The 3 Types of CRM Explained: Which One Should You Use?

There are 3 broad types of CRM software—analytical, operational, and collaborative, each helping your business improve customer relations and communication.

In this post, we explain each CRM type in more detail, who each one is best for, and we offer examples of CRMs that excel in those areas to help you decide on the best one.

EDITOR’s CHOICE

Monday CRM – Affordable, Easy to Use, and Scalable

  • Powerful Sales Automation
  • Task and Project Tracking
  • Efficient Roadmap Planning

Understanding the 3 CRM Types (With Examples)

Here’s a rundown of what each type of CRM focuses on and who they’re best for, along with some common examples of CRMs for each one.

It’s worth noting from the outset that most of the top CRM apps and services have features spanning a mix of all 3 CRM types but often excel in one area in particular.

1. Analytical CRM — Best For Data Insights

Salesforce Einstein AI—Best Analytical CRM

Analytical CRMs analyze datasets to produce meaningful insights. These systems convert this data into information, which allows teams to make key business decisions.

The primary objective of an Analytical CRM is to generate insightful trends to enhance the customer experience. It’s worth noting that these CRMs don’t directly interact with the customer.

They work behind the scenes to provide businesses with enough information to produce the best results, and there are several benefits and applications to these types of CRM tools.

For one, it lets you identify customer trends – which customer segment is most profitable or which leads are most likely to become loyal customers, for example.

This helps marketing teams prioritize the most probable leads, saving valuable time and resources. Beyond this, performance and predictive analysis is another useful application of analytical CRM.

The software analyzes historical data to produce sales reports, profit & loss analyses, marketing analyses, and other valuable reports, letting you forecast metrics like sales and revenue.

Who Should Use an Analytical CRM?

Analytical CRM tools are perfect for large and mid-sized companies that collect significant volumes of data from their clients.

If you run a business that heavily depends on data analysis to make informed decisions, you can benefit from analytical CRM software. Sales and marketing teams can also benefit from an analytical CRM.

Popular Analytical CRMs

Here are some of the most popular examples of analytical CRM tools, where they truly excel in this respect:

Salesforce - $25/user/month

Salesforce’s Einstein AI offers a feature called conversation and email insights, which provides sales representatives with an analysis of customer calls and emails, for example.

This allows them to better engage with leads and customers to improve revenue and the customer journey. There are also AI-based predictions, forecasting, lead scoring, and relationship insights.

As we found in our Salesforce review, it’s easily the top choice for sales teams thanks to its vast analytics capabilities and automation.

Zoho CRM - $14/user/month

Zoho is another popular analytical CRM with features like custom reports and anomaly detectors, which give real-time notifications on any deviations, for example.

It also offers AI sales forecasting, email sentiment analysis, and data enrichment, among others.

2. Operational CRM — Best For Automation 

Pipedrive email automation—best operational CRM

An operational CRM offers the broadest range of functions and is also the most common type of CRM.

The primary goal of operational CRM tools is to streamline business operations and market processes and centralize sales and customer interactions in a single place.

It caters to different business processes, ranging from marketing to sales and customer service. Simply put, it helps you put into application the strategies you’ve devised using analytical CRM tools.

Sales teams incorporate operational CRMs to automate repetitive tasks, including sending emails, following them up, or scheduling appointments, for example.

This helps teams strengthen their sales pipeline and boost conversion rates. Marketing teams use it to design customized and automated promotional event-based campaigns for different customers.

Who Should Use Operational CRM?

Operational CRM is best for businesses that need a lot of sales marketing and customer outreach programs to generate leads and convert them into customers.

Sales, online marketing, or customer service teams find operational CRM tools the best choice. Without one, many repetitive tasks would need to be done manually.

This includes things like sending emails or assigning leads to the right agent, for example. An operational CRM automates redundant tasks so that teams can focus on more strategic matters.

Popular Operational CRMs

Here are two popular examples of operational CRMs that excel in this area:

Pipedrive—$9.90/user/month

Pipedrive is an easy-to-use and customizable CRM that makes automation easier. You get up to 90 automations, depending on the plan you choose.

Its AI-powered sales assistant helps you focus on the best lead prospects, eliminating the manual task of categorizing clients, for example.

Act!—$30/user/month

Act! CRM does a good job of collecting leads through websites and creating personalized campaigns.

You get 170+ templates and several email marketing functions, such as detailed tracking and metrics, a multi-stage drip campaign designer, and a campaign calendar, among a ton of other features.

3. Collaborative CRM — Best for Streamlined Communication

Monday CRM communication—best collaborative CRM

Collaborative CRM is one of the popular types of CRMs that enhances cross-departmental collaboration, ensuring everyone is on the same page with leads, common goals, or ongoing tasks.

There are 2 components in a collaborative CRM system:

  1. Channel management – involves various tools to ensure maximum customer satisfaction through each channel of communication a business employs.
  2. Integration management – helps in tracking touchpoints between your customers and business and finding the best modes of communicating with a particular customer.

These tools also come with features to allow members to interact with one another, going beyond phone calls and emails, including internal note-taking and chat features.

Document management is another application of collaborative CRM tools, allowing teams to coordinate seamlessly on shared documents that they can remotely access from different places.

Who Should Use Collaborative CRM?

Collaborative CRM is indispensable for any organization that needs its departments to be in sync to ensure customers have a smooth experience with your brand.

It’s as beneficial for customer-facing teams looking to improve communication through chat and calling tools, along with real-time AI assistance on live customer interactions.

Popular Collaborative CRMs

Here are some incredibly common collaborative CRMs:

Monday CRM—$12/user/month

Monday offers features like whiteboard collaboration, which allows teams to brainstorm, edit, and create together. Plus, you can collaborate on shared documents without leaving the platform.

Apart from this, it offers 200+ third-party integrations so that you can integrate the platform seamlessly with the tools you already use, such as Slack, for example.

It’s also a top option for board collaboration, giving everyone an overview of the work in progress – including deals – with the ability to comment, add notes, assign reps, and more.

Freshsales CRM—$15/user/month

Freshsales offers lots of communication options such as SMS integration, WhatsApp, LINE, and Google Business integrations to help with both internal and external communication.

Plus, you get several VoIP functions such as built-in phone, call recording, and call masking, among others.

How to Choose the Best Type of CRM for Your Business

EDITOR’s CHOICE

Monday CRM – Affordable, Easy to Use, and Scalable

  • Powerful Sales Automation
  • Task and Project Tracking
  • Efficient Roadmap Planning

Now that you know the different types of CRM tools, you can make an informed choice when choosing a CRM. However, it’s important to note that most CRMs tend to boast a mixture of these CRM types.

That said, they may excel in one specific area in particular — whether it be collaboration, operational efficiency, or analytical power.

For example, Salesforce is known to be a top choice for reporting, forecasting, and AI analysis, but it’s also excellent for automation, and it has collaboration capabilities — this is true for Monday CRM, too.

When it comes to choosing a CRM (or switching CRM), important factors like ease of use, integration, scalability, and value for money are core factors to take into account beyond the type of CRM.

Some features that span all 3 types of CRMs may also be reserved for higher-end plans, or they’re offered but limited on cheaper plans. Common examples include automation and reporting features.

Conclusion

With a detailed understanding of the different types of CRM, you can boost your operations and customer satisfaction levels.

  • Analytical CRMs focus on data insights and empower businesses with predictive analytics to make informed decisions.
  • Operational CRMs, on the other hand, streamline processes and boost customer service.
  • Collaborative CRMs facilitate seamless communication and teamwork across departments.

Almost all businesses need a mix of these. For instance, data gathered from analytics CRM is of no use unless there’s enough operational automation.

However, some businesses might need a particular function more than others, which is why you should weigh up what you need before choosing a CRM.

FAQs

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References

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Krishi Chowdhary
Tech Expert
Krishi Chowdhary
Tech Expert

Krishi Chowdhary has half a decade of experience writing buying guides and product reviews for numerous leading technology websites. He spent two years writing for Business2Community.com before joining Techopedia.com. He has a degree in Commerce and extensive experience in the technology industry. He's also the key driver behind TechReport.com's news content, delivering expertise insight into the latest tech and cybersecurity news daily.