The Ultimate Guide to CRM Systems

Take a deep dive into the benefits of CRM systems and how they can drive business success.

11 mins read
Published July 01, 2024
By Emily Hazell

What Is a CRM System?

The term “CRM” usually refers to Customer Relationship Management software. CRM tools are systems that help businesses to manage and improve their daily interactions with current and potential customers. In its simplest form, a CRM system consolidates all of the information about your customers into a single database, allowing users from across your business to access and manage data from one place.

A comprehensive CRM system will be made up of many features often including marketing automation tools, lead management tools, and customisable reporting features.

CRM System Features

A robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is vital for any business wanting to enhance their customer relationships and streamline their sales and marketing efforts. While CRM systems come in various shapes and sizes, there are a few fundamental features that really help maximize their impact:

Contact Management

Centralised Database: At the core of any CRM system is its ability to store all of your customer and potential customer details in one easy-to-access place. This includes names and contact details but also preferred method of contact.

Interaction Tracking: Keeping tabs on every interaction—be it emails, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. This helps businesses get a full picture of what their customers are up to and what they prefer.

Lead and Deal Management

Lead Scoring and Tracking: A smart CRM system doesn’t just keep track of leads; it also scores them based on how they interact and engage with your business. This helps your sales team focus their energies on leads that are more likely to pan out.

Deal Stages: Being able to customize the stages of your sales process makes managing deals smoother, from the first hello to the final handshake. It gives a clear view of what’s going on in your sales pipeline and helps with accurate predictions of future sales.

Workflow Automation

Task Automation: Automating the everyday tasks like sending follow-up emails or setting up meetings can lighten your team’s workload and ensure nothing important slips through the cracks.

Alerts and Notifications: Stay on top with automatic reminders about crucial tasks or important milestones.

Reporting and Analytics

Customizable Reports: Your CRM should be equipped with adaptable reporting tools that let you drill down into details like sales trends, customer behaviour, and the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

Dashboards: Visual dashboards offer a snapshot view of your business’s key metrics, allowing decision-makers to swiftly evaluate performance and adjust strategies accordingly.

Marketing Automation

Campaign Management: Seamlessly manage your marketing from start to finish right within the CRM, from segmenting your audience to executing campaigns and analysing their success.

Email Marketing: Use built-in tools to craft, send, and track email campaigns, making your communications efforts more streamlined and impactful.

Customer Support

Ticket Management: A capable CRM includes tools to help you manage support tickets efficiently, ensuring every customer query is addressed promptly and thoroughly.

Service Automation: Automating service tasks, from resolving issues to collecting customer feedback, can greatly improve your service quality and customer satisfaction.

Mobile Accessibility and Integration

Mobile Features: In today’s mobile-driven world, having a CRM that works flawlessly on mobile devices is essential for managing your business anytime, anywhere.

Third-Party Integration: The best CRMs integrate smoothly with other key business systems—like ERP software, accounting tools, and social media platforms—to create a unified technology ecosystem.

These features are the building blocks of any effective CRM system, arming you with the necessary tools to improve business relationships, boost efficiency, and drive sales growth. By ensuring your CRM includes these essential functionalities, you’re setting the stage for enhanced customer engagement and greater business success.

Benefits of Using a CRM System

A great CRM system should not only improve the efficiency of your processes, but enhance the business to customer relationship as a whole.

Boost your sales: With centralised communication tools, a CRM system ensures that every interaction with your customer is consistent, regardless of who is handling it. This seamless communication prevents overlaps and missed opportunities.

Who Are CRM Systems for?

CRM systems are extremely versatile tools and therefor used by multiple teams across a huge range of businesses. From small startups to large enterprises, these systems play an important role in managing customer information and interactions.

Let’s take a closer look at who uses CRM systems and how they benefit from them:

Small and Medium Sized Businesses:

The best CRM tools for small and medium sized businesses help to effectively manage relationships with an expanding customer base. The software helps these businesses to efficiently manage leads, follow-up on sales opportunities, and maintain high levels of customer service without the need for extensive manual processes.

Large Enterprises

In large enterprises, CRM systems are essential in handling complex customer data and diverse customer interactions across global markets. These systems enable detailed customer segmentation and analytics, support large-scale marketing campaigns, and help to drive strategic decisions.

B2B Companies

Business-to-business (B2B) companies use CRM systems to keep track of long sales cycles and complex relationships involving multiple stakeholders. CRM tools help these companies maintain detailed records of interactions, manage contracts, and nurture leads effectively through each stage of the buyer journey.

B2C Companies

Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies benefit from CRM systems by managing direct customer interactions, improving customer support services, and personalising marketing efforts based on customer behaviour patterns and preferences.


Non-profits use CRM systems to manage donor relationships, track fundraising campaigns, and maintain engagement with their supporters.

Specific Industries

Retail: Retail CRM systems help retailers to enhance customer experience by personalising communications and offering targeted promotions based on purchasing history and preferences.

Healthcare: Healthcare CRM systems enable healthcare providers to manage patient appointments as well as maintain contact for follow-up care.

Financial Services: Banks and financial institutions use CRM software to manage customer portfolios, track client interactions, and comply with regulatory requirements.

Construction: In the construction industry, CRM tools are helpful for managing project bids, tracking client interactions, and maintaining follow-up processes.

Manufacturing: Manufacturers use CRM systems to streamline the supply chain, manage customer orders, and maintain relationships with distributors and suppliers.

Technology: Tech companies rely on CRM to manage customer support tickets, track software updates, and engage with users to drive product adoption and retention.

How Much Does a CRM System Cost?

The price of a CRM system can vary significantly, depending on if you are signing up to a ready to use (off-the-shelf) system or having a custom-built CRM system designed around your businesses specific needs. Here’s how these options break down in terms of cost:

Off-the-Shelf CRM Software:

Subscription Fees: Most off-the-shelf CRM systems operate on a subscription basis, typically charging a per-user, per-month fee. These fees can range from as little as £10 per user per month for basic functionalities to over £100 per user per month to have access to comprehensive features such as e-signatures, AI tools, and custom reporting.

Add-Ons and Upgrades: Standard CRM solutions often offer additional features and integrations as add-ons, which can increase the total cost. These can include advanced reporting, additional marketing tools, or enhanced security features.

Scalability Costs: As your business grows, so does your need for more user licenses or higher-tier packages, which can significantly bump up your costs.

Bespoke CRM Solutions:

Custom Development Costs: Bespoke CRM systems are custom-built to fit specific business requirements, which means an initial development cost. Atreon offer multiple pricing options to fit your business needs.

Hosting Options: With a bespoke CRM, you have the flexibility to host the system on your own servers or opt for cloud hosting. Hosting it through your own IT company can remove ongoing costs, whereas cloud hosting typically involves a regular fee but less maintenance hassle.

Ownership and Scaling Costs: One major advantage of bespoke CRMs is that the software belongs to the business outright. This means adding users does not typically incur additional costs, making it potentially more cost-effective as your business grows.

Considerations for Both Types:

Implementation and Training: Regardless of the type, both off-the-shelf and bespoke systems may involve costs for implementation and training.

Support and Maintenance: Ongoing support and maintenance are important factors to consider for the smooth operation of any CRM system. Off-the-shelf solutions often include this as part of the subscription fee, while bespoke systems may require a separate arrangement.

Evaluating Costs

When considering the costs of a CRM, it’s crucial to consider not just the initial price but the total cost of ownership, which includes all fees over the system's operational lifespan. Businesses should assess their long-term needs, potential growth, and how either type of system can accommodate future requirements while remaining cost-effective.

Comparing Off-the-Shelf vs Bespoke CRM Systems

When choosing a CRM system, businesses often face the decision between purchasing an off-the-shelf solution or opting for a bespoke system designed specifically for their needs. Each option has its merits and drawbacks, and the best choice depends on various factors including the size of the business, specific industry requirements, budget constraints, and long-term business goals.

Off-the-Shelf CRM Systems:


Speed of Deployment: Pre-built CRM systems can be quickly implemented as they are ready to use right out of the box. This is beneficial for businesses that need to deploy a CRM solution rapidly.

Cost-Effectiveness: Generally, off-the-shelf CRMs are less expensive in the short term due to their standardized software solutions. They often come with a variety of pricing plans that can fit different budgets.

Proven Solutions: These systems have been tested across various industries and many users, ensuring reliability and a wide range of features that are already known to provide value.


Limited Customization: While some customization is possible, off-the-shelf CRMs may not fully align with a company’s specific processes or offer the unique functionalities some businesses may require.

Scalability Issues: As businesses grow, the additional costs of scaling an off-the-shelf system (such as per-user pricing) can become significant.

Dependence on Vendor: Businesses often have to rely on the vendor for updates, support, and scalability, which may not always align with the company’s timeline or priorities.

Bespoke CRM Systems:


Tailored to Specific Needs: A bespoke CRM system is custom-developed to address the unique challenges and requirements of your business, ensuring a perfect fit with existing workflows and business processes.

Scalability and Flexibility: Custom systems can grow with your business, adding new functionalities as needed without substantial additional costs. The flexibility to adapt to business changes is a significant advantage.

Competitive Advantage: Having a CRM system that is unique to your business can provide a competitive edge by enabling superior customer relationship management tailored exactly to your target market.


Higher Initial Cost: The upfront investment for a bespoke CRM can be significantly higher than an off-the-shelf system due to the custom development, testing, and implementation phases.

Longer Development Time: Developing a custom CRM system takes longer than deploying a ready-made solution. This could be a drawback for businesses needing an immediate solution.

Maintenance Responsibility: With a bespoke CRM, the business might need to handle ongoing maintenance and updates internally unless outsourced to a developer, which can add to costs and operational complexity.

Making the Right Choice

The decision between an off-the-shelf and bespoke CRM system should be guided by an analysis of your business’s specific needs, growth projections, and the total cost of ownership over time. For businesses with unique processes or those in niche markets, a bespoke CRM may be necessary to fully capture the intricacies of their operations. Meanwhile, off-the-shelf solutions may suffice for businesses with more standard needs or those requiring speedy implementation.

Choosing the Right CRM System

Know Your Needs: Pinpoint exactly what you need from a CRM. Customer insight, more sales, or better data management? Knowing that you need directs your search.

Budget Considerations: Understand the full cost, not just the initial purchase price. Consider ongoing support costs and extra user or feature costs.

Consider Scalability: Choose a CRM system that grows with your business. If you are adding new products or expanding your team, your CRM should accommodate your growth.

Integrations: A CRM that doesn’t work well with your existing systems can become a hinderance so check compatibility early to save headaches later.

User-Friendliness: If your CRM isn’t easy to use, it won’t be used. Pick a CRM that your team can use with ease.


Implementing a comprehensive CRM system can redefine the way that you connect with customers, improve efficiency and boost your sales. At Atreon, we develop custom CRM solutions around your specific business requirements. Contact us below to discuss your requirements with a member of our team.

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