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The ABC’s of CRM Solutions

Because CRM solutions are new to many smaller businesses, the terms, acronyms, and other jargon frequently used by vendors, analysts, and consultants can become quite confusing. The brief definitions below will help make it easier to understand CRM solutions and related concepts.

Account Management – a strategic approach to improving customer value and loyalty. CRM solutions facilitate effective account management by helping companies gain insight into client needs and behaviors, so they can tailor product and service offerings accordingly.

Analytics – the practice of analyzing data about a specific subject, and presenting it in a way that allows for faster, better business decisions. CRM solutions typically provide a variety of analytics, including customer analytics, sales analytics, and Web analytics (the analysis of Web site traffic and activities).

Benchmarking – the continuous process of comparing critical performance indicators and practices to those of competitors and other recognized industry leaders.

Best Practice – a process or methodology that has been successfully proven through experience and research, and is recommended as a model.

Campaign Management (aka Marketing Automation) – the execution and monitoring of all marketing initiatives and related activities across all communication channels. CRM solutions enhance campaign management by allowing businesses to improve the way they launch programs and measure their effectiveness.

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) – a solution that combines data and voice systems to enhance call center operations and other telephone-based services.

Contact Management – the cornerstone of many CRM solutions that requires a central repository of client information, such as contact names and addresses, competitive products purchased, and interaction histories.

Customer Self-Service – providing customers with a convenient and self-directed way to obtain support and interact with a company.

Dashboards – information portals that provide real-time data about sales, marketing, and service performance via dials and gauges that resemble the dashboard of a car.

Email Response Management – a component of many CRM solutions that enables companies to automate responses to email inquiries or to dynamically route them based on pre-defined rules.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – an automated telephone information system that gives callers the ability to access real-time data by selecting from fixed voice menus. Callers respond to prompts by pressing digits or speaking words and phrases.

Knowledge Management – a process that leverages a company’s intellectual assets, and makes them readily available to all employees and business partners.

Lead Assignment – the ability, inherent in many CRM solutions, to dynamically route leads to the most appropriate sales rep, based on pre-defined business rules.

Lead Management – the optimization of the flow and handling of leads throughout the sales cycle.

Opportunity or Pipeline Management – CRM solutions enable more effective opportunity or pipeline management by providing a single place for viewing, monitoring, and analyzing deal information, milestones, and related interactions.

Order Management – the automation of the entire sales order process, from promising and capture through transportation and shipment.

Partner Relationship Management (PRM) – the application of specific strategies and technologies to improve the effectiveness of indirect sales channels.

Quality Management – quality assurance processes that directly link customer support, engineering, and marketing teams with clients.

Sales Force Automation – the foundation of most CRM solutions on the market today, it enhances all aspects of the selling cycle including contact database management, team selling, pipeline management, order management, territory management (the practice of aligning leads, opportunities, and resources by geography), and performance reporting.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – the full cost of CRM solutions includes not only the software price, but the longer-term expenses associated with training, support, and ongoing maintenance.

Workflow Management – the automation of policies and procedures to improve marketing, sales, and service activities.