CMS -vs- CRM -vs- Sales Automation
Historically, Client List and the related contact data were the most prized possession of the business owner. Your ‘Black Book’ was something that you guarded with your life, for it was the very soul of your business and without your list, you could not thrive. Many business owners kept such list in safe deposit boxes or kept their books well hidden. The times eventually changed and the ‘Book’ evolved due to innovations such as the famous Rolodex and later on still, software solutions like ACT 1.0.
Modern business still relies on the ability to access and manipulate contact records and the Contact Management System (CMS) market currently thrives. These types of products however are built to provide a limited set of functionalities usually focused around the vCard and vCalendar information kept in them. Even as some CMS products allows additional functionality like, notes, customizable input fields, e-Mail Campaigns and basic sales tracking, there are many more needs that a modern business has that can not typically be met by what is still essentially an electronic Rolodex. So now that I have mentioned the above, lets look at the main difference between the two.
*CMS products are usually used in cases where a single person is responsible for multiple roles within a business and interacts with many contacts. In the case where more than one person uses the system to interact with contacts or any level of automation or reporting is desired, a Customer Relationship Manager is (CRM) is the preferred solution. Modern CRM’s include CMS functionality and allow usage across entire organizations.
*CRM products not only offer what a team or group needs to interact with contacts but add additional functions like, notifications, user management, reporting, document management, 3rd party integration to services like Social Networks, process management automation (marketing, sales, service etc.) and more.., including the ability to automate the assignment of task in each process and manage where and to whom these processes should be applied. A good CRM can also allow you to interact with customers and collect important data across various communication channels like e-Mail and Social Media. Using these additional features a CRM user can simultaneously collect “relational Intelligence”, whereupon he/she can gain insight into the very mindset of a contact based on the collection of data from many points. A good CRM allows you to “work smarter, not harder”.
The next thing we need to clarify here is, “what is Sales Automation” (SA)? SA refers to the grouping of a set of functionality or tools that help you to manage the “Sales Cycle”. Within a CRM, using SA allows you to define your ideal, best practice process to get a contact through from the “lead” stage to the “close”. SA not only allows you to outline and store your “WorkFlow” which is the actual process to be undertaken with a lead but to assign and enforce the task associated with each stage of the flow. Automation provides notifications as part of the management of any flow, to those responsible for completing the associated task and then allows reporting based on data collected about these activities performed in the pursuit of a close. Furthermore, Sales Automation allows the creation and customization of collateral used in the sales process and should also track the pertinent data of these out-bounds like: opens, form submissions and more. Some CRM’s now include Sales Automation features as a way for business owners to provide team guidance, improve close ratios, increase up-selling and cross selling and more accurately forecast, to name a few reasons.
We hope this overview has helped you to understand the fundamentals of Contact and Relationship Management in addition to Sales Automation.