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What is CRM? | Buzzword Breakdown

by Justine Pantaleo
Read Time: 14 minutes
CRM software

“There are many different CRM software; how do I know which one is right for my business?"

If you are just starting your CRM search, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of the above question. Don’t stress; we’ve all been there. You’ll know you are on the right track when you make the first step to start searching for a CRM. Both sales teams and marketers need a CRM to track efforts on both ends from lead to revenue. 91% of businesses (10 employees or more) that use CRM have reported that the average return on their technology investment is $8.71 for each dollar spent. So, it’s obvious you need a CRM, but how do you choose the right one for you?

Finding the right CRM can be challenging, especially if you never used one before; and you don't want to waste your money on something that isn’t right for you. There are many CRM options; it’s important that before committing to a platform, you do research to understand what it is, why you need it, and how it will help support your team, business, and most importantly your customers. 


What is a CRM Platform?

"Hey Siri… What is CRM?"

“An approach to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers.” – Siri 

Thanks Siri, but let’s dive a little deeper. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and is made to increase sales by improving business relationships. A CRM software enhances the customer relationship through managing customer interactions, tracking leads, streamlining processes, and identifying sales opportunities. 


Did you know that:

  • 74% of users said their CRM system gave them improved access to customer data. (source: Software Advice)
  • 65% of businesses adopt  CRM software within their first five years. (source: Capterra)
  • 80% of sales, 46% of marketing, 45% customer service, and 21% of IT use CRM. (source: Capterra)

Change the way you work. Change the way your customers view you. 

By adding a CRM software to your business, you are able to better organize your team and how they work while also improving how you communicate with prospects and customers.  

“CRM offers one centralized place to store and track all of the important information/data that all salespeople need to be successful." 


What are the features and functions I should expect in a CRM?

CRM consists of many different features and functions that will be used within the software. To be able to understand how to use a CRM software fully, you need to know what the buzzwords mean! Below we have broken down the most common buzzwords, features, and functionalities used in CRM software. 



lead is a contact in the first stage of the sales pipeline. Contacts in the lead stage can come from marketing, an email list, people who interact with an ad or other campaigns, and other sources. Your goal is to convert your contacts from leads to customers. But first, you must enter a process of gathering information about their needs. Learn their interest level, budget, and company size. Then assign your leads to be either “warm,” “hot,” or “junk.” By doing this, it will organize your database and help you identify which contacts are most interested in your product. 


Contact Scoring

Scoring is a process of awarding points to contacts for specific actions taken in concurrence with your company. It provides your sales and marketing team with the ability to understand which contacts, in the lead stage, have a higher chance to book. Within your company, you can assign point values based on personal choice; what you want to be tracked and counted for. For example, if you send an email to a contact and they open it, you will assign them 3 points, or if they click a link attached to it, they will receive 5 points.

The value of points is determined by you. This provides sales with the information of who they need to focus the most time on. Contact scoring helps uncover “hot” leads by looking at which contacts have been interacting most with your company. Then they can focus their time on the people with the highest scores. They will reach out to leads that have the highest score because there is a higher chance of converting them.  

For your small business, scoring is helpful to keep track of contacts. Create a list of what you want to track – job position, opens, clicks, request a demo – it’s up to you and how and what is most influential to purchase at your business. The scoring value is customizable based on what is important to your business.



An opportunity is a potential sales deal or revenue-generating event. An opportunity can be with an existing organization or with a new organization. Within a pipeline, you can add opportunities to stages. Common stages are qualified, engaged, demo, free trial, awaiting a decision, won, or lost. With the ability to create your own opportunities, you can add information that’s specific to that deal.

For your small business, you can manage deals and initiatives all within your pipeline. Having the ability to track, manage, and organize all information and activities related to one contact or organization, there is no more overlapping with teams. Connect your teams, create stages for your pipeline, and start managing and building relationships with your current and potential contacts. 



Stages take place within the pipeline, where you can track what stage of the deal your opportunity is in. Opportunities are moved through the stages of your pipeline. Every company has a different sales process. That's why most CRM systems allow you to customize the stages within your pipeline based on what fits your business.

For small businesses, stages are to organize your opportunities. First, think about the opportunity journey from the first interaction to either won or lost. In between these steps are the stages you will build in your pipeline. Typical stages are qualified, meeting, and proposal.



A sales pipeline is a comprehensive view of all your stages together. In your pipeline, you can view how an opportunity moves as it progresses from the first contact to won or lost. Once each pipeline stage is completed, the prospect is advanced to the next stage. 

Keeping track of the status of every deal that is in the pipeline and how the lead is reacting to it is important. The pipeline allows you to save reports on the value and quantity.

For your small business, you can see the value of all your opportunities in one place. This provides you with the information you need to predict your revenue. Having the chance to predict your revenue can help you plan for your future in the company. 


Sales Funnel

Yes, it is a funnel, but not a real-life one, just one you can visualize. The sales funnel is designed to represent the quantity and conversion rates of contacts and opportunities through your pipeline stage (Source: Nutshell). 

You have your prospects at the top in the broader part of the funnel and then fall through the funnel until you have either won or lost them. You can see the progress of contacts, opportunities, and the performance of your deals and negotiations that are being made and how much revenue is associated with them. A funnel measures the conversion rate.

For your small business, you can use a sales funnel as a visual representation of how your sales team is doing with converting leads and opportunities. The most useful tool is a sales funnel report because it can help your sales team forecast sales based on current lead volume and identify where deals are getting stuck so they can improve their process and better coach their team (Source: Nutshell).



The best feeling is having a list of what needs to be done and being able to check it off once complete. Tasks, in a CRM, can create to-do lists and reminders for individual contacts, opportunities, and organizations, as well as track sales managers to measure results and monitor performance. 

Your small business will love the tasks part of CRM. Instead of exiting the platform, opening up your Skype, email, IMessage, or messaging system, the platform allows you to assign a task for yourself or your team members. Tasks can be reminders to follow up, set a meeting, complete a proposal, etc. Isn’t that handy? Tasks allow your business and employees to stay organized, in sync, and communicate well when it comes to customer relationship management.



When it comes to businesses using CRM software, it is important that it generates reports for you. Reports give you an accurate picture of who your customers are, what deals are happening, and why deals are or aren’t closing. 

In your CRM, there are many types of reports that can be generated. Here are a few that DirectLync’s CRM offers.

  • Total Sales
  • Monthly Sales Performance
  • Opportunities by Stage
  • Total of Opportunities Lost
  • Total of Opportunities Won
  • Total Open tasks
  • Total Overdue tasks
  • Opportunities by Source

With all of these options, and even more, how and why do you use them for your business? CRM reports provide you with insightful information on how to improve your sales process. The value of the analytics you receive through the reports is crucial. You’ll recognize areas of improvement and processes that have been successful. Take advantage of the reports and use them to identify the downfalls of your sales process, as well as the good things that have been working. 


Why you need a CRM?

Does it bother you when everyone isn’t synced with what is happening? It bugs me, and I'm sure it bugs you too! When it comes to CRM, multiple teams use it – sales, marketing, service, and many more – and it gives you the capability of making sure all teams are on the same page. Start to keep all your team’s interactions organized!


Aligning Sales & Marketing

For sales and marketing to be aligned, you need to be able to report and easily create accessible notes and stages that particular contact is in. Tracking communications – phone calls, emails, etc. so all touchpoints need to be recorded for each contact. By tracking communication and stages in the journey, this eliminates miscommunicated messages and helps make outreaches more personalized. For example, within the CRM, you can tell specifically where a contact is in the process of a lead trying to convert to a customer. With that information, sales and marketing can create personalized content for that specific contact without stepping on each other's toes.

47% of polled CRM users said that their CRM had a significant impact on customer retention, and an equal percentage said their CRM had a significant impact on customer satisfaction (Source: Capterra). With the ability to track efforts from first marketing touchpoint to final sale, your customer relationships will be stronger than ever before.

To answer the question, why do you need a CRM; you need a CRM platform because it helps streamline the entire marketing and sales cycle, which results in closing deals and helping everyone in the team to reach their targets faster (Source: SuperOffice).


Take a moment to learn why marketers need a CRM, and not just sales.

How to Select the right CRM for your Business

You can’t jump into a CRM software blindfolded; you need to know which CRM is best for your business. We have put together 4 steps on how to find the right CRM for you.


1. Identify your current pain points

Your business’ teams may come across challenges that have made you think about getting a CRM software. Not sure if your pain points would lead you to need a CRM? Here are a few problems to which a CRM would be the solution.

  • Unorganized customer data
  • Time spent doing manual updates
  • Inability to determine marketing ROI
  • Gathering data for reports takes too much time and energy
  • Too much data in too many places
  • Inability to predict sales or view current pipeline
  • Issues staying on task
  • Trouble finding & retaining valuable customers
  • Sales and marketing misalignment

A CRM is easy to come across, but will all of your parties be represented within it? Finding a CRM software that helps your sales, marketing, and tech team will be your best friend. All of your teams can appreciate working in one place. Together as a company, create a list of pain points you have discovered within your company, and from here, a CRM will be easy to find.


2. Determine your needs and do research

Once you have determined your pain points, your team should decide on what features you need in your CRM software. Knowing what specific features you need is helpful once you start your research; it becomes a checklist. Create a list with the teams that will be interactive within the CRM.

When you’re creating your list, think of both your needs and your nice-to-haves. For example, do you need an industry-specific CRM? If you are in a highly regulated industry, it may make the most sense. But keep in mind industry-specific CRMs can be limiting. With a customizable CRM, you can adjust it for your business. Make it easier to do what you need to do, how, and when you need to do it. Determining your needs upfront will help you narrow down your search. 

A lot of CRMs have the generic content you need, but do they have the specifics you want? Below is a list of the top things to look for in a CRM.

  • Team-wide communication
  • Fast, simple setup
  • Contact syncing
  • Custom metrics and reports
  • Integration
  • Sales process tools
  • Custom fields
  • Free support
  • Team adoption
  • Comprehensive Dashboards

Once you have this information, it's time to search for your CRM platform. You need to do some hardcore research. Make sure you read reviews and testimonials, register for a free trial, etc. 

The important thing is to do a lot of homework before you buy. Assess your needs and look for a CRM that meets those needs. With so much competition, you will surely be able to find the right CRM for you. The key is knowing what you need and being able to identify the solution that solves those needs. 


3. Try before you buy

Purchasing CRM software before trying it out and seeing if it will fit well in your company is never a good idea. Most platforms offer a free trial between a week to a month. At DirectLync, we let you try our CRM, which includes all the features – tasks, opportunities, etc. – for 30 days. Use that trial to your advantage. Have every team spend time working on the CRM platform and get a feel for it. Does it have the features you need? Is it easy to use? Will it improve your customer relationships? 

Learn about the CRM software and the company behind it. Take the trial period to test the support options – tutorials, FAQs, support team response time. You want to go with a company you can trust and will help you along the way.


4. Purchase

The last and final step is purchasing the CRM software that is best for you. Purchasing software is an important decision. Once you find a CRM that you love, it's time to invest. If you followed the 3 steps above, you won’t second guess your decision to purchase!


Start getting in sync today!

Selecting a CRM can be overwhelming, but it is extremely important for your business. We hope this helped you understand CRM, CRM buzzwords, and the key steps you need to take in order to make the right selection for your business. 

Did you know, DirectLync offers a CRM? Feel free to try it out or reach out to us if you would like more information. We would love to show you our amazing CRM platform plus all of the other additional features we offer in our platform ðŸ˜‰.