What is CRM and What Does It Mean For My Business? Customer Relationship Management Defined.

By: Cassie Dennis, Director of Sales & Marketing at OurHelix.

CRM systems are databases created to hold information about people relevant to your organization and have long been a staple in the business-to-business world. Your success is driven by people inside and outside your organization, whether you are a business, government agency or nonprofit. CRM is the way you can manage relationships and measure success.


What is CRM? A Definition of Customer Relationship Management
and Constituent Relationship Management.

In the commercial business world, they are typically referred to as “Customer Relationship Management” systems. In the public sector or nonprofit/NGO realm, you may hear the term “Constituent Relationship Management” used instead to show the focus on service vs. revenue.

Typically geared to be a single source of information about the people who are connected to your organization – either directly or indirectly.

The people could include:

• Customers, clients or program participants.

• Staff, volunteers, or Board members.

• Investors, funders or donors.

• Vendors, service providers or partners.


CRM systems track activities for these people, including:

• Transactions and interactions: Products purchased, customer service or customer support interactions, donations.

• Time spent on: Development or service interactions, sales cycle length, volunteers.

• Communications documentation: Dates, time and content of emails, phone calls or letters.

• Participation in: Events, marketing campaigns, sales or service processes.

In the business world, there is typically a heavy focus on measuring and managing sales deals and effectiveness — improving the ROI on
sales and marketing expenses.


What this means to your business?

CRM’s provide that 360-degree view of your business for centralizing your data and information around all the people and marketing connected to your business world.

Making it easy for you to track communication and attach that communication to actual contact profiles, automate tasks and assign them to others on your team. You can set milestones around projects or events and hold others accountable.  You have reports available for analyzing behaviors, sales and service statistics to better understand your contacts and their specific needs; then, address those needs by sending customized communication in a timely manner.

CRM empowers businesses with an environment full of tools they
need to keep both internal and external contacts and users happy and engaged, while having that birds-eye-view of their business

​.  Integrating a CRM with your website​ for a direct flow of your leads from your site to your database for marketing followup keeps all your systems talking.

For nonprofits, the focus is on donor management, volunteer management, services enablement and program improvement.

Typically, a CRM system replaces or connects existing legacy systems. In a commercial environment, this could include integrating or replacing out-dated:

• Sales Force Automation (SFA) systems.

• Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.

• Customer Service Representative (CSR) databases.

In the nonprofit world, it is typically replacing an entire suite of older, disconnected or “silo’d” systems such as:

• Donor Management System.

• Volunteer Database/Spreadsheets.

• Program Management Package.

• Mailing Lists living in an Email Distribution System.


The purpose of CRM.

CRM’s create a central command environment that interconnects
the information you need with tools you need to drive your entire organization.

Are you experiencing pain points with how you operate your
business and business marketing? Do you know you need to do something
different, but you’re not sure what? You may want to look into a CRM.

There are many different types of CRM’s in the market. Before
you shop, learn what questions to ask when selecting the small
business CRM that’s right for you.