What Is a CRM Database?

By Kirsten McNeice
Talent and Employer Brand Manager
Jul 29 2021 read

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a set of practices and technologies for managing your company’s customer relationships and interactions. When most people talk about CRM, they are usually referring to a CRM system, a tool that helps with contact management, sales management, agent productivity and more. 

CRM software can help you automate key administrative tasks like data entry, note-taking, recording contact information, lead routing and creating email templates. It aggregates and stores customer data from a variety of channels, including but not limited to your company's website, emails, phone calls, live chat messages and social media.

Let's review what you need to know about a CRM database and how to choose the right one for your business.

‌What's the Difference Between a CRM System and a CRM Database?

‌While a CRM system often includes a database to store customer data, it differs from a simple database in that it includes many powerful features beyond data storage. CRM software can include:

  • Customer service automation: Chatbots, online FAQs and help centers
  • Marketing automation: Email templates and automated email messages
  • Workflow automation: Data entry and note-taking
  • Salesforce automation: Collecting prospective contact information, scheduling calls and managing the sales pipeline
  • AI and analytics: Analyze customer behavior to prioritize leads and inform future marketing and sales efforts 

‌Another way to look at it is like this: A database stores and organizes past data, while CRM software stores data and uses it to help you effectively plan and strategize for the future. A CRM database is specifically built to help you automate critical tasks and extract insights to power your business.

‌Popular CRM systems include:

  • HubSpot: Complete with contact management, deal tracking, reporting tools and marketing automation capabilities, HubSpot offers a free CRM that you can choose to upgrade with premium features.
  • Zoho: This platform offers capabilities for sales, customer service, reporting, marketing automation and more. It comes with a conversational AI assistant to help you sort through your CRM data.
  • Accelo: A comprehensive, end-to-end client work management platform, Accelo connects contact management data to contracts, projects, billing and more. It goes beyond CRM features to help you with client communications, expense tracking, project management, workflow automation and more.

‌You might also be wondering whether or not Google includes a CRM platform in its popular Workspace offering. They, unfortunately, do not — but most popular CRM tools provide convenient integrations with Google Workspace apps.

‌What Is a CRM Database?

‌A CRM database is a tool that helps you gather your customer information in a single, centralized location. You can manage contacts, automate data entry and develop reports with the available data. 

‌Customer data stored in a CRM database can include items like:

  • Contact information (email, phone number, social media, place of employment and more)
  • Call logs, emails and chat messages
  • How the contact was sourced
  • Contact's user activity on your website

Most CRM databases are based in the cloud, so your employees can access the data anytime, anywhere. Whether you're taking customer calls, creating reports or building out an email campaign, you'll be able to take effective, data-informed action. 

‌Benefits of a CRM Database

By enabling key tasks like contact management, tracking customer interactions and email marketing, a CRM database can help you answer critical questions about both your customer base and your sales and marketing initiatives. Let's dive into some of the most important ways a CRM database can benefit your business.

1. Automate Tasks Across Sales and Marketing

‌Nix the tedious administrative tasks so your employees can spend more time focusing on what's important. CRM software automates tasks like data entry, note-taking, storing prospective clients' contact information, sending follow-up emails and more. 

‌Many CRM platforms also integrate with other popular business apps like Google Workspace, Mailchimp, Salesforce and QuickBooks. Integrations allow you to build hands-off workflows you can use to set up automated appointment scheduling, email campaigns, billing and payments, customer satisfaction surveys and document signing with your favorite tools and platforms. 

2. Organize Your Customers' Contact Details 

‌CRM databases make it easy for you to both automatically and manually add customers' contact details. With CRM software, you also gain the ability to sort and filter your customers by various attributes like:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Place of work
  • Contact information (email, phone number and social media)

The level of organization a CRM provides can arm your company with the ability to reach out to and follow up with prospects quickly and with the most accurate, up-to-date information on hand.

‌3. Personalize Your Interactions

A CRM will help your organization personalize customer interactions and target prospects with relevant information. Here are two examples of how this might work.

  • Target clients by industry. If you store your clients' industry in your CRM database, you can send them relevant promotions at key points during the year. For example, if you own a digital marketing agency and have clients in the accounting space, you can send them promotional emails during tax season.
  • Send customers a special occasion message. If you store a client’s company opening date, you can send them a personalized card or promotion code every year on that day to let them know you value them and their special date.

Accessing a particular client's information can also help you personalize face-to-face consultations to address their unique needs and pain points.

‌4. Make Data-Driven Decisions With Reporting Tools

Many CRM systems provide reporting capabilities that can help you not only track leads and deals but create revenue forecasts to see if your deals are meeting your quarterly or yearly goals. Revenue forecasting can help you make data-driven decisions and inform your business strategy. A CRM database can help you save sales data and generate reports that showcase metrics in an easy, readable format. These metrics might include items like average monthly recurring revenue, sales velocity and average deal size.

This way, you can set and modify goals like next quarter's sales quota or revenue with objective data to back them up. CRM reports can also help you figure out which of your sales and lead generation tactics are working — and which ones you can nix to focus on winning strategies.

‌5. Manage and Monitor Your Sales Funnel

‌CRM databases usually offer a complete view of your sales pipelines, which makes it easier for you to manage and track deals. Your sales organization can track deals to see how close they are to their monthly or quarterly quota.

READ NEXT: Is CRM Software Worth the Investment for Small Businesses?

Choose the Right CRM

‌To recap, a CRM database may not be as functional as a CRM system. A robust CRM system can help you manage your contacts, automate administrative tasks and make data-driven business decisions so you can serve your customers more effectively. 

Learn more about how your business could benefit from a client work management platform — one that does much more than a basic CRM system. Start your free trial of Accelo or schedule a demo.

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