In 2017, Gartner found that CRMs had overtaken database management systems as the largest software market. This means that there is an increasing adoption of CRM systems among businesses.
There are many businesses that implement CRM solutions with the belief that they will magically solve all of their problems.
But adoption does not necessarily guarantee success. It’s not even just about investing in the right software; your CRM efforts could still fail for a number of reasons.
According to joint research by Forrester and CustomerThink, 33% of survey respondents struggled with creating a CRM strategy. They lacked clearly defined objectives and organizational readiness.
Their solution governance practices were also insufficient, which resulted in ineffective CRM implementation.
The survey respondents also faced several other challenges in terms of their process and technology, as well as people issues.
In this post, I’ll provide you with tips to create an effective CRM strategy that will not only help you avoid all of these challenges but also maximize conversions.
How Create a CRM Strategy
Start with a Vision
A successful CRM program should start with a clear vision. The main purpose of your CRM should be to achieve your organizational goals. So, identify those goals by asking yourself:
- Why do I want to implement a CRM program?
- What do I wish to get back from the program?
This exercise will help you define your top-level goal (for example, maximizing conversions). But then you need to drill down one level further:
- To what extent do I want my conversions to increase?
- By when do I want to achieve this goal?
For instance, your goal could be to see a 5% increase in conversions within six months of CRM implementation.
You can then break this goal into smaller, more achievable objectives with a clear timeline. For example:
Maybe you can aim for 1% conversion growth within the first month of your CRM program. Make sure this map is flexible so you can make changes along the way as needed.
Based on your goal, you can also identify the relevant metrics to measure your efforts. Since your goal is to maximize conversions, for instance, you can consider metrics such as website traffic, leads generated, leads converted, etc.
Analyze Your Existing Data
You’ve probably collected plenty of customer data already. And you will need to use it when developing your CRM strategy.
To get a better understanding of where and how your customers are interacting with your business, analyze whatever data you have to map customer journeys.
Check out this example of a detailed customer journey map from RealtimeBoard to get a better idea.
Maps like these will give you a fair idea of what your problem areas are, and help you to identify the opportunities for improvement.
Look for gaps in your customer touchpoints, such as where you’ve failed to communicate with customers or are communicating in an inefficient manner.
Segment these customer journeys so you can identify what different customer groups go through.
You’ll also be able to identify the differences in their journeys and look for ways to prioritize on the post profitable customer groups (such as repeat customers, and customers who make large purchases).
Come Up with a Data Strategy
Now that you’ve discovered the aspects that need modification, you will need to come up with a more effective data plan to support your efforts. Ask yourself:
- What data do I already have?
- What data will I need?
- What segmentations will I need to implement?
Consider whether or not you will make use of predictive marketing techniques. And if you are, what models will you follow to ensure that you communicate with certain types of customers at the right time and provide them with the right offer?
This will ensure that you have an easier time converting your customers, since they are receiving offers that are most relevant to them.
Have a Strong Plan for Communication and Experience Delivery
Once you’re done building a data strategy, you can start with the creative process by developing a plan to communicate with your customers.
The ultimate purpose of your CRM program is to enhance your customer experience so that they feel more inclined to take action.
Your responsiveness in customer communication plays a major role in customer experience.
So your plan should be aimed at increasing effectiveness and responsiveness. Ensure that your customers can quickly and easily get support for any issue they experience.
You could have a plan to provide 24/7 support through social media channels.
You could have a plan to implement live chat on your website so that customers can quickly get answers to their queries. This improved communication channel could work wonders in enhancing customer experience and in turn driving conversions.
Companies like PureVPN have been able to increase their sales by 20% and reach a customer satisfaction rate of 94% after adding live chat functionality to their site.
They’ve segmented the process by enabling visitors to choose whether they need pre-sales support or customer support.
Develop Your Content and Channel Strategy
You have a data strategy and you have a communication and customer experience delivery strategy.
Now you need to start developing a strategy to match your content with your audiences, customer segments, and channels. This is to ensure that you can maintain relevant communication with your target audience, which is crucial to drive conversions.
You already have a clear idea of who your audience is and what they want.
You also know your most valuable customers and the customers who are most likely to convert.
Now you need to develop a content and channel strategy that will ensure that you deliver the right content to them and increase their likelihood to convert.
Think about the messages you want to relay to different customers, and where you can deliver those messages. Will you deliver the message on social media or will you reach out to customers via email?
Maybe you could experiment and see which channels work best with your target audience.
Educate Employees for Organizational Readiness
One of the biggest challenges faced by companies, according to the Forrester study cited earlier, is organizational readiness.
What many organizations fail to do is align their employees with their new CRM strategy, which has an impact on the effectiveness of the strategy. In fact, this is where a lot of CRM programs fail.
Even if you have an extremely promising strategy in place, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t have employee understanding.
Your employees need to be invested in the strategy and understand it properly so they can carry out their individual responsibilities for the success of the strategy.
The front line team (for example, Sales, Marketing and/or Customer Success) is particularly important for the success of your CRM program. They are the ones who are responsible for taking the right approach and relaying the right messages to your customers.
It’s crucial that you clearly communicate the new strategy throughout the organization. For this, you will need to prepare the leadership team to carry out the communications.
Make sure that they thoroughly go through every aspect of the strategy with their team members so that everyone is in the same boat.
Invest in the Right Technology
The reason why a lot of CRM programs fail is because they start by investing in technology. And since they don’t have a proper strategy in place, the money they invest in CRM technology is wasted.
Now you know that you should only start with this step after establishing your goals and developing proper strategies for different aspects of your business.
Before investing in CRM software, you should consider how it will integrate with your ecommerce platform. Conduct thorough research to find out what other merchants and your competitors are using.
If you have an eye on a certain CRM technology, do your research and find out who is using it and how they feel about it.
You can look for reviews and forums to get a better idea of what the integration is like. And if you have any particular questions about the CRM solution, check to see if those forums and reviews can provide a helpful answer.
There are a lot of technologies available in the market, making it a lot more difficult to decide on which to use.
The Best CRM Tools
Here are some of the best CRM solutions to consider:
If you’re running a small business with a growing sales team, Salesmate is the ideal CRM for you. From the platform, you can keep track of the sales goals of individual team members and the activities they’re engaging in.
You can automate the process of data collection to easily update customer profiles with valuable information.
The solution is loaded with other useful features such as deal management, contact management, sales automation, and more. There are plenty of integrations available including Shopify, Squarespace, WordPress, AWeber, MailChimp, Zapier, etc.
Salesmate CRM also comes with a built-in phone system that efficiently handles calls, messages, and voicemails for your business.
You can get yourself business phone numbers for your remote sales representatives, record calls, and monitor their performance with detailed reports.
You can get a free trail of Salesmate for 15 days. After that, you can get it for $12 per user per month when billed annually. Otherwise, you pay $15 per user per month. This makes it one of the most affordable yet highly comprehensive CRM solutions available in the market.
2. HubSpot CRM
HubSpot also offers a free CRM, which is great for teams that are on a limited budget.
The platform lets you manage your pipeline by giving you a real-time view of your entire sales funnel using a single dashboard. From here, you can automatically track customer interactions and easily view important details about specific leads.
This tool makes it much easier for you to maintain your customer communications, because you can place calls directly and record conversations as needed.
You can send personalized email sequences and get real-time notifications about email clicks and opens. So you can quickly follow up on your leads while they are still warm.
With free access to all CRM features, HubSpot is a good fit for small to medium-sized businesses.
You also get access to free versions of certain premium tools to help you grow your business. However, other useful upgraded features can cost you when your business grows.
Pipedrive is another good option that can suit the needs of both small businesses and large organizations.
You can use the integration to keep track of all your deals from a clear, easy-to-understand user interface. You can also connect it with your email marketing software to easily manage your sales communication.
Pipedrive gives you detailed sales reports so you can quickly identify areas of improvement and avoid losing deals. It also lets you conduct sales forecasting so you can know which deals are most likely to close.
The most basic features of Pipedrive such as a calendar, contact timeline, chat and email support, etc. are available for $12.50 per user per month, when billed annually. There are more pricing plans available based on the features you wish to gain access to.
Invest in Employee Training
In the previously-cited Forrester study, 38% of respondents were experiencing challenges because of people issues — such as slow user adoption and inadequate attention paid to training.
To avoid experiencing this challenge, you need to ensure that your employees go through thorough training. This will involve training on the new CRM strategy and on the new system you’ve invested in.
Whatever time and money goes into your CRM training will be worth it.
You will be able to ensure that each team member has a clear understanding of what they need to do, and how they can do it. They will have no trouble utilizing the software to fulfill their unique responsibilities and handle customer issues efficiently.
An investment in group training and one-on-one sessions will help maintain a smooth transition from the old system to the new one.
Your technical team should also be ready to provide continued support in case team members experience any problems.
What Comes Next?
After you’ve successfully completed each step, you have your CRM strategy up and running. But that’s not the end of the process.
You need to closely monitor the new strategy to see just how well it is performing based on the metrics you had outlined earlier.
In other words, you should never stop refining your strategy for continued growth.
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