Types of CRM Systems and Their Benefits

Customer relationship management is a process in which a business or other organizations administers its interactions with customers, typically using data analysis to study large amounts of information. The most popular form of CRM uses technology to enable businesses to track and analyse customer interactions.

The main types of CRM are:

  • Strategic
  • Operational
  • Analytical
  • Collaborative

There are many different types of CRM Systems ranging from very basic, free ones, through to large, bespoke behemoths. Many have features that are classified as ERP, MRP (Enterprise Resource Planning and Materials Requirement Planning) etc, but let’s not get bogged down with the acronyms, a Business System should be selected on its merits of how it helps you to save time, automate processes, stop mistakes, and save from what we term as “Forgetting’s”.

It is highly advantageous to start business with a CRM from the outset, but at any point in a business’s journey the pain of implementation and, worse still, the upheaval and change management of switching from one system to another can be frustrating and time consuming. Therefore diligence and planning should be for present and future – do it right, do it once.

Email campaigns

Many CRM’s are heavily focused around complex e-mail campaigns and whilst this is great for marketing it most certainly is not the be-all and end-all of a CRM, whilst this is a must have and staple of your CRM it’s vital to look into the nitty gritty of the fuller system.


The cornerstone of your CRM. This is where your questioning of the system needs to answer what you would need in your business and it’s likely that there will be many if you have thought it through (or taken advice) correctly.

Suspect, Prospects, Leads, Opportunities, Clients – what are they? Are they even allowed in this CRM or, better still, can you set your own? As with much of the system, unless you have the ability to simply add custom fields, then it’s going to be pretty rigid and unhelpful.

You need to be able to record each type of interaction that you have with your customer and again be able to “name” these activities corresponding to your Company’s culture. Is it a meeting? Or is it an appointment? Could it be either? Does it need to be added to your calendar? Does it need to be added to your calendar? All of these simple operational elements aren’t possible in many CRM’s – so be careful.


Activities are the interactions with customers and may be phone calls, meetings, e-mails, etc. You need to be able to add these in past, present and future tenses and a good CRM will allow you to do this from one pane for ease of use. The ability to “assign” an activity to a colleague is also a useful tool.

To-Do Lists

For things not so customer centric (such as inducting staff), is a great thing to have recorded and boiler plated for multiple usage through checklists, this has a whole host of benefits.


Would it be useful to be able to send quotes directly from your CRM. Would they be for product and or services.


Would it be useful to have all of your suppliers in the CRM?

Products and Services

Would it be useful to have all stock codes, descriptions, and pricing, that enables you to quote and or invoice customers?

Would it be useful to invoice directly? Or from converting from an accepted quote?

Sales Pipeline and Forecasting

Tracking sales opportunities and forecasting is crucial for your business and your CRM should allow for this, not just for the company as a whole, but by salesperson. Forecasting should allow you to set the likelihood of win% and win date.

Ease of use

Many CRM systems are complex and difficult to use and by the nature of some being more sophisticated than others, this may be the case. Make sure that you invest enough time/resource to learn the parts of your chosen system that will bear fruits of time saving and “forgettings” in the future.

Other Useful integrations

Do you use 365 or Gmail? Imagine having all e-mails in or out to your clients/contacts all under one roof. What about QuickBooks, Sage, Xero? If so, check to see that the CRM integrates with them.


There are a wide range of reporting features available in CRM’s. Some are very poor, some are very complex, CRM’s. Some are very poor, and some are very complex. This is where you need to know what information you need to get out of the system.

Is it a simple list of your prospects who haven’t had contact in the last 3 months? so that you can mail them or how many “XYZ” type of client purchased more than 100 of product code 56789 in the last 6 months?

Training and support

What training and support do you get when setting up the system – and then on an ongoing basis? What are the charges? Is it remote or local support? When are they available? Is there a help desk? With lower cost systems, this comes mainly in the form of online tutorials and FAQ’s.


If it’s bespoke, then it might range from £5,000 to £100,000 or more depending on your requirements. Most CRM’s are rented on a SaaS model where you pay per user per month, so again this need liking about closely if you are to expand as this too can increase your costs; however the ROI should far outweigh the cost at any level.

A Good Idea – Make a List

If you already have a CRM, it should have a to-do list, if not pen and paper or spreadsheet perhaps may help. Take down all of the things that you would like to be able to do in order to “processorise” and automate your business. Start with the must-haves descending in priorities to the things that would be nice to have, but not totally essential. It’s likely that the CRM best suited to your requirements will not have everything in the way that you want it, unless you opt for the bespoke route of course.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

At the end of all this, your head could be spinning with all types of ideas as to how you would like to improve your business processes, but is it possible? That is the question that you might not know to ask because you don’t know it in the first place.

If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts* available.

*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.