CRM for Associations: The Basics & How It Complements an AMS

Utilizing a customer relationship management (CRM) system allows you to get organized, track your sales funnel, and keep track of every customer interaction you or your team have with a client. CRM programs tend to have marketing and automation capabilities to assist your business. For instance, many associations need to handle memberships or committees, or provide services related to education, events, and product sales.

They are also shareable to help make data-driven decisions through effective collaboration. You can use this information to contact your potential customers and create marketing strategies for member acquisition. Additionally, it allows you to market to the current members creatively, allowing you to generate new revenue streams. But one of most critical factors in determining your actual ROI is the amount of buy-in you have from your association staff. The best CRM or AMS in the market could have poor ROI if your staff and members won’t use it, or haven’t adapted once you make the switch. But the potential ROI Dynamics 365 comes with, along with everything Cobalt does to understand your association’s true needs and configure your AMS system accordingly really help minimize the risk of a low ROI.


An AMS program can assist your business with operations, commissions and sales. Approve the efficiency of your insurance agency and identify which processes are helping or hurting your business. Ensure you document likely workflows and processes for each department to understand how an AMS will work in reality. If the AMS provider claims to have an inbuilt CRM, compare its functionality and underlying technology to a leading player like Salesforce or Dynamics to see how they compare.

These insights will help you locate leads with greater precision and focus your marketing efforts where they are needed. CRM has an analytical dashboard that tracks customer engagement metrics such as ROI, leads, conversion, and retention rates. When it comes to finding the right software that meets all the business needs, AMS vs CRM is a major question that confuses all associations. Calculating the ROI on your AMS system investment will hinge on many factors, including the complexity of your implementation and how much historical data you migrate to your new AMS. The ongoing user licenses and pricing structure for Dynamics 365 is much more affordable than other leading CRM solutions, which could also directly affect your ROI. They recently released an independent study commissioned by Forrester Consulting to measure the benefits and cost savings of eight businesses using Dynamics 365 Sales.

While your AMS would have some data analysis tools, the capabilities to really use your data will pale in comparison to what a CRM can do. With a CRM, you can track your member’s behaviour and use it to improve your conferences, marketing efforts and overall member experience. Understanding the options available is vital in making the right choice for your organization. Looking at all of the possibilities and clearly identifying their differences, benefits and challenges will help you understand what kinds of solutions will best meet your needs. AMS systems typically collect data and provide basic reporting capabilities based on their workflow requirements like event registrations, attendees check-ins, email open rates, surveys, and numbers of lapsed members.

ams vs crm

CRMs like Salesforce store details about relationships with current customers and potential future customers. This can include current members, past members and non-members who might be interested in joining. From these descriptions, it’s easy to see where the confusion arises as both systems are built around customer and prospect data and how to maximise its value to the organisation. Where the key differences lie is the purpose of collecting and storing that data.


Crucially, it can also reveal where there is a demand for new products or services. If you need to make changes to your offering, you can implement them via the AMS. Most associations will need both Association Management Software and a Customer Relationship Management system to achieve their growth goals. This information cryptocurrency exchange vs broker allows you to locate potential new members and develop marketing strategies that will bring them in. It also allows you to find new ways to market to current members, allowing you to diversify revenue streams. First, we need to be clear about what these two systems are and what kind of member data they process.

ams vs crm

That being said, there are CRM/AMS blends that use an enterprise CRM platform as the base with proprietary AMS apps designed to function on that platform. This type of solution is developed by a vendor that includes both the core CRM functions as well as ‘classic’ AMS functionality. Essentially, these blended systems try to provide all the benefits of the enterprise CRM platforms with the functionality required by associations. With decades of experience, these platforms have been focused solely on member-based organizations for a long time.

Agency Management System vs. CRM

Because more people registered for the conference, you conclude that your new outreach strategies are more effective. Customer interactions can offer a lot of subtle detail about your relationship – whether your association is fulfilling their needs, whether there are things that could be improved, whether you offer value for money. But often segmentation is based on demographic information, which doesn’t always work for association members. Association members have needs and wants that are based on professional circumstances, rather than age and location. A champion of all things insurance software needs, the AMS has been the foundation of an independent agency’s technology for decades. As more technology options become available to the world of insurance, it becomes increasingly difficult to pick and choose between everything.

ams vs crm

Spending just a little time with that resource will help you generate some great questions to ask as you are making your decision. Additionally, you need to determine the system’s main purpose and how many employees will need access. If your team’s goals can’t be met with one system, you may need to consider the other. When choosing the system that will best suit your company, you need to consider several factors.

AMS systems built on proprietary platforms are built on common programming languages like SQL Server and .NET. In contrast, with a CRM platform-based system, the platform’s underlying programming language might be proprietary. This means that your IT staff would need to be trained on the programming language for the platform. After understanding what you need, you can look at what’s available in the market. A few wow features can be an added bonus, but those shouldn’t lead the selection criteria.

Since AMS systems and CRM systems are both built to store data, the key difference between the two is the core purpose and focus of the system. If you can afford it, it may be beneficial for you to invest in both AMS and CRM systems for your company. Each offers many benefits and can make up where the other leaves off, but as this is, by far, the more expensive option, take time to consider what it is you need, both now and for future growth. There are many differences between AMS and CRM systems, but because they function in similar ways, they are often confused with each other.

  • If you’re looking for more of an off-the-shelf solution with automated upgrades that your organization doesn’t have to plan for or think about, then this type of system might be right for you.
  • This is also the reason we built our AMS system, Cobalt’s Engagement Dynamics, on top of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM platform.
  • It’s too expensive and it takes too long to get their AMS vendor to do new, custom coding.
  • It evaluates all the data available to assess and manage all your touchpoints with your customers, both members, and non-members.

To do that you need to identify your organization’s functions and learn about the offerings in the market. Once you know your must-haves, you’ll be able to eliminate any options that don’t have the capabilities to meet your needs. Jeff is the Co-Founder & CEO of Wicket, and a passionate advocate and change agent for software solutions available to member-driven organizations. Jeff speaks regularly on the power of modern technology for associations and nonprofits and how it can be leveraged to better engage with members, increase member acquisition and create operational efficiencies.

Is AMS a CRM? How are AMS and CRM Different?

For those needs, an AMS is a great tool to include in your business ecosystem. However, it may not be practical to implement an AMS with very specialized capabilities if your organization doesn’t have many of the usual functions. With the growth of enterprise CRM systems and related applications, some associations are finding enterprise CRM solutions as a viable alternative to an AMS.

CRM systems give you a complete view of everything your organization has done with a customer, and that information can be accessed and utilized by staff in different roles. AMS systems give you streamlined, integrated means for those different roles to actually do the work they need to do that day, like selling exhibits or promoting a membership renewal drive. When you know precisely what your requirements are, you can drive the conversations with potential vendors.

That means you need a great deal of data — relevant, reliable, secure data — and the tools to make sense of it. Collecting and interpreting data about your members and anyone who might have an impact in your industry are two of the essential functions of an AMS system or CRM platform. Modern ERP systems integrate with other specialized software to enable rapid logistical adjustments and forecast planning for core financial business processes. While your association will need to choose a solution that best fits its unique needs, priorities, and long-term goals, having the right tools makes the management process much simpler. Not only will this increase your organization’s overall efficiency, but it could also lead to more positive member experiences and higher retention rates.