CRM stands for Customer (or client) relationship management, a term coined by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers back in 1993. Credited with transforming the marketing industry from mass advertising to a one-to-one focus from business to individual prospect or client, the concept essentially reflects the way in which you would build and sustain relationships with all of your contacts and clients, if only you had the time.
In a small town a doctor would know all of her patients by name, the names of their family members and what each of them like. She would remember their birthdays and anniversaries with a special message. If she knew that one of them enjoyed long distance running she would cut out a newspaper article she saw about the New York marathon and save it for them. Her appreciative patients would refer their friends and she would remember to thank them. If she met someone new in town she would have a nice conversation to learn more about them and come out of her office to chat if she saw them pass by. She would stop to share some town news with them when she saw them out working in their garden. She would forge a relationship with them that would practically assure her of their business when they needed healthcare services.
CRM is essentially the process of taking your business down to a grass roots level, automating emails, letters, phone calls and follow ups to make it realistic for you to have that same level of relationship with each and every client and prospect. It automates what you would do naturally if only you could clone yourself.