Customer relationship management (CRM) is a platform that connects your different departments, from marketing to sales to customer service, and organizes their notes, activities, and metrics into one cohesive system. Every user has easy, direct access to the real-time client data they need. This software generally provides businesses with a centralized location to input, store, and manage leads and customer interactions.
An industry-specific CRM is CRM software built for and marketed to companies in a certain industry. Industry-specific CRMs are designed to address specific business needs, helping sales teams perform better. It offers more niche and specialized tools to help particular business types, including insurance, healthcare, real estate, and hospitality, and move customers and prospects through sales cycles more quickly.
Let’s try to find out the differences between general-purpose CRMs versus industry-specific CRMs, helping users determine if a niche CRM is suitable for them. And discuss in detail the most popular types of industry-specific CRMs, as well as top providers for each.
General-purpose CRM vs Industry-specific CRM
If you want to understand whether your business will benefit from an industry-specific CRM or if you are better off with a general-purpose one, check out this quick comparison below between the two types of CRMs.
General-purpose CRMs offer various features and functionalities that can be used by a wide range of companies. They typically offer universal sales, marketing, and service tools that different users can customize or use no matter what industry they serve. Due to its nature, general-purpose CRMs can be integrated with a wide range of third-party applications, including customer service, social media, and accounting software.
General-purpose CRMs range from simple ones that provide users with basic features, including lead, contact, and opportunity management. Meanwhile, advanced ones offer users sophisticated functionalities, including extensive customization options, sales and revenue prediction tools, and analytics.
Industry-specific CRMs offer niche and specialized features and are designed with a specific industry’s business needs in mind. Industries with specialized CRMs include companies focusing on insurance, healthcare, real estate, hospitality, mortgage, call centers, and construction.
CRMs specifically designed for these industries typically have processes and ready-made tools that need minor customizations. For example, a CRM for the construction industry will usually have features for bidding proposal and cost estimation development, job site photo sharing, contract building, and document management. Industry-specific CRM providers are also able to provide specialized training and onboarding for industry professionals.
When to Use an Industry-specific CRM
Industry-specific CRMs are designed to address specific business needs, helping sales teams perform better. If you’ve tried using a general-purpose CRM before, but think it didn’t meet your expectations, consider switching to an industry-specific system. Here are some instances when you should consider.
You’re Looking for Highly Specialized Features
While some niche businesses benefit from using general-purpose CRMs, there are others that require highly specialized features due to their industry’s specific processes and workflows, such as hospitality and construction.
For example, hospitality CRMs built for restaurant businesses typically offer features like delivery schedule reporting, online order tracking, and management of reservations and bookings. Construction CRMs, on the other hand, offer features for proposal building and work order management.
You Are in a Highly Regulated Industry
One of the benefits of using an industry-specific CRM is that it is designed to address specific needs and challenges of particular industries. Hence, it doesn’t only offer niche features, but also designs the system to be compliant with specific regulations an industry might have. For example, healthcare CRMs are designed to be HIPAA-compliant and include features and restrictions that ensure and protect patient record privacy.
When Not to Use an Industry-specific CRM
While it offers features designed specifically for certain industries, using an industry-specific CRM should not always be the default choice. Here are some instances when you should consider using a general-purpose CRM instead:
You Mostly Need Fundamental Lead & Contact Management Tools
Some users belonging to industries who mostly use basic lead and contact management tools, pipeline tracking, and email marketing are better off with a general-purpose CRM. Unless you require highly specialized features, it’s not a cost-efficient business decision to subscribe to an industry-specific option.
You Use a Specific Business Tool for Your Industry
If you have existing software, such as accounting software, then you do not need to subscribe to an industry-specific CRM. What you can consider is to purchase a general-purpose CRM and integrate it with your existing industry software. For example, if you’re using a construction management software like Procore, you can integrate it with a general-purpose CRM, such as Salesforce.
You Have a Limited Budget
Industry-specific CRMs typically cost more than general-purpose CRMs due to the specialized features they offer. A handful of general-purpose CRMs can cost as low as $10 to $15 per user, per month, and already come with robust sales and marketing features. Meanwhile, industry-specific CRM costs often start around $25 per user, per month for basic plans and reach enterprise-level pricing depending on the features needed.
Do You Need an Industry-Specific CRM?
Here are some of the most common industries with dedicated CRMs.
- Industries that are highly regulated:
- Government agencies
- Mortgage lending
- Industries with very specific processes and workflows (and lots of moving parts):
- Industries that involve managing a large workforce of agents or resellers, all of whom have their own listings, clients, and sales:
- Real estate firms
- Automotive sales
- Franchise management
How to Find a Specialized CRM for Your Industry
Have you tried using general-purpose CRMs and didn’t think that it was the right fit for your business or just didn’t have the specific features you need? If you work for industries like insurance, healthcare, real estate, hospitality, mortgage, call centers, and construction. Here you can get overviews of the most popular industry-specific CRMs.
CRMs for accounting professionals are designed to help accountants, bookkeepers, and finance staff manage invoicing and billing in a centralized platform. Fundamental features include invoice creation, payment processing, tax computations, access to open balances, subscription management, payment reminders, and financial report generation. CRM for accounting professionals provides features specifically helpful for accountants and bookkeepers. It has tools that enable users to generate quotes, invoices, and purchase orders. It also allows users to create product inventories and manage subscriptions for repeat customers.
CRMs for property management make it easy for landlords and property management firms to manage multiple properties in their portfolio, as well as their occupants and tenants. Some of its most essential features include payment collection, lease contract management, and lead generation for finding potential residents. It offers property management firms and professionals an all-around solution to manage their various properties and leads. Its features include recurring invoices for rental payments and document management tools that generate, file, and track lease contracts. It also offers a web form creator to capture potential resident leads.
CRMs for the call center industry offer robust telephony functionalities for tracking and making business calls, as well as tools for contact and lead management. Essential features include VoIP-level in-app calling, call recording and routing, workflow automation, contact management, contact profile enrichment, and call analytics and reports.
Call center-specific tools, including a feature-rich in-app caller, call recording, and call masking. It allows users to purchase local and toll-free numbers based on their location. It also has a “smart escalation” feature that lets users configure a sequence of conditions and rules to route calls to the most appropriate agent or team.
HIPAA-compliant CRMs adhere to regulations that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) has put in place to set forth privacy and security standards for those providing health or wellness services. Apart from this, HIPAA-compliant CRMs also include tools to manage healthcare operations, such as patient record management and patient service support. It offers HIPAA-compliant database applications that can be made using point-and-click tools, as well as tools that allow users to build a system for medical equipment management and inventory tracking. It also has HIPAA-compliant appointment scheduling and reminder applications and features an easy-to-use business process automation design.
CRMs made for real estate professionals, including brokers and real estate firms, provide tools for managing property transactions, generating homebuying leads, and monitoring listings. It also offers marketing features that allow businesses to market to their leads via email, phone, online advertising, and social media. It offers solutions that are particularly useful for real estate professionals. These include document management tools, email marketing functionality, and integrations with real estate platforms
CRMs for construction or contract labor businesses provide tools to manage contract leads, bids, and construction projects. They usually cover general contracting and specialty trades business operations, such as carpentry, demolition, plumbing, electric work, restoration, and welding. It offers general contractors easy-to-use templates for work estimates and work order conversion, proposal building, job site picture sharing, and e-signatures. It also integrates with QuickBooks for invoicing, payment processing, and budgeting automation.
CRMs made for the insurance industry can be used by independent insurance agents, brokers, and insurance firms. It typically includes tools to help insurance professionals prospect and nurture leads, track new deals and goals, and manage policies and plans. It also logs activities like emails and meeting interactions between agents and their customers into the system.
Insurance-industry-specific CRM offers voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) and call center features in addition to lead and sales management tools common to CRMs. It also features lead and pipeline automation tools, including automated workflows, lead distribution, and relationship nurturing.
CRMs designed for customer service focus on improving the quality of users’ customer service activities to increase retention and satisfaction. It allows users to communicate through multiple channels, build a unified team, and create a centralized database for customer interactions. It is typically a part of an integrated CRM system that also covers sales and marketing activities.
It offers a wide range of customer service tools, such as chatbots, team email, canned snippets, and email templates. It provides various customer service-related reports, including tickets closed reports, agent rep productivity reports, and time-to-close reports.
CRMs for nonprofit organizations help charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) raise funds, manage donor campaigns, and build volunteer relationships. Its common features include a centralized database for contact and donor information, communications history, and financial transactions. It must be able to pull and mine data to understand trends and use that information to attract prospective donors. CRM for nonprofits offers fundraising, donor management, and grant management tools. It has features for event planning and membership management, as well as tools for reporting and analytics. Its built-in email platform allows users to create and track mass email campaigns to both existing and prospective donors.
CRMs for businesses in mortgage sales offer a centralized platform to manage broker real estate properties and sell mortgage loans. It includes essential features to help users generate leads, market their product offerings, and automate clerical tasks. A robust mortgage CRM should also integrate with various loan origination software (LOS) for managing customer applications.
CRM for mortgage providers integrates with LOS, like Encompass, Calyx, and Byte, to manage and approve loan applications on the mortgage side. It has a built-in customer review database where brokers can look up previous successes based on factors like interest rate and date of purchase for mortgage review presentations.
CRMs for businesses engaged in hospitality services, such as restaurants, event planners, and hotels, provide tools to engage potential customers, schedule reservations or bookings, and manage event-based projects. It could also include marketing tools to promote sales through promotions or generate leads through online webforms and advertisements.
CRM specifically designed for catering and restaurant businesses lets users manage delivery services through driver tracking, delivery schedule reporting, and the ability to obtain orders through a customizable, online ordering interface. It also lets users generate leads through webforms and email campaigns, and design systems for referral generation and loyalty programs.
In short, we can say that Industry-specific CRMs offer features extremely helpful for specific types of businesses. They address needs and challenges that general-purpose CRMs may not be able to answer, especially those in highly regulated industries. However, if your team mostly uses basic, fundamental CRM features, such as lead management and pipeline tracking, then you may be better off with a general-purpose CRM.