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What is CRM?

CRM is short for customer relationship management. Its purpose is to manage the company’s relationship with its customers in a way that encourages them to be happy and loyal. Many large companies have highly technical and complex CRM strategies. One common component of a CRM is the membership card offered for free by many supermarkets. The card gives customers access to discounts on various items without requiring them to cut coupons. However, it also tracks those customers’ buying habits, which provides the store with valuable information that it can use to manage pricing and inventory. Many such cards have customized discounts on items that a given customer buys frequently. This makes the customer happy (and thus hopefully more loyal) while sending crucial data to the store management team.

Often a key part of the CRM program is managing whatever data a business has on its customers and prospective customers. To that end, many sales teams use CRM software that can sort this data into a usable form and generate reports. Most CRM programs take the data that the sales team or marketing staff provides and stores it in a database, which can then be used both to acquire new customers and to manage the relationship with existing ones. For example, the CRM software might track customer birthdays and generate an automatic e-card, perhaps with a coupon or other incentive, which goes to each customer on that date.

Because CRM software packages potentially have a huge amount of data to manage — everything from purchasing history and contact information to favorite hobbies and details of past support requests — the programs themselves can be complicated and difficult to use effectively. So it’s important that any employee who might be using the CRM program be trained and kept up-to-date on its use. This is particularly critical for salespeople, who will often continue to have contact with customers long after their first purchase. If the data from those contacts is not accurately stored, the business might miss out on vital clues as to the customer’s needs. And if the sales team can’t access information efficiently, they will miss opportunities as well.

About the author

My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.