8 Steps to Creating a CRM Strategy for Your Business

Updated Aug 9, 2022.

Implement your CRM strategy using the software tools used by leading companies (and your competitors).

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Best CRM platform with custom CRM strategies for sales reps and teams
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Keap

Simple CRM platform for tracking sales and customer experience
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Freshworks CRM

Top CRM tool for fostering business and client interactions in an easy way
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Zoho CRM

Affordable CRM software for maximizing sales performance (and results)
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Monday CRM

Best CRM platform with robust project management capabilities

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Effective customer relationship management (CRM) involves nurturing customer relationships throughout the sales process. Managers or small business owners must create an effective CRM strategy before choosing a solution.

The nature of customer relationships today requires choosing the right CRM software, which is only possible through proven CRM strategies. You can only effectively utilize your CRM data and enjoy customer loyalty by meeting customer expectations. 

This article will teach you the importance of a CRM strategy, how to create one for your business, and the best strategy examples.

Let’s get started. 

What is a CRM Strategy?

You need to know what CRM stands for to define a CRM strategy effectively. CRM is short for customer relationship management, designed to manage your organization’s communications, relationships, and interactions with your customers.

The CRM Market by the Numbers

Companies can improve relationships with their current and potential customers with CRM systems. 

A CRM software can store contact information, predict future sales, guide customer service interaction, offer tailored recommended products, and create and send personalized email and SMS drip campaigns.

With CRM software, you can thoroughly manage interactions and relationships with external contacts like generated leads and existing customers from a particular platform. 

CRM Software Revenue Forecast

There is a clear difference between a CRM platform and a strategy. You can describe a CRM strategy as a roadmap, while a CRM platform is the vehicle to move based on the direction given through the roadmap. 

A CRM strategy is a well-crafted plan that a company comes up with to improve customer relationships. It is a series of tools and methods often utilized alongside other marketing strategies to improve sales and existing processes.

By incorporating a CRM strategy into your business strategy plan, your sales, marketing, and customer service team are better positioned to have a more successful relationship with existing customers.

Why You Need a Customer Relationship Management Strategy

CRM is not bespoke, which means different organizations and companies cannot apply the same strategy. The best approach is for the companies to identify the strategy tailored for their operations and implement it. 

Your business size can influence how you tailor your CRM strategy to serve you best and meet your individual needs. 

Based on your business plan to scale up the business at the right moment, it is appropriate for you to go for CRM software that perfectly fits your business needs and serves you better. 

Small businesses take advantage of CRM apps differently from most enterprises, which implies that the CRM strategies applied will also differ. 

Using strategies to improve customer service functions has provided a much-needed competitive advantage to business growth. It is visible in the increase in customer retention rate.

1. Better Collaboration

Effective collaboration between respective customer service, sales, and marketing teams boosts the efficiency of all your business processes. You can achieve this with an adequate CRM strategy. 

2. Better Sales and Marketing Campaigns

Customer service teams provide an enjoyable customer experience during the customer journey process. Your CRM strategy helps position the business to create targeted marketing campaigns to help further drive customer acquisition and retention.

Marketing Campaign Management Template
Source: Smartsheet

3. Provides Better Service to Customer Needs

By keeping track of the sales funnel, pipeline, and buyer's channel, your business is better equipped to deliver a much-improved customer experience to its wide customer base using a good CRM strategy.

4. Provides Data and Insights on Future Performances

A CRM strategy uses the figures and permutations provided by the CRM system to give a detailed estimate of the future business strategies and their expected performances. 

8 Steps to Create a CRM Strategy

Creating a successful customer relationship management from scratch involves certain vital steps you must follow diligently. 

1. Define your CRM’s Vision and Goals

A successful CRM strategy begins with revisiting your high-level business goals and the overall business strategy. Create a clear and achievable vision of what you intend to achieve from the CRM process, giving the strategy a clear purpose and direction from the start.

Come up with sustainable ideas on how you can improve and contribute to the business's success. Drawing up the CRM process is not the main goal; rather, proper application of the CRM strategy to give you the desired result is what you are after. 

With this in mind, integrate the CRM strategy into the overall business strategy to drive the business goal and vision effectively. 

Examples of popular CRM strategy goals include: 

  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Reducing customer churn rates
  • Higher productivity and efficiency

Tailor your CRM strategy in the direction of these examples. 

2. Define your Target Customer with Buyer Personas or Avatar

Craft a buyer persona or avatar that perfectly describes your ideal customer. You should ensure that the customer description is detailed with all the necessary information. 

While creating the buyer persona, include certain vital pieces of information such as: 

  • Challenges
  • Aspirations
  • Behavioral characteristics
  • Demographic
  • Interests

 Here are some research methods you can apply to create an effective avatar. 

  • Send surveys to existing customers with online survey software tools
  • Interview customers directly and also do a thorough study on various customer profiles. 
  • Interview your customer service, sales, and marketing teams.

A clear and precise understanding of who (customer) is purchasing from you and why (motive) the individual will choose to purchase the product from you, not your competitor is vital. 

Understanding these significant factors will help you attract quality leads, sustain strong customer relationships and ensure customer retention is on a scale. 

With a detailed buyer persona, your organization can ensure that all its activities are geared towards meeting the true needs and customer expectations. Your organization becomes more customer-centered with its goals customer focussed.

The precise knowledge of your target audience eliminates the stress and time wasted by your marketing and sales team when you are working on unsuitable leads. 

Target Audience
Source: WordStream

3. Define Your Customer Journey

Having a clear understanding of the customer journey helps you to master customer relationship management, which ensures a great customer experience at each touchpoint throughout the journey. 

Sales reps use the customer journey map to track the movement of customers from the prospective stage down to sales closure.

The 5 Key steps - customer journey mapping
Source: NNGroup

You can understand the customer journey by mapping every customer interaction from when they learned about you to date. 

Mapping customer interactions with your organization is possible through campaigns, email marketing efforts, and direct contact with other team members.

Using these platforms to map customer interactions with your organization will help you identify areas where you need to improve and establish who is responsible for what. 

While mapping the customer journey, here are some vital questions you are to ask and generate answers to: 

  • Are the means of communication suitable, or can you employ a more effective means to pass across relevant information? 
  • What are your customer's goals, or what does your buyer intend to achieve with the product? 
  • What kind of information is your buyer coming in contact with from you and other external sources regarding the product? 
  • What best means or strategy can you apply to improve interactions and make communication more effective? 
  • What problems and challenges do your customers encounter, and how best can you provide solutions and offer better support? 
  • What process or team is in contact and interacting with the customers presently? 

4. Establish the Processes for a 360° Customer Experience

At this juncture, you should have identified specific areas where there is a need for improvement regarding customer relationships. You need to do proper auditing or specific roles and responsibilities to ascertain that all the necessary bases are covered and there are no lapses. 

Evaluate the structure of your internal processes to see if you are well equipped with adequate resources to provide a 360° customer experience.

Evaluate the structure of your internal processes
Source: Voxco

Here are some areas that often restrict the best available experience for customers.

  • Presales: How is your performance regarding gathering information, analyzing customer needs, and putting together business cases?
  • Sales Processes: Identify the sales and marketing tasks you can automate to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales reps. 
  • After Sales: You should access the feedback you receive based on the quality and efficiency of your customer service. Consider if you have the capacity and support system to solve customer problems quickly. 

All these processes all work together to provide a better and more complete customer experience. Consider the most appropriate means to offer your services better, and based on the answers you have acquired, you should make the necessary adjustments. 

5. Study the Market and Know Your Positioning

Study the market carefully and clearly understand the competitive landscape for inspiration when developing your CRM strategy. 

You need to determine your business organization's position in the market, build a unique selling proposition that distinguishes you from your competitors, and seize opportunities to widen your control span as they arise. 

Unique Selling Proposition
Source: Planium Pro

By studying the industry trends and how other successful businesses manage relationships with customers, you are better equipped for the business world. 

Here are some questions you should ask and provide answers to: 

  • What are the present trends in your industry at the moment? 
  • Where does your organization fit in the market at the time?
  • What are the presently existing opportunities you can take advantage of?
  • What can you learn from your competitors regarding customer relationships?
  • What distinguishing factors separate your competitors from others in your industry?
  • What factors make your company different from other organizations within the industry?

6. Knowing Your Product or Service

In creating a CRM strategy for your business, take quality time and resources to devise a product or service narration that spells out your value proposition. 

The value proposition is an advertising narrative of the business. Construct it to sway potential customers out of the reach of encroaching competitors.

Consider important factors like what particular benefits you want to highlight, why your customer should choose you over another organization by your customer, and what important messages you want to communicate. 

You should effectively communicate these narratives internally, and the necessary employee training should follow. Everyone should be on the same page, of the same mind, and communicate the same message. 

Your product or service narration determines your brand tome. Instill it into your sales, marketing, and customer service teams as they convey your message to prospective customers. 

7. Invest in the Right CRM Software

Investing in the right CRM solution effectively drives your CRM strategy forward.

With an accurate CRM platform, certain activities like storing customer data, monitoring all interactions between you and your customers, and collaboration between teams become feasible and effective.

CRM Software Use by Industry
Source: ScienceSoft

You can define your basic CRM software needs by carefully evaluating the present business processes, and team members can also give suggestions. 

Are you looking for free CRM software or a cheap CRM solution? Do you want a simple CRM software that requires no learning curve for your team? Do you need the best long-term CRM software systems?

Here are some vital factors you should consider when deciding on the best CRM software.

  • Capabilities 
  • User-friendliness 
  • Price 
  • Ability to integrate with your existing tools. 

After acquiring the required software, you should properly define the applied rules. Appoint an admin to manage user access and create a schedule detailing when and how your team will use the software. You should clarify a lead, opportunity, and prospect. 

Organize a pilot committee solely for training the team members on how to use the software effectively. Properly structure your contact list before importing it to ensure you start with a well-organized and up-to-date customer database. 

Top Qualities of CRM Software
Source: TrueList

8. Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Each Team

You should record and backup all strategic actions by figures and data; your CRM strategy is vitally included. Backing up all your strategic actions helps to measure progress. Set SMART goals and objectives for your team.

SMART - Goals
Source: Indeed

Key performance indicators (KPIs) help you track the progress of your CRM goals. Some vital performance metrics you need to track include customer satisfaction, profit, customer retention, customer loyalty, and customer churn.

The success of your CRM strategy largely depends on the level of collaboration and interaction between the sales, marketing, and customer service teams. These teams are the front runners (carrying out all major aspects of your CRM strategy) and have direct access to customers. 

How Frequently Should Sales Reps Be tracking-monitoring their KPIs

Different Types of CRM Strategies

You cannot use the same CRM strategy for every type of business. The type of strategy that would work for a particular business in the same industry may not be appropriate for another. CRM strategies also differ based on industries and business sizes.

CRM Strategy for Small and Medium Size Businesses

Your strategic approach to small and medium-sized businesses differs from larger ones and will produce the desired result when properly applied.

1. Get Your Employees on Board

Most business teams do not have prior knowledge or exposure to CRM software. If your employees are just being exposed to CRM software, they may not know how it works. 

After introducing the platform to your employees, you need to establish it as a fundamental organization tool. 

Expose your employees to extensive training to get them abreast with the fundamentals of the software and how to maximize the CRM features through the software to the organization's advantage. 

Assign one or more team members to take up the role of CRM expert for proper accountability. By assigning the role of CRM expert to a team member or multiple team members, they will easily resolve communication concerning issues relating to the software.

2. Establishing Cause and Effect

By letting your teams know the importance of collecting and compiling customer information, they are better motivated to carry out their tasks. These data can be cumbersome and feel like a burden, especially during sorting and compiling. 

With knowledge of the data, the project teams are better motivated to carry out these tasks as it benefits the business and its operations. 

3. Perfecting Communication Processes

Your CRM platform should span the duration of your target customer life cycle. The success of your CRM team largely depends on the methods and tone used to convey information to customers. 

Managing ongoing communication among different teams is often designated to the executive arm of the business as they are conferred with oversight functions. 

Your ongoing communications include consumer-driven email messages, marketing ads, and customer-centric content. The tone of these messages should be professional in meeting the company's standards, as the first impression does matter. 

4. Establish KPIs and Core Processes

Your CRM team needs to feel included in all the key CRM industry processes. By sharing key performance indicators with your team, they can now have a template on what to achieve and better keep track of their accomplishments. 

Distributing tasks to respective team members is important. It sets the right tone for them as they are now accountable. 

Customer service staff are tasked with writing and compiling customer service responses for the various communication networks. They need to collaborate with other teams to get the job done quicker. 

Example of customer service strategy as part of overall CRM Strategy
Source: Gartner

CRM Strategy for Large and Enterprise Businesses

Larger organizations have more robust and complex strategies as they deal with larger customer data than smaller-scaled businesses. 

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Incorporating AI into your CRM platform empowers your CRM software to undergo more complex tasks. AI can help make detailed and accurate predictions based on available data, which goes a long way in reducing the workload of teams.

Some tasks that your AI can perform include automated tracking of customer actions, sales forecasting, and managing communication systems that readily reply to customer questions. 

When creating your strategy, consider how to include A.I. in your platform for better business structure. Some of the best artificial intelligence software tools include MATLAB, New Relic, TensorFlow, InRule, and ArcGIS.

Artificial Intelligence Growth
Source: Oberlo

2. Predictive Analysis

Predictive analysis is the ability to predict the likely occurrence of your business based on patterns. It is particularly useful for repeat customers.

This strategy works hand-in-hand with A.I. technology to provide CRM systems with the ability to make calculated predictions on prospective business outcomes. 

Predictive analysis can directly affect the efficiency of your business by making changes to your business reporting process.

3. Systems and Data Integration 

Your CRM strategy should make consideration for CRM system data integration. It ensures all teams are available with the same updated customer information integrated into their CRM software and platforms. 

A proper data integration system makes your information flow between teams as the inputted data is scrutinized and arranged for use by other teams. You can manage user access to these data on a need-to-know basis. 

4. Employee Empowerment

Employee empowerment is important to every business operation. Areas regarding operations that the CRM software cannot adequately cover are left in the hands of various employees.

Use a CRM system that empowers employees to perform certain tasks and make independent decisions based on their information.

CRM platforms help employees make confident decisions that directly affect the business's operations. These platforms provide them with valuable information to ensure they are autonomous in their decisions and do not carry out tasks in the dark.

Examples of Effective CRM Strategies

After completing every groundwork required to carry out before implementing a CRM strategy, the next step is to create the strategy that properly fits your business. 

CRM implementation varies and depends on the choice of strategy to be used. Many CRM system software come with ready-to-use templates of effective strategies. You can edit these templates to align with your ideal customer base. 

1. Use of Automation

This strategy is advantageous to businesses that perform regular repetitive tasks. 

Using a CRM system helps to take some load off basic administrative business functions such as managing a sales pipeline and customer interaction. 

This, in turn, frees up valuable time for the sales, marketing, and customer service teams to focus on more demanding and time-sensitive tasks.

2. Regular Assessment of Customer Database

Regular checking and updating your ever-growing list of customers is key to avoiding the occurrence of repeat business. 

Customer data is very cumbersome and requires thorough sorting by the CRM team. It is particularly helpful for email marketing as it reduces the occurrence of PR disasters due to issuing out wrong information to customers. 

This strategy provides the organization with an estimate of its active and dormant customers based on the level of response by conducting simple customer surveys. You need customer database software to manage your customer data.

Jotform - Client Database Template
Source: Jotform

3. Use a Custom Analytics and Reporting Dashboard

CRM technology helps save time on report compilation. Using an appropriate CRM system, the presence of a CRM tool called dashboard is handy to assist in providing customer-centricity. 

A custom reporting dashboard is available on various CRM platforms to ease the process of data generation. 

By managing how the data is generated and who has access to this data, valuable time that you would spend on sorting is saved and can be used for other business processes. 

4. Creating More Personalized Communications

Building a better customer experience relates to a sense of close interaction between the business and its customers. Sending personalized communication messages and bulletin helps build a stronger connection among customers. 

The specific data and information gathered on respective customers help determine the best means of communication for various target audiences.

Launch Your CRM Strategy Today

The success of your CRM, to a large extent, depends on the strategy you are implementing. Creating a CRM strategy helps you understand how CRM implementation is linked to your overall business strategy.

When implementing a CRM system into your business plan, your CRM strategy is pivotal to ensuring the sales pipeline is always flowing for a better customer experience.

The best CRM software systems to help you craft effective strategies for your business include:

Best Overall

Pipedrive

Best CRM platform with custom CRM strategies for sales reps
Best for Small Business

Keap

Simple CRM platform for tracking sales and customer experience
Best Customer Support

Freshworks CRM

Top CRM tool for fostering business and client interactions
Best for Integrations

Zoho CRM

Affordable CRM software for maximizing sales performance
Best Complete Solution

Monday CRM

Best CRM platform with robust project management capabilities

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Martin Luenendonk

Editor at FounderJar

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.