In my years working for the SugarCRM Partner, InsightfulCRM, I continually got the impression that customers and prospects were in the market for a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system because they’d heard the term CRM thrown around and believed a CRM system would help their business. Also, people believed that CRM was a piece of software that was managed by IT and was a burden to use. This is not the case.
What is CRM?
CRM is best understood by looking at the full expanded version of the term. Customer Relationship Management. As a business, we care about customers, prospects and partners, so let’s remove the term ‘Customer’. CRM now becomes simply Relationship Management. Nowhere do we mention “software”, “system” or even “technology”. Relationship Management is about effectively engaging, and tracking the relationships you have with you customers, prospects and partners. What does this mean? In it’s most basic form, you do not need technology to perform effective Relationship Management. Sure, there is technology around that helps make it a bit easier to keep track of and manage these people, but such technology is not essential.
Do ERM, not CRM
Effective Relationship Management (hmm… ERM…. that’s got a nice ring to it) is the way in which an individual tracks and manages their relationships. This can easily translate beyond the realm of business and into our personal lives. And it already has! Your email, address book, social media such as facebook and LinkedIn, are all different methods of ERM. While these systems are indeed technology, I want to stress three points:
- None of them are labelled as a “CRM system”
- They each serve a separate and unique purpose, but we all use more than one
- We would be able to perform ERM without them!