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How to Create a CRM Strategy That Works

Build the best CRM strategy that actually works for your business in 9 steps.

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a powerful tool used in sales and marketing. The purpose of a CRM is to collect, store, organize, and analyze customer data to help you gain a better understanding of your customers and deepen your relationship with them. As a result, you can optimize your campaigns to increase the likelihood of success. However, a CRM alone won’t do this for you.

This type of software has many advantages, but you may only be able to reap the benefits with an effective CRM strategy. By creating a plan based on your business objectives, you can have a general guide for how the tool should be used in order to meet those goals.

If you’re interested in creating a strategy for your CRM, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to build one. But first, let’s dive into what a CRM strategy is in more detail.

What is a customer relationship management strategy?

A customer relationship management strategy is a plan used to help businesses make the most out of their CRM. With a solid strategy, you can connect with customers more effectively, communicate with your audience better, and create custom campaigns tailored to your audience.

Ultimately, the purpose is to develop a plan of action that you and your team can follow to generate more leads, boost conversions, increase sales, and improve customer retention.

Every business is different, so organizations will use a CRM to accomplish distinct objectives. As such, having a strategy ensures the tool is used wisely and according to your company’s goals. This can also be valuable for sales and marketing teams so they understand how to appropriately use the CRM at your business.

Once you identify your target audience, use the following details to create buyer personas:  Demographics,  Shopping habits,  Pain points, Preferred method of communication, Preferred social media platforms,  Interests

How to create an effective CRM strategy

Any business can build a CRM strategy, regardless of size, industry, or budget. However, what works for one organization may not work for another. Instead, it’s a good idea to use the following steps as a guide when creating a CRM strategy for your business. Make sure to customize your plan to fit the needs of your company.

Conduct an audit

The first step in making a strategy is to conduct an audit of your business using the SWOT analysis methodology. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, and analyzing these different elements within your organization is essential.

Using SWOT to audit your company, you can note the processes that are working well at your business, organizational inefficiencies and gaps, and so on. You’ll also be able to ensure that you and your team are prepared to tackle the implementation of a CRM.

Determine your SMART goals

While establishing goals is important, setting SMART goals is even better. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Objectives that are created with these criteria in mind are often more realistic and easier to accomplish. It’s also a good idea to align your strategy’s goals with your company’s overall vision and mission.

An example of a SMART goal would be: We’re going to use CRM software to increase our revenue by 40% by November 30.

Note that your goals will change as your business evolves and you hit more and more of your targets.

Identify your target audience

Your target audience is a key component of any CRM strategy. Knowing who your ideal consumers are can help you communicate better with them, enabling you to use the CRM for customized campaigns that meet specific needs.

The information above can be gathered via client satisfaction surveys or by directly asking customer service representatives and your sales team.

Outline the customer journey

The customer journey is the path consumers take in order to become a client at your business, starting from their first interaction with your brand and ending with an acquisition.

By understanding how consumers move through the sales pipeline, you can identify the best moments to interact with them. You can use a CRM to automate messages, connect with individuals at the right time, and move leads to the next step in the buying process. However, it’s essential to outline the journey to guide prospects from one step to another.

Mapping out the customer journey also lets you see the barriers that are preventing prospects from finalizing their purchase. For example, consumers may not receive enough information about the product or service at some point in the process, so they don’t have the necessary details to make an informed decision.

Define the ideal customer experience

What does the ideal customer experience look like? Review your existing customer experience processes and see if it aligns with your expectations. If it doesn't, it may be time to make some adjustments.

Study the competition

Your competitors can be the greatest source of inspiration. While you shouldn’t copy your competitors, you can study their sales and marketing efforts and stay one step ahead.

For example, what does their sales pipeline look like, and how can you make yours better? You can use competitive intelligence to figure out what they’re doing successfully and the type of content they’re creating to enhance the customer journey.

Understand your products and services

Ensure your employees understand the products and services you offer. Doing so makes it easier for your team to explain your products to consumers and demonstrate how they can be valuable solutions to their pain points.

Moreover, knowing your products and services can help you create your unique value proposition (UVP). A UVP is a statement that outlines how potential customers will benefit from your products or services. This statement often highlights how your offerings differ from competitors and their benefits.

Find the right CRM and tools

Not all CRM software is created equal. While some have advanced capabilities, others are designed with only a handful of features.

Ultimately, the right CRM for your business will greatly depend on the following:

  • Budget
  • Business size
  • Industry
  • Marketing channels
  • Goals
  • Integrations
  • Customer support

It’s also best practice to think about who will use the system. If the CRM software will be used by different teams, consider their organizational needs and pick a system that accommodates both departments.

Additionally, consider whether you want a cloud-based or on-premise CRM tool. As the name suggests, cloud-based software stores your data on the cloud, making it accessible off-site. In contrast, on-premise solutions are only accessible within a company’s premises.

Evaluate the success of your strategy

Once your CRM and CRM strategy is implemented at your organization, make sure to regularly evaluate the success of your plan. You can use key performance indicators (KPIs)–which are quantifiable metrics used to measure progress and the effectiveness of strategies and goals–for this purpose.

By keeping a close eye on your KPIs, you can optimize your strategy to ensure it meets your business objectives.

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Valuable KPIs to monitor to improve your CRM strategy:  Monthly number of conversions,  Average time to resolution, Customer acquisition cost (CAC), Sales cycle duration, Customer lifetime value (CLV), Average follow-ups, Upsell rate Churn rate

Why are CRM strategies important for businesses?

In order to understand why CRM strategies are important for businesses, you must first have a good grasp of what a CRM is, plus its benefits and limitations.

As mentioned, a CRM is a tool that empowers your team to build better relationships with potential customers and existing clients. Nurturing and deepening your connection with consumers allows you to establish trust, boost loyalty, grow sales, and more.

Since all customer data is in a centralized location, you can manage, organize, and analyze it in one place. As a result, you have insight into who you’re marketing, selling, and talking to, enabling you to build campaigns that resonate with your target audience.

CRM software has many features that can strengthen your marketing, sales, and customer service efforts. For example, you can automate marketing emails to specific customer segments based on where they are in the customer journey. It can also help you keep track of your sales pipeline, increase productivity, and more.

While the CRM system can automatically collect customer data, it’s up to you to decide how the information should be used. That’s where your CRM strategy comes in.

A CRM is only as effective as the strategy you create for your small business, and by planning, you can use the CRM system to its full potential. Having a plan of action also ensures that you and your team are on the same page regarding the expectations of the CRM.

Advantages of a CRM strategy

There are many advantages to creating and following a CRM strategy, including:

  • Facilitate communication with customers
  • Segment your audience
  • Make informed business decisions
  • Build better marketing campaigns
  • Improve your sales pipeline
  • Ensure consistency
  • Focus on the best leads
  • Let’s go over the points in more detail below.

Facilitate communication with customers

A CRM can help you facilitate communication with customers, enabling you to have better conversations informed by the data you collect. With a solid strategy, you can ensure your team uses the CRM to identify opportunities to connect with prospects and deliver messages at the best possible moment. This can help with retention and lead generation.

Segment your audience

You’ll define your target customers and create buyer personas as you make your strategy. As a result, you’ll be able to segment your audience based on the characteristics they share. You may divide your contacts based on their demographics, location, or purchasing behavior. For example, you can group contacts into 2 categories: those who have bought your products and those who haven’t.

Make informed business decisions

The analytics computed by your CRM can provide insight into the health of your marketing and sales funnels. While analytics can help you make informed business decisions, it’s only valuable when you know how to use it. Fortunately, your strategy can guide you in the right direction, empowering you to leverage the available data and use it to meet your objectives and improve KPIs.

Build better marketing campaigns

With an idea of who your audience is and what the customer journey entails, you can create more effective marketing campaigns. For instance, you can build a drip campaign to remain top of mind and ensure customers continue to engage with your brand instead of becoming uninterested.

Improve your sales pipeline

The sales pipeline often follows the buyer journey closely.

As you map out the path prospective buyers take when purchasing products at your business, you can identify engagement opportunities in the sales pipeline. This enables you to pre-write and automates your messages so that they’re received at the right time.

Ensure consistency

It’s vital to ensure consistency when reaching out to your customers. After all, you wouldn’t want an email to have a different voice than another. Defining the ideal customer journey with your team makes it easier to establish uniformity and allows you to create pre-written templates and brand guidelines that match your business.

Focus on the best leads

You can encourage your sales team to focus on leads that are extremely interested in your products and have a high likelihood of converting. This allows them to communicate with potential clients rather than wasting time trying to convince individuals who aren’t interested in your brand. Instead of cold emailing prospects, they can even automate messages and divert their attention to conversations with responsive leads.

Despite the benefits, there are a few things to consider when implementing a CRM strategy, such as:

  • Poor leadership can throw your plan off track.
  • Without the proper training, your team won’t know how to use the CRM properly. Keep in mind that training requires many of your company’s resources.
  • Employees may heavily rely on the CRM and automate messages that sound robotic, thus eliminating the human element in their communication.
  • A CRM isn’t the best tool for every business, specifically those with highly regulated, complex processes.
  • Your strategy should include a budget that accounts for the cost of the CRM system, implementation, and onboarding.
  • Your strategy also won’t shorten your sales process. However, it can help you move prospects from one step in the funnel to another more quickly.
How does CRM software work? CRMs work by storing the following:  Name,  Email,  Occupation,  Location, Social media usernames,  Mailing addresses, Previous interactions with your business, Purchasing history, Campaign responses

Tools to enhance your CRM strategy

There are many tools you can use to improve your strategy. Here a few of the most used tools:

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is a popular component of many CRM systems. This feature can take on the role of a virtual assistant, helping you stay on top of meetings, notes, and follow-ups. It can also automatically segment your contacts based on demographics, buying history, and interests.

Additionally, AI tools can provide recommendations by analyzing the data CRMs collect. By using AI to your advantage, you can improve efficiency, boost productivity, and make better decisions resulting in more sales.


Automation is one of the top tools for CRM systems. Automation allows you to use technology to minimize or eliminate manual, time-intensive processes.

As a result, you can reduce time spent on administrative activities, such as inputting customer data, generating reports, updating client profiles with recent interactions, and so on. Since employees will spend less time on these types of tasks, they can redirect their attention to other important matters, like lead nurturing and relationship management.

Reporting and analytics

CRM systems often have reporting and analytics capabilities, so you and your team will always have access to accurate and relevant information.

These reports are typically presented in a digestible format, making them easy to interpret. This enables you to make informed decisions based on the data provided. Plus, CRMs can forecast and create predictions with the data the CRM system gathers.

Always strive to improve customer retention

A customer relationship management system can help your business strategy in various ways, from reducing manual data entry to improving your sales pipeline. Several components and CRM tools can maximize your efforts, increasing the likelihood of successful conversions.

However, there are many things that a CRM can’t do for your company. For example, it can’t identify the best touchpoints for you or provide you with the right vocabulary to communicate with clients effectively.

The key is to create a game plan for how the CRM will be used at your business. With a strategy in place, you can use the CRM in a way that aligns with your goals and equip employees with the knowledge necessary to improve customer interactions.

Once you develop your strategy, Mailchimp’s CRM software can help your business drive results. Our CRM will consolidate your data in one place, ensuring you have a holistic view of your audience.

Plus, you can organize your contacts however you want, use our audience dashboard to better understand your contacts, and stay connected with our mobile app. You can also personalize the customer journey with tailored campaigns.

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