What are the Types of CRM?

The CRM has become one of the most important tools that today’s businesses use, but there’s more than one kind of this customer-focused software. In this post, we’ll look at three common variations — operational, analytical and collaborative CRMs.

First, though, let’s talk about some of the basics of CRMs. CRM stands for customer relationship management, and it most often describes a type of software used for that purpose. These practices are as old as business itself, but the methods used to accomplish customer relationship goals have changed over time, leading to the creation of today’s advanced CRM software.


What does CRM software do? Basically, it collects data about your customers and other contacts into a single database. This helps you to learn more about your customers and ensures everyone at your company has access to the same data. Many CRMs also come with tools that enable you to analyze your customer data to come up with unique insights.


Today, the majority of CRMs are built in the cloud, which means the business using the software doesn’t have to install it locally. Instead, the provider of the software hosts it on their servers and allows their clients to access the software over the internet. This enables staff to access customer data from any device in any location as long as they have the necessary login information. It also allows data to update in real time so that every staff member has access to the 

same information.


There are various benefits of CRM use. It can increase sales, improve marketing efforts, enhance customer service and streamline internal communications. More and more businesses are adopting CRMs, making it more important to adopt the software to avoid falling behind the competition. The excellent return on investment is another reason CRMs are gaining popularity. They have an ROI of about $5 for every $1 invested. With our CRM software, PipelineDeals, you’ll see ROI payback in eight months as opposed to 19 months with other top systems.

Operational CRMs

Operational CRMs play a direct role in helping you to manage your relationships with customers. They handle customer-facing functions of the business such as certain aspects of sales, marketing and customer service. They help to streamline customer interactions across the company. Operational CRMs are the most common type of CRM and are used by businesses across a range of sectors:

1. Sales

The sales department is a primary user of CRMs, as the systems can help with managing sales pipelines, nurturing leads, onboarding new clients and more by keeping track of lead and customer data. They do this by tracking the sales team’s interactions with leads and customers. It holds all of the information about a contact in one place and tracks their progress from lead to first-time customer to loyal client. Using a CRM can have an impressive impact on sales. It can improve sales conversation rate improvements by as much as 300 percent!

2. Sales Automation

CRMs can automate certain parts of the sales process. For example, you can set up email campaigns that handle some initial interactions automatically. Just set which interactions will trigger an email, and the CRM will send the email when that interaction occurs.


Your CRM might also send alerts to members of your sales teams when it’s time to follow up with a contact. The timing of your follow-ups can be crucial to closing a sale. If you do it too soon, the prospect might feel like they’re being pestered. If you wait too long, they may take their business elsewhere. A CRM can help you determine the best time to follow up and send out reminders so that you don’t forget to make that follow-up call. Your CRM could even send an automated follow-up email to certain customers.

3. Sales Team Management

Operational CRMs can also be useful from a sales team management perspective. They track all of the sales team members’ interactions with customers, which allows management to keep track of team performance. With a CRM, you can easily see how many sales each team member is making and how they’re making those sales.

4. Marketing Automation

Operational CRMs are also useful for marketing. They collect data about prospects and customers, which you can use to identify which types of leads are most likely to become paying customers. CRMs can receive data from people when they visit your website or fill out an online form. When this information goes into your CRM, you can use it to contact the lead. You can use the information you gather about each prospect to send them marketing materials tailored to their preferences and needs. Like with sales automation, you can also use a CRM to automate aspects of your marketing efforts, such as sending emails.

5. Service Automation

Operational CRMs can also assist with customer service by keeping track of all of your service-related interactions with customers. In a CRM, you can view a record of all communications whether they occurred over the phone, email, live chat, a web form or some other medium. Then, when a customer contacts you with a problem, the customer service team can view a history of their previous questions and complaints. Having this information available enables them to provide better customer service and to anticipate the customer’s needs. This enhanced organization helps to ensure customer service requests don’t get lost as well.

How to Get a Prospect to Respond to Your Emails

Another type of CRM system is the analytical CRM. These types of programs focus on data and help you to gather, store and analyze it so that you can make better business decisions and improve customer satisfaction. There are many different types of data an analytical CRM can help you with, including the following:

1. Customer Data

An analytical CRM can help you to organize data about your customers. In addition to data about customer interactions, you can store and analyze demographic data about your customers such as their:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Marital status
  • Occupations
  • Income bracket
  • Interests, beliefs and preferences
These are just several examples. Analytical CRM tools can collect a vast range of demographic data. Every piece of data you capture gives you a clearer picture of who your customers are and helps you to understand their needs, preferences, buying habits and other factors. Using this information, you can improve your sales and customer service methods.

2. Marketing Data

You can use your customer data to inform your marketing efforts and then use your analytical CRM to see how your marketing campaigns are performing. Your CRM will collect data about how leads react to your marketing messaging so you can see which types of prospects respond best. You can also view data about your overall campaigns, which enables you to determine which ones are performing the most. By examining data about the performance of your marketing campaigns, you can figure out what features your audience usually likes and can use them in future campaigns.

3. Sales Data

It’s essential to have a solid understanding of your sales data so that you know how your business is performing. Sales data also helps you to strategize ways to boost your company’s performance. With an analytical CRM, you can get highly detailed sales reports that give you deeper insights into your sales numbers and how to improve them. By combining data from sales reports with customer and marketing data, you can create plans for the future that help you earn more sales and attract new customers.

4. Customer Service Data

Analytical CRMs also enable you to monitor and analyze customer service data. This will give you insight into what aspects of your products or services customers are most often having problems with. You can use this information to improve your products. You can also use customer service data to improve your customer service itself. Viewing customer satisfaction metrics in your CRM allows you to see what methods of helping customers are working best and then use those techniques more frequently. Exploring your customer satisfaction data gives you a better idea of how your company is performing overall.

5. Sales Opportunities

Analyzing customer data in a CRM helps you to determine potential opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell. A broad range of information such as demographic data, social media likes, purchase history, interests and more can give you insight into potential sales opportunities. Your sales team can use a CRM to identify these opportunities and improve their sales numbers.

6. Employee Performance

An analytical CRM can also track important information related to employee performance. A CRM gathers all of your employee data in one place, which allows management to easily see how each staff member is performing in their role. Management can then use this data to improve the staff’s overall performance. If they notice an area where several employees are underperforming, for example, they could provide them with training. If they discover an area in which several employees are performing exceptionally well, they could use data to determine what they do differently than other employees and then teach those tactics to the rest of the staff, too.

Collaborative CRMs

The third type of CRM is called the collaborative CRM. This type of system focuses on sharing information across the various departments within a company so that everyone in the company is on the same page. Using a collaborative CRM, you might share various types of data related to interactions with leads and customers across departments including sales, marketing, customer service and 

technical support.


When every department across the company has the same information about each customer, it helps to streamline customer interactions and increase customer satisfaction. Having a complete picture of each contact helps every department to perform their jobs better.


There are two main ways in which CRMs enable this collaboration — interaction management and channel management.

1. Interaction Management

Interaction management deals with logging each interaction a customer has with your company, no matter which department they communicated with, and then sharing that information with all customer-facing departments. This helps you to solve problems that individual customers are having as well as the trends affecting your customer base. It also drastically improves your customer service because it enables you to get to know your customers better. Because you’re keeping track of all of your interactions with them, it helps you to anticipate their needs.


Say, for example, that a customer buys a product from your company and calls in a few days later with a tech support request, which the tech support team solves. A few months later, they’re talking to the sales team about potentially purchasing another product from you. They might be interested in the product but also be concerned that they’ll run into the same technical issue again.

If you don’t have a collaborative CRM, the sales team may not know about the previous technical issue. This means the customer would have to explain the problem to the salesperson, which could be frustrating for the customer. On the other hand, if you do have a collaborative CRM, the salesperson would know about the issue and could address it before the customer brings it up. When the customer realizes you kept a record of the technical issue, they’ll feel like you care about them and their needs.


As another example, say that you work at a construction company and have had a client for several years. At some point, your main contact at the client’s company retires, and a member of your sales team gets the contact information of the new hire at the company. With a collaborative CRM, you can easily let everyone know about this change.

2. Channel Management

Another important aspect of collaborative CRMs is channel management, which involves learning about and keeping track of your customers’ preferred contact methods. Today, there are so many different channels through which people can connect with businesses including:
  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Instant messenger
  • Chatbots
  • Physical mail
  • And more
It’s important to know your customers’ preferred contact methods so that you can reach them quickly. If you use their preferred contact method, they’ll also feel you care about their preferences and will have a better opinion of your company. Within a collaborative CRM, you have a central record of what contact method each customer prefers. Any customer-facing staff member can update this information as they learn more about customers’ preferences. Because there is one central record, everyone always has the most up-to-date information.

Having this data easily accessible has numerous benefits. For example, if you don’t contact a lead using the right method, you might miss out on a potential sale. Say you’re launching a new product. You could let all of your customers know by email. You may get a good response from the customers who prefer keeping in contact via email. Other customers might read the email but not respond as well as if you had contacted by phone. Others might not even check their email regularly. If, on the other hand, you communicate with each customer using their preferred method, you’re likely to get a good response from more of them.


Using the wrong contact method can also increase the time it takes for you to close a deal that’s in progress. If your lead doesn’t check their voicemail often, using that method could mean a longer sales cycle, lower customer satisfaction or even a missed opportunity. If the prospect checks their email every day, using that method would result in a much quicker response time.

How to Choose the Right CRM

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to CRMs. You can choose between the above three types of CRM systems — operational, analytical and collaborative — as well as the many different systems within those categories. How do you decide which CRM is right for you? Consider the following:
  • Your Goals: Think about what you hope to accomplish by adopting a CRM. Having a goal in mind will help you when choosing a CRM and then introducing it into your operations. If you want a platform that will help you to manage and automate day-to-day tasks in sales, marketing and customer service, choose an operational CRM. If you mostly want to improve your management of data and use your data to get a better understanding of your customers, choose an analytical CRM. If you want to improve visibility of data across all departments within your organization, choose a collaborative CRM.
  • CRM Features: Consider the features available in each CRM as well as the integrations they support. Some CRMs are focused on managing sales pipelines, while others may put more of an emphasis on customer service. Different CRMs work with different communication channels such as email, social media, live chat and call centers. CRM systems also vary in their automation capabilities. Many CRMs are also designed to integrate with other software such as email, accounting, invoicing and other types of products.
  • Room for Growth: You’ll also want to think about the current size of your business as well as the amount of growth you expect in the future. The bigger your business is, the more data you’ll have, so the more need you’ll have for a CRM. Aim for one with features designed for a business of your size. If you’re expecting your company to grow in the near future, the CRM you choose should also be easily scalable.
  • Adoptability: Another essential factor to consider when choosing a CRM system is how easy or difficult it is to adopt. It’s harder to get benefits from systems that are difficult to implement or use. The ROI will also be reduced if you have to invest significant resources into rolling it out. That’s why many businesses prefer CRMs that have high adoption rates, are user-friendly and come with helpful customer service.

Trust Pipeline for Your CRM Software

One outstanding option in the CRM field is Pipeline CRM. The Pipeline CRM system is easy to set up and easy to use, and it can help your business increase sales and revenue. It features robust features for accounting, sales pipeline, lead, contact and sales team management. It’s perfect for small-to-medium-sized businesses that want to move up from spreadsheets but still want a user-friendly software.


Pipeline CRM features data tracking and reporting to help you better understand your business, automations to make your processes more efficient and an excellent mobile interface you can use on the go. It also has built-in integrations with various tools such as Outlook, Google Sheets, Mailchimp and Quickbooks.


Additionally, Pipeline CRM has a user-friendly interface that makes it perfect even for businesses that have never used a CRM before. This contributes to our high adoption rate. The system has one of the highest adoption rates in the industry at 83 percent, according to the G2 Crowd, a business tools review site. The G2 Crowd also gave it a 90 percent ease-of-admin rate and a 90 percent ease-of-use rate.


When you choose Pipeline CRM, you’ll also get help from our customer success team, which will work with you to support adoption, as well as helpful customer service you can access over the phone, email or live chat. We are also affordable at a cost of only about $1.10 per salesperson per day.

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