CRM 101: Understanding Customer Relationship Management

Learn the basics of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), including the definition, what strategies to use, and what tools are available to help you improve your customer relationships. This 101 guide will provide a solid foundation.

a handshake on the dark blue background
Understanding CRM is like solving a puzzle – all the pieces must fit together in order for the picture to be complete.

The Key Questions: Are you struggling to keep track of your customer interactions and their buying behaviors? Do you feel like you're missing out on opportunities to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty?

If so, it's time to start thinking about putting a powerful customer relationship management (CRM) strategy in place!

According to Statista :

Revenue in the Customer Relationship Management Software market is projected to reach US$79.40bn in 2023.
smiling person communicating with a customer

What makes CRM so popular?

In this post, we'll cover the answer to this question as well as all the worthy facts you need to know about CRM including its definition and tools that are easy to use.

What is a CRM System, and How Does It Work?

Businesses these days are able to thoroughly track and analyze the many interactions they have with customers across all stages of the customer journey.

To get this winning formula working, companies employ a well-planned combination of:

  • tactics
  • approaches
  • cutting-edge technologies.

This powerhouse strategy is known as customer relationship management, or CRM for short. It focuses on interactions with customers, with the end goal of improving customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

a banner for CRM system

The main idea behind CRM is to:

  • understand customers' needs
  • personalize each interaction to their particular preferences and expectations.

❗CRM is not only a software tool but a mindset that is focused on building long-term relationships with customers.

What Problems Does CRM Solve?

a smiling person and a quote on benefits of CRM

There are several reasons why CRM is essential for businesses of all sizes.

Improved Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

By focusing on personalizing interactions with customers and addressing their unique needs, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Why strive for customers' happiness? The rule of thumb for happy customers is:

  • to become repeat customers
  • to recommend your business to others.

Up-sell and Cross-sell Opportunities

CRM software can help businesses identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, making it easier to:

  • offer customers additional products
  • suggest relevant services tailored to their needs and preferences.

Customer Retention

In a competitive environment, the crucial factor for success is to retain customers. A sound CRM system can help businesses reach this goal by providing insights into customer behavior and preferences.

Retaining customers has two obvious benefits:

  • It increases customer engagement.
  • It reduces customer acquisition costs.

Identifying Customer Issues

By tracking customer feedback and support interactions, a CRM system can help businesses identify issues and areas for improvement. This can help:

  • address these issues more quickly
  • prevent customers from becoming dissatisfied or leaving.

CRM Strategies

There are several strategies that businesses can use to implement CRM.


person sitting on the sofa

Personalization means tailoring your communication and marketing efforts to the specific needs and preferences of individual customers.

This can involve using customer data to create:

  • personalized email campaigns
  • personalized product recommendations
  • customized landing pages.

Multi-Channel Communication

hands holding a phone

With the growth of social media and other online platforms, customers now expect to interact with businesses through multiple channels, including:

  • email
  • phone
  • social media.

By using a multi-channel communication approach, businesses can ensure that customers are able to interact with them in a preferred channel instantly.

Data Analysis

a smiling man holding a tablet

Analyzing customer data can provide businesses with valuable insights into:

  • customer behavior
  • preferred choices (across groups and individuals)
  • customer needs.

By analyzing data from multiple sources, businesses can identify patterns and trends that can inform their CRM strategies.

For instance, businesses can use data analysis to identify which products are most popular among certain customer segments, or which marketing campaigns are most effective.

Customer Segmentation

hands holding paper-based reports

In order to personalize communications and specific product recommendations, businesses can use customer segmentation to group customers by similar characteristics, such as:

  • demographics
  • behavior
  • preferences.

This helps to create targeted marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate with customers as they are tailored to each customer segment, which, in turn, helps boost customer loyalty and retention.


hands on the laptop keyboard

Automating certain repetitive tasks can help businesses:

  • streamline their processes
  • improve efficiency.

For instance, businesses can automate email marketing campaigns, social media posts, and customer support queries using chatbots. This can help free up employees' time, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks.

CRM Software

CRM software is used to:

  • store customer data
  • track customer interactions
  • automate sales and marketing processes.

There is a variety of CRM software that businesses can use to implement their CRM strategy. It can vary in features and complexity, but all tools share the goal of helping businesses build stronger relationships with their customers.

Below, you will find some popular CRM offers.


Best fit for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) focusing on inbound marketing.

HubSpot screenshot
  • All-in-one solution: HubSpot provides a suite of tools that cover all aspects of the customer journey, from marketing automation to customer service for businesses to manage all their customer-related activities in one place.
  • Easy to use: It is designed with ease of use in mind requiring little training. This makes it accessible to businesses of all sizes and levels of technical expertise.
  • Customizable: It provides lots of customized options including creating custom fields, workflows, and reports.
  • Integrations: It integrates with a wide range of other tools and platforms, including email marketing software, social media, and e-commerce platforms.
  • Scalable: It suits businesses of all sizes, from small startups to large enterprises.

🪙It offers a range of pricing plans: CRM Suite on the Professional Plan is $1,600 per month.

The Bottom Line: HubSpot is an all-in-one CRM platform that features contact management, email marketing, and lead scoring and offers multiple free tools making it an ideal choice for small businesses.


Salesforce screenshot

Best fit for sales professionals requiring a powerful and customizable platform to streamline the end-to-end sales process.

  • Flexible: Users can configure the CRM to suit their business needs and industry-specific requirements by utilizing extensive customization options, including custom objects, layouts, and processes.
  • Scalable:  It can accommodate companies of different sizes, from small businesses to enterprise-level organizations.
  • Multi-functional: Salesforce is not just a CRM, but it is an integrated platform that includes sales, marketing, customer service, and business analytics tools to help the team with their customer life cycle journey.
  • Automation: Its functionalities include workflow, process builder, and flow to make it easier for teams to automate complex business processes.
  • Mobile accessibility: Salesforce's mobile application provides access to critical data on the go for a smooth experience of collaboration within remote teams.
  • Community support: Salesforce has an active user community for discussions with other users, Salesforce developers, and experts.

🪙On Salesforce Essentials Plan, the price starts at $25 a user per month.

The Bottom Line: Salesforce is a robust CRM platform that delivers sales automation, marketing automation, and customer service automation. Salesforce is designed for enterprise-level businesses but can also be customized for small to medium-sized businesses.

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM screenshot

Best fit for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) operating in various industries that require an affordable and highly customizable platform to manage their customer life cycle.

  • Versatile: Zoho CRM has a wide range of applications including lead tracking, contact management, sales pipeline management, customer support ticketing, marketing automation, and more that allows users to manage their entire customer life cycle in one platform.
  • Customization: Zoho CRM offers custom fields, layouts, modules, and reporting features to tailor the CRM to their specific business needs.
  • Cloud-based: Users can access Zoho CRM from any device, or browser, through its cloud-based platform. The platform also offers seamless integration with Google apps, Office 365, and other third-party applications.
  • Advanced Analytics: Aside from real-time analytics, it has reporting capabilities for analyzing performance metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs), sales forecasts, and trend analysis, which aids informed decision-making.
  • Automation: Its automation capabilities cover workflows, macros, and automation Blueprints that remove admin time-consuming tasks off the to-do list.

🪙The Free Plan is available for up to three users and provides basic CRM functionalities.

The Bottom Line: Zoho CRM offers a variety of features for lead management, contact management, and sales forecasting. It's popular for its ease of use and affordability, making it an excellent choice for small businesses.


Pipedrive screenshot

Best fit for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that need a simple, intuitive CRM platform.

  • Sales-Focused Features: Pipedrive has tailored features such as deal management, lead capturing, and task automation, specifically to help sales teams focus on their sales pipeline rather than administrative tasks.
  • Customization: Pipedrive provides flexible customization options, including customizable pipeline stages, custom fields, and workflows, enabling users to tailor the CRM to their specific needs.
  • Mobile CRM: Pipedrive's mobile application gives users access to their sales pipeline and activities to ensure that they can manage their sales process on the go.
  • Advanced Analytics: Pipedrive's comprehensive analytics dashboard provides users with real-time sales performance metrics, funnel analysis, sales forecasts, and more to enhance informed decision making.
  • Third-party Integrations: Pipedrive integrates seamlessly with a range of third-party applications, including marketing automation, lead generation, and customer support platforms to streamline business processes.

🪙On the Essential Plan, the price starts at $12.50 per user per month.

The Bottom Line: Pipedrive is a sales-driven CRM platform that delivers sales pipeline management, lead management, and activity tracking.


FUB screenshot

Best fit for real estate businesses.

  • User-Friendly Interface: It has a user-friendly interface that enables sales teams to manage leads and customers seamlessly.
  • Customer-centric functionality: It provides texting including video-supported format), lead-driven email communication, and easy-to-build call lists for impeccable client service.
  • Robust Lead Management: FUB offers a unique lead distribution system that allows for round-robin, weighted, and custom distribution of leads.
  • Real-time Analytics: FUB provides real-time analytics to monitor the performance of agents, identify trends, and reach data-driven decisions.

🪙Starter Plan is designed for a single agent and priced at $69 per user per month. It offers basic functionalities (lead and contact tracking, email and text message templates, and automated follow-ups).

The Bottom Line: FUB CRM is a cloud-based software solution created to help real estate agencies handle sales, marketing, and customer service all in one platform.

How to Enhance CRM Systems with TMetric

TMetric integrated with CRM screenshot

The best way to enhance CRM to the point of perfection is to add time tracking and productivity features to the suite.

In particular, TMetric time tracker integrates with most CRM systems and strengthens their functionality.

For example, TMetric can be integrated with popular CRM systems such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho, and Pipedrive.

To increase the accuracy of tracking progress and forecasting, TMetric features:

  • tracking the time spent by sales teams on different leads and deals within the CRM system
  • generating reports on billable time
  • filtering work hours by projects and tasks.

The integration can also help identify which deals are taking up too much time relative to their expected return on investment, and therefore help optimize sales processes.

In addition, TMetric can be used as part of the customer service process. By tracking the time spent by agents on support tickets, businesses can:

  • get insights into how long it takes to resolve customer issues
  • identify training opportunities for agents.

By taking this approach, businesses can improve their customer service which can lead to higher customer satisfaction and ultimately better customer retention.


In today's crowded business landscape, having a personalized and unforgettable customer experience is essential for standing out.

Utilize technology such as CRM software to streamline operations, gain insight into customers, and design interactions that create lasting relationships.

Not only will your customers appreciate the extra effort, but they will reward your company with loyalty and repeat business.

Invest in a strong CRM system, and you will see your sales and revenue increase. Your customers and profits will be thankful!