7 types of CRM, which one to choose?

Dear hotel owners and managers,

Since the beginning of Experience Hotel, nearly 5,000 marketing directors, revenue managers, GMs and owners representing more than 11,000 hotels have contacted us with a “CRM need”.

Through all these meetings, it became clear that not everyone had the same need. In reality, the term “CRM” is a bit too generic; it reflects many different types of software for various types of businesses. Some of you need a solution to better manage your business(es), while others want to communicate with their customers, improve their customer experience, manage their customer support, centralize data, etc.

But what do you do when you have a “need for CRM”? And what is the difference between CRM and CRM?

The goal of this article is to help you choose by drawing a simplified map of the seven different types of CRMs out there.

Happy reading!

Don’t rush into choosing your CRM

A CRM was originally a sales tool. Its primary use was to manage an incoming lead (i.e., a contact who’s shown some interest in what you’re offering). It allowed for follow up in order to assist with a sale. Take Salesforce, for example. Its primary purpose is to capture new leads, assign those leads to a salesperson and place them on hold or convert them into qualified leads.

Salesforce, for example, allows you to maintain a relationship with potential customers who are not yet ready. It also provides access to dashboards and reports for tracking the progress of leads to conversion. Here, a CRM is a sales support tool.

However, it’s important to remember that CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”, an application that goes far beyond lead tracking! “Customer Relationship Management” itself is a very broad field that covers many applications, and it can be difficult to find your way around:

  • Lead generation and capture
  • Sending of newsletters
  • Managing customer relationships
  • Customer service/support
  • Centralization of data
  • Loyalty (for generating additional revenue from an already converted customer)
  • Product maintenance
  • Etc.

A CRM serves many purposes. And often, you’re only in need of a “portion” of them, hence the necessity of defining your needs!

Understanding the various types of CRM

The first task is to correctly identify your needs in order to choose the right CRM solution. I have personally identified seven major types:

1.   The sales CRM

The sales CRM is used by a company’s sales force. Its purpose is to record information regarding your prospects, to follow up on them, to extend offers and to help you get them to sign contracts. The life cycle of these leads is very short: it stops once the lead is transformed into a customer.

Among these CRMs are Pipedrive, Salesforce and SugarCRM. They allow you to visualize the entire sales process. Their purpose is to increase the productivity of sales teams.

2.   The marketing CRM

The marketing CRM is used to increase a brand’s visibility.

It can manage the sending of marketing emails (such as newsletters) as well as segmenting the customer database and automating tasks. This is the case with Mailchhimp, Sendinblue, etc. It can also offer Inbound Marketing (a marketing strategy that helps generate leads on your website through quality content) by creating personalized interactions with the prospects in your database, based on the information collected on them. Its main advantage is to centralize customer management.

This type of CRM can be found with platforms like Hubspot or GetDrip. Their purpose is to support a company’s growth.

3.   The community management CRM

The community management CRM, for the management of social networks, is as useful for the marketing department as for the sales department or customer support. It allows you to publish posts, manage replies, set up reporting, schedule tasks, etc. It also provides multi-account management.

Hootsuite fits into this category of CRM. It provides access to dashboards for a high-level view of online social activity and facilitates networking.

4.   The Customer Support CRM

The customer support CRM manages support tickets opened by customers. It establishes a system of priorities and tasks as well as a knowledge base, etc. It also provides indicators to measure the progress and resolution efficiency of each ticket.

Efficy and FreshDesk are good examples. Specifically, they allow you to keep track of your communications.

5.   The centralized database CRM

This category of CRM ensures the centralization of all customer data in a database. It allows you keep all your information in one place and is perfect for the needs of multi-establishment or multi-business customers, etc.

Drip, Salesforce and SugarCRM fall into this category of CRM.

6.   The call center CRM

The call center CRM manages phone calls and the creation of customer files at each point of contact, etc. In this category, we find PhingooCRM and Efficy.

7.   The business CRM

Another solution is to choose a business CRM that directly takes into account the specific needs of your business. In this sense, it goes beyond the more generic solutions.

This is the case with Experience Hotel, a specialized CRM for the hotel industry. It performs a large portion of the tasks specific to this industry.

For example, it allows you to schedule pre-stay, in-stay & post-stay mailings. It includes a booking confirmation and an online pre-check-in as part of its customer e-mails, etc.

This is the same principle applied to mailing, as explained in my comparison of products like MailChimp and sending communications with a specialized hotel mailing software.

These industry-specific features are the specialty of business CRMs, whether they’re adapted to hairdressing (such as Planity), car dealerships or any other type of business.

Which one should I choose for my hotel?

A traditional solution like Salesforce will provide you with an impressive variety and number of features that’ll meet 90% of your business needs, which is already a significant achievement.

However, some (if not many) of the features won’t be of use to you, and you’ll be missing 10% of features specific to your business. 10% may sound ridiculous, but it makes a big difference in your company’s sales.

Whereas a generic CRM covers most of the needs of the global market, a business CRM provides features which correspond to 100% of your needs.

Customer relationship management varies from one company to another, and from one type of business to another. You’ll need to formulate clear objectives and prioritize your needs based on the journey of your target customers in order to find the ideal solution.

Concluding the discussion on B2B CRMs, B2C CRMs and business and company CRMs

There’s a plethora of CRM solutions in existence. There are thousands of solutions, and there are many “good” CRMs. Some are perfectly suited to the needs of a specific industry, while others are perfectly suited to the needs of a specific profession.

In order to save time finding the best tool to meet all your needs, you must first define whether you are looking to respond to the problem posed by a multi-business activity (such as managing a sales department) or respond to a set of business-specific activities (hotel business, dentist, hairdresser, etc.).

Once this first question is answered, you’ll know which of these seven types of CRM you should use.

Thanks for reading!