Service CRM vs. Sales CRM: Definition, Difference, & Benefits

August 13, 2019 11 min read

Gaetano DiNardi

Gaetano DiNardi

Service CRM vs Sales CRM feature image

To grow your company and make it sustainable, you know you need to attract new customers. You must also keep the ones you already have happy.
Many organizations have discovered how useful it is to have CRM (customer relationship management) software in place to keep track of the most critical customer information.
CRMs can do a lot for a company. It’s essential to make a distinction between two crucial ones: service CRM and sales CRM.
Service CRM helps companies maintain a relationship with their customers. It also streamlines customer success. Sales CRM tracks your sales pipeline, sales forecasting, and contact information.
These sales and service management systems can be SaaS or on-premise. This guide will break down the main differences, benefits, and use cases of these types of CRM software. We’ll show you how to elevate your organization with them.
Related: Operational CRM: What is It & How Do Businesses Use It to Grow

What is Service CRM?

You could say that service CRM is the most literal variety of customer relationship management software. Post the sale, you need an all-in-one order management and self-service portal.
Service CRM will be your go-to tool whenever your customers need support from you.
This is where you’ll find all previous interactions with the customer, billings, and notes. You’ll see any complaints they made and the features they requested. All the products and services they have bought, upgraded, or downgraded will be here, too. A VoIP + CRM integration is a good example of a Service CRM:

When you have all this customer data in one place, you can create a quality experience for your customers.
Most importantly, you can build strong relationships with long-term customers and improve your customer retention. It will cost you less to sell to them compared to acquiring new customers. They also tend to spend more than first-time customers.
In other words, service CRMs enable you to place customer service at the center of your business.

What is a Sales CRM?

Sales CRM is a central tool for the sales process that leads up to acquiring a new customer.
It contains all the information from the moment someone becomes your prospect through to sealing the deal. Sales CRM holds your interactions with prospects from various channels. It helps you prioritize tasks and leads based on the nature of these interactions.
In other words, service CRM lets you deliver excellent customer service. Sales CRM helps you with opportunity management.
Sales CRM enables sales teams to stay productive and always on top of ongoing conversations and negotiations. It can automate manual day-to-day tasks and give an overview of current deals in the sales funnel. It also improves forecasting and reporting.
For salespeople, CRM tools are where they spend the majority of their time. It’s the home for everything they’re working on. They never have to keep track of their leads and tasks in their head, on business cards, or post-its. It’s all stored in one reliable place.
Related: 12 Customer Service Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2020

Stats on the impact of sales and service crm

Top Use Cases For Service CRM and Sales CRM

Want to run off to implement a new CRM right away? Let’s first dive into how service CRM and sales CRM platforms are used and the levels of your company they impact.

So, what is a Service CRM used for?

From an overall perspective, service CRM seems like its purpose is exactly what it says on the tin: service. It does a lot more than that: it helps you become and remain a customer-centric organization at your core.

Which business functions does a service CRM support?

1) Inbound customer support. An inquiry coming in through phone, email, live chat, social media, or in-person? Service CRM is the tool to rely on. Many CRM systems will provide you with a space for a knowledgebase, too. This way, you can pull up the most relevant and correct information quickly.
The most important element of inbound customer support is tracking it every time a customer reaches out—no exceptions. This will help you build a complete picture of each customer, as well as keep track of common issues that arise.
2) Customer lifecycle data and customer profiles. For many industries, recurring purchases is the lifeblood of a company. Understanding what makes people buy again and/or more is key to increasing their lifetime value (LTV). Service CRM lets you build that customer profile and keep track of customer history.
This knowledge can drive products and strategic marketing efforts. In turn, they maximize the customer lifecycle.
3) Upsell opportunities. By noticing patterns in questions and requests for products, you can anticipate customer needs. You can communicate this to your sales team members. These upsell opportunities increase the lifetime value of existing customers.
4) Churn reduction. When you notice a change in customer behavior, this may be a signal they want to leave you. They might be an increased number of complaints or a failed recurring payment.
At first, these behaviors might be hard to notice. But as you spend more time in your service CRM, you’ll see trends that happened before customers left you. You can look for the same patterns in existing customers and react right away to prevent churn.

Stat on customer churn

Which roles use a service CRM?

1) Customer service agent. This covers anyone on the receiving end of a customer inquiry, including retail staff, call center, and any help desk admins. The quicker they get all the information into the CRM, the more accurate and useful it will be later.
2) Customer service manager. Managers in customer support have a tough role. They must keep their team motivated to provide the best service possible. They are also the person that will look after the issues that their customer service agents don’t have the authority to take action on.
Their service CRM will give them the full insight into each issue instead of having the agent explain it in detail.
3) Customer operations manager. When all the issues are dealt with by the customer service teams and managers, an operations manager can dive in to define customer service workflows, look for bottlenecks, and improve processes.
Customer operations managers must create an environment for the customer service team to thrive. They have to avoid distractions and have all the right tools. Service CRM gives them an insight into how the team works and which areas can improve.
4) Customer success manager. Customer success works closely with customers to promote retention and loyalty. They look for areas of dissatisfaction, which is where service CRM comes into play.
They know the product inside out. They’re able to look for areas of improvement based on a history of complaints to customer service.

And, how about a Sales CRM?

Sales CRM is a central place for everyone in your company in charge of acquiring new business. Its most apparent role is to assist sales reps in tracking their sales pipeline. However, it extends into revenue forecasting, planning, and the company’s financial health.

Which business functions does a sales CRM support?

1) Lead generation. If salespeople have to scramble for new leads every day and store them in multiple places (spreadsheets, notebooks, emails), they’ll be spread too thin. Sales CRM provides a centralized place for all new leads.
2) Lead nurturing. Subsequent nurturing of those leads is crucial. Without it, they are much less likely to become a customer. This can make lead generation efforts wasteful. Sales CRM helps teams track all lead activities, email opens, responses from a lead, and more.
3) Lead management. A healthy pipeline is one of the key foundations of a strong sales force. You want to have a balanced number of leads across all stages of the pipeline. Sales CRM gives you an insight into pipeline stages that have fewer leads than you’re forecasting.
4) Conversion and close rate optimization. How long does it take to convert a lead into a customer? Are some stages of the sales process bottlenecks? Could each lead bring more revenue than it already does? Without a sales CRM, these questions are difficult to answer.

Which roles use a sales CRM?

1) Sales representative. Interactions with potential customers are only valuable if they’re tracked. This includes brick-and-mortar retail, phone sales, email, and field sales. A good sales CRM will enable sales reps to do so wherever they are and maximize their sales performance.
2) Account executive. Account executives need an in-depth look into all the interactions with the lead. They work closely with sales reps. This means they can help maintain and extend existing customer relationships.
3) Sales manager. Managers set individual and team quotas and goals. They also train their reps and review their activities. They’re the ones making sure the team is on track with the results that the rest of the company needs them to achieve.
Without a sales CRM, they have limited access to data they need to do their job.
4) VP of sales. The role of a vice president of sales is to drive the growth and strategy of the entire organization. They won’t spend much time looking into individual reps’ CRM data.
Instead, they’ll look for big-picture patterns and directions. For example, markets to target, opportunities to scale, top talent to recruit, and more.
5) Chief revenue officer (CRO). The head of a sales organization leverages an accurate CRM to make business decisions. Everything from sales volume, opportunities, headcount, and revenue forecasts factor into their goal of elevating the revenue and sustainability of the organization.

Benefits of Service CRM and Sales CRM

Service CRM Benefits

Better customer service” doesn’t say much when it comes to the benefits of a service CRM. It goes a lot deeper. It can impact your entire organization in the best way possible.

1) A 360° customer view and deeper customer relationships

Effective multichannel communication alone is enough to celebrate the benefits of a service CRM. With it, you can easily track customer conversations across all your channels.
Let’s say a conversation started on the phone but continued over email. Then, the customer ended up sharing about their experience on Twitter. It only makes sense to track it all in a single place.
Do you know what annoys your customer? Explaining their problem to multiple customer service reps. With a service CRM, customer issues can be accessed by any of your reps. They become knowledgeable with zero delays.
Furthermore, it’s risky to miss or lose a piece of important customer interaction in the flood of information. A complete customer profile will show you what they care about. Once they see you’ve paid attention, they’ll know you value them as a customer.

2) Lesser data entry, more efficiency

A chart showing where sales reps spend their time
Imagine having all that valuable information about a customer…But having to spend hours each day just to make sure it’s all in place.
Taking notes from a customer email so you can remember it later. Sending follow-up emails manually. Calling a colleague to ask for notes they’ve made in a spreadsheet or note only available to them.
All of these tasks—and many more—are daunting, repetitive, and extremely inefficient. Instead, you can automate almost anything that’s triggered by the customer’s activity.
For example, you can automate emails to customers based on a timeframe or an action they’ve taken. You can automatically store data about emails and calls with a customer in one place.
When you give access to this information to your customer-focused teams, you’ll balance everyone’s workload. They will improve response and resolution times and increase customer satisfaction.

Sales CRM Benefits

1) Higher revenue and retention

A sales CRM gives you a full insight into each of your sales cycle stages, potential roadblocks, best next actions, and leads that need to be prioritized.
It also provides an in-depth reporting and analysis ability. This helps you understand why a deal wasn’t closed or why customers have decided to go for a cheaper option.
With this knowledge, you can treat future sales conversations differently. You can assign a more equipped sales rep to a deal and forecast issues and challenges before they arise.
This way, you will close sales on the most qualified leads. You’ll also build longer customer relationships and more recurring revenue.
Of course, you can also notice positive patterns in sales conversations. They can help to upsell and cross-sell relevant offers.
Related: Proven Digital Marketing Tips to Win in Search, Social, & Email

2) Smarter marketing activities and campaigns

Remember how we mentioned the role of VP of sales that uses a sales CRM and benefits from it?
This is particularly the case when it comes to their work with the head of marketing. The insights they’ll gain from a sales CRM will help them uncover types of leads that easily convert.
This way, marketing teams won’t be spinning their wheels trying to get as many leads for the sales team as possible. Instead, they will know exactly which leads are benefitting from their offer the most.
They’ll make their location, demographics, and interests the focus of future marketing campaigns.
The result: less frustration, more certainty in marketing decision, and higher marketing ROI.

3) Powerful sales management

Some of the biggest challenges of sales leaders is hiring the right people and keeping their team’s morale high, even when it’s difficult.
Without a centralized place for progress like a sales CRM, sales managers have hard time tracking milestones
, as well as areas for improvement. They aren’t able to provide constructive feedback or train their reps.
With a CRM to manage their pipeline, activities, goals, and reports, sales managers can understand where the team stands as a whole at any moment.
They can ensure all reps are working on lead categories they specialize in and can assist them in real time.

Wouldn’t It Be Easier If We Had ONE for Both?

Both of these CRM systems are powerful tools that, when used together, help you turn prospects into customers and customers into loyal, raving fans.
You may have even noticed that some roles that use them actually overlap, such as customer success managers and account executives. To do their job well, they likely need to refer to both CRMs often.
The question that naturally pops up: wouldn’t it make sense to have a system that merges these two CRMs?
In other words, wouldn’t it be easier if all information, both about your leads and your customers, would live on a single screen?
The good news: it now can!

Introducing Nextiva’s Sales and Service CRM

Nextiva’s sales pipeline CRM and customer service CRM brings all of your communication in one place, no matter the channel.
Phone, email, SMS, chat, and social media are all united from the moment you contact a lead, for as long as they’re your customer.
By knowing the challenges they faced before becoming your customer, you can serve them in a way that will deepen their trust in you. With a 360° overview of each customer, you’ll also quickly notice new features or products you can launch in the future.
Most importantly, you can do all of this—and a lot more—in real time. No more delays because a piece of information is missing. No more waiting because the key member of your team is on vacation. With one hub for all your leads and customers, you’ll remove annoying delays.
Related: NextOS Named to GetCRM’s Top CRM Software Picks in 2019

Top CRM Features You’ll Want

With Nextiva’s sales and service CRM, you’ll be able to:
You can also set up and get started easily with an intuitive, user-friendly system. Migrating your existing data is also hassle-free.
Most importantly: you won’t need to spend days and weeks in training and onboarding to reap the benefits of a complete CRM solution.

Nextiva CRM Pricing

All of our CRM suites include features driven by productivity, intelligence, and automation so that you can focus on what matters most.
Our plans start at $20 per user monthly and are made to fit businesses of all sizes, no matter how simple or complex their requirements may be.
You can choose between:

    <Basic, $20/mo per user

<Pro, $25/mo per user
<Enterprise, $30/mo per user
Our plans include a business phone suite, a customer relationship suite, and powerful features for communication, contact management, customer service, and reporting. They also don’t require you to commit to a contract (phew!).
The Pro and Enterprise plans also include a set of customer survey options, while Enterprise also has a feature-rich chat option. In other words, you’ll never have to pay for features you don’t need, and you can make Nextiva CRM exactly what you need it to be.
If you want a CRM that will help you centralize your customer conversations and make growth efficient, check out our top CRM features.

Gaetano DiNardi


Gaetano DiNardi

Gaetano DiNardi led demand generation at Nextiva and has a track record of success working with brands like Major League Baseball, Pipedrive, Sales Hacker, and Outside of marketing, Gaetano is an accomplished music producer and songwriter. He’s worked with major artists like Fat Joe, Shaggy, and loves making music to stay turbocharged.

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