The 4 classic types of CRM Systems

A Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) is a tool to manage all of your organization’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. CRMs provide a firsthand understanding of your customer’s experience to help you match your products and services to their needs. 

Like any tool, you’ll get the most out of your CRM when you put the most into it. The first step in that effort is to be sure to choose the best CRM based on your needs.

If you’re unfamiliar with the CRM software market, you may feel overwhelmed. In short, it’s huge.You may not know that there are subsets of CRMs, so it’s important to align your business type and objectives with the right offering. Let’s begin with what is generally agreed to be the four classic types of CRM systems.

Type 1: Operational CRMs

Operational CRMs provide customer service or marketing support through automation and streamlining business processes. They capture customer interactions and track lead qualification and action marketing automation.

Operational CRMs collect data from different marketing sources like social media, emails, or website visitors. This data can help your marketing team quickly and easily qualify leads. Operational CRMs also add value by providing more upfront information for analysis. An example of an operational CRM is Spotio.

Type 2: Analytical CRMs

Analytical CRMs use algorithms and machine learning to analyze the data they gather to create optimal customer targeting. Analytical CRMs provide insight into data and then understand and anticipate the customer’s needs that humans would otherwise miss. 

This category of CRM provides higher levels of insight and analysis regarding customer data. In addition, you can customize and scale them to allow your business to add or remove modules to suit your needs. An example of an analytical CRM is OLAP.

Type 3: Collaborative CRMs

Collaborative CRMs are mainly for customer relationship management tracking. These CRM solutions allow you to manage and track interactions with customers who contact your company via resources like social media, emails, and websites. A tracking system can help your team share sales process and task status information, reducing the confusion on what they need to do next. An example of a collaborative CRM is Dynamics 365 Sales.

Type 4: Strategic CRMs

Business models that focus on repeat and loyal customer bases use strategic CRMs to learn more about their customers. They then use this knowledge to build and maintain long-term relationships.  

Like the other types, strategic CRMs collect, analyze, segregate, and apply customer information and market trends to develop better value propositions. The difference is, this type of CRM uses algorithmic and analytical features to focus on building loyalty. It also finds strategic opportunities for engagement consistently and for more extended periods. Most generic CRMs would be identified in this category. 

Legacy CRM: Salesforce

Salesforce is the grandfather of sales CRMs. It is practically a household word these days, but it is also famous for being highly complex and expensive to deploy. 

Salesforce setup is time-consuming. The system’s complexity will require specialized resources that are almost always unavailable internally. Also, it may leave you with limited options. Although Salesforce claims to be integrated, additional apps are more bolt-ons than enhancements. 

Salesforce uses its market dominance to lock you into a single CRM type. A single type of CRM means you will be stuck with a solution that will evolve slowly. That leaves you with a problematic tool to use and constricts you to its technology. 

One of its main drawbacks is its high initial price point and recurring costs. The pricing structure is as confusing as it is costly. Development and user interfaces can be tricky to use. There are steep learning curves and user adoption issues that both admins and end-users need to surpass to get the most out of it. This makes the total cost of ownership very high.

The major advantage to Salesforce is also its major drawback: it’s a popular solution so theoretically you can hire people who already have experience in using it. However, it’s so highly customized by each organization that going from one Salesforce instance to another is akin to starting over. 

Niche player CRM: HubSpot

HubSpot’s primary focus is on marketing and marketing automation; its CRM came later. 

HubSpot is often perceived as a closed system that does best when it is not subject to integrations. As an example, companies with multiple and intricate sales technologies may not find it easy to integrate their complex environment with non-HubSpot technologies. 

A common concern about HubSpot is that it lacks flexibility and robustness when it comes to customizations and sales reporting. When identifying duplicate accounts and contacts, data synchronization is another example of its inflexibility.

Also, keep in mind that if your business or organization is in growth mode, it’s likely that you will outgrow HubSpot at some point. Thus the process of selecting and implementing a new CRM will be on the horizon for you again. 


How to choose the right type of CRM

While classic one-type CRMs noted above perform well within their strength areas, they can get you and your team stuck in a data silo. Whether it’s technological, price, or people-based, sooner or later, you’ll end up with a solution that doesn’t meet your needs. 

Legacy and niche solutions come with their own set of problems, including the risk of difficult user adoption, counter-intuitive UX, costly time, and investment losses due to additional customizations. 

You know you need to choose a CRM that will grow with your business, integrate easily, and not break the bank. It’s time to explore a modern, unified CRM as the answer to this need. 


Why modern unified CRMs are the answer

Modern CRMs save you time and money because they are easy to set up, so you don’t have to engage with expensive integrators to implement your CRM. Implementation is quick, so you won’t need to wait months to experience the benefits of your new system.

The six main reasons to choose a modern unified CRM are as follows: 

1. Improved collaboration and automation – Modern CRMs like Insightly ensure that your sales, marketing, and customer support teams find and work on the information they need. Winning a customer’s business and loyalty takes a united effort, not a siloed one. With modern CRMs, you can give your teams the ability to work in a united and carefully tracked manner due to the enhanced collaboration and automation. 

2. Maximized marketing automation – Most marketing teams juggle multiple tasks and projects at the same time. Marketing automation can allow you to maximize your marketing team’s time and effort. For example, by using Insightly Marketing, your team can create and recreate campaign structures quickly instead of having to reinvent the wheel. In addition, they can rapidly deploy workflow-based processes like web-to-lead forms that automatically generate new records and update data fields to ensure proper categorization. Easy-to-create workflows can trigger drip campaign emails that keep prospects highly engaged. Marketing reporting is easy as well, and is visible to all other teams. 

3. Streamlined sales automation – Unnecessary data entry means sales teams waste time and energy instead of concentrating on deals and the pipeline. Modern CRM sales automation can streamline sales aspects such as lead nurturing and routing. Insightly Sales makes lead-building email outreach campaigns easy for your team to manage. New leads receive emails automatically within moments of requesting information. All additional emails will seamlessly go out throughout the buyer’s journey without creating new manual task bottlenecks that are inefficient and prone to error.



4. Concise customer service automation – Closing new business is the goal, and it’s just the beginning. There’s so much more work to do to communicate the needed handoffs to deliver on promises and serve the customer. It’s vital to get these tasks right so you can retain your newly-won customers. Insightly Service, which is built on the same platform as Insightly CRM and Marketing, includes key features like an easy-to-access blade showing knowledge sidebar, macros, and full history, making it easy to share information and communicate quickly. It also includes quick visibility to SLAs, so reps can stay on track. Convenient dashboards and reports help managers analyze workflows and deploy resources more efficiently.

5. Deeply integrated – Modern CRMs like Insightly are more agile than legacy CRMs because they allow you to quickly build sophisticated integrations with the applications you already use in your organization, like Google, SAP, DocuSign, and much more. Imagine building workflows and integrations without writing a line of code. Insightly’s AppConnect is a no-code solution, so you don’t have to hire developers. AppConnect uses drag and drop functionality, automated error handling, built-in versioning, plus instant deployment and provisioning so your team can build and run sophisticated integrations efficiently.

6. Easy to implement and onboard new people – Legacy CRMs are complex and challenging to implement. They require a deep knowledge of the technology and often require third-party consultants to help, and that’s just with the install. The extreme amounts of documentation and training options demonstrate the complexity in deploying and rolling out to end-users. Modern CRMs like Insightly are built with the user experience in mind. They are designed to be intuitive and to perform like common consumer apps that are already familiar to users. They eliminate the need for long and complex implementations and get your team up and running as quickly as possible so you can experience CRM success in no time.

Where to start?

Not sure where to start? Get your personalized demo of a modern, unified CRM today to see it in action.