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Best practice CRM: How to maximize your CRM investment

Best Practice CRM
1Choose the right CRM
2Take time to build a robust CRM strategy
3Integrate your CRM with other sales and marketing tools
4Map your sales pipeline
5Automate repetitive processes
6Bulk edit your contact data (when appropriate)
7Use your provider’s educational materials
8Keep refining your CRM strategy
The best practices in CRM: Key takeaways
Final thoughts

A customer relationship management (CRM) tool can transform your company’s productivity and sales performance. In order for that to happen, you must choose the right software and know how to use it – otherwise, you risk wasting your investment.

In this article, we’ll list some common best practices for CRM adoption and use so you can make better sales decisions and grow your business faster.

1. Choose the right CRM

A CRM system helps you meet your business needs and supports your company’s growth. You can simplify processes, provide clear direction to staff and focus on the work that matters most.

Before you compare tools, consider your sales goals and pain points. You’ll then know which features to prioritize.

For example, selecting a CRM that can automate repetitive processes will boost productivity for your sales team, allowing them to focus on revenue-generating activity.

Other characteristics to look out for include:

  • Ease of use. Intuitive software causes little to no disruption during implementation. A CRM that’s easy to use helps team members work more efficiently with minimal CRM training, while onboarding new staff is a breeze.

  • Customization. The ability to add custom fields, turn features on and off and set up bespoke dashboards will help you tailor a CRM to your sales and marketing teams’ needs.

  • User reviews. Third-party coverage helps you separate fact from fiction in the providers’ promotional content. Locate feedback on specific aspects of the tool, such as ease of use, business value, support and functionality. Check out tech review sites like Forbes, Software Advice and GetApp for honest assessments.

  • Integrations. Connecting your CRM to other sales and marketing tech allows you to achieve a high degree of automation. Look for integrations with data management tools, video calling apps and email marketing software.

  • Portability. Mobile CRM apps help salespeople and marketers to stay productive on the go. Look out for Android and iOS support and a web app that works on multiple browsers.

Once you’ve covered all your priorities, check the software’s price. Look for multiple pricing tiers that will enable you to scale up or down as your business evolves.

Once you have a good understanding of the specific characteristics your team is looking for, it’s time to bring it all together by selecting a CRM for overall performance.

For example, Second Bind was using Microsoft Excel to store and organize contact data but realized it needed specialized software to scale and improve its efficiency. Since settling on Pipedrive as its new CRM, the e-commerce company has boosted revenue by 80%.

On choosing the right CRM, the company’s CEO Ershad Anari said:

“We’ve had growth in our company of 20% and increased our leads by over 100% since using Pipedrive, while the sales process is now 40% quicker.”

2. Take time to build a robust CRM strategy

Your CRM strategy is your plan for how you’ll apply your CRM system and associated talent to get results: A great strategy will separate you from your competition; a poorly planned one will cause you to miss out on valuable sales and relationship-building opportunities.

An effective CRM strategy maximizes the value of every buyer interaction. Get yours right and you’ll have little trouble filling your sales pipeline, converting leads and fostering customer loyalty.

Building and implementing a CRM strategy involves various actions and initiatives, including:

  • Organizing customer data

  • Aligning sales and marketing efforts

  • Planning content and tracking its performance

  • Learning from successes and failures

Align these factors with your company and team’s performance objectives for the best results.

For instance, if you want to reduce marketing costs, you might focus on collecting more customer information so you can target your marketing content more precisely.

This should help you generate higher-value leads (i.e., those most likely to convert and become loyal customers) and reduce your customer acquisition costs (CAC).

For example, 360 Payments focused on keeping teams aligned in its CRM strategy. With help from Pipedrive’s activity calendar, it was able to build lasting relationships with buyers and increased net income by 298%.

3. Integrate your CRM with other sales and marketing tools

Integrations connect your CRM with the other technologies in your sales and marketing toolkit.

By connecting various apps to your CRM and each other, you can…

  • Streamline workflows. Having data flow across various tools saves users from doing it manually, freeing time for more pressing or demanding tasks.

  • Keep data consistent. Automated workflows ensure contact information is accurate wherever you view it. Data consistency enables salespeople to make informed decisions when interacting with buyers.

  • Add functionality. Adding new capabilities allows you to tailor your CRM to your company’s unique needs (now and as your organization evolves).

For example, a powerful Slack integration offers all these benefits and more. Add it to your CRM to get automatic notifications when deals are added, won or lost.

Integrating Slack with your CRM means users won’t need to switch apps to stay on top of tasks and updates. You can act quickly on every deal movement and build prospect and customer relationships faster, which will shorten your sales cycle.

Pipedrive also integrates with apps like:

Check out our ever-growing Marketplace for your favorite apps.

By integrating Pipedrive and ActiveDEMAND, CRM consultancy firm Flowbird increased its business by 23%.

4. Map your sales pipeline

A sales pipeline is an organized, visual way of tracking potential and actual customers as they move through the various stages of their customer journeys.

Every company’s pipeline is unique. Mapping yours in the pipeline view of a compatible CRM enables you to see which parts of your sales process work and which need attention.

For example, if marketing generates plenty of interest but the sales team still isn’t hitting its targets, you might check your sales pipeline to see where leads go cold. If most drop out at the bottom of the funnel, you could:

  • Coach reps on how to close deals

  • Sign the team up for a negotiation course

  • Create case study content to reassure hesitant buyers

In Pipedrive, the sales pipeline view looks like this:

Pipedrive Sales Pipeline View

Lots of CRM tools come with pipeline views. However, you’ll need the ability to customize pipeline stages to recreate your business process accurately. Otherwise, you won’t see which of your sales tactics are working and which can be improved.

Specialist health insurance provider Leni, Leon & die Luchse used Pipedrive’s customizable pipeline view to gain full visibility of its ongoing deals.

A customer rings up, we can immediately check this customer’s profile and answer any questions they might have. We have a full overview of how big our pipeline is, what deals are coming in over the next month. For the first month, we were using Pipedrive without any integrations. Already, it was a significant improvement and a great tool that helped us to keep up to date with everything.

5. Automate repetitive processes

Automating repetitive tasks saves your business time, increases profitability and reduces the risk of human error.

A CRM with easy-to-use workflow automation features can streamline processes in areas like:

  • Lead generation and management

  • Data entry

  • Follow-up communication

  • Human resource (HR) management

  • Email marketing

  • Accounting

Streamlining these tasks has been shown to improve overall sales performance. As our State of Sales and Marketing report revealed, sales reps who automate tasks are 16 percentage points more likely to hit their targets.

With so much automation potential, knowing where to start can be tricky. Here’s a simple example of what’s possible:

Pain point: Your sales team spends around 40% of their time prospecting

Approach: By setting up Pipedrive’s Chatbot feature (part of the LeadBooster add-on), you enable prospects to identify and qualify themselves

Benefit: That shortens your reps’ to-do lists, giving them more time to spend with leads further in their customer journeys (i.e., those who demand more personalized interactions)

Result: They build relationships faster, close more deals and hit their quotas regularly

Pipedrive’s automation features helped Key Search make its workflow 40% faster. The specialist recruitment firm implemented more than 100 automations and has grown its business by 20% since choosing Pipedrive for its CRM implementation.

Key Search Automation

6. Bulk edit your contact data (when appropriate)

By editing multiple data fields at the same time, you’ll have free time to spend on more demanding tasks.

The ability to do this is one thing spreadsheets and some CRM solutions have in common. Yet it’s easy to forget it's possible and then miss out on the productivity-boosting benefits.

You might want to bulk edit data when…

  • A sales representative leaves and you want to reassign their tasks

  • You’ve made a typo that affects multiple records

  • The CRM data you’ve imported from another tool doesn’t copy accurately

Typically, all you’ll need to do is head to your CRM software’s “list” view.

Bulk Editing in Pipedrive

Simply sort, filter or segment your data, select all the appropriate entries and hit “edit”.

7. Use your provider’s educational materials

The more you know about your CRM platform, the more you’ll get from it. Often the fastest way to learn is by diving into your vendor’s training and customer support content.

The best tools come with user-friendly education hubs. Pipedrive Learn contains video tutorials, webinars, tips lists and online courses to help you master Pipedrive, CRM, sales and marketing.

Pipedrive Learn

See what your CRM offers and shortlist some sections based on your skills gaps. For example, you might prioritize a CRM analytics tutorial if you’re a whizz with marketing automation but want to make more data-driven decisions.

Another effective way to learn the ins and outs of a new CRM is to join your tool’s online community. There you can collect ideas from other users, ask questions and contribute with your own tips.

8. Keep refining your CRM strategy

Revisit your CRM strategy regularly to ensure it evolves with your business and target audience. It’ll help you provide better customer experiences to boost customer retention.

For example, you might have relied on SMS to deliver customer product and transaction updates but online messaging apps have since become more popular with your audience. With the right CRM, you can provide your customers with updates through WhatsApp instead.

Also, learn from the successes and failures of your sales and marketing campaigns.

You’ll need to track the right metrics to understand what works and what doesn’t. This will help you identify your most successful sales activities and channels that you can double down on and improve.

Say you ask your sales team to make more cold calls. As the “calls made” metric rises in your CRM, the number of deals in your pipeline also grows. That shows your new lead-generation tactic is effective. Knowing that your target audience responds well to phone calls will help you optimize other customer interactions.

The best practices in CRM: Key takeaways

If you’re short on time, here is a simplified list of common CRM best practices:

  • Start by choosing the right CRM system
  • Build a robust CRM strategy (and keep refining it)
  • Integrate your CRM with other sales and marketing tools
  • Map your sales pipeline to track buyers’ journeys
  • Automate repetitive processes
  • Bulk edit your contact data to save time
  • Learn from your provider’s educational materials

Final thoughts

CRM best practices can help you maximize your software investment and overtake your competition.

Of all the advice in our list, the main takeaway is to choose an intuitive sales CRM that fits your company’s needs. The best tools make it easy for you to save time, make data-driven decisions and wow customers into becoming loyal advocates.

Driving business growth