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CRM Solutions: The Big Debate on Horizontal Versus Industry-specific Tools

Are you skeptical whether you should use an industry-specific CRM or not? Read on to clear the fog and make up your mind ...

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software works as a scaffold to store information about the prospective clients and customers. 


True CRM software came into existence in the beginning of the 1990s. At the outset, they helped to track the customer interaction and automate different tasks depending on the business type and industry. However, nowadays, CRM tools come with a plethora of features that help shorten the sales cycles and drive faster business growth. 

Since the inception, CRMs have evolved and totally revolutionized the way businesses work. 

The most important transformation has been the emergence of industry-specific CRM tools. 

The concept of industry-specific CRM tools sounds pretty interesting as they are exclusively put together for your business. 

Before we delve deeper into the industry-specific CRM solutions, let me give you an overview about the role of CRM in marketing.

Importance of CRM in Marketing

CRM, when used correctly, can be used to empower your business and strengthen the relationship with your customers. 

Here’s how:

  1. With a robust CRM tool in place, you will be able to track the customer’s behavior and past interactions. 
  2. As CRM tools give you access to enormous data about your customers, your marketing professionals can create customer-centric communications.
  3. You can send out regular marketing messages and stay at the top of the subscriber’s mind. As a result, it will boost subscriber engagement, brand loyalty, and retention. 

Investing in a CRM tool will let you track the performance of your marketing strategy. Based on these insights, you can then optimize your campaigns for better results. 

Now, we shall move on to understand different types of CRM systems according to their features and industry-specificity. 

Classification of CRM Systems

1. Horizontal CRM

Horizontal CRM systems provide a huge range of CRM capabilities throughout the diverse industries. 


  • You will get native support of different features according to your industry type. 
  • It is possible to customize the CRM tool and integrate it with other applications to cater to specific business needs. 


  • It can get somewhat expensive to keep up with the customizations and their maintenance. 
  • You cannot always guarantee a smooth user experience. 

2. Lightweight Vertical CRM

Lightweight vertical CRM solutions come with UI templates, data model extensions, UI labels, and common process flows without any scripting of the end-to-end process. 


  • You will get access to standardized process flows pertaining to your industry. 
  • As these CRM platforms are compatible with different solutions, they will not get obsolete even in the long run. 


  • Lightweight vertical CRM might not be powerful enough to suit your industry. 
  • You would need to invest in advanced technology management to match the exact business model. 

3. Deeply Vertical CRM

When you are looking for end-to-end scripted industry processes, deeply vertical CRM solutions are the best bet. 


  • These CRM solutions have better adoption rates as they support the industry processes. 
  • They are entirely compliant with the industry best practices and regulations. 


  • As the processes are fully scripted, it can get difficult to adapt according to the business specifications. 
  • In comparison to traditionally used CRM solutions, it can get pretty daunting to support the maintenance of these deeply vertical systems. 

Despite all these challenges posed by deeply vertical industry-specific CRM, many businesses prefer industry-specific CRM tools as it helps to achieve a multitude of objectives as discussed here:

Advantages of Industry-specific CRM

1. You can easily integrate an industry-based CRM into your business.

Whether you are in the eCommerce sector, real estate, banking and finance, or any other field, an industry-specific CRM can be conveniently integrated into any business. Of course, there is no doubt that advanced CRM tools can be customized according to your business needs. However, investing in an industry-specific CRM is a wiser option to choose. 

Let me share two examples with you to help you understand better:

If you are an insurance company, you must go for a CRM tool that allows you to process e-applications and e-policy tools. It should contribute to better productivity and lead tracking. 

On the other hand, construction companies must opt for a CRM that facilitates work order management, task management, and preparing different proposals. 

Most of the industry-specific CRM systems can be used without any installation hassles. As a result, business owners can significantly cut down on the time and resources. They can focus on building their business, instead. 

2. Industry-specific CRM is easy to use.

Verticalization has helped to create bespoke CRM solutions that are perfectly suitable for any business. As the professionals are well acquainted with the system and processes, you will be able to employ the software without any learning curve. 

3. Industry-specific CRM tools have a host of useful features according to your industry.

Rather than settling for a “one-size-fits-all” CRM tool, wouldn’t it be better to go for an industry-specific software system?

Such CRM solutions will help you to accomplish your objectives without any unnecessary expenses. 

With that said, let me walk you through some features that make these CRM tools stand out from the traditional ones. 

1. Electronic Health Record (EHR) System

For healthcare business owners, patient confidentiality is of utmost importance. Your medical professional has access to quite a lot of private information. EHR solutions are developed, considering patient privacy and all the healthcare regulations.
You can integrate the EHR into the healthcare and insurance CRMs directly and retrieve all the private patient details without any privacy infringement. 
For example: Salesforce Health Cloud is the perfect option for healthcare and life sciences organizations looking for advanced features built into the CRM software. It is HIPAA-compliant (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) and offers effective ways to manage patient records, marketing, and patient service support. 

2. Listing Management Tools

Real estate marketing professionals have to deal with property listings, agent management, and prospect and customer management. With the help of the CRM tool, you can maintain all this information at a centralized location and also automate all the real estate management processes. Listing management tools and real estate CRMs go together like Mac ‘n’ cheese. Pipedrive and HubSpot CRM are two of the best tools for real estate businesses. 

3. Dealer Management System

Automotive companies can use auto dealership management systems to enable automobile equipment manufacturers to manage their listings and customer information. Automotive CRM solutions must have a Dealer Management System at the center of its features. 

4. Proposal Management Features

If you are a business consultant or agency owner, you will have to rely heavily on proposal management features. Choosing a construction or consulting CRM will help you streamline the processes and send impressive proposals to your clients. Tools like HubSpot CRM and Cosential work the best if you have high-volume proposal submissions. 

I am sure you must be contemplating investing in an industry-specific CRM after reading all the way till here. 

I personally love the idea of having an exclusive CRM for a business, but it has its own share of demerits. 

Take a look…

Cons of Industry-specific CRM Systems

1. Vertical CRMs are too heavy on the pocket when compared to basic CRMs. 

You have to pay an additional licensing fee for vertical CRMs. They are developed by industry experts and that pretty much justifies the pricing on the higher side. 

2. Industry-specific CRM comes with limited user roles.

No two companies have the same organizational hierarchy even if they are a part of the same industry and follow similar business models. Unfortunately, industry-specific CRM tools have generalized user roles. They are created considering that every company has the same job titles and levels of access. As a result, it becomes difficult to provide access to the right professionals. 

3. Vertical CRM has generic workflows.

It might sound contradictory but vertical CRMs follow a generic approach according to the industry. Consequently, business owners get limited automation workflows, custom fields, and reporting. Industry-specific CRM solutions have limited customization options because of the same reason. 

How to Choose the Right CRM?

Whether you go for horizontal or vertical CRM, you must bear in mind that it must be flexible enough to suit your business requirements. Invest in the tool that makes things easier for you and does not add up to the execution woes. 

Besides, the CRM tool must be customizable and enable you to switch to another one without any migration issues. Furthermore, go for the tool that is compatible with all the third-party tools that you are using at present. It would be a bonus if it keeps upgrading the support for newer systems and tools. 

Wrapping Up

We get so many clients who insist on using an industry-specific CRM or migrating to one. I strongly advise them to weigh the pros and cons and then take the decision. Just because everyone else in your industry is ready to spend on an industry-specific CRM does not mean that you should, too. Consider the limited customer base using industry-specific CRM and only then make up your mind to choose the CRM. 

At the end, it all boils down to usability and cost-effectiveness rather than verticalization. 

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Disha Bhatt (Dave)

Disha Bhatt (Dave) works as a Content Strategist at Email Uplers. She is a dentist, who has found her calling in words & technical subjects. She loves to pen down travelogues and romantic short stories in her free time.



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