Customer relationship management: top 10 reasons you need a CRM

| By: Steve Farnan

Businesses live or die by their customers, and MSPs are accountable for delivering exceptional IT support and superior security protection to stay ahead of the competition. At this same time, customer expectations are only increasing, which makes the need to continually drive results and build trust with your customer base even more critical to customer retention. If your customers are not getting the service or support they need, they may seek it elsewhere.

Customer relationship management is the practice of ensuring a business continuously and consistently provides personalized, high-quality, and timely services. Today, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform is an invaluable tool for helping MSPs enrich the customer experience and drive sales growth. Let’s take a closer look at why a CRM should be an essential part of your IT infrastructure.

The role of a CRM tool 

A CRM tool consists of an integrated suite of applications (usually cloud-based) that collect, analyze, and store data on customers in a centralized location. This helps users view and manage data through the entire customer lifecycle, from initial contact to the end of the relationship. A CRM also provides visibility across business departments and functions, from marketing, to sales, to help desk services.

Some of the main functions and benefits of a CRM include:

  • Sales & opportunity management 
  • Improved forecasting
  • Customer communication management 
  • Automation of sales notifications and updates
  • Customer support services
  • Analytics and customer behavior insights
  • Enhanced visibility across departments

As you can see above, traditional CRM software is generally used for sales, marketing, and business development functions. Organizations that are already leveraging a professional services automation (PSA) software for service delivery and order fulfillment may find their current platform is capable of providing similar features to a CRM, with additional applications for billing, invoicing, and project management. 

Why CRM tools are necessary

Managing existing customers as well as prospective ones involves hundreds, if not thousands, of tasks, ranging from keeping contact information updated to offer personalization. CRM tools automate many of those tasks and also support insights into preferences and behaviors that can help MSPs customize communications, messaging, and even services—which helps customers feel understood and appreciated.

These are some of the main reasons why CRM is important.  They help MSPs provide an optimal customer experience—which can lead to greater client satisfaction, customer retention, positive reviews, referrals for new business, and a reputation that will help attract new prospects. In addition, since CRM solutions help MSPs more efficiently serve their clients, this puts the clients themselves in a better position to be successful and grow.

One source of truth

It’s essential that your business have one go-to source for accurate, detailed customer data, including their contact information, preferences, and interaction history. This ensures employees in different departments are leveraging the same (and correct) information needed to properly resolve customer issues or service new prospects without inconsistencies or delays. 

In addition, no matter who speaks with the customer, records and data are always synced and up-to-date in one system—so everyone has access to accurate information. The centralization of CRM tools also ensures there is visibility of this data across departments, so all employees can see a history of issues, customer preferences, and more.

Example: A morning shift employee at an MSP takes a call from a referral customer who needs an immediate response to a service issue. Being new, their information isn’t in the system, so the interaction isn’t logged correctly. The next day, another employee tries to pick up where the issue left off, but loses valuable time searching for the customer information as well as details about the problem. The new client is annoyed with what appears to be slow response time and inefficiency, as well as by having to explain their issue all over again. These hiccups could have been avoided with an easy-to-update CRM database all employees can access immediately for contact verification and service issue history during the initial customer call-in.

Team support 

Cross-functional alignment is critical to effective customer relationship management. Teams across the entire MSP business should be working toward the same goal of customer satisfaction and greater profitability. By using one CRM tool that offers access to centralized information, employees from every department can contribute to and learn from it, helping to serve customers better.

Example: An MSP company realized some departments—particularly accounting and marketing—often didn’t have access to key client information that would make their roles more effective. They implemented a new process in which they input a series of question marks into fields of the CRM where info was missing. Any time that any employee interacted with a customer, they made a point of attempting to fill in those fields by getting that information from the customer—a step that benefited the entire team by ensuring a more complete historical record and promoting consistent and informed interactions with their clients.

Stronger relationships

When businesses use a CRM to collect client preferences and histories, they can connect with them on a more personal level. CRMs enable businesses to track issues more efficiently, respond promptly to queries, and nurture customers with personalized offers and messaging. 

Example. During a customer service call, a client expressed concerns about cybersecurity. The customer service representative flagged the issue for the sales team. A sales team member arranged for the client to receive a series of personalized emails about a new cybersecurity service the MSP offers and noted a time and date on their calendar to reach out directly as well. The client asked for more information and eventually signed up for the added service.

Ability to predict the future 

CRMs enable MSPs to track data on client behavior, which can help them anticipate future needs and seize the opportunity for more business with proactive offers. 

Example: Over a few years, an MSP stored data about their customers’ IT assets, as well as their purchase and service histories. The CRM sorted the customers into groups, enabling the MSP to target each with specific marketing campaigns for additional solutions the data indicated they might benefit from, resulting in more sales. The same data also allowed the MSP to reach out proactively about hardware renewals and expiring warranties with automated messaging and individual communication.

Clients only start once 

You get one chance to make a first impression. Using a CRM to help welcome new customers ensures that things like contact details, communication preferences, and SLA requirements are correct from the outset. Automated workflows and task management coordination help teams create a consistent and efficient MSP onboarding process, without omitting any important steps or information. A good start makes a strong foundation for the long-term success of the MSP-client relationship.

Example: An MSP discovered their manual onboarding process often resulted in team members forgetting important steps or failing to track progress, resulting in customer confusion and frustration. As a result, they decided to dedicate CRM resources toward a customer-friendly onboarding process. It included introductions, training, expectation setting, and a full needs analysis. The onboarding process is now the same for every customer and proceeds according to an efficient and regular schedule.

Better customer segmentation/customization

With a CRM, MSPs can segment their customers into different groups based on criteria like size, industry, geographic location, and more. This helps them create and implement targeted marketing campaigns and personalized communication based on specific needs and opportunities for those segments.

Example: An MSP discovered that the services its enterprise-level clients need were very different from the ones that its small and midsize clients do. Large corporations warranted extremely robust and comprehensive cybersecurity solutions, while the smaller businesses could often utilize a more standard suite of tools. Using CRM customer data, the MSP deployed a marketing campaign highlighting their robust cybersecurity offerings, targeting just the enterprise-level clients. Another campaign targeted the smaller customers, emphasizing the rise in increasingly SMB-targeted cyberthreats and strategies to mitigate risk.

Automation opportunities 

Using a CRM, MSPs can streamline and automate routine and repetitive tasks, leaving employees more time to focus on higher-value activities that help the company meet its goals. The true power of a CRM becomes evident when integrated with your existing IT infrastructure, such as CPQ software, which can send automatic updates to your CRM as you work opportunities, update forecasts, and close deals.  

Example: When a prospect downloads a white paper from a landing page, the CRM triggers a sales email sequence designed to entice them to request more information about the MSP’s services. After the last email, if the prospect hasn’t acted, the CRM alerts a salesperson to reach out to the prospect directly. In addition to saving time via automated alerts and activity triggers, stakeholders across departments (Marketing, Sales, Finance) can all stay up to date as the opportunity progresses. 

Focus on the metrics that matter most to your business 

CRMs enable MSPs to collect and analyze data that can be measured to assess business performance and progress toward objectives. This also allows leaders to make adjustments where certain operations are facing challenges or in the face of changing external factors.

Example: An MSP uses CRM data to calculate the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) of each client and their Lifetime Value (LTV). The analysis shows that while large business clients incur a greater CAC in the short term compared to smaller businesses, their LTV makes the investment worth it. Based on this information, the MSP decides to continue to target enterprise-level businesses in its marketing strategy.

Promote scalability

An effective CRM system can adjust to the greater needs of a growing business. Not only can they offer additional data storage and user access as a company grows, but MSPs can also leverage their features to focus on and execute growth strategies more efficiently and effectively. 

Example: Using CRM data on usage, MSPs can identify which services are most popular and which ones are waning or bring in the least revenue. They can use this information to expand the popular services or target prospects who want to use them, increasing the number of clients and bringing in more revenue. At the same time, they can stop offering services that don’t bring in enough revenue to meet business goals for growth.

Increase ROI

While CRMs often mean investing a significant amount of money upfront, that investment can pay off through greater profits. While small businesses may be able to get by with spreadsheets, email, and legacy systems, such “solutions” make it harder to grow, can be highly inefficient with employees’ valuable time, and run the risk of human error that can lead to mistakes—potentially large ones. 

Example: A small business decided to invest in a CRM, even though it represented a significant investment that would use up a significant amount of the company’s funds. However, after a few months of using it, employees found they had more time to focus on strategic tasks since they didn’t need to manually collect and analyze data from different sources to make decisions. The sales team found that automated workflows and email series brought in more leads, while greater insights into the results of marketing efforts enabled that team to direct more resources into the channels and strategies that offer the most value. A year later, the company was on track to recoup the initial costs of implementing the CRM.

Supporting your business with the right software solutions

A CRM may seem like a “nice to have,” especially for smaller organizations. But as customers’ expectations for service continue to rise and the speed of business revs up, they’re becoming more critical. 

When evaluating which CRM solution best fits for your business needs, think beyond the CRM’s role as a customer database. Operating a profitable MSP requires a combination of sales and marketing, project management, billing, and reporting tools to drive efficiency and profitability while delighting customers at each step of the way. This is where PSA software shines, providing the critical functionality of a CRM with the added features needed to manage your operations from sales to invoice (and everything in between). 

Watch an on-demand demo of ConnectWise PSA today to see the benefits of streamlining your workflows and connecting your business operations through a single, intuitive tool. 


CRM systems enable personalized customer relationships with various features, including:

  • The ability to view historical data on customer purchase history and preferences, which enables employees to lend a personal touch to interactions and suggest solutions they may need
  • Segmentation to group customers by demographics, behavior patterns, size, purchase history, or other criteria, enabling MSPs to develop different messaging for each group
  • Automation of personalized emails to deliver relevant content to different types of customers

Yes, automating sales and marketing tasks is one of the most attractive features of a CRM. For marketing, it can be used to automate tasks related to lead management, email campaigns, and social media content and posting. For sales, it can automatically update the status of leads and deals, generate quotes and proposals, track email open rates, and report on sales performance metrics.

The cost of implementing a CRM system can be sizable, but it varies widely depending on multiple factors. These include the size of the business, the nature of the existing tech stack and infrastructure, and the CRM features and capabilities. Beyond the cost of the actual technology, there may be additional costs related to data migration, system integration, and employee training. However, investment in a CRM can pay off with the ability for the business to take on more clients and offer more services.

CRMs improve customer service via greater personalization thanks to insights into customer needs and the ability to easily customize messages and offers. Thanks to centralized data and reporting, they also enable MSPs to address and solve issues faster, leading to greater customer satisfaction. In addition, by automating routine tasks, employees have more time to focus on meeting customer needs both through more individual attention and with the ability to spend more time strategizing better ways of serving them.