What is CRM and What does it stand for?

What’s the simple definition of CRM?

If you’re in tech or marketing, you probably hear the term CRM all the time. But you might be wonder, what does CRM stand for?

The acronym CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). People broadly refer to a CRM as a business software system for managing your company’s customers, relationships, interactions, and data.

Definition of CRM - Customer Relationship Management.

The evolution of CRM meaning

Traditionally, the main goal of customer relationship management is to organize your client outreach and communication, and use analytics to assess your process.

The concept of customer relationship management emerged in the 1980s. At that time, companies sought to measure customer satisfaction with annual feedback surveys or in-person interviews.

In the 1990s, more companies began seeing the value of offering perks or discounts based on customer information they collected. As a result, these companies experienced a higher volume of repeat sales and recurring customers.

As the industry advanced, different types of customer relationship management systems and strategies came about. The three common types of CRMs include: operational, analytical, and collaborative.

Defining CRM in 2022

However, in recent years, CRMs have evolved to become much more than just customer outreach tools. Businesses may start with a hodgepodge of services like Gmail, an Excel spreadsheet, and some form of social media outreach.

Example of a modern customer relationship management system on laptop
Modern CRM Example

In 2022, the trend is to combine all of these business processes into one powerful customer relationship management software system. You can achieve this by using a CRM enterprise company such as Salesforce or HubSpot, or by developing your own software system.

It’s important to note that companies are continually redefining the term CRM in significant ways.

Imagine having the ability to easily manage agent/employee tasks, trigger scheduled reminders, assist marketing and sales departments, and even automate complex business processes all in one place.

These are just some of the popular solutions we implement when building a custom CRM system.

In conclusion, the term CRM has a broad definition, and can mean different things depending on who you’re talking to.

What are some Customer Relationship Management system options?

Ready CRMs – Enterprise SaaS

Companies like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Monday are some of the most popular “out of the box” enterprise SaaS platforms. People also refer to these as “Ready CRMs” or “General Purpose CRMs”.

Ready CRMs are subscription based, meaning they charge annual or monthly fees based on various factors and tiers of service.

Although an initial enterprise account fee might be low, the cost scales dramatically over time.

For example, your data usage, the number of user per account, or the suite of services you want to include all factor into your monthly cost. Most companies pay several thousand dollars per month to use services like Salesforce or HubSpot.

Industry-Specific CRMs

Alternatively, some businesses opt to use an industry-specific CRM rather than using a ready CRM option like those listed above.

Niche industries like real estate, healthcare, and insurance brokers like to use industry-specific CRMs. For a full list of these options, check out our list here.

These white label options might be beneficial if you’re a small branch in an industry with a well-defined customer acquisition and workflow.

Custom CRM Development

Finally, other companies like to develop their own custom CRM system from scratch.

While developing your own CRM software system is a larger investment upfront, in most cases you can save money long term by not having to pay exuberant monthly or annual fees.

Click here to learn more about how custom CRMs can save your business money.

CRM example on laptop computer made by Winnona Partners

Moreover, with a custom system you can build the technology to fit your exact business process and customer needs. As a result, you’ll have a streamlined, personalized, and scalable system automating your business process.


After reading this article, you now know that the CRM acronym stands for customer relationship management system.

To find out more about the custom software development process, contact us today.

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By Jonathan Richter

Jonathan is CEO of Winnona Partners, a custom software development company that specializes in helping business owners navigate the digital transformation process. He's also a classical guitarist, and has studied Chinese language, music and culture extensively. Learn more at https://www.winnonapartners.com

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