Getting set up with your first CRM is an exciting growth step for your company. However, considering the depth of the software, it can be overwhelming – there’s a mass of data and information suddenly pooling into one place, and you have to keep it organized and up to date.
So now you have this valuable tool packed full with a bunch of useful features, and it's set up and ready to be used. But what now?
Before you just dive in and start using it, you need to develop a CRM strategy.
What Is a CRM Strategy?
A CRM strategy is a specific plan in place for how CRM software will be used in your business ventures, like optimizing your marketing efforts, increasing your sales, and improving your customer service.
The benefits of using CRM software are undeniable.
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 shorten the sales cycle by eight to 14 percent on average.
Additionally, 47 percent of CRM users said their CRM had a significant impact on customer retention, furthering your ROI even more.
While these benefits are attractive, they’re not guaranteed – in order to achieve the level of success as expressed by the above data, you’ll first need to develop a CRM strategy to optimize your use of the software.
Why You Need a CRM Strategy
Technology is not an instant fix, and tech alone cannot bring you the results you desire. Success depends on people, which means that your team’s utilization of their resources is ultimately what will propel you toward your goals.
Simply adding a CRM software to your business won’t drive sales or make a customer happier. You have to intricately integrate it into the framework of your company, ingraining it within the workflow of each employee.
Implementing technology into your business strategy isn’t accomplished overnight, and it won’t happen on its own. That’s why you need a CRM strategy.
A CRM strategy helps you:
- Organize leads and manage the marketing-sales handoff.
- Personalize experiences for people who interact with your brand at every stage of their journey, from initial contact to closed sale to delighted loyalist.
- Ensure a consistent, pleasant customer experience.
- Improve customer retention rates and reduce the cost of customer acquisition.
- Boost customer referrals to generate new customers.
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.
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.
Setting Up a CRM Strategy
Your CRM is essentially the heart of your business, so developing a strategy requires a great deal of patience and sometimes uses resources upfront.
Nevertheless, an effective strategy will save you a lot of headaches and time in the long run, so it’s best to buckle down and commit yourself to developing a thorough strategy for the greatest ROI.
1. Create an Overall Strategy
Before you develop a CRM strategy, you first need to have a fully fleshed out overall company strategy in place, which should include both a marketing and sales strategy within it.
For starters, what are your business goals? Are you looking to boost annual revenue? Increase customer retention? Optimize targeted marketing campaigns? Defining the specific goals you hope to achieve will set the foundation for your strategy.
Next, consider how you’re going to set yourself apart from your competition. What makes your product or services better than the rest? This will likely include a company tagline guarantee, completely dependent upon your industry.
For example, here at Bluleadz, we “transform the way companies market, sell, and service their customers.”
Buyer Persona Development
Buyer persona development is an incredibly important step within developing an overall company strategy. Developing buyer personas helps you define the ideal audience that you’re looking to target and convert into customers.
Using buyer personas within your marketing strategy can help you better reach and engage with this specific pool of prospects and focus your company efforts toward only the most beneficial relationships.
If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, then how can you know how to beat them?
Keeping tabs on your competition will allow you to track industry trends, service and product pricing, and ultimately help you hold a competitive advantage within your field.
2. Map Your Customer Journey
Once you start to build your CRM strategy, one of the first tasks you should tackle is outlining how you’re going to map the customer journey of each client. Doing so will help you understand how each lead interacts with your company throughout your sales funnel.
Analyzing this from start to finish for each client will allow you to identify weak points within your funnel and how you can improve them for a more efficient sales process. So, how do you map a customer journey?
List Challenges and Pain Points
Possibly the most important part of buyer personas is understanding their challenges and pain points. Why? Because it helps you identify them within real prospects.
Keep close track of the challenges that your leads list as their primary problem – if they list them at all. It’s possible that your lead may not even be aware of a problem that they currently have.
Understanding the process of identifying pain points will help you keep close track of where a buyer is along their customer journey, and thus how you can best nurture that relationship for an eventual conversion.
Create a Content Plan
Throughout each stage of their buyer’s journey, you should have prepared relevant content to send to your customers.
Which materials are receiving a high engagement rate, and which are receiving little feedback or low response rates? Keeping track of this will help you determine what your customer’s value and what they don’t.
3. Build Out Sales
Sales is one of the primary departments of your business. Without sales, there’s nobody to convert leads into customers. With that said, it’s incredibly important to bulk up your sales department and strategy in order to use your CRM advantageously.
Define Your Sales Process
In order to use the CRM to the best of your ability, you’ll first need a fully fleshed out sales process and strategy. CRMs are great, but they won’t work to your advantage if you don’t have an effective sales process.
What steps does your sales team take to nurture relationships and close deals? What specific sales tactics to they use? Your sales strategy should be well rounded in order to be efficient and usable within the CRM.
Establish Sales Channels
Establishing your sales channels is a key foundation of your overall sales strategy. How are you going to sell your products to your audience and customers?
Do you operate exclusively as an e-commerce business, or do you also stock your products in brick and mortar stores? Do you use a third party selling tool, offer wholesale product packages, or process sales over the phone? Consider how your target audience likes to shop and align your sales channels with these trends.
Establishing these channels will help you keep track of where your sales are coming from within the CRM, so you can analyze your most effective channels.
4. Establish Goals for Marketing, Sales, and Service
As each of your three teams use and benefit from your CRM a little differently, they’ll each need their own mini strategies. Each team should be able to determine their individual success using the CRM system and analyze their results to create opportunities for future improvements.
Set SMART Goals
Establish SMART goals for each of your three teams. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Setting these goals will enable your teams to focus their efforts toward achieving something specific, and you’ll be able to track how efficiently they’re using the CRM throughout this process to do this.
In addition to goals, you should also define key performance indicators (KPIs) for your marketing, sales, and service teams. Establishing KPIs for each individual team will help them track where they are on the path to achieving the smart goals that have been set.
These KPIs will be different for each team. For example, for marketing, a KPI might be “increase traffic by 10 percent this quarter," while a sales KPI might be something like “sign three new clients this month.” A service KPI might include something like “boost customer retention rate by 15 percent.”
5. Define CRM Responsibilities
Fully integrating a CRM into your business requires more work than you might think. With an abundance of data all in one place, and a new system implemented for your employees to use, it can take some time to get up to speed. There’s a good chance you’ll need some specialized help along the way.
Appoint a CRM Strategist
Consider appointing a current team member to become a CRM strategist, or hire a CRM analyst to manage and train your team on all things CRM software. Working with a CRM analyst will ensure that you’re using your software to its full potential, and getting the most out of it as possible.
Train Your Team
In order for your company to get the most out of its new CRM, all of your team members will need to be properly trained to use it. Simply put, if your employees don’t know how to use the new system, how will your business benefit from it?
Training all of your teams at once might seem like a good idea to save time, but marketing, sales, and service will each be using the software differently. They focus on very different goals and KPIs.
With this in mind, your teams should be trained individually, so they can develop a more comprehensive understanding of how they can use the CRM to optimize their particular efforts.
6. Detail All CRM Aspects
In order to keep your CRM organized, the most important aspect of your strategy is defining all the elements that embody your CRM’s system.
Determine Contact Criteria
Keeping your contacts organized is an incredibly important task for long-term efficiency. Create segmented groups to organize your contacts into, like leads, prospects, and customers. Now, what criteria is required to categorize your contacts into one of the three groups? What classifies as a qualified lead?
Segmenting your contacts will allow you to create better targeted marketing campaigns and enable for a more efficient, fluid workflow when passing leads between teams.
Establish Deal Stages and Pipelines
To further organize your contacts, create a series of pipelines that track where leads are within your sales funnel. For each stage of the funnel, section off each communication point that a contact experiences on their journey from lead to closed customer.
You can create different pipelines for each of your teams, as your sales pipeline will likely include very different steps from that of your service pipeline.
A Strategy for the Whole of Your Organization
The ROI of developing a CRM strategy is well worth the time and resources that it requires. A strong strategy will enable your entire organization to make the most of your new software so your business can start reaping the rewards of it as soon as possible.
If you already have a well rounded overall business strategy in place, with team goals and your sales process defined, then congratulations! You've already completed the first steps necessary to putting together an effective CRM strategy.
If you don't yet have that business plan in place, don't worry! Follow all the steps of the guide above, and you'll be able to effectively utilize all the great tools of your CRM in no time.