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The 3 Types of CRM Software And How To Choose The Right One

CRM software systems are necessary for all businesses.

They can help you better manage your customer relationships, automate existing processes, organize customer data, retain more customers, and so much more.

Every business should use a CRM to improve their business processes and increase revenue, but how do you know which type of CRM is right for your company?

There are 3 main types of CRM software: operational CRM systems, collaborative CRM systems, and analytical CRM systems.

While all these CRM systems are similar in some ways, they also have notable differences, and it's important that you're aware of these differences so that you can choose the right CRM system for your business's specific needs.

In this article, we'll be going over the different types of CRM software systems and how you can choose the best system for your company.

As a business owner, it's imperative that you prioritize your customer relationships to increase customer retention and ultimately drive sales, but that starts with choosing the right type of CRM for your business.

What is CRM software?

Customer relationship management software, or CRM software, is a type of system that businesses use to manage customer data and build stronger relationships with their customers.

Whether you have a small business with a few hundred customers or a huge enterprise with hundreds of thousands of customers, your customers should always be your number one priority. But managing all that customer data can be difficult, which is why it's so important to have a CRM system. CRM systems can do everything from lead scoring to sales automation, so you can improve your customer interactions and service processes.

A CRM will also help improve your time management by automating various tasks, so you can focus more on building your customer relationships and making sure your customers always have a positive experience with your business.

Why is CRM software important to use?

CRM software is important for countless reasons. A CRM can improve the customer experience by offering personalized customer support and helping you keep up with your customers' ongoing needs.

CRM software is also beneficial for your sales team as it can help sales reps optimize their daily tasks and connect with more leads who are likely to become customers. In addition to your sales teams, CRM software can also benefit your marketing department.

CRM systems can help with marketing automation by collecting important customer data for you, allowing you to create more personalized experiences and effective marketing campaigns that reach your target audience.

Overall, a CRM system can benefit your business in many ways. From improving time management with marketing automation to helping you retain customers with personalized content, a CRM is beneficial across all your departments.

What are the 3 types of CRM?

There are 3 types of customer relationship management software that you can use for your business: operational CRM, collaborative CRM, and analytical CRM.

Understanding the differences between these CRM types is essential so that you can make an informed decision about which type of CRM is right for your business. While all 3 types of CRM systems help with managing customer relationships, there are some key differences that you should be aware of.

Operational CRM

Consider an operational CRM if…your business has a linear sales processes, or with a lot of repetitive tasks in their operations—especially when done on a large scale. In general, businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from an operational CRM.

As you can guess, an operational CRM can help you with your business operations, specifically those surrounding your customer relationships. An operational CRM system can help you throughout your entire customer lifecycle to make sure your customers' needs are always met. The main departments that would benefit from an operational CRM system are your sales team, marketing team, and customer service departments. This type of CRM will help to simplify various business processes to ensure a positive customer experience

There are a few main features of operational CRM that you should know: customer service automation, sales automation, and marketing automation. Automation is one of the most important features of a CRM that can improve your business functions in countless ways.

Having a system that can automate all these tasks will save your business a ton of time that you otherwise would have spent on monotonous tasks like collecting customer data and sending out emails.

The customer service automation feature will handle various tasks for you, such as reaching out to prospective customers, chatting with customers, and sending out automated responses.

The sales automation feature can help streamline your sales process by sending out scheduled emails, arranging meetings with sales reps, and overall helping you communicate directly with your customers.

The marketing automation feature will handle various marketing tasks, like managing email campaigns and calling contacts, so you can focus more on creating effective marketing campaigns. Overall, an operational CRM can help you accomplish more in less time by handling a lot of the tedious tasks that come with owning a business.

Collaborative CRM

Consider a collaborative CRM if…your sales and marketing departments are distributed across several locations, most of your client interactions occur online, or multiple departments independently interact with prospects and customers throughout the sales cycle.

If you're looking for a way to unite all the different departments of your business, a collaborative CRM system will probably be your best bet.

This type of CRM system focuses on connecting all your teams, like your marketing team, sales reps, and customer service department. This way, everyone will have access to the same information so they can provide a positive customer experience across all departments.

Collaborative CRMs also ensure that all customer data is kept up-to-date so everyone in your company can work together to accomplish the same goal.

The two main features of a collaborative CRM are interaction management and channel management. Interaction management focuses primarily on the relationship between you and your customers. This allows you to have a comprehensive view of the customer journey so you can identify exactly where improvements need to be made.

Channel management allows you to communicate with your customer on whichever channel they prefer, whether that be social media, email, or phone. Channel management is an important feature to have in your CRM system because you need to be able to effectively reach your customers on a platform that you know they use.

Analytical CRM

Consider an analytical CRM if…your business values data-driven decision-making. Service providers and account-based sales organizations, in particular, can benefit from insights mined from an Analytical CRM platform.

If you have a lot of customer data that you want to analyze but don't have an organized way of doing so, an analytical CRM is probably right for you. Businesses that want to develop their marketing strategy and companies that use big data will most likely benefit from this type of CRM because of its complex analytical capabilities.

An analytical CRM system is beneficial for many reasons, but mainly because it can help you not only collect customer data but analyze that data so you can gain more insight into your customers.

This will benefit your sales and marketing teams because they'll have a better idea of their customer's preferences and patterns so they can customize their strategies to appeal to them. With an analytical CRM system, you can identify key performance indicators, customer analytics, sales analytics, and more.

Analytical CRM systems have many features, but a few notable ones include data mining, customer segmentation, and Online Analytical Processing tools.

Data mining can help turn specific customer data into insights so that you can identify patterns and create customer segments based on them. Customer segmentation is another key feature of an analytical CRM which allows you to group your customers based on their data, buying behaviors, and more. Online Analytical Processing tools, or OLAP, can be used to find data and perform complex analytical calculations.

Can you use multiple types of CRM systems at the same time?

So we know that there are different types of CRM systems, but can you use multiple types of CRMs at the same time?

Yes, you absolutely can. In fact, many businesses prefer to use multiple types of CRM systems so that they can improve the efficiency of their business processes and accomplish more things at once. While you can use each CRM separately, they can also be used concurrently to achieve your goals, depending on what your company's specific needs are.

For example, you may need the analyzing capabilities of an analytical CRM to evaluate customer data and understand your customers' behaviors, but the uniting capabilities of a collaborative CRM to bring all the different departments of your business together. In this case, you would want to use two CRM types to accomplish those specific goals.

When deciding which type of CRM system is best for your business, it's important to think about your company's unique goals. Do you want to identify and convert more leads, or do you care more about automating simple day-to-day tasks? Asking yourself what you want to accomplish with a CRM will help you determine which type you need and if you should use multiple types of CRM systems at the same time.

Important features in a CRM

When deciding which CRM system to use for your business, you need to think about your must-have features. These features will vary for every business depending on their needs, but in general, some important features that you should look for in a CRM include:


Before you had a CRM, you probably had a lot of other software that you used to organize your data, manage payroll, track time, and so forth. So, a very important feature to look for in your CRM system is integration. You want to be able to integrate your other platforms into your CRM system so that you can manage all your tasks from one place.

That way, you don't have to keep switching from one system to another just to close a deal with a potential customer. To create a seamless customer experience, you need to have CRM integrations.


Regardless of the type of CRM software that you use, you want your system to be collaborative. This means that all the different departments in your business can work together and everyone can have access to the same information at the same time.

Without collaboration tools in your CRM, important customer data can easily get lost, which can deter potential customers from choosing your business over competitors. An ideal CRM system will unite all your teams so you can prioritize customer satisfaction across every department.

Whether your employees are working in an office or remotely, they should also be able to access the CRM from anywhere. You should choose a CRM system that offers a mobile version so that your employees can get online even when they’re on the go.


Your customers are trusting you with their personal information, so it's crucial to choose a CRM system that is safe and secure. Not only does your CRM contain customer data, but also your business's private information, so you need a CRM that offers various security features.

Some important security features to look for in a CRM include encryption, authentication, data backups, and password privacy. These features will ensure that an outsider cannot enter or hack into the CRM database unless they have a password, and the data backup will save any data in the case it gets lost.

If you want to achieve customer satisfaction, you need to promise your customers that their personal information will be kept safe in your hands.

Reporting tools

A CRM will gather important customer information, but it needs to go a step beyond that and also analyze that information. You should choose a CRM that offers various reporting tools so that you can gain insight into your customer's preferences and make better decisions for your company based on their wants and needs.

This will help you build stronger relationships with both existing and potential customers, identify more leads, create more personalized marketing campaigns, and more. Some reporting tools that you should look for in a CRM include signup forms, an audience dashboard, behavioral targeting, and audience segmentation.

With these tools, you can better understand your contacts and get a holistic view of your customers so that you can reach and grow your audience.

How do you choose the right type of CRM for your company?

So now that we've gone over all the different types of customer relationship management software, you're probably wondering how you can choose the best one for your company.

The right type of CRM for your company ultimately comes down to your business operations and specific needs. How one business functions might be entirely different from how other business functions and each would benefit from a different type of CRM. So before you can go ahead and make a choice, you need to figure out what problem you're trying to solve with a CRM and what your business's unique goals are.

Once you've identified your goals, you then need to think about your budget. The price of a CRM system can vary greatly, and one with more features is inevitably going to cost more than a basic version. While a CRM can help you cut costs in the long run by increasing revenue, it can be expensive to get started with, so your budget is definitely something you'll want to take into account.

The last thing you should think about when deciding which type of CRM is best for your business is which features you can't live without. If you need a system that can analyze customer data and perform data mining, then an analytical CRM is right for you.

But if your main focus is improving the customer experience and increasing customer retention, then an operational CRM is probably a better choice. Think about the specific features that are non-negotiables for you and choose the CRM that offers those.

Prioritize customer relationships to improve customer retention

As a business owner, your customers should be your utmost focus. But in order to make sure their needs are being met and they're satisfied with your products or services, you need a way to track and manage their data. Fortunately, you can do all of that, and more, with a customer retention management platform. The right type of CRM can help you prioritize your customer relationships so that you can retain more customers, and in turn, boost sales.

Choosing the right type of CRM for your business can be difficult, especially when they all have their own pros and cons.

Ultimately, the best CRM software depends on your company's unique wants and needs, what your goals are, and what features you need to accomplish those goals. If you're looking for a comprehensive CRM that offers all the features you need to grow and improve your business, consider Mailchimp.

Mailchimp is a marketing automation and email marketing platform that helps businesses of all sizes improve their customer relationships. With Mailchimp's free CRM, you can connect all your contact data on one platform, understand patterns in your data, turn audience insights into action, and more.

Mailchimp's CRM offers everything from audience tools to sales automation, so you can have a better understanding of your company's sales process and make the right decisions to increase revenue. With Mailchimp's customer retention strategies, you can strengthen the relationships with your current customers, and build relationships with new ones, in no time.

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