Software Smarts: The Difference Between CRM and Sales Marketing Automation

Software Smarts: The Difference Between CRM and Sales Marketing Automation

Most people use the terms “CRM” and “Sales Marketing Automation” interchangeably, but they’re actually two different things. Here’s where they differ and why it matters.


A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management application, with a single focus: to optimize prospect and client data for one-to-one interaction between the company and the sales team.

CRMs are perfect for small organizations that have a “high touch” sales department. In other words, it’s perfect for companies that utilize a more personal approach to sales. Since there is little or no automation in these programs, they are essentially large databases of client information.

The benefit to them is that they consolidate information across many platforms, and from many different sources, into one application.

Some critics of CRMs argue that these systems are redundant and unnecessary. However, advocates say that CRMs fill a vital role in regards to consolidation and streamlining of data.

Because there may be little, or no, automation, the price point for these systems tends to be “entry-level.”

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation takes a slightly different approach. With marketing automation and good lead management software, you are buying an automated sales solution. You might not always get client data integration, but you do get an app that moves prospects through the sales process so that the sales team’s work is dramatically reduced.

Some software programs do offer client data integration, however, so that you can follow up with leads, set automated reminders, and see where the prospect is in the sales cycle.

These more advanced software programs are ideal because they’re able to capture the prospect’s information from an opt-in web form and then track the progression of the sales lead through the sales process.

Knowing when a prospect opts in, and when they have received various marketing communications is very important, and it allows marketers to measure response rates to different ad campaigns.

The higher-end applications come with a higher price tag, with no automation (or low automation) applications being more affordable for solopreneurs.

Hybrid Systems

A hybrid system combines both a sales marketing automation system and a CRM. These types of applications attempt to capture the lead-gen and management market along with prospect contact information organization and management.

For example, instead of simply organizing client contact information or automating the marketing and sales process, a hybrid system combines both, providing the sales team with contact information for prospects and clients, allowing customers to initiate the buying process, and initiating automatic list segmentation and migration.

So, when prospects buy something from the company’s website, they are automatically moved from one mailing list into another one, and the sales cycle starts all over again with a new product or service.

However, the client’s contact information is also kept in-tact so that the sales team can call up customer information during a customer service call, or reach out to customers 1:1 for special sales and followup calls.

Donald Christopher has worked for many years within the software industry. He enjoys sharing his thoughts and suggestions through a number of different mediums. You can find more articles written by him on a diverse range of sites aimed at the business community.

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