It is time for another deep dive into different types of CRM. This time, we go back to home base and discuss sales CRMs. This is where CRM technology started and is still an important starting point for organisations looking to use CRM.

Remember that we will create and manage an ongoing record of who your customers are and their interactions with you. These interactions could be as simple as individual emails and meetings with contacts, or you may need to coordinate deals with multiple stakeholders. If you have many people working with customers, it is important to share relevant information but also have clear accountability on who is working on what (and when). For many of my clients, it is a game changer to have all team members see all a customer’s records in one place so that when the customer calls, any person on the team has the information they need at their fingertips.

A sales CRM can help you with all these activities and more!

What do Sales CRMs do?

Even the most basic sales CRMs will allow you to capture the details of your customer interactions, such as a phone call, email, or meeting, from the point of planning the interaction, like scheduling the meeting, to completing the activity and capturing any details that you need for the future.

Ideally, your CRM will allow you to link up with your existing email and calendar systems. For example, many sales CRMs will have an add-in to your email and calendar, allowing you to move that information into the CRM with only a few clicks. That way all your correspondence is together (in case someone else from your team has a conversation with the customer) and you can also report on and alert yourself if there is a customer who needs to be followed up.

Some sales CRMs also allow you to manage sales territories, whether as part of a lead allocation process or highly structured and optimised divisions of work. The CRM can help understand sales workload and plan regular or ad-hoc sales activities.

Most sales CRMs also allow you to capture “opportunities”—that is, an upcoming, specific opportunity to make a sale. Perhaps you are preparing a proposal for a potential new customer or negotiating the sale of new products to existing customers. An opportunity will go through the stages of your sales process. A sales process is the standard steps you go through to sell your product or service, for example, an initial meeting, then providing a proposal, negotiating the price and finalising the contract.

Within these capabilities, there are many sophisticated options—do you need to be able to use your planned deals to forecast sales? Does travel around your sales territories need to be optimised? Do you have multiple complex sales processes, with multiple stakeholders involved both on the customers’ and sales’ sides? Do you need to facilitate customer selection of appointment times? Do you need to capture information and interest in individual products or product lines, or even specific volumes, to lead into orders and other functions?

What are examples of Sales CRMs?

The OG CRM vendors, like Salesforce or Siebel, started as sales CRMs back in the day when CRM was often also called Sales Force Automation. There are several other players at this top end, such as MS Dynamics and even Hubspot, although Hubspot’s origins were in marketing. There are also specialised sales CRMs like Membrain, which is strong in complex sales processes.

A huge variety of sales CRM software is available, suiting everyone from solo entrepreneurs to businesses with multiple sales teams across multiple product lines. My clients have worked with a few examples: Pipedrive, Insightly, Zoho, Tall Emu,, and many more.

In the same way as with marketing CRM, for ALL these products, make sure that you look at how the cost might evolve for your business. You almost always buy them at a monthly or annual price. One-off license purchases of software you own and use forever are still possible but unusual.

With subscription online products, the price usually has limitations, for example, how many salespeople can use your CRM or how many customers can be on the books. Knowing where you are now and having a realistic idea of where you might be in 1, 3 or even 5 years is essential to avoid future sticker shock with your pricing.

What if I need my sales CRM to link with other systems?

Most businesses will want their sales CRM to connect to the email and calendar functions at a bare minimum. Other links that might be needed are:

  • Customer records – between your CRM and other systems that execute transactions, like your accounting system and many others.
  • Invoicing links with your accounting system – you will need to decide which system creates the invoice, but whichever does, some sharing of information can be important.
  • Contract support or document signing systems.
  • Payment systems.
  • Customer records – between your CRM and other systems that execute transactions, like your accounting system and many others.
  • Messaging platforms like Slack or Teams – to capture and support interactions, either with your customers, or internally about your customers.

As a small business, integration is becoming more of a possibility, with a lot of software providing standard integration links (APIs), either directly to other platforms, for example, account software like Xero, or open links that an integration platform like Zapier can use. This can be a fantastic option, but make sure those links work how you expect before buying new software and relying on those integrations.

Are you considering if you need a sales CRM? Or could you use what you have more effectively? Please book a call if you want some insights into your specific situation.