What is a CRM strategy?
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy is a plan to grow sales and improve customer service through a combination of processes, actions, and technology, involving the sales, marketing, and customer service functions of a business.
What was once the traditional buyer-seller model has in recent decades shifted from transactional to entirely customer-centric. Customer relationships require higher levels of maintenance, hence why businesses now have entire strategies dedicated to managing them.
One of the reasons for this is that consumers today have bigger expectations than ever when it comes to customer service. They’re not going to think twice about going elsewhere if yours isn’t up to scratch.
To optimize existing relationships and drive customer loyalty, you’re going to need a strategic approach that incorporates cross-functional collaboration and specific tools.
We’re inclined to think only about CRM software at the mention of CRM strategy. In reality, the software is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. To get the most out of any technology, you need to have a strategy behind it.
In this article you’ll find a comprehensive 8-step guide to help you set up a CRM strategy for your business.
What can a CRM strategy do for my business?
There a number of reasons why you should put in place a CRM strategy.
Having a good CRM strategy will enable you to:
- Provide an optimized customer experience at all touchpoints of the customer journey
- Strengthen the collaboration between sales, marketing, and customer service teams
- Clearly and quickly identify the most worthwhile leads and opportunities
- Keep track of your leads and customers as they move through the buyer funnel
- Carry out targeted marketing campaigns
- Produce concrete figures and data insights that will inform and guide your future business strategies
How do I create a CRM strategy from zero?
Here are the 8 steps that we consider to be absolutely essential when creating a CRM strategy from scratch.
Step 1: Define your CRM strategy vision and goals
The first thing to do before creating a CRM strategy is to revisit your overall business strategy and high-level business goals.
Think about how you want your CRM strategy to contribute to the success of your business.
Create a vision of what you want to achieve from the CRM strategy so that it has a clear purpose from the very beginning.
Increasing customer satisfaction, achieving higher productivity and efficiency levels among teams, and attracting more new customers are some examples of common CRM strategy goals .
Remember, your CRM strategy is not an end in itself. It exists to fulfill the overall goals of the business. That’s why it’s important to integrate it into the overall strategy of the business.
Step 2: Define your target customer by creating buyer personas
Think about how well you know your customers. Consider all the information you have about them – their age, where they live, what they are trying to achieve in life.
In order to maintain strong customer relationships and attract quality leads, you need to understand exactly who is purchasing from you and why.
Having a clearly defined buyer profile is essential to becoming a customer-centric business. It’s a way of ensuring your sales, marketing, and customer care efforts are focused on meeting the true needs and expectations of your customers.
Defining your ideal customer is going to help your sales and marketing teams avoid unsuitable leads and target only the most worthwhile opportunities, thereby enabling you to reach new customers in a more efficient way.
We recommend that you create buyer personas to represent your ideal customer. The persona profile (or profiles – there can be more than one) should be as detailed as possible. Include information such as demographic and behavioral characteristics, as well as interests, challenges, and aspirations.
Here are three research methods by which you can collect information to develop your buyer personas:
- Interview your sales and customer service teams
- Study different customer profiles and even interview customers directly
- Send customer surveys
Step 3: Define your buyer journey
To optimize your customer relationships, you need to provide the best possible customer experience at every single touchpoint of the customer journey. To help you do this, it’s good to have a holistic view of that entire journey.
Map every single interaction you have with your customer from the moment they first discover you. This can be through marketing actions, business processes, or direct contact with team members.
The reason for this exercise to highlight areas for improvement and establish who is responsible for what within your team.
When mapping each stage of the buyer journey, ask yourself these questions:
- Which team/business process is interacting with the customer at that moment?
- How can these interactions be improved?
- Look at the buyer personas you’ve developed in Step 2. Based on what you know about your customer, is this his or her preferred means of communication? Could there be a more effective means of getting your message across?
- What is the customer trying to achieve?
- What challenges does the customer face? How can you offer better support?
- What content is the lead/customer coming into contact with?
Step 4: Establish the internal processes necessary to create a 360-degree customer experience
You’ve studied your buyer journey to highlight any areas of improvement in terms of customer service.
Now you’re going to look at the structure of your internal processes. Do you have the resources in place to provide a 360-degree customer experience?
Do an audit of roles and responsibilities to ensure all the necessary bases are being covered .
Here are examples of areas where you can optimize your people and processes:
- Presales: How are you doing when it comes to analyzing customer needs, gathering information, and putting together business cases?
- Sales processes: Are there any sales tasks that you can automate to increase efficiency?
- Relationship management: Are your offers tailored to your customers’ needs? Are your communications personalized and relevant?
- After-sales: Have you got the necessary support systems in place to resolve customer problems quickly? What feedback do you receive on the quality of your customer service?
In short, ask yourself ‘How can I do it better?’ and then make the necessary changes within your organization.
Step 5: Study the market and your positioning within it
Study the market and competitive landscape for inspiration when elaborating a CRM strategy.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Where does your company fit into the market?
- What is your unique selling proposition (i.e. what differentiates you from the others)?
- How do your competitors differentiate themselves?
- What opportunities exist?
- Can you learn anything about how your competitors handle customer relationships?
- What are the trends in your industry right now?
Step 6: Knowing your product or service
Take the time to revise and develop your product/service narrative and elaborate your value proposition. What are the messages you want to transmit? What benefits do you want to highlight? Why should a customer choose you over your competitors?
Communicate this narrative internally and implement training where necessary. Everyone needs to be on the same page, relaying the same message.
This is also a good opportunity to define your brand tone of voice and put in place best practice guidelines for communicating with customers.
Step 7: Choosing and implementing a CRM software
One of the best ways to drive forward your CRM strategy is to invest in a CRM software for your business.
Not only is it a great platform for collaboration between teams, it’s also one of the best places to store customer data and keep track of all interactions between you.
Define your CRM software needs by evaluating your existing business processes and getting input from teams. There are many different CRM offerings out there with a range of features – some of which you are not going to need, hence the importance of analyzing your needs beforehand.
The main factors to be considered when choosing a CRM software are price, capabilities, and ease of use. Other factors to be taken into account include mobile-friendliness and its capacity to integrate with other tools from your current technology stack.
Once you have the software, you need to define the rules regarding its usage. Designate an administrator and decide who has access and at what level. Establish how and when teams are going to be using it.
You also have to define CRM elements such as what constitutes a lead, prospect, or opportunity, and how to distinguish a sales-qualified lead, etc.
To get your CRM software off to the best possible start, it’s a good idea to put in place a pilot committee who will be responsible for its implementation and training people how to use it.
Remember to clean your contact list before importing it to the CRM so that way you’re starting off with an organized and up to date database.
Further reading: 5 Ways CRM Software Boosts Customer Experience for Small Businesses
Step 8: Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each team
All strategic actions need to be backed up by figures and data – and your CRM strategy is no exception. You need to be able to measure its progress.
You established the desired outcomes of your CRM strategy back in Step 1. Now you’re going to give your team some concrete targets to work towards.
When setting objectives for your teams remember to make them S.M.A.R.T (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound).
Examples of performance metrics you may wish to include are:
- Customer satisfaction
- Customer retention
- Customer churn (when a customer leaves the company)
- Profits (overall total, totals per customer/account)
The success of your CRM strategy depends on the levels of engagement and collaboration of your teams.
Get your employees on board from the beginning. Keep them informed, educated, and up to date on all aspects of your CRM strategy. That way they can be operational and effective as quickly as possible.
Make Sendinblue part of your CRM strategy!
As your all-in-one sales and marketing toolbox, the Sendinblue platform has a built-in CRM function.
This offers a place you where you can centralize all your contact information, add notes and documents to individual contact profiles, and assign tasks to your team.
This way you can have an organized contact database and not miss any opportunities.
Learn more about Sendinblue’s CRM feature here.
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Content Marketing Specialist @ Sendinblue. A Modern Languages graduate turned B2B tech marketer, I’m on a mission to bring helpful digital marketing tips and advice to SMBs. Interests include startups, Gaelic football, and good French wine. 😉