If there is an acronym out there that most inaccurately pigeon holes products within a category, it’s CRM.
CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management,” but today’s top CRM products are much more than that. Products like salesforce.com are not “just” customer relationship management tools anymore, they are entire platforms on which businesses can be run (yes including financials). When people think of CRM they often think of just contacts and customer information. They look at the price of the system and think it is expensive just to manage that type of information; and they would be right if that’s all they did with it.
When you look at these platforms holistically as a system to build on, a whole new set of ideas come to the surface. You can build customer communities, run your marketing department, manage warranties & customer service, automate clunky internal processes, connect to your phone system, build mobile apps, manage revenue pipelines, gain instant mobility, connect to existing websites & databases, download apps to add functionality like financial & operations management, and a lot more. Thing big. Think single system.
Companies can manage their entire business from lead to invoice on a cloud based platform that provides mobility and real-time collaboration. Even if a company just starts with a subset of the system’s functionality they are setting up for future success as they build upon it. Starting with a good information base (usually clean customer data) sets the foundation for everything that can come later.
Additionally, because of the understated acronym and lack of education on platform functionality, we often find that companies with an existing CRM have invested in additional tools to satisfy needs that could have been addressed with customization of the CRM system already in place. So if you have a CRM and are thinking about adding isolated external tools, ask a consultant to make sure what you are looking for isn’t already sitting on your desk (or in your hand)….