CRM Vs. Contact Management Systems


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Carol Smalley
Managing Editor, CRMGuru

Posted 09-Apr-2003 08:00 AM
Posted by Carol Smalley (Editor) on behalf of Don Jennison [[email protected]]

Looking to find out what people see as the difference between CRM and CMS (Contact Management Systems)? Please advise, Im interested to hear what people think about the differences.

Thank you,
Don Jennison

Carol Parenzan Smalley
Managing Editor
[email protected]

Ash Nallawalla
Picture of Ash Nallawalla

Posted 09-Apr-2003 08:30 AM
The hazard exists for newcomers who see software makers sell a product as “CRM” when it is just a tool, probably just a contact manager. I prefer to think of CRM as a key corporate strategy. A CMS has a very salesforce-centric connotation and distracts from the principles of CRM. I like to use CMS in lead management to “sell” CRM to sceptics.

– Ash
URL? Google for “crm consultant” Smile

Alan Finn

Posted 13-May-2003 03:46 AM
Subject: Difference between CRM and Contact Management (CM) software

For John Dennison:

We are often asked this because our CRM software, with an SQL, ODBC database, sells at sub-$155 USD—plus sales tax, per seat. We are thus frequently asked to explain the differences between our CRM product and CM.

We do so in terms of robustness and flexibility of deployment. One of our resellers, focused on manufacturing industry, recently re-configured WinShark crm as a Planned Maintenance System for factories and now sells it to that industry at $232 USD plus sales tax, per seat!

With our best regards, for WinShark Limited,

Alan Finn MBA
Sales and Marketing Director
Winshark Limited
Wessex House
Upper Market Street
Hampshire SO50 9FD
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1420 80642
Mobile: +44 7967 586 151
E-mail: [email protected]

Neil Benson

Posted 13-May-2003 05:19 AM
John, I broadly agree with Ash although I think CRM is a type of improvement initiative–like business process re-engineering or Six Sigma–rather than a business strategy. Here’s how I define CRM:

“CRM is a change intiative to implement a customer-centred strategy that drives by customer-oriented processes that are performed by customer-focused people supported by CRM technology”.

Where do contact management systems fit in to all of this? Well, they are just one type of CRM technology. All CRM technology exists along a continuum of sophistication: from very basic (like contact management) to incredibly complex(like enterprise CRM platforms).

Usually, contact management systems are associated with limited functionality such as storing basic customer information. They can be great in small businesses where no CRM technology exists, but once your business has more than about 10 people, you’ll need more sophisticated CRM technology.


Carol Smalley
Managing Editor, CRMGuru

Posted 13-May-2003 07:37 AM
Posted by Carol Smalley (Editor) on behalf of RuthJan [[email protected]]

The biggest difference that I see is that contact management systems focus on seeing the contacts, then the company, if you set it up that way. Great for personal business services such as home real estate.

CRM systems focus on the companies through the contacts. The bigger picture. Where knowing/having multiple touch points within a single company is needed for the sale.

Jan Flesher
Flesher Marketing Infrastructures
[email protected]

Carol Parenzan Smalley
Managing Editor
[email protected]

Jukka A Kilpio

Posted 14-May-2003 12:49 AM
“Usually, contact management systems are associated with limited functionality such as storing basic customer information. They can be great in small businesses where no CRM technology exists, but once your business has more than about 10 people, you’ll need more sophisticated CRM technology.”

Could not more disagree. I have found in many customer cases that really advanced sales prosess tools haven been found too complicated or not fit to their prosesses but basic (or advanced) CM very useful in every different business areas. This has nothing to do with the customer company size. Well, maybe all companies here in Finland belongs to “small” businesses” 😉



Posted 03-Oct-2004 11:33 PM
Here’s hoping we all have a sense of humour, especially DON!
First rule of customer relations—remember their NAME!

Regards to all


Bill James-Wallace
Director, Business On Purpose
Business On Purpose is a coaching and training practice.
We work with our clients to achieve personal best results
and consistent business growth through the development
of individuals and teams.

Ken Coman

Posted 09-Oct-2004 11:13 AM
Hello. I have had experience with CRM and contact management products as both a CRM consultant, and also as a business owner attempting to manage the unwieldy data associated with customers. I offer the following as my view of the difference between CRM and Contact Management:

Contact Management with tools such as Outlook, or even more robust ones such as ACT! are fine for organizing your contacts, and being able to track some of your interactions with the contact.

However, Customer Relationship Management is the principle of organizing your interactions with a customer to maximize the service provided at all touchpoints. By fully understanding the customer, and knowing as much as possible about prior interactions, transactions, desires, preferences, service requests, product purchases, etc.—a salesperson, or customer service representative can more adequately service the immediate needs of a customer.

In addition to these day to day interactions with customers, robust CRM solutions attempt to enable the business to develop a 360 degree view of customers at both the single customer level, and in aggregated groups. Thus strategic decisions about how to develop marketing campaigns, and improving business processes to better service customers grows from the functionality that a “CRM” solution offers.

While a “Contact Management” product may be very useful in organizing contacts into convenient bins, and may even provide some insight into who your customers are—it would not be accurate to term a product a “CRM” tool unless it is designed to provide a very wide view of ALL of the interactions with a contact from all entities within the business. Furthermore, the intent of a CRM product should be improved service through greater knowledge by the business at all contact points with the customer.

Ken Coman


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