Investing in the right customer relationship management software (CRM) for your company requires extensive research into which tools align best with your business goals. And while CRM platforms do indeed set the stage for businesses to become more organized, more efficient, and provide an extraordinary customer experience, all of these benefits don’t come out straight out of the box, so to speak.
You have to lay down a blueprint of what you want to accomplish. What are your quarterly goals? How do you intend to accomplish them? How will you track progress? All of these are some of the questions you need to answer in minute detail as part of your CRM strategy.
A CRM strategy is a specific plan in place for how CRM software will be used in your business ventures. Some of the categories that you’ll want to discuss may include:
- Organizing your contacts database
- Optimizing your marketing efforts
- Building relationships with prospects and clients
- Increasing your sales
- Improving your customer service
A good CRM helps you accomplish all of these goals. In fact, this is one of the most effective softwares you can add to your tech stack. The average return on investment (ROI) on CRM software is $8.71 for every dollar spent. Plus, using a CRM can help increase sales by up to 29 percent and have a significant impact on customer retention rates.
While these benefits are attractive, they’re not guaranteed. In order to achieve the level of success reflected by the above data, you’ll first need to develop actionable steps to get you there — aka, develop a CRM strategy.
While you may think that you already know what your business needs like the back of your hand, and therefore, don’t need to set time aside to actually develop a strategy, you may want to think again. Getting together with your teams to brainstorm and put everything in writing is crucial for:
Different departments have different uses for a CRM. However, they all should work together like pieces of a puzzle. For example, your sales team will want to use the CRM to get contacts’ information, follow up with them, and conduct discovery calls. But in order to close on a good number of sales, they need to know who are the qualified leads.
In order for this to occur, they need to communicate with your marketing team who falls into this category. And for those who don’t, what do you need to do to get them there? Once marketing has these answers, they can use the CRM to implement lead nurturing via drip marketing campaigns.
Shorter Sales Cycles
Developing a strategy — and putting it down in writing — guides your marketing team when crafting content for all stages of the sales funnel. A top of the funnel (ToFu) prospect is looking for answers to preliminary questions and educational content; while a bottom of the funnel (BoFu) one is likely ready to reach for their wallet once they can schedule a consultation or requesting a demo.
Having a CRM strategy in place enables you to establish yourself as an industry expert. In turn, this fosters trust within your target market. As a result, they will be better positioned to cross across that finish line and close that deal at a faster rate.
Data-Driven Decision Making
A good CRM platform lets you set up custom dashboards so that you can track the metrics that are important to you. Let's say that your short-term goal right now is to increase website traffic. You can then have your CRM track website visitors, the sources of those visitors, and the open and click through rate of your marketing emails.
This data allows you to see what’s working and what needs to be modified. For example, if your recipients are opening emails but not clicking on your calls to action to get to your website, you may want to test different CTA buttons, verbiage, or colors. By the same token, if you see that you’re getting most of your traffic from social media clicks, you can either (a) focus your efforts there, or (b) implement better SEO practices to increase organic traffic.
Without a CRM strategy, there’s a good chance you may be pouring money down the drain. Why implement a tool that you don’t know how to use effectively? Doing so wastes time and resources.
Before creating your CRM strategy, you’ll want to get insight from your frontline workers. This is not the time to sit at a table just with your leadership team and brainstorm on what you think will make things better for everyone else.
Get the information straight from the horse’s mouth. What do your teams actually need? What are some common challenges they face on their day-to-day tasks? What are some resources that would make it better?
Involving them in the decision-making process shows them that you care about making their experience at work a more comfortable and efficient one. You’ll also gain insights that you may have otherwise missed. And coming up with solutions to make them more effective at work is also conducive to employee satisfaction.
You’ll also want to get plenty of customer feedback on how you can improve their experience with you. Maybe they’re spending too much time placed on hold. Maybe they get frustrated being shuffled from one department to the next. Maybe one or two of them have fallen through the cracks when they open a customer service ticket.
Whatever it is you see coming up repeatedly is a red flag. Take notes of it and look for CRM platforms that will help you address it.
Ok. So now that you understand the importance of developing a CRM strategy, you have to figure out how to do it effectively. While this may vary from business to business, common elements across the board include:
Define Your Business Goals
Be as specific as possible. You may want to achieve world domination (at least within your industry), but that’s too vague and Dr. Evilish to get you anywhere. Do you want to become a leader in innovation? Increase revenue by 30 percent by the end of the quarter? Scale to additional countries? Whatever it is, define it.
Develop Buyer Personas
Who’s your target audience? Even if your mom thinks your business offers ideal solutions for everyone, that’s not true. Who are the people you actually want to do business with? What’s their education level? Job title? Where do they get their news from? What are common challenges they face? How can you solve them? What are possible apprehensions? Who are the decision makers in their company? Your CRM strategy needs to have answers for all of these questions and aligned tools to make sure they get those answers.
Create Personalized Communications
By personalized communications, I don’t mean just addressing people by their name. Yes, that helps, but that’s pretty basic and any cheap software can do it. Go above and beyond what prospects expect by giving them information that’s actually relevant to their specific circumstances.
Establish a Unique Value Proposition
You need to be able to articulate what sets you apart from the competition. No matter what you sell, a million other people are selling it too. This can be a guarantee, the promise of an extraordinary customer experience, a dedicated team that will focus solely on a particular client during a specific period of time. Whatever it is, put yourself in your buyer persona’s shoes and come up with ideas that would make you reach out to your business.
Develop the Buyer’s Journey
When you start to develop your buyer personas, you’ll understand why it’s crucial to develop a customer journey map when developing your buyer personas. You can then come up with content ideas for marketing emails, blog posts, and lead magnets that will let your target market see the value in remaining in contact with you.
Research CRM Software
While many CRM vendors offer the same core functionalities, different companies may focus on different types of business. For example, some CRMs are more focused on campaign management, while others are centered on collecting and organizing contacts’ data. Or maybe they are designed to optimize pipeline management. While there are indeed platforms that provide all-in-one solutions, you want to narrow down your choices to those that best align with your needs.
One of the best features of any CRM is their ability to deploy certain tasks automatically. This saves your team time and enables your business to work more efficiently. You can do this based on specific timeframes or upon user behaviors. For example, sending promotional material at regular intervals, or a Thank You page after a lead enrolls in one of your webinars or downloads an eBook.
In addition to goals, you should also define key performance indicators (KPIs) for your marketing, sales, and service teams. Doing so will help them track where they are on the path to achieving smart goals.
These KPIs will be different for each team. For example, for marketing, a KPI might be to increase traffic by 10 percent this quarter; while a sales KPI may be about signing three new clients this month. Meanwhile, a service KPI might include something like boosting customer retention rate by 15 percent.
Regularly track your custom dashboards to see if you’re on track to reach your goals. If you aren't, it's time to modify elements of your marketing campaigns. Just make sure to do so one at a time and give it sufficient time to know whether that was the issue. This is because if you modify several aspects at once and you suddenly start getting more prospects, you won’t be able to pinpoint what was the winning element.
Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams
Your teams can’t work in a silos if you want your customers to have a seamless experience. And two teams that should always work hand in hand are sales and marketing. When a contact reads marketing materials and they contact your office, your sales team needs to know exactly what they’re referencing. And for marketing to craft effective content for all stages of the buyer’s journey, they need to know what are the common apprehensions and questions sales gets from prospects.
Train Employees How To Use the CRM Software
A CRM will yield results only if your teams know how to use it. And you can’t just expect them to read instructions and be good to go. There needs to be an effective onboarding and training process that’s fully aligned with what you want to accomplish. Having a specialist who can guide them through each of the tools will set them up for success.
The 7 Best CRM Strategy Examples to Inspire Yours
Your CRM strategy will vary depending on the nature of your business, your industry, and your client base. However, there are several good tried and true elements that may serve you as inspiration.
1. Employee Empowerment
Nobody wants to feel like their employer babysits them. You didn’t hire seat warmers. You offered them jobs because they have the skills and experience to help your company succeed. Demonstrate to your team you trust them (and boost their morale) by empowering them to make decisions when handling your CRM. This can be by letting them create processes that make things easier for everyone else, or take decisions that would make customers happy.
2. Inbound Marketing
Get people to come to you. This way, you won’t seem obnoxious or salesly. A way a CRM can help you do this is by incorporating inbound marketing. This can take the form of creating How To guides, infographics, video tutorials, listicles, or anything else your target audience may find helpful.
3. Interactive Content
You can also use your CRM to foster user engagement through interactive content. The reason why this is so effective is that CRMs are specifically designed to gather contacts’ data so that you can craft more targeted marketing (see below). Including quizzes, surveys, or tools like a cost calculator entices readers to enter even more information.
4. Targeted Marketing
Once you have plenty of contact’s information, put it to good use with marketing that’s specifically tailored to them. If you see many common elements, you can create custom objects on your CRM for even better contacts segmentation. Address them by name, and send them information that’d be specifically useful to them, based on the data you’ve collected.
5. Loyalty Programs
Brand awareness breeds customer loyalty. However, sometimes they need extra incentives to keep coming back to you. You can use your CRM to implement loyalty programs, such as offering a free product or service with the purchase of X number of items; or getting a discount on their next visit.
6. Customer Re-engagement
Maybe past customers haven’t had any additional communications with you because you solved their problem, and they’ve moved on. But what if you have additional services that could still be of value to them? Are they aware of it? You can use your CRM to deploy re-engagement emails to kickstart those relationships and get them back on track.
7. Data Cleansing
Your data is only useful if it’s updated. Sending marketing communications to deactivated email addresses or people who’ve expressed they’re not interested is a waste of time and money. Or maybe you have attempted reengaging some of them, only to have them unsubscribe from your email list. Solve this issue by scrubbing your email list and conducting data cleansing of your CRM contacts.
Developing a CRM strategy will allow you to implement efficient, impactful use of the CRM across all of your teams, so your company can build a unified approach to building stronger customer relationships, manage them effectively, and ultimately meet your sales and growth goals.
Even within saturated markets, you likely can come up with ways to enhance the value provided to your customers. Creativity and collaboration are key to making this happen.
Once you’ve identified your end-goals and created action steps to get there, you can look for specific types of customer relationship management that can help you reach them. And if you’re still not clear on how to do that, know that there are agencies (like, say, Bluleadz) who will happily guide you down the right path.