How to create a CRM strategy that drives sales and loyalty

Gambar kontributor Tim AsanaTeam Asana
29 Mei 2024
10 menit baca
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Summary

A CRM strategy is a company-wide plan to increase revenue and improve customer relationships using specific actions and technology. In this piece, we teach you how to build a CRM strategy with the use of CRM software. CRM software helps teams turn strategy into action by consolidating data. It also helps teams improve existing CRM strategies to better meet customer needs.

In business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, the buyer journey is paramount. Happy customers are loyal to brands they love. So whether you’re in charge of sales, marketing, or customer service, your business processes should focus on customer needs.

To build that loyalty, you need an effective customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. One way to develop a strong CRM strategy is to create a sales funnel and use customer data to improve your funnel. 

This cyclical process increases customer retention while keeping potential leads front of mind. Whether you’re starting a new business or you’re an established company wanting to develop a CRM strategy for a new initiative, this piece will teach you how to build a CRM strategy from the ground up so you can set and reach your business goals

What is customer relationship management (CRM)?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal of customer relationship management is to improve customer experiences, support customer retention, and ultimately drive business growth.

CRM systems compile customer data across different channels, which may include a company's website, telephone, email, live chat, marketing materials, and social media. By leveraging this information, businesses can make data-driven decisions about their target audiences and learn how to best cater to their needs.

However, it's important to note that CRM isn't just about using technology to collect and manage customer data. It's a holistic approach that requires a customer-centric philosophy and culture within an organization. This customer-centric focus is what drives the development and implementation of a CRM strategy, which we'll explore in the next section.

What is a CRM strategy?

A CRM strategy is a company-wide plan to increase revenue and improve customer relationships using specific actions and technology. CRM software helps your team turn strategy into action by consolidating data and giving you insight into your customer’s online behavior.

[inline illustration] CRM system (infographic)

An effective CRM strategy has various touchpoints that each target customers in their own unique way. The touchpoints you create should lead your potential prospects down the sales pipeline. Touchpoints may include:

  • Online shopping

  • Email sign-up form

  • Social media platforms

  • Customer service chat portal

These predetermined touchpoints lead potential customers through your website and direct them toward a product to purchase. Combined with CRM software and data from your website, you can use this information to analyze customer behavior and create additional touchpoints that better serve buyer needs.

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How to create an effective CRM strategy

When you build a CRM strategy from the ground up, your CRM software won’t have data from past funnels to report. However, you can use market research and some old-fashioned critical thinking to help build your customer base.

1. Define your business goals and KPIs

When you have clear business goals, you’ll have an easier time building your CRM strategy. Without goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, any CRM strategy you create will likely struggle to point your customers in the right direction. 

For example, if one of your business goals is to double sales next quarter, you can use your CRM strategy to answer the following questions:

  • What will doubling our sales require?

  • What must we do to increase our customer base?

  • What must we do to keep current customers coming back?

  • Can we get current customers to refer their friends?

Having defined your CRM strategy goals, you need to give your teams some concrete targets to work towards. Some metrics you may wish to measure include:

  • Sales cycle length

  • Sales close rate

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Customer retention

  • Customer churn

  • Profitability per customer/account

Tip: You may have sales goals that don’t involve customers. For example, you may be able to double your sales next quarter by improving your product or revamping the backend of your website. But remember that CRM strategy is a customer-centric methodology.

Read: Sales and operations planning (S&OP): A project manager’s guide

2. Outline the customer journey and define your target customer

The best way to ensure customer satisfaction is to understand who your target market is. This is called a buyer persona, and there are typically more than one of them. Each different type of customer should have their own persona. Then, you can use this information to further customize your sales funnel.

To identify your ideal persona(s), use market research to analyze who has bought your products—and your competitors’ products—in the past. Collect metrics like age, gender, race, location, level of technology use, preferred social media platform, and socioeconomic status to map specific touchpoints for every customer. All of this information, together, makes up the ideal customer(s) you’re selling to.

[inline illustration] Buyer persona (example)

Once you identify who your ideal buyer is, you can use their demographic information to figure out where they spend their time online. For example, which social media apps do they use most frequently? How do they relate to brands online? Understanding their online habits can help you identify where and how to connect with them.

Tip: With buyer persona charts, you’ll create an in-depth profile of a potential customer. It’s important to get detailed with each customer profile so you can put yourself in their shoes and find ways to guide them through their sales journey. But keep in mind that each persona represents an entire group of people you intend to target. 

3. Map the sales pipeline and plan your customer experience

Once you know who your target market is, you can create your initial touchpoints—or the first moments of customer engagement. Align your sales pipeline with your CRM strategy so you can visualize where to take action when things go awry. 

Common sales pipeline stages include:

  • Lead generation

  • Lead qualification

  • Initial contact

  • Making an offer

  • Negotiation

  • Closing the deal

[inline illustration] CRM strategy vs. sales pipeline (infographic)

For example, if metrics from your CRM software show that you have both a high number of website visitors and a high bounce rate, this means prospects are coming to your website, but they’re leaving before making a purchase. By comparing that to your sales pipeline, you can see that you have a problem somewhere between initial contact and closing the deal. 

The next step in your CRM strategy is ensuring you have the resources and processes to provide a 360-degree customer experience. Check each team's roles and responsibilities.

Example:

  • Can your marketing team analyze customer feedback and gather information effectively?

  • Can your sales team automate any sales processes to increase speed and efficiency?

  • Can your customer service team onboard and support customers effectively?

  • Remember to infuse every customer interaction with a personalized experience by keeping your communications relevant and engaging throughout their lifecycle.

Tip: Your CRM strategy is a more refined version of a traditional sales funnel. Both the traditional sales funnel and your CRM strategy aim to attract and convert prospects, but your CRM strategy improves upon the traditional sales funnel by considering your customer’s specific interests and needs.

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4. Organize your internal processes

To execute your CRM strategy, your team members must understand and know how to manage CRM technology. CRM software can help team members in customer service, sales, and marketing reach departmental goals such as:

  • Increasing lead generation

  • Reducing bounce rate

  • Improving customer retention

  • Revamping marketing efforts

CRM software can also streamline data across departments, which provides a comprehensive view of your customer base and promotes cross-functional collaboration. This integration enables your teams to make data-driven decisions, derive valuable insights for business growth, and improve forecasting accuracy.

A CRM platform lets you consolidate customer data from different departments, such as marketing, sales, and customer service, in a single dashboard. Teams can leverage this real-time data quickly and efficiently to improve their productivity.

Example: a unified dashboard can prevent sales reps from wasting time asking customers the same questions or handling data twice.

Outline processes in your CRM strategy that facilitate this, including employee education, keeping data error-free, and integrating disparate data.

Tip: Have your team members set SMART goals that align with your CRM strategy. By setting measurable and time-bound goals, you can track the real-time progress of each goal and KPI against the metrics in your CRM software. For example, if a sales team member’s goal is to generate 20 leads per month in the next quarter, the CRM tool will not only show how close they are to achieving this goal but also track the conversion rate and effectiveness of their lead management strategies. 

5. Define CRM components

Defining and organizing your CRM components means getting specific about who you plan to target and when. By using CRM software, you can organize potential customers into categories like contacts, leads, prospects, and opportunities.

  • Contact: Someone you’ve previously done business with.

  • Lead: Someone you haven’t worked with but could have business potential.

  • Prospect: Someone who fits your target market and has the power to initiate a purchase. 

  • Opportunity: A prospect who has shown interest in your product and is ready to make a purchase.

Once you’ve grown a list of contacts through social media, an email list, or an e-commerce platform, your CRM platform will automatically pull in this contact information and use marketing information to categorize each lead. 

Tip: Depending on the CRM tool you use, your team may also benefit from more specific contact categories. Nurtured leads are people that fit your target market but haven’t yet shown intent to purchase. Marketing qualified leads (MQL) are people who have shown some level of intent to purchase. Sales qualified leads (SQL) are people that the sales team is actively trying to convert into customers.  

6. Invest in a CRM system and deliver personalized experiences

CRM systems keep your sales pipeline flowing as current customers cycle through it and new customers flow in. Your CRM tool should integrate across various platforms so you can intake analytics information—from your website or email management tools—and export the next steps to create the best customer journey possible. 

In particular, the right CRM software should integrate with your project management software. That way, team members from all silos can use updated customer information in daily project decision-making.

A successful CRM strategy ensures that all your business processes and workflows, from marketing and sales to IT, work together systematically. This helps you better understand who your potential customer is and what they need.

Statistics show that customers prefer a personalized experience. For example:

  • 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored experience.

  • 63% of consumers won't buy from brands that have poor personalization.

  • 42% of customers are frustrated by impersonalized content.

Personalization improves the customer experience and, ultimately, drives revenue and customer loyalty.

Tip: The customer journey doesn’t stop with the sales team, and your technology shouldn’t either. That’s why Asana’s work management tool offers robust, cross-platform integrations with the best CRM software, like Salesforce, Zendesk, and Hubspot. When you combine Asana for work management with your favorite CRM tool, team members across all teams have a clear idea of what they need to do to close deals and keep customers satisfied beyond their purchase. 

7. Reduce costs with marketing automation

With a CRM solution, you can save time and money by automating repetitive administrative tasks, such as feeding lead data, purchase history, and customer segments into your sales pipeline.

CRM marketing automation examples:

  • Instead of manually typing in data, you can set up your lead capture forms to automatically sync with your pipeline.

  • Set up email templates that are correctly formatted with your tone of voice and personalized with the correct contact information to save time and boost sales.

Tip: Automating your sales processes will free up additional time for your sales reps. They can invest this time nurturing leads and closing more deals, shortening the sales cycle and reducing costs.

8. Track your CRM performance and engage stakeholders

Finally, you want to ensure that you track your team's performance to ensure they're achieving their individual targets and meeting your CRM strategy goals. This involves closely monitoring aspects like follow-up actions, the impact of email marketing campaigns, and how well different customer segments are being served. You can easily track performance with the help of reporting and analytics dashboards that come built-in with most CRM platforms.

Tip: Regularly review your CRM metrics and share valuable insights with key stakeholders to ensure your CRM strategy continues to align with your overall business strategy and small business needs. Their input can help refine your approach.

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CRM strategy examples

CRM software provides you with insights on how to better serve your customers. Depending on your product offerings and target audience, you may notice that the people you want to reach get most of their information from blog posts. Or maybe they spend a lot of their time on social media. 

You can improve your marketing tactics for both new and existing customers by using these insights to your advantage. Consider these examples of different CRM strategies 

Example 1: Value-added content

People use Google as a first resort to answer questions and search for product offerings. If your site ranks at the top of Google for a specific keyword or question, then users are more likely to visit your website. 

The best way to rank on Google is to create valuable, SEO-optimized content that’s relevant to your product. Consider writing content for people in various stages of their sales journey to move them through the sales pipeline. 

  • Some people may not be ready to buy your product, but they’ll have relevant questions you can answer. 

  • Others may want to know more about the differences between products, which means they’re further along in their sales journey and are closer to making a purchase.

Example 2: Loyalty and rewards programs

Customer loyalty and rewards programs keep first-time buyers coming back. You can customize one of these programs for your product by offering:

  • Discounts

  • Gifts

  • Other bonuses

These incentives encourage customers to make purchases and refer their friends. 

Consider airline companies with complex loyalty programs that offer: 

  • Miles on credit card purchases

  • Discounted flights

  • Priority boarding. 

These perks keep passengers dedicated to one airline even if other airlines occasionally offer them better rates.

How to implement a CRM strategy

Now that you understand what a CRM strategy is and have seen some examples of successful CRM strategies, it's time to put your own strategy into action.

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Here are some key steps to effectively implement your CRM strategy:

  1. Get buy-in from leadership and key stakeholders. Before you can successfully implement a CRM strategy, you need to ensure that your company's leadership and key stakeholders are on board. Share your CRM strategy plan with them, highlighting the benefits it will bring to the business, such as increased customer loyalty, higher sales, and improved efficiency.

  2. Choose the right CRM software. The CRM system you choose should align with your business goals and CRM strategy. Look for a solution that offers the features and integrations you need, such as contact management, sales automation, marketing automation, and analytics. Consider factors like ease of use, scalability, and pricing when making your decision.

  3. Train your team. Once you have your CRM software in place, it's essential to train your team on how to use it effectively. Provide comprehensive training sessions that cover all aspects of the software, from basic navigation to advanced features. Ensure that everyone understands how the CRM strategy aligns with their individual roles and responsibilities.

  4. Integrate your CRM with other systems. To maximize the effectiveness of your CRM strategy, integrate your CRM software with other systems for your business processes, such as marketing automation tools, customer service platforms, and accounting software. This will provide a more comprehensive view of your customers and streamline your workflows.

  5. Monitor and analyze your results. Regularly monitor and analyze the results of your CRM strategy using the reporting and analytics tools provided by your CRM software. Track key metrics like customer acquisition, retention, satisfaction, and churn rates to gauge the success of your strategy. Use these insights to continually refine and optimize your approach.

  6. Continuously update and improve. A successful CRM strategy is not a one-time effort; it requires ongoing maintenance and improvement. As your business grows and evolves, so should your CRM strategy. Regularly review your processes, gather feedback from your team, stakeholders, and customers, and make adjustments as needed to ensure that your CRM strategy continues to support your business objectives.

Level up your customer experience with CRM software

When you make customer satisfaction a top priority, you can increase your chances of profit growth and secure a long-term spot in the market. Customer relationships are more important than individual purchases because building trust leads to invaluable name recognition and lead generation.

CRM software levels up your customer experience by helping you keep track of different customers and their needs. It’s difficult to make customer support feel personal, but when you use sales management software, your team members gain perspective and can make every customer feel supported.

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