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  What does CRM mean?  
CRM, or customer relationship management, can be defined simply as a strategy that focuses on how you interact with your customers. But there's much more to it than that. And to put your CRM strategy into action, you'll need software tools that track the responses and actions of customers, employees and others involved in your business relationships.
Good CRM also requires the broader process of monitoring and analysing the data that these tracking tools record. By obtaining valuable feedback on transaction behaviour and how customers and employees think and interact, you can develop relationships and increase repeat business through greater customer satisfaction. Thus, not only will CRM save you money through increased staff efficiency, it will also bring you more money through increased business.
Traditionally, only larger enterprises could think about implementing CRM. But nowadays, all businesses are realising the importance of this technology. With the internet revolution changing the options for businesses like yours, CRM has become more accessible. You now have access to Web-based CRM tools and packages that allow you to easily organise your client data.
Another option available to you is hosted CRM solutions. With these, the data resides with your service provider and is hosted in a well-protected environment. In effect, this does away with the need for IT infrastructure development costs and allows you to save money by transferring that cost to the provider.
Major names to look out for in the CRM market include Siebel, Salesforce.com, Microsoft, RightNow Technologies, NetSuite and open-source player SugarCRM. You'll hear terms like operational CRM, analytical CRM, collaborative CRM, hosted CRM, on-premises CRM and CRM on demand. This probably sounds rather overwhelming, which is why we've created this buy guide to help you make the right choices.
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