CRM, or Customer Relationship Management: Software or a service that tracks contacts from the moment they enter the system. Advanced CRM software monitors and analyzes all communications with contacts and can even be programmed to manage communications automatically.
Contact Database: A database of persons who have a relationship with an organization. Contacts could be prospects, customers, employees, journalists, or others an organization interacts with. Contact databases have largely replaced old-fashioned ways of tracking contacts, such as business card files and Rolodexes.
Time Tracking: In CRM, time tracking usually refers to the need of employees to record the amount of time they spend working on various projects. Time tracking is used by companies that bill services by the hour. It's also used by companies to monitor the productivity of employees or to estimate labor costs associated with various projects.
Customer Service Management: This is one specialized function of CRM services & sales software. A CRM solution for customer service management might allow customer service representatives to access a complete history of purchases, complaints, and other interactions with a customer in order to provide better service.
Lead Management or Lead Nurturing: Lead management and lead nurturing are methods for processing a lead in a way that turns a prospect into a customer, and keeps customers coming back. High-end CRM software and services facilitate lead nurturing by automating many of the routine communications that can turn a browser into a buyer.
Sales Force Management: This is a specialized function of many CRM programs that provides tools for sales teams. Research shows that sales teams empowered with quality CRM software are able to generate significantly more sales than those who do not take advantage of these technologies. Sales-force management features often include lead rating, lead nurturing, goal setting, alerts, sales literature, invoicing, effectiveness analysis, and results measurement.
Custom Fields: A database is made up of records, with one record for each contact in the database. Inside the record for each contact are fields with information about the contact, such as first name, last name, email address, etc. Most CRM solutions include custom fields in a record that an organization can use to track various metrics important to the organization, such as the average amount of time between purchases. The number and flexibility of custom fields is often an indication of the versatility of the CRM program.
Social Integration: In CRM, social integration is the ability to integrate the database with a variety of social networking sites. Being able to locate contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other services provides sales representatives with multiple ways to approach and engage prospects. Social integration is new to CRM; most low-priced CRM systems still do not accommodate social marketing.
Sales Optimization: This is a systematic process for maximizing the lifetime profits from a contact through smart communications. High-end CRM services are able to analyze a vast amount of information about prospects and customers, and use that analysis to suggest and send communications that are designed to win back lapsed customers while sustaining and growing existing customers.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): This refers to the fact that CRM software is increasingly sold as a service, rather than as a program. While stand-alone software is still in use in many organizations, the trend is for that software to live in the cloud, not on your computer, and for you to be charged to access the service rather than own the software. Benefits of SaaS include software that is continually updated, access to the system from anywhere using a variety of devices, and usually better back-up systems for the data.
CSV Files: CSV stands for Comma Separated Values. It's a widely used standard used for exporting or importing databases. Each field in a record is stored with a comma dividing one field from the next, so that the file can be easily imported into a different software program.
vCards or VCF Files: A vCard or VCF file is like a digital business card. It contains standard information about a contact in a standard format. Most CRM programs are able to easily import vCards or VCF files, and most also export data into that format.
Mail Merge or Email Merge: A process for integrating a list of contacts with a form letter. On a simple level, mail merge will address an email to each person in a database at the press of a button. On a more sophisticated level, CRM software will not only address the message, but will also customize it based on what is known about the contact.
Business Intelligence: This refers to the ability of an organization to gather, analyze, and use information about itself. CRM software & services are at the center of business intelligence and may be the only form of computerized business intelligence used by many firms. With CRM's ability to track and analyze sales, it can provide some of the most useful information available to guide an organization.