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Dave Evans


Managing Director

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What is the difference between a TMS and CRM?


As a training company, it can be difficult to identify exactly what it is that you need to manage your business. You need a solution to generate sales leads, book delegates on to training events and keep them updated with regular communications.

The difficulty is that there are so many solutions being touted as the ‘one you need’ that it’s hard to pinpoint which is the right fit for you.

There’s also a lot of jargon in the software world that can be easy to confuse. Let’s begin with unpicking the acronyms I’ve mentioned:

CRM = Customer Relationship Management

TMS = Training Management System

Both of these systems are excellent options to run and grow a commercial training business. But, what’s the difference?

What is a training management system?

A training management system manages the complete training and delegate journey from course booking and payment to event and resource scheduling to post-course activities such as certificate generation and evaluation.

Common functionality includes:

  • Course and resource management
  • Automated communications
  • Delegate management
  • Online booking and payment
  • Learner portals and delegate access
  • Compliance and training completion tracking

The Training Management System Model below provides a complete overview of the types of functionality you can expect.

Recommended reading: What is a Training Management System? [The Ultimate Guide]

What is a CRM?

A CRM is designed to do what it says on the tin: manage customer relationships. It provides a central database that ensures all relevant members of an organisation has a clear overview of the customer or account.

Common functionality includes:

  • Pipeline management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Sales targeting
  • Contact management
  • Order fulfilment

Which do I need?

Comparing a training management system and CRM is a little bit like comparing apples and oranges. The solutions do have similarities but there are also distinct differences.

A training management system is designed to manage the entire training journey. This includes course delegate details and course bookings, from payment through to delivery to post-course certificate generation and evaluation whereas a CRM is designed to take care of the aspects related to the customer including lead management, opportunity tracking and pipeline management.

Essentially, a TMS has been designed specifically for training providers whereas a CRM typically a one size fits all system.

Therefore, the decision as to whether you need a training management system or CRM is mostly down to your business needs. Another option is selecting a TMS that has CRM or opportunity management capabilities.

To learn more about the differences, I would recommend downloading a copy of CRM vs Training Management System: What You Need to Know.

Author Profile Picture
Dave Evans

Managing Director

Read more from Dave Evans

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