10 CRM software examples & use cases to leverage

Join us on a journey through the best features of CRM software, complete with real-world use cases for small businesses.

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In today's business world, keeping customers happy is key – and that's where customer relationship management (CRM) software comes in. 

CRM can be an invaluable tool that doesn't just improve how a business works; it also sets the stage for keeping customers satisfied in the long run.

In this article, we'll explore the significance of CRM and provide examples of 10 CRM software solutions, each with its unique set of features and real-world applications. There's also no end of examples of how CRM can benefit your business – we'd point towards our CRM statistics page if you'd like to learn more.

That way, you’ll be able to make an informed decision when choosing a CRM system that aligns with your business needs and preferences.

Understanding CRM software

CRM, at its core, is the engine behind efficient customer managementIt helps in understanding what customers want and how they interact with a business. Once you've implemented a CRM system, it can keep track of their purchases or service inquiries and all their most important details – all in one place. 

This information makes it easier for businesses to provide them with better service, anticipate their needs, surprise and delight to keep customer retention high, and to make sure each interaction along their customer journey feels personal and helpful. 

Over the years, it has evolved from a simple contact management system to a sophisticated tool that influences various aspects of business operations for your day to day convenience. As businesses began to realise the significance of nurturing customer relationships, CRM software evolved to offer much more in order to support the businesses and consumers.

Today, CRMs are centralised hubs for anyone who wants to create a customer-centric business. And according to Epsilon, putting the customer first works: 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a company offering a personalised experience.

Key examples of using CRM software

CRM software helps you keep everything about your customers and their customer journey in check. Let's break down what it does using some real-life examples, using a marketing agency as an example:

  • Contact management: imagine your business works with various clients. CRM helps gather and organise client details including contact info, project history, and preferred communication methods into one all-encompassing CRM database, making it easy to access whenever needed, and by all authorised members of your team.
  • Lead and sales opportunity management: you receive inquiries from potential clients. CRM tracks these inquiries, guiding your team through the steps from initial contact to closing a deal, ensuring no opportunity is missed.
  • Marketing automation: let's say your agency runs email campaigns. CRM automates sending personalised emails to clients based on their interests or past interactions with your agency, making your campaigns more effective.
  • Sales forecasting: looking at past project data, CRM predicts the potential revenue from upcoming campaigns or projects and helps you create a sales forecast, letting elping you plan resources and set realistic targets.
  • Workflow automation: when onboarding new clients, CRM automates tasks like sending welcome emails or setting up project timelines, freeing up time for your team to focus on delivering quality work.
  • Customer service and support: if a client has a question or needs assistance, CRM systems can log their queries, ensuring your team provides timely and consistent support, maintaining strong client relationships.
  • Analytics and reporting: by analysing campaign performance, CRM tools generate reports showing which strategies worked best, allowing your agency to make data-driven decisions for future campaigns.
  • Integration capabilities: let's say your agency uses email marketing tools. CRM systems integrate seamlessly with these tools, syncing client data and ensuring all information is up-to-date across platforms.
  • Mobile access: while meeting with a client or at an event, your team can access CRM apps on their phones or tablets, quickly checking project updates or client details.
  • Customisation and scalability: as your agency grows, CRM grows with you. You can customise it to add new features or adapt existing ones to better suit the changing needs of your expanding client base.

In essence, CRM acts as the backbone of your agency, helping to manage client relationships and drive your marketing efforts towards success.

10 CRM software examples

As we go through the examples in this article, we’ll be discussing both CRMs and their integrations – as sometimes integrations can make all the difference on a specific goal or objective you want to carry out in your business, and can be the boost you need to increase performance. 

  • 💻 CRM platforms are comprehensive software solutions designed explicitly for managing customer relationships, sales, marketing, and related data. 
  • ⚡ Integrations, on the other hand, usually refer to third-party applications or tools that can be connected or integrated into CRM platforms to enhance their functionalities or provide specific features. They supplement or enhance CRM platforms' capabilities in specific areas, such as finance, customer service, or internal communication.

You need a CRM in order to implement integrations. Now we’ve established that, let’s begin!

Marketing CRM examples:

CRM software is essential for effective marketing campaigns and sales strategies. This is one of the most competitive areas for CRM providers, and there are no end of options to choose between.

While Salesforce and Hubspot are the most well-known systems, there are many alternatives. 

💻 Salesforce

A versatile CRM solution, Salesforce is prominent in marketing and sales. Its features include customizable dashboards, workflow automation, and analytics, catering to the diverse needs of businesses across various industries.

💻 HubSpot

Known for its all-in-one approach, HubSpot integrates marketing, sales, and customer service tools. It empowers businesses to manage the entire customer journey from a single platform, making it a valuable asset in marketing and sales strategies.

💻 Zoho CRM

Recognised for affordability and scalability, Zoho CRM offers an array of features, from lead management to workflow automation. It efficiently manages customer interactions, making it a valuable tool in marketing and sales for SMEs.

💻 Marketo

Specialising in marketing automation, Marketo allows businesses to engage with customers at every stage of the buying journey. It's a key player in shaping marketing campaigns and strategies.

💻 Pardot

A Salesforce product, Pardot excels in B2B marketing automation, providing tools for lead generation and nurturing. It contributes significantly to marketing strategies.

💻 Mailchimp

Known for its user-friendly interface, Mailchimp facilitates email marketing automation and customer segmentation. It's a popular choice for SMEs in marketing campaigns.

💻 Microsoft Dynamics 365

With integration capabilities with Microsoft Office, Dynamics 365 is a comprehensive CRM solution. It covers sales automation, customer service management, and analytics, making it a powerful asset in marketing and sales strategies.

💻 Pipedrive

Focused on sales pipeline management, Pipedrive is a user-friendly CRM solution. Its visual pipelines facilitate effective tracking of deals, making it a valuable tool in sales strategies.

The above are all examples of branded CRM systems. It's also possible to build a custom CRM of your own, though it's a complex tech project that isn't for the inexperienced.

CRMs accounting integration examples:

CRM software revolutionises financial management. It allows you to facilitate a seamless flow of information between your sales, finance, and customer service departments, combined with accounting software, enhancing efficiency and saving time for everyone.

Two prominent CRM integrations excelling in financial management are QuickBooks and FreshBooks. QuickBooks integrates seamlessly with CRM software, offering a holistic view of customer finances. FreshBooks streamlines invoicing, expense tracking, and financial reporting, simplifying financial management for SMEs.

QuickBooks  (CRM integration)

This CRM solution seamlessly integrates with the QuickBooks accounting software, providing a comprehensive view of customer finances. It is tailored to streamline invoicing, payment tracking, and financial reporting.

FreshBooks  (CRM integration)

Specialising in financial management, FreshBooks CRM simplifies invoicing, expense tracking, and financial reporting. It offers a user-friendly platform to enhance overall financial processes for SMEs.

Not sure which one would suit your business best? Check out our comprehensive comparison guide on Quickbooks vs Freshbooks here.

CRM examples for internal communications:

CRM isn't solely about managing customer relationships; it significantly enhances internal teamwork and communication, too. 

For these teams, CRMs offer features like shared calendars, task assignments, and document sharing, fostering a collaborative environment within teams. These tools enable seamless coordination among sales, marketing, and customer service teams, ensuring everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.

⚡ Zendesk  (CRM integration)

Zendesk is a cloud-based customer service platform that provides a suite of tools and features to help businesses manage and improve their customer support and engagement. 

Zendesk's core functionality revolves around its ticketing system. When a customer contacts your business—whether through email, chat, phone, or other channels—Zendesk automatically converts these interactions into tickets. Each ticket contains all relevant information about the customer's inquiry or issue.

While this comes into its own with managing customer service queries, it’s just as effective for in-house support for IT or HR teams.

Zendesk also consolidates customer inquiries from various channels, providing a unified view for customer support agents. Whether a customer contacts you via email, chat, social media, or phone, Zendesk brings all interactions into one platform for efficient management.

Zendesk is also one of the market leading CRMs when it comes to AI customer service, with chatbots that can help deflect tickets and help internal or external queries self-solve issues.

⚡ Slack (CRM integration)

Slack's CRM integration allows for the integration of CRM data directly into Slack channels. This means that your team can receive real-time updates on customer interactions, new leads, or any changes without leaving your system. 

Slack allows you to organise conversations into channels, creating dedicated spaces for specific topics, projects, or customer interactions. This channel structure streamlines communication, ensuring that relevant information is easily accessible to the right team members.

Implementing CRM effectively: a step-by-step guide for SMEs

To ensure a smooth transition and to maximise the benefits when implementing your new CRM, you can follow this step-by-step guide for best results:

1. Define your objectives

Clearly outline your goals for implementing CRM. Whether it's improving customer relationships, streamlining processes, or boosting sales, having well-defined objectives will guide the entire implementation process.

2. Choose the right CRM solution

Select a CRM software that aligns with your business needs and objectives. Consider factors like scalability, ease of use, and the specific features required for your industry. Our guide to the best CRM systems for small businesses is a great place to start.

3. Involve your team

Get your team on board early in the process. Their insights are valuable, and involving them fosters a sense of ownership, making the integration smoother.

4. Provide adequate training

Ensure that your team is well-trained on the chosen CRM software. This minimises resistance to change and empowers employees to use the CRM system effectively.

5. Cleanse your data before importing

Cleansing your data before importing ensures that the information being transferred is accurate, relevant, and up-to-date. By removing duplicates, correcting errors, and standardising formats, you can avoid clutter and discrepancies in your CRM database.

Some CRMs have validation checks during the import process. They may not allow the import of inactive or invalid email addresses, ensuring that only active and potentially engaged contacts are included in the CRM database. 

This helps maintain a healthy and responsive contact list, preventing unnecessary clutter and improving the overall effectiveness of communication and engagement efforts.

6. Customise your CRM to fit your workflow

Tailor the CRM system to align with your business processes. Customise fields, workflows, and reports to match your specific needs, enhancing user adoption and overall efficiency.

7. Check for integration challenges

Challenges may arise during the integration process. Common issues include data migration hiccups and resistance from team members. Be proactive in identifying and addressing these challenges promptly.

8. Encourage user adoption

Foster a culture of using the CRM system. Highlight its benefits, address concerns, and celebrate early successes to encourage widespread adoption across your organisation.

9. Provide ongoing support

Sometimes people resist change, but you need enthusiastic backing from your team when it comes to a new CRM because according to research from CIO Review, poor user adoption is the number one cause of CRM implementation failure. 

Whether through additional training, troubleshooting assistance, or updates on new features, offer continuous support to your team. Ongoing support is crucial for the sustained success of your CRM, particularly in the crucial beginning stage.

For further implementation tips and strategies, be sure to check out this more in-depth guide to CRM implementation.

Conclusion

Needless to say, there are a lot of examples of CRM systems. It’s a vibrant, competitive business software market with some huge brand names in the mix, all vying for the custom of small, medium and large businesses.

As for which one may be right for you? Take your time and consider the options, but above all, keep the focus on the needs of your team and the needs of your customers. The right CRM will make things user-friendly for your in-house users, and unnoticeable for clients or customers – they’ll simply enjoy seamless support and prompt actions that are always relevant to their needs and past interactions with your business.

From enhancing financial processes to crafting targeted marketing strategies and fostering seamless team collaboration, implementing a CRM today may very well be your key to success in business in the years to come.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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