What is CRM?

Yesterday, the folks at 37 Signals asked CRM: What does it mean to you? Here’s what CRM means to me (all following statements are to be preceded by an implicit in my opinion).

CRM manages the processes by which your company interacts with customers, providing a comprehensive view of the customer relationship and identifying paths to increase customer satisfaction and company revenue.

CRM provides the raw capabilities of a good sales person. Assuming that you had a good sales person who never took a day off, believed in process, was available for consultation 24/7 and could scale to handle hundreds of clients.

Would a good sales person ever call on a customer without reviewing outstanding issues? Or pitch a product which the customer already owns? Or a product which they have already rejected for cause. I think not. And using a CRM system, no one else would either.

Would a good sales person constantly review customer activity to identify additional products that build upon existing purchase patterns? Or keep tabs on why clients reject proposals in anticipation of changing conditions? I think so. And using a CRM system, everyone else would too.

Every company needs a CRM system. It’s just a question of what form that system should take. A micro business working out of a single room might just need a filing cabinet. A small company with tightly integrated teams might just need a wiki. Larger companies need more.