabilities! For now, though, let’s take a closer look into the different types of CRM.

    What are the different types of CRM?

    We can divide CRM software into four different categories based on four different objectives:

    • Operational CRM: This type streamlines and automates specific processes—usually sales and marketing.
    • Analytical CRM: As the name suggests, Analytical CRM gathers customer insights and data to improve decision-making.
    • Collaborative CRM: This CRM eliminates silos and shares customer insights across all departments in your organization.
    • Specialty CRM: A more granular CRM, Specialty CRM streamlines and manages customer relations in a specific industry (i.e medical, hospitality, construction, etc.).

    It can feel tough to narrow down just between these four types. Here’s the good news: there are companies out there offer all-in-one solutions. 

    That means you get all of these functionalities in one place.

    One all-in-one CRM is monday.com; with over 30+ drag-and-drop building blocks, you can streamline any sales process regardless of your industry.

    Our cloud-based CRM platform is fully customizable, data-driven, and collaborative by nature. You also get access to advanced data dashboards to gather insights and drive business growth. We’ll cover more on monday.com later on in this post.

    monday.com's data dashboards screenshot

    The point is that in today’s day and age, you don’t have to rely on limited CRM systems that focus on just one aspect of the process. 

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    What makes a great CRM software?

    Now that you understand what Customer Relationship Management software is, you may be wondering: how can I choose the right one for my organization?

    Software reviewing site, G2, lists over 630 CRMs, and that’s just a fraction of all the tools out there.

    With so many options, how could you find the best one?

    According to FinancesOnline, the top 3 features most professionals look for in a CRM software are:

    1. Ease of use
    2. Schedule management
    3. CRM data snapshot capability.

    But of course, those three elements aren’t enough to find the right CRM for your team. Nowadays, most CRM platforms are easy to use and many offer similar features.

    Let’s break down how to tell the difference between a “good enough” CRM software and a great one.

    1. First and foremost, flexibility

    Any functional CRM system you choose must adapt to your own processes and operations, not the other way around.

    For instance, monday.com is fully customizable.

    We provide over 30 drag-and-drop columns, more than 20 dashboard widgets, and 200+ pre-made templates for any use case.

    monday.com's customizable boards in action

    We also offer no-code app creation right within our platform and have an active community of users who share their own creations.

    You can play with these elements and design any workflow, sales process, or operation you can imagine.

    Whether you’re tracking leads, managing sales pipelines, or onboarding customers, monday.com lets you design your perfect workflow and get started instantly.

    2. Work Automations

    Automations are no longer a luxury—they’re a necessity. If you can’t automate repetitive tasks, you’ll waste time and increase risk of error.

    To improve efficiency, any great CRM software must offer automations.

    On the more robust software, you can access hundreds of automation recipes with a one-click setup.

    monday.com's automations center screenshot

    You can automate tasks, notifications, item creation, status changes, and much more.

    3. Easily tracks revenue

    Any great CRM software should provide robust analytics and data dashboards so you can track KPIs.

    With more than 20 dashboard widgets, you can visualize the information that matters the most in your business and remove needless data on monday.com.

    Our “Chart” widget also helps track sales and commissions earned by specific sales reps:

    monday.com's chart widget in action

    Your final dashboard might look something like this:

    monday.com's CRM dashboard example

    This way, you can get an accurate understanding of your progress and make fast, smart decisions.

    4. Top-notch security

    Cybercrime has increased by 300% since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak?

    Studies forecast in 2021, the global cost of cybercrime will be close to $6 trillion per year.

    Here’s the point: your CRM software will manage critical information about your customers. If that information isn’t safe, customers won’t stay loyal and your business will suffer.

    Before choosing a specific software, make sure it complies with the most common security standards and certifications.

    Below are a few of the most rigorous global security standard for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS): ISO/IEC 27001:2013:

    monday.com's security badges

    5. Integrations with your existing tools

    In today’s digitalized world, no team operates with just one tool.

    We’ve got email marketing, customer support, advertising, sales, analytics; you name it, there’s a tool for it.

    What does this mean for you?

    If your CRM software doesn’t integrate with these tools, you’ll have a hard time centralizing all your information into one place.

    Some robust solutions even provide integration recipes to automate tasks based on specific parameters and conditions.

    monday.com's integration recipe example

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    What are some of the most popular integrations?

    Now that you understand the importance of CRM software and the features and traits you should look for, it’s time to deepen a bit on integrations.

    If you want to get the most out of your CRM, you need to make sure it integrates with your current tools and apps.

    The following are some of the most popular integrations that will strengthen CRM solutions, business processes, and customer experiences:

    1. Campaigner

    Campaigner CRM software

    Campaigner is a multi-channel marketing automation that helps companies achieve ultra-personalized email and SMS communications to drive sales and revenue.

    Some of Campaigner’s unique features:

    • Dynamic content shows targeted content to your prospects with dynamic variables.
    • Conversion tracking measures the effectiveness of your campaigns with ease.
    • Drag-and-drop builder helps customers customize the emails you send to fit your brand.

    2. MailChimp

    Mailchimp CRM software

    MailChimp’s email marketing and automation platform helps you send emails, invitations, and reminders to all your clients and prospects.

    A few of MailChimp’s top features:

    • Audience management stores contact information and create segments based on different criteria.
    • Content studio syncs all your content — photos, videos, emails, etc. — and keeps your brand consistent.
    • Analytics shows valuable audience behavior insights.

    3. Quickbooks

    Quickbooks CRM software

    Quickbooks is an all-in-one invoicing tool designed for small business owners. It helps you oversee all your purchase orders, invoices, sales, and expenses.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Multiple businesses allow you to manage multiple businesses and teams in the same account.
    • Reporting offers valuable insights to improve your decision-making.
    • Customization capabilities for your proposals and invoices to fit your specific needs.

    4. Invoicely

    Invoicely CRM software

    Invoicely is a free and customizable platform to design, well, invoices. You can accept online payments, track time and expenses, and automate recurring invoices.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Multiple businesses: manage multiple businesses and teams in the same account.
    • Reporting: get access to valuable insights to improve your decision-making.
    • Customization: customize your proposals and invoices to fit your specific needs

    5. Zendesk

    Zendesk CRM software

    Zendesk builds business software for customer engagement. The help desk system manages and organizes customer tickets from all your different channels.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Messaging features help you manage, track, and respond to customer queries from a single, unified place.
    • AI-powered bots personalize conversations with customers and increase your response speed.
    • Help centers are where you create knowledge bases, FAQs pages, and forums to help your customers.

    6. LiveChat

    LiveChat CRM software

    LiveChat is a cloud-based live chat solution that helps organizations keep in touch with visitors and customers with ease. It also provides you with a built-in help desk to monitor and handle customer tickets.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Chat tools allow businesses to communicate with users in real-time.
    • Customer engagement includes the ability to send targeted messages, save chat history, create URL rules, build eye-catches, and store chat transcripts.
    • Reports and analytics help businesses gauge the performance of your agents and the ROI of your conversations.

    7. WordPress.org

    WordPress CRM software

    You can use WordPress to publish content, design your website, and manage the technical side of it with no coding skills.

    Some of the top features include:

    • A simple user-friendly UI helps you manage your content.
    • Easy-to-install plugins allow you to modify and adapt the platform to your specific needs and add extra functionalities.
    • Built-in Publishing platform lets anyone create, publish, and track content.

    8. WooCommerce

    Woo CRM software

    Like WordPress, WooCommerce is an open-source CMS designed for eCommerce-oriented businesses. You can design your online store, accept payments online, manage shipping and carrier control.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Plugins help users install add-ons, widgets, and features in a couple of clicks.
    • Online payments integrate your favorite payment gateways and accept online payments.
    • Customizations allow you to edit your website with no coding skills whatsoever.

    9. Proposify

    Proposify CRM software

    Proposify helps teams streamline their proposal processes and organize their documents more efficiently. You can automate proposal sending, adapt documents to your brand, and get insights on your best-performing proposals.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Content management protects your digital assets from inconsistencies and keeps your brand aligned all the time.
    • Snapshot helps businesses oversee the progress of specific reps throughout all the sales processes.
    • Interactive pricing allows you to tailor your pricing for each prospect and increase your conversion rates.

    10. RFPIO

    RFPIO - CRM software

    RFPIO is an RFP (Request for Proposal) response system that automates your proposal process and optimizes your prospect outreaching activities.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Collaboration: keep in touch with your team through built-in messaging, file sharing, and notifications.
    • Response management: manage customer interactions and streamline your RFP processes.
    • Answer library: design an AI-powered knowledge base that answers the most common customer questions.

    11. Slack

    Slack - CRM software

    Slack is an online collaboration platform that brings together apps, people, and data. It consolidates all your communication into a single channel to increase productivity and reduce time wasted.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Channels: organize your work through central workspaces designed for communication.
    • Slack Connect: collaborate with clients, stakeholders, and external people with ease.
    • Voice and video calls: host important meetings without leaving the platform.

    12. Zoom Meetings

    zoom - CRM solutions

    Zoom is a communication platform that focuses on video calls. It provides you with features like chat, voice calls, video meetings, and multi-device webinars.

    Some of the top features include:

    • Group live chat: chat with your team and clients without leaving Zoom.
    • Audio conferencing: organize sales calls and meetings on the go.
    • Auto-recording: record your conferences and store them in the cloud or computer automatically.

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    How to improve your CRM activities with monday.com

    At this point, you may be wondering how to choose a CRM system that meets the features we covered earlier and also integrates with your current tools and apps.

    This is where monday.com comes in handy.

    To help you make a more informed decision, let’s quickly cover the things you can accomplish with our platform.

    Let’s start by answering the question:

    Is monday.com a CRM?

    You can use our platform to manage complex projects—from Scrum sprints to event planning—oversee any type of team, and automate hundreds of tasks. You can also design any sales process you can imagine and streamline each one of your business operations.

    For instance, here’s how Parvenu—a tech startup that helps retailers raise more money for charity through personalization—use monday.com as a CRM with more than 150 automations and 52 integrations on a single board:

    Below, we’ll cover what you can accomplish with our platform.

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    Integrations

    monday.com integrates with more than 40 of your favorite tools and apps. You can centralize your customer information into a single source of truth and improve the way you work.

    Here’s a quick video that explains more about our integrations system:

    Some of monday.com’s most popular features:

    • Templates: get access to customizable templates for any use case and industry.
    • Intuitive interface: get control over your pipelines and leads with an intuitive interface.
    • Centralized dashboard: manage leads, clients, documents, and tasks in a single place.
    • Offline solution: get access to mobile, desktop, and offline solutions and stay connected anytime, anywhere.
    • Pipeline management: track your deals and visualize how you’re doing at a glance with unlimited sales pipelines.
    • Customer tracking: track contact activities and get valuable insights about your customers.
    • Marketing operations: visualize milestones and deadlines, integrate with dozens of other tools, and manage all your marketing initiatives in one workspace.

    Pro tip: use our CRM template

    As we stated earlier, we offer multiple templates you can install in one click.

    With our CRM template, you can prioritize leads, integrate existing apps, and bring in your sales team, without needing coding skills whatsoever.

    You just need to install the template, insert your information, and you’re good to go!

    monday.com's CRM template screenshot

    In short, this template will save you tons of hours of work.

    The CRM that we know and love

    There’s no doubt the right CRM platform will make your life easier, but choosing one can feel agonizing and that’s just when you read through all the different guides for CRM.

    The best CRM for you will depend on your specific situation.

    That said, if you’re looking for a visual, intuitive, and fully customizable CRM platform to manage your lead and customer relations, then monday.com can help you grow your business.

    We offer a flexible yet powerful system to revolutionize the way you manage every customer interaction.

    Customize your CRM software from scratch with monday.com.

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    Rebecca is a writer and marketer using her experience to create sharp copy, engaging blogs and thought-leadership pieces. Raised in Columbus, OH, Rebecca now lives in Tel Aviv, where she enjoys the best beaches and bananas you can find.
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