If you think customer relationship management (CRM) and contact management are the same thing, you’re almost right.
Contact management is a subset of CRM. But where CRM systems attempt to track any and all customer interactions and then tie that data into the sales pipeline, digital marketing campaigns, and even your supply chain, pure contact management systems are much more focused. These systems generally work to maintain rock solid addressing data, along with a summary of sales and associated sales rep information (especially any open contracts). They may also include a summary of other touch points with that customer, such as verbal communications or help desk calls.
So why not simply deploy a CRM if you want contact management features? Because no matter how simple, a fully functioning CRM is more than just a software implementation. It’s also an overhaul of your sales and pipelining process, and usually necessitates evaluations of how and why your company gathers data as well as your business intelligence strategy. For most very small businesses and startups, that’s simply too much overhead. These organizations just want a tool that will help them find customers and sell. Now.
Starting with a standalone contact management service gets that job done. It gets your early sales operation off the ground quickly and smoothly, ensuring that any later expansion into CRM is not only easier but also has a good data pool at the outset. That’s especially true if your contact management platform already has CRM capabilities built in, as do many of the top players we list below.