While CRM software remains a darling of the enterprise technology suite, it’s not without its hiccups. Research into CRM users across 150 companies reveals that one out of every three struggles to create an effective CRM strategy guiding day-to-day software use. Another 43% admitted to using less than half of their current CRM system’s features, short-selling all the business functions these tools can boost.
Break from the CRM slump by learning how to create a CRM strategy for your organization, one that brings as many benefits to your employees as it does to your customers.
The Core Components of a CRM Strategy
Strategies for CRMs incorporate three key domains.
- Marketing: The marketing branch of CRM is responsible for the research, segmentation and content creation of non-direct sales branding. In simpler terms, marketing is responsible for the ideal presentation of your company — how you want people to feel, think and view you.
- Sales: The sales segment of CRM orchestrates direct touchpoints with current and potential customers to drive sales figures and profitable growth. CRM sales strategies and techniques use marketing’s brand representation to better target leads and create compelling, persuasive sales content.
- Customer support: The customer support side of a CRM strategy devises better ways to engage, assist and satisfy customers. It involves both pre- and post-purchase interactions, and is an integral part of your brand’s overall reputation.
You don’t need to tackle all three domains at once. The most successful CRM strategies create bite-sized changes implemented over time, incrementally tweaking and tailoring ideas until they form a better whole. Keep reading below to learn how to devise this kind of focused, actionable CRM plan for your organization — one driving results.
Steps to Build a CRM Strategy
Get started on revitalizing or creating a CRM strategy by following these steps and best practices.
1. Know Your Core Customer(s)
They go by many names, but core customers are those who generate the most profits for your organization in one of two categories.
- Historically: A customer who makes frequent purchases or high-value purchases
- Prospectively: A customer fitting a series of qualified lead characteristics indicating prime purchase intent
Contrary to what you might have learned in elementary school, savvy marketers do not treat everyone the same. They purposefully prioritize those two categories of customers above using data gleaned from their social media channels, search queries, web traffic, cookies and more. Compiling such rich qualified lead data helps you understand those customers’ inherent questions, needs, wants and lifestyles — which you will rely on in future marketing campaigns using your CRM.
2. Consult Sales, Marketing and Customer Service Employees on Their Significant Pain Points
Employees in these three roles know better than anyone what’s working in your current customer interactions and what isn’t. For example:
- Are content marketers relying on outdated customer data to create content?
- Are sales personnel unaware of the exact campaigns sent to their leads?
- Are customer service reps having to deal with issues outside their familiarity?
Harness their front-line expertise to help focus your ideas in the next stage of building a CRM strategy.
3. Set Goals Based on Those Pain Points
Take one of the examples from Step 2. Sales personnel who receive automated alerts about an email campaign sent to one of their assigned leads can tailor their communications around that campaign’s information, plus time their outreach better.
The more specifically you can match CRM goals to employee pain points, the better. Assign each new goal a KPI, then a reasonable deadline or milestone to compare new performance data with the old.
4. Review Your Current Customer Journey Maps for Gaps
Customer journey maps reveal the serialized interactions both new and current customers have with your brand. Many organizations will maintain more than one journey map or have different priorities for a map’s conclusion. However, successful customer journeys tend to share these common tenets:
- Divided by customer segments — not all customers go through the same sequence
- Informed by segment data — i.e., data collected in Step 1
- Prioritize the most profitable segments — strategic re-targeting and more in-depth journey touchpoints
Look for specific moments when you could re-engage, relay or strengthen a key journey interaction, both in terms of the content put in front of the segment as well as what channel it’s on.
5. Revitalize Content Based on Needs-Matching
A holistic CRM strategy also identifies ways to improve the ads, messages and content itself sent to customers. More specifically, it finds ways to personalize those touchpoints to a segment’s distinct likes, lifestyles and pain points, increasing conversion likelihood.
Review content according to the following suitabilities.
- Channel relevancy: Are the right campaigns delivering the right message to prospects receptive to the message?
- Customer segment fit: Are the right topics and campaigns targeting a specific group with a relevant message?
- Customer journey gaps: Are there touchpoint moments we’re missing or ignoring altogether?
6. Test, Test, Test
You should pair every new piece of content, advertisement, campaign or post with a performance metric. Those metrics ensure collateral contributes toward the CRM goals devised in Step 3, but also that you’re creating compelling, persuasive content that connects with a target audience.
- A/B splits: Split-test everything from new landing pages to Facebook ads to email subject lines.
- Content performance across channels: Track traffic, click-through rates and generated leads from each social media platform.
- Product descriptions and images: Play around with product or service copy, as well as featured graphics.
- And more online marketing testing methods, whose data funnels into the CRM
7. Analyze the Competition
What marketing, sales and customer service strategies are your top competitors developing? What about businesses outside your industry, but of a similar size or vertical? Exploring this real-world landscape of implemented CRM strategies lets you temperature-check your own strategy, as well as avoid making others’ mistakes.
8. Share Insights and Practice Ongoing CRM Training
Like any new enterprise strategy, CRM deployments only last if they have genuine buy-in. Create an ongoing training and update schedule that ensures employees are with your CRM roll-out every step of the way, including times for:
- Reviewing recent CRM developments, launches and placement in the overall strategy timeline
- Sharing progress charts and KPI data
- Highlighting next-phase deployments and ideas
- Training on any new software or programs
9. Reconsider Your Platform Integrations
Any CRM strategy will be easier to devise, launch and maintain — and see its best results — when structured within a dedicated piece of CRM software that is the same across the enterprise. Having separate divisions use different CRM software leads to CRM failure.
What’s more, that software provides the most benefits when it integrates with other technologies used across your enterprise. Those include software such as email, calendars, business intelligence and analytics and other marketing, sales and customer service tools.
Consult CRM vendors directly about the integrative capabilities of current or prospective software. Read vendor and product reviews online or in reputable industry publications. If possible, inquire about product demos to get a firsthand experience working with the application. Your employees, your customer satisfaction rankings and your sales margins will thank you.
Match Your CRM Strategy to Your Software
CRMs are a game-changer for today’s businesses — but it takes serious strategy to make it all work.