CRM Software Meaning & Definition

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a category of software that covers a broad set of applications designed to help businesses manage many of the following business processes:

  • Customer data

  • Customer interactions

  • Access business information

  • Automate sales

  • Track leads

  • Contracts

  • Marketing

  • Customer support

  • Clients and contacts

  • Support vendor/partner relationships

  • Employees

  • Knowledge and training

  • Assets or resources

While CRM software is most commonly used to manage a business-customer relationship, CRM software systems are also used to manage business contacts, employees, clients, contract wins and sales leads. In the past, CRM software was mostly used by enterprise-sized companies, but today, companies of all sizes and in all industries use CRM software.

In fact, CRM adoption is so widespread that some CRM vendors now offer special systems tailored for specific industries, like real estate, banking, and hospitality. This diversity makes it nearly impossible to pinpoint the best solutions for every organization, so we ve compiled a list of some of the best general-use CRM systems on the market. These solutions generally work well for businesses of any size and industry, but they can still be customized to meet the specific needs of your organization.

Best CRM Software

monday is a highly visual CRM for tracking clients and opportunities. It has features for:

  • Contact and opportunity management
  • Task management
  • Gmail, Outlook, and LinkedIn integrations
  • Social media integrations
  • Mobile access



Wrike is a simple yet effective CRM with built in project management capabilities. It has features for:

  • Contact and opportunity management
  • Task management
  • Gmail and Outlook integrations
  • Mobile access



Freshsales is an all-in-one CRM solution with AI-based lead scoring. It has features for:

  • Contact and opportunity management
  • Lead scoring
  • Task management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Marketing automation (as a paid add-on)
  • Gmail and Outlook integrations
  • Social media integrations
  • Mobile access



Pipeliner is an on-premise and cloud-based CRM with extensive visualization tools. It has features for:

  • Contact and opportunity management
  • Lead scoring
  • Task management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Marketing automation (available with a third-party integration)
  • Gmail and Outlook integrations
  • Social media integrations
  • Mobile access



Salesforce is a household name in the software industry with a CRM solution that lives up to its reputation. It has features for:

  • Contact and opportunity management
  • Lead scoring
  • Task management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Marketing automation (as a paid add-on)
  • Gmail, Outlook, and LinkedIn integrations
  • Social media integrations
  • Mobile access

Today’s CRM Software

CRM software is designed to help businesses meet the overall goals of customer relationship management (see Webopedia’s CRM definition). Today’s CRM software is highly scalable and customizable, allowing businesses to gain actionable customer insights with a back-end analytical engine, view business opportunities with predictive analytics, streamline operations and personalize customer service based on the customer’s known history and prior interactions with your business.

Features vary depending on which system you go with, but most CRM solutions include the following features:

  • Contact management

  • Opportunity management

  • Pipeline management

  • Task management

  • Interaction history

  • Reporting

  • Sales forecasting

  • Email integration

  • Marketing automation

CRM systems geared towards larger organizations will usually include more advanced features, which might include territory management, role permissions, and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or integration with a third-party VoIP provider. Additionally, some CRM systems built for certain industries offer special features such as connections for real estate lead sources for a real estate CRM.

CRM Software Installations

Customer relationship management software is offered in a number of installations including on-premises (where the software resides inside the corporate firewall and is managed by IT operations) or as web-based (cloud applications), where the software is hosted by a CRM provider and accessed by the client business online. Enterprise-grade systems sometimes also offer several hosting choices for software-as-a-service (SaaS) models. These may include the option to deploy the CRM on a public, private, or hybrid cloud.

In terms of how long it takes to implement a new CRM system, results vary. According to a report from TechnologyAdvice, it can be both easy and difficult to implement a new CRM system. This often comes down to how much data a company owns and where they will be moving it from.

Companies with more data to move will see longer implementation timelines, and companies that need to move from a legacy CRM system to a new one will need more time than companies who are moving straight from spreadsheets to their first CRM. Generally speaking, it usually takes bigger companies longer to find and implement a new CRM system than it takes smaller companies.

Learn more about CRM in this Webopedia definition.

Primary CRM Users

CRM software was built for sales teams, but salespeople are not the only users you should account for when planning how many users you might need. Here are a few other common CRM user types.

CRM in marketing

For marketers, a CRM system can be an invaluable resource. A CRM stores a variety of customer information, and that doesn t only include contact information and purchase history. Marketers stand to benefit from a number of features offered by CRM, including interaction history, geographic location, demographic information, and social media profiles. Tools built specifically for marketing will already give marketers a clear picture of who their audience is, but CRM makes for a powerful supplement.

CRM in customer service

While there is an entire category of software devoted to customer service needs, many organizations also use their CRM for customer service or client success. Giving customer service agents access to CRM systems can help agents process support tickets faster and give salespeople more context around navigating future customer interactions. For example, if a company uses a CRM that offers interaction history, a salesperson could see if a customer’s experience has been mostly positive or negative before reaching out to them.

CRM in recruiting

Many companies use software like human resources management systems (HRMS) to assist with recruiting, but not every HRMS includes recruiting features. Luckily, CRM solutions can perform many of the same functions that recruiting software systems do. From handling candidate contact information to interview scheduling to compensation negotiation, common CRM features like contact management, appointment setting, and deal management can be easily used for recruiting purposes.

Top 5 CRM Software Related Questions

1. What is CRM Customer relationship Management?

2. What is small business CRM?

3. What is CRM dashboard?

4. What is enterprise application?

5. What is social CRM?

Recommended Reading: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Reports Explained.





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Forrest Brown
Forrest Brown is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, where he writes about the intersection of business and technology. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and cats.

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