What CRM is? A definition of CRM

What is CRM? It seems odd that this query is still high, after 30 years from its initial expound even today many are still in search of a definition of CRM.

  • What CRM does? 
  • What’s the CRM meaning?
  • CRM what is about?


Those are some of the queries that hit even 50K per month while just “ CRM “ is credited with more than 160K, yes the acronym is still in need of explanation.

Probably the reason why there is uncertainty over a CRM definition is because it sits over two main different concepts and rarely is it explained for both of them.

  1. Customer relationship management is a logic of management, the method used by businesses to nurture their relationship with customers and in a broader sense with stakeholders. It belongs to the area of marketing.
  2. Sometimes confused with “ customer relationship manager ”, in fact CRM is a piece of software that enables efficiency in the unique method that each business developed in managing the relationship between the market and the organisation. It is dominated by the area of information technology.


In fact if we consider the first definition of CRM we may appraise that no business exists without a method to create, maintain and nurturing relationships with customers. 

When we come to consider the second CRM meaning, we may see how technology has a strong impact on this. 

For this reason, what is a crm may be often ambiguous: people expect an answer about what the software is capable of, they may take for granted that the purpose is client relationship management but they may wonder why they need a software for it and, mostly, how this tool works.

So behind the query over CRM means, there is a wonder of how they may benefit from adopting one. Essentially the subtle question may be: are CRMs worth the investment?

To provide an answer to this question we may refer to the simple concept of efficiency. We should pay attention to when, not if it is worth investing in efficiency enhancement in our businesses.


CRM is there as the methodology every business applies, maybe by paper and pencil or, even worse on spreadsheets. But when the time comes that a business becomes worth improving speed, reducing effort and getting more effectiveness with less resources, then the time is mature to explore what of the many CRM software can boost efficiency. This time can take place within weeks or years since the business was established, but it eventually happens.

Business people may have to adapt their language to common CRM terms, such as Leads and Deals, or Pipeline and Stage. CRM can force businesses to rethink the qualification process, and come up with a new definition of MQL and SQL for the specific business model.

What CRM shouldn’t do is to force businesses to change the established and experimented method to maintain relationships with their most valuable stakeholders: the existing and prospective customers.

This is why so many CRM software have been developed in the last 15 years! They are not all the same and differences may be huge. The initial differentiation introduced by Paul Greenberg in CRM at the speed of light, between Operational, Analytical and Collaborative CRM is no longer the lighthouse in the process to choose a piece of software that is supposed to boost business efficiency as a whole.

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