Below is a list of the most popular CRM terms used in the industry, if you have new glossary terms feel free to use the Contact Us page to suggest more.

ASP stands for application service providers. An ASP is a company that offers access to applications or software-related services via the Internet. These services are usually provided for a monthly fee depending on a number of users accessing the services. The ASP services have gained lately more and more popularity, and are expected to grow even more as companies tend to use more outsourcing services or have the intent of moving applications off their employees computers to put them on special application servers where they can be accessed as thin client workstations (i.e. Citrix solutions, Terminal Server from Microsoft, etc.). A completely different use of ASP is that of Active Server Pages, a server-side programming language developed by Microsoft.

BI is an acronym for Business Intelligence. BI is a sum of actions that imply gathering, implementation, analysis and presentation of performance metrics for an organization. An example would be the gathering of customer buying habits, analyzing that information and applying the results to improve sales.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.

CRM Accelerators are add-on solutions developed for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. A CRM accelerator allows broadening marketing, sales and service capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 (basically extending its capabilities). CRM accelerators provide additional functionality also for deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, not only for using it.

Direct marketing is a method used by marketers to send a promotional message directly to the possible client with the purpose of creating a call-to-action measurable response (for instance a direct purchase, subscription to a newsletter, visit to a website, request for information, etc.). Direct marketing campaigns may involve: mailings, sending e-mails, magazines advertisements, television ads, banner promotions, pay-per-click search engine campaigns, newspaper ads, radio ads, ...

ERP is an acronym for enterprise resource planning. An ERP system uses software and hardware resources to be able to integrate all data and processes in an organization into a single unified system. A system can be called ERP if it incorporates at least two different modules that would otherwise be used separately, for instance: Manufacturing modules, Supply Chain systems, Accounting/Payroll software, Customer Relationship Management programs, etc.

Hosted CRM, a customer relationship management model in which a company pays a recurring fee to access the CRM services provided by the web application provider. This model is mostly used by small to medium sized companies, that want to outsource the cost of having an in-house CRM process. Popular hosted CRM providers:, Siebel CRM On Demand, ZOHO, SugarCRM.

IVR stands for interactive voice response, a phone technology that allows interaction with callers and the gathering of information to route the call to the appropriate representative. An IVR system can respond to calls with a pre-recorded audio and can detect voice and recognize touch tones (being able this way to play the pre-recorded message specific to a certain category). It's impossible not to have interacted with an IVR before, either when you called your bank, your mobile phone provider, televoting or a different sector where high call volumes are experienced.

Marketing automation is an integral component of customer relationship management that involves the use of software applications in order to automate marketing processes that are usually manually performed (such as customer segmentation and campaign management).

NPD is an acronym for new product development. NPD refers to the methodology developed for getting a new product to the market. This includes organizing processes like: brainstorming for new product ideas, analyzing the possible impact of the new product based on the initial ideas (before any development process starts), developing the new product and marketing it. There are some associations for product development professionals, such as the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) and the Product Development Institute (PDI).

Outsourcing represents a partnership through which one company offers its services to another company, services that normally would have been handled inside the beneficiary company. Common outsourcing examples are those of 3rd party companies (located usually in countries where the cost of providing such services is reduced - India, Pakistan, Romania) that offer customer support for developers in countries where these services have elevated costs (US, UK, ...).

PRM stands for Partner Resource Management, a business strategy (part of a CRM solution) that has as a goal improving the collaboration between a company and its channel partners to result in better sales effectiveness. There is discussion whether it is necessary to have PRM as a separate entity rather than a component of CRM.

ROI stands for Return on Investment. ROI (in relation to using CRM systems) represents a ratio between the amount of money saved or obtained as a result of implementing a CRM solution in a company, and the actual costs of the CRM implementation.

SaaS is an acronym for Software as a Service. Software as a Service is actually an application model where a developer offers a web-based application that is hosted and maintained by the developer itself, customer accessing it via the Internet and generally ofr a monthly subscription fee (though open source SaaS applications are available, hosting still needs to be paid).

SAP stands for Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing.

XRM is a term mentioned by Steve Ballmer at the 2008 Convergence event to emphasize the complexity of future CRM solutions as not only a customer relationship management solutions, but a solution to allow the management of relationships with all kind of factors involved in the business process. So XRM could stand for "all kind of business relationships management". In his words, "It's about helping people manage all kinds of connections and relationships of all forms: government to citizen, politician to constituent".

Whether you love it or hate it but you can’t surely ignore cloud CRM anymore. They have arrived and they are here to stay (so is the market experts are saying). Cloud CRMs are transforming the modern business world by bringing smarter sales force automation software into the clutches of small and medium businesses. They are loved by many for being so affordable and available. Cloud based CRM store your data in the safekeeping of a multi-tenant virtual space from where it can be accessed from any corner of the world.

Cloud CRM is exciting and here are ten reasons not to ignore them.

  • Small businesses are continuously changing. Their requirements evolve as they grow over time. An on-premise CRM can be inflexible to their changing needs or may demand extensive revamping program. Whereas, cloud CRM offers a scalable environment that expands with the changes in requirements.
  • You no longer need to install the software to the computer when a new member joins in. Adding new users is easy with SaaS CRM solutions and moreover, it does not involve license procurement issues as well. Small businesses, which often operate on shoestring budget, can save on introducing new members by adopting SaaS solution.
  • Often the delivered cloud models are simple to use and adjustable to the level of expertise of the user – ensuring little to no learning curve. The users can start using the product immediately without undergoing extensive training.
  • Cloud based solutions are lite and easily deployable to client’s location. Unlike of on-premise solution that often requires programmers to be placed at your location the deployment process of SaaS CRM is quick and doesn’t affect your productivity.
  • The web based customer management software is offered as software-as-a-solution. Since it requires no hardware installation the deployment process is quick, which particularly suite the small businesses.
  • Cloud solutions are designed to be delivered through internet and therefore are ideal for thin client devices. The CRM solutions can be accessed on smartphones, tablets, laptops or any other device which can be connected through internet. Introduction of cloud has introduced the concept of mobile CRM. It is also regarded as suitable for companies embracing BYOD model of operation.
  • Online solutions are fully customizable, which means the users are free to personalize the UI to best suit their needs. As a result, they can also be converted to meet the particular requirements of a market vertical.
  • Unlike their legacy counterparts, the cloud-based CRM for small business does not require upfront investment. They are available at affordable pay-as-you-use or per-user/ per-month subscriptions. Since most of these applications are provision based the service providers often offer free trials before buying.
  • With SaaS CRMs the responsibilities of maintaining and managing the software lie with the service provider and the charges of these services are included in the monthly subscription. As a result, the users can continue using the software without worrying about updating it. The service provider may also offer technical assistance and compensation during outage.
  • The cloud solutions are no less secured than the on-premise solutions. Since the service provider is often responsible for managing and protecting large volume of client data they employ sophisticated anti-spamming and anti-hacking solutions against miscreants.

User adoption is critical for the success of your CRM. Most companies are dependent on their sales team for collecting customer data to fill up order forms, offer insight to the marketing department and offering background information to the customer management team. This information can be critical for your business in the long run. You, therefore, ought to make sure that your sales team is comfortable using the software and is inputting correct data in it. But it has often been seen that the sales team isn’t prompt in adopting the changed situation. This can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Lower level of technical skill of the team
  • Busy schedule and the sales team consider it wastage of time to update the CRM
  • Sales representatives have their own ways of doing business and may consider it redundant to update the system
  • They consider sales an individual success and are reluctant to share information with the rest

But, whatever may be the reason a large part of your CRM implementation success depends on the adoption rate of your sales team. Here is how that can be achieved.

Involve the team: Rather than imposing the software on your team you can consider involving them to the task at an early phase of the project. Since they are going to be the main user of the system it is important that they don’t feel left out. You can begin with organizing a brainstorming session and seeking feedback from the senior members of the team. Make sure that you select at least one representative from each of your teams to form the core team of CRM implementation project. This team will work closely with the CRM software provider.

Adopt the simplest solution: A complex system is surely to put off the users from adopting it. Most enterprise legacy solutions require extensive training sessions which can affect your business performance by consuming the productive time of your sales team. Moreover, you also need to keep the technical competence of the team in mind. Sales team often lacks in technical knowhow compared to that of other employees. This situation can be resolved by adopting cloud based CRM system. These hosted CRM services can be accessed over the Internet and often are ready-to-use solutions.

Make it a practice: Exercising little coercion isn’t bad. You can identify some of the key influencers in your team and appoint them to oversee on others to encourage them to use the interface. You may also consider putting a monitoring policy in place during the initial phase to ensure that the data entered is adhering to the standard of data entry, i.e. correct and precise information, no duplicate entries, use of proper abbreviation and salutation.

Show them the benefits: Often system adoption is resisted because users can’t see clear benefits of using it. But since the objective of implementing CRM software is to drive in more business it would be beneficial to introduce your sales team to the benefits of using it. You may emphasize on how they can generate more business through effectively managing their contacts, generating 360⁰ review of a client’s profile, receiving live feed updates on deals and meetings, generating performance and pipeline management reports, and more.

Seek feedback: Once the project is implemented you can measure its success only by seeking feedback from users. So, after few weeks of rolling out the plan ask your team to evaluate its effectiveness. The feedback gathered will help you find out the causes of slow adoption (if any), or if you need to organize training to boost up the adoption rate etc.

Since web based CRM solutions are provision based most vendors offer free trial period that allows the user to test drive the solution to judge its usefulness in their business environment. You can take advantage of this offer before making large investment towards it.

Social Customer Relationship Management is a tool that is being used by small to large businesses all over the world. Social CRM gathers detailed information from a number of different sources, Twitter and Facebook for example, and then enables the organisation to use that information to drive customer engagement.

Here are 5 ways Social CRM can help your business.

1. Get socializing

Social CRM allows companies to connect with their customers on the customer’s terms, using the customer’s preferred channels of communication. In order to get this connection started you need to implement the correct technology to obtain your customer’s social data - you can do this by updating your online forms and website pages to request your customer’s LinkedIn profiles, Twitter and Facebook usernames.

2. Take advantage of social networking

There’s no point using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on if you are not going to fully take advantage of their capabilities. Start using these applications to monitor customer conversations and relevant mentions of your company and products and then utilize this information to improve your business.

3. Make your customers happy

You should encourage your customers to connect with you and with each other to share stories of great customer experiences, answer questions and identify customer problems that your business needs to address. You will start to understand what’s working and what’s not working, where that bad review came from and how to improve your customer experience. You can use your Social Media capabilities to identify your customers and start responding to their questions and concerns and also to produce ideas for new products or offers. 

4. Cut costs and improve customer relations

Social CRM doesn't involve several staff members looking after your Facebook and Twitter page and answering every customer request. Social CRM tools offer you the ability to integrate social media sites with CRM and knowledge management systems without creating costs.

Social CRM tools capture social media conversations that your customers are having and filter out the noise, analyse the meaning and apply your solution to each interaction By doing this you are taking charge of each query – improving customer relations without creating costs.

5. Increase customer loyalty

All businesses know that customers will be loyal to services that they trust. By using Social CRM you can capture the right information from your clients and effectively analyse the outcome for new ideas on sales and marketing techniques. Not only will you be improving your profits but you will understand and deliver what your customers want.

Businesses have to adapt to new changes and it’s now more important than ever to actually listen to your customers. It has never been as easy to connect directly with customers and engage with them in such an in-depth way. Social CRM has proved that it doesn't just deliver financial benefits to companies but also allows them to learn from their customers and change their businesses for the better.


Will Vicary is a digital marketing specialist whose interests include CRM solutions and online customer experience, as well as online lead generation. He is specifically interested in CRM insurance and cloud technology.