CRM Software Terms and What They Really Mean

A Different Kind of CRM

Continuum CRM changes the way you'll view customer relationship management tools in Senior Living. It goes beyond activity tracking for the Marketing & Sales department. It helps sales people manage relationships and marketers track campaigns. For managers and corporate team leaders, it’s a powerful data-driven machine capable of providing insights to achieve better budgeting and strategic measures.

CRM Software Terms and What They Really Mean

Meaning of Common CRM Software Terms


CRM software providers use a ton of it.

Flexible, Configurable, Customizable, Out of the Box, Industry Specific, Integrated, Open, Analytical, Reports, Dashboards, Predictive, and on and on.

I often hear people use these words while they’re trying to decide on which CRM system they should use or what additional functionality they may want to add to their current CRM system.

It’s all so confusing. What does any of it mean? The problem is these terms mean different things to different people.

If I’m an executive trying to decide which software solution to select for my company, I might have no idea what any of these terms mean. Even if I’m an IT expert, the sales people might use some of these terms interchangeably. Or some people might use a term to mean something totally different than I would.

I’m going to shed a little light on what these terms actually mean. Hopefully, that helps you select the right CRM system for your company.

Being a CRM software provider for the Senior Living Industry, I’ll use CRM for Senior Living for this discussion. I’ll use the analogy of choosing a new vehicle to simplify things.


Having a flexible vehicle could mean that you want to be able to use it on and off road. Or that you want one vehicle to commute to work in and take long comfortable trips.

You might also want something that can haul a lot of stuff and shuttle your family around. Depending on your needs, you might buy a small SUV, a pickup, or even a large SUV. Flexible can mean a lot of different things depending on your needs.

When we talk about CRM software in Senior Living, flexible might mean that I can use it to help my sales team while at the same time use it as my marketing tool. I might also want to use it to manage inventory or referral sources for supportive living. It could also mean that I want the option for all my people to be able to use the system regardless of their position or role.

Flexibility could mean that I want to have the ability to use it on my PC or my phone or a pad. When we talk about Continuum CRM being flexible, we mean that you can use one system to manage your marketing, sales, inventory and referral sources in one place and on any device. If your CRM systems can’t do this, then you may want to start looking for a replacement.


Most vehicles are somewhat configurable. You can select the color, leather or cloth interior, engine size, wheels, stereo, and much more.

When we talk about CRM software being configurable, it means that you can define user roles and privileges which control what users can see and edit in the system. It also means that you can define what fields you want and how they are displayed on the screen.

Reports and dashboard are also configurable items. Having the ability to customize the workflow in the CRM system to match your workflows is one of the most important items that must be configurable. If you’re forced to use a canned workflow, your people will be unlikely to follow it. Your CRM must also be configurable because as your business or market changes, you’ll need the ability to adjust your workflow.


There are very few vehicles that are truly customizable. It you want the engine in the back instead of the front, if you want the driver’s seat to be on top of the passenger seats, or if you want a totally different look than anything on the market, you might want to have your vehicle built or modified by a custom shop.

You’ll have a one of a kind vehicle. Just don’t expect anyone other than the company that built it to be able to support it. What happens if that company goes out of business?

Customization of CRM software is very similar. There are very few systems that are customized.

To do this, you would need your own development staff (internal or outsourced) to build and support it. The time and money your company would spend far outweighs any benefit you might get from having it designed just for you.

You would also be unable to take advantage of new technologies and developments as time passes. Software companies spend millions of dollars developing and supporting their software. This cost is shared across their customer base.

With custom software, you bear all the cost and risk.

Out of the Box

An Out of the Box vehicle means that you buy the vehicle right off the lot with the features that the manufacturer thinks most people will want.

With CRM Software, Out of the Box normally means that the system has been configured in a way that most customers will find useful. The difference between this and the vehicle example is that even if you buy software Out of the Box you can most likely start with this and then make configuration changes to get a better fit for your business.

Industry Specific

This is where my vehicle analogies fall apart. But this could be the most important item to consider when looking for a CRM system for Senior Living.

Senior Living is so different than the general sales market that I think you must have a CRM System that is built just for Senior Living. Continuum CRM is just such a system.

Continuum was built from the ground up to support the needs of Sales and Marketing in the Senior Living industry. To purchase a general market CRM system and configure it to try and fit into Senior Living is like buying a standard pickup truck and putting a tool box in the back instead of buying a work van that has been designed for your business needs.

I guess I did find a way to get the vehicle analogy in after all.


When we’re talking about integration for CRM systems, we’re talking about having an open system that gives you the tools and ability to integrate to other systems like HR or ERP. These integrations can be standard plug and play integrations or custom.

The key is not deciding between a standard or custom integration. The key is your CRM system being robust and open enough to do either.

At Continuum CRM, we’ve found that more often than not, a standard fixed integration between two systems is not what most customers want. Most integrations tend to be somewhat custom so you need a system that supports both.


These terms are often interchangeable. While reports and dashboards may be ways to look at data, true analytics are focused on what the data means to your company instead of just giving you pretty reports and graphs.

The next step beyond today’s analytic capabilities is predictive analytics. Continuum CRM today has a readiness indicator scoring system that lets you know which prospects have the greatest chance of buying. This type of analytics is what we at Continuum CRM expect see more of in the future.

I hope that this short discussion on software terms will help you with your CRM decision. If you have any questions or need a term defined, please drop a comment. Hopefully, I can come up with a car buying analogy to help you.

And if you’re looking for a straightforward, easy to understand and use CRM system for your senior living community, assisted living community, or CCRC, sign up for a Continuum CRM demo today.

Scott Farmer

Scott is one of the co-founders of Continuum CRM. In addition to being a US Navy Veteran, Scott is a seasoned sales professional who has more than 35 years of sales, sales management, and operations experience working at Westinghouse Electric, ABB, Invensys, Formation Systems and SFA Strategies.