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How to build a CRM strategy that boosts revenue (with real-world examples)

CRM Strategy
What is a CRM strategy and why do I need one? (a simple CRM strategy definition)
How to build an effective CRM strategy in 6 simple steps
Real-world CRM strategy examples for inspiration
Final thoughts

A solid customer relationship management (CRM) strategy is essential for optimizing sales and marketing performance. Employ the right tactics to complement your tools and talent and you’ll have no trouble outperforming your competitors.

In this article, we’ll explain what a CRM strategy is and how to build one for revenue growth. With step-by-step instructions and some real-world examples of successful CRM strategies, you’ll be ready to maximize the value of every buyer interaction.

What is a CRM strategy and why do I need one? (a simple CRM strategy definition)

A CRM strategy is a company-wide plan for maximizing the value of customer relationships, with the aim of reducing costs and increasing profit. It’s one of three factors that contribute to successful customer relationship management:

  • Tools. The technologies you use to organize customer data, track internal performance and manage relationships. Pipedrive is a prime example of sales CRM software.

  • Talent. The people within your business who manage and use those tools to manage data and make revenue-generating decisions. They’re typically involved in sales, marketing and customer satisfaction (or customer service).

  • Strategy. How you apply your tools and talent to get results and, more importantly, how the execution of that strategy separates you from your competition.

A solid CRM strategy includes many actions, from organizing customer data and aligning sales and marketing teams to planning content and tracking its performance. By completing these types of sales activities in a thoughtful, insight-driven way, you can:

  • Provide meaningful customer experiences at every stage of the buyer journey

  • Target your marketing campaigns more effectively for a better return on investment (ROI)

  • Easily identify the most valuable sales leads so reps can act quickly and use their time efficiently

  • Avoid repeating sales and marketing mistakes

Rather than copying a strategy from another company, you should build yours from the ground up and tailor it to your audience’s needs and business goals. It can be helpful to look elsewhere for inspiration, however, and you’ll find two real-world examples at the end of this guide.

Why you should refine your CRM strategy over time

Unlike a marketing project or sales task, strategizing never ends. Even when you’re confident in the plan you’ve built, refine it as you learn from every success and failure.

A dynamic CRM strategy will empower you to:

  1. Adapt to changing audience behaviors. Your audience is constantly evolving. Be open to changing how you interact with customers to ensure you keep meeting their needs. For example, a CRM strategy that relies heavily on SMS communication could have kept contacts engaged 15 years ago but now most audiences prefer other channels, such as WhatsApp.

  2. Uncover new opportunities. As you adapt your CRM strategy to fit existing customers’ needs, you’ll open your business up to new audiences too. Say you notice Twitter engagement dropping as the platform evolves. In building marketing strategies for alternative social media channels, you could also target new markets to expand your customer base.

  3. Optimize sales and marketing efficiency. Data should inform all your sales and marketing activities. The more organized that data is, the faster your reps and marketers can act and the better their decision-making will be. For example, if you use automation to populate your CRM system with high-value lead data, salespeople don’t need to spend hours identifying potential customers or choosing which prospects to contact.

How to build an effective CRM strategy in 6 simple steps

There are many actions required to plan a strong CRM strategy. Not knowing which to do first and how to prioritize the rest is enough to stop some business owners from trying.

To help you over those first obstacles, we’ve broken the strategy-building process into six easy-to-follow steps:

1. Review your performance objectives for guidance

To be worthwhile, your CRM strategy must contribute to high-level business objectives.

Start by considering what your company’s trying to achieve (it’s unlikely to just be as simple as “selling more products”) and how customer relationships tie to that. You can then plan specific actions that contribute to the desired outcome.

Say a software company aims to cut marketing costs. Better targeting would ensure they reach the right people (i.e. those likely to get long-term value from the product) and thoughtful aftercare would help keep new customers satisfied and engaged. Both tactics would contribute to the wider objective by reducing churn rates.

Have the performance objectives to hand when you’re strategizing so you can ensure every decision adds value to the business.

2. Audit your contact data (and make a plan to organize it)

Even if you aren’t using it yet, it’s highly likely you can already access some useful information on your leads, customers and staff.

You may be collecting data from the following sources as part of your standard business processes without realizing it can help your CRM strategy:

When you know where your contact data is and comes from, you can:

Organize it. Make the data easily accessible to people who can use it to make better decisions. For example, if your website consistently generates valuable leads, you could start funneling their contact information into your CRM tool so that all sales reps have a ready-made prospecting list. You can do this automatically with Pipedrive’s LeadBooster and Leads Inbox features.

Prioritize it. Highlight the types of data most valuable to your business and stop collecting the stuff you don’t need. For example, if email marketing works well for you, focus on email addresses and anything that’ll help you segment your audience for more personalized interactions, such as demographic data and website activity.

Enrich it. Fill customer data gaps for a clear and detailed view of your audience. For example, you might already have a lead’s name and email address in your CRM. By pulling information from LinkedIn, you could add their employer, job titles and location. The clearer the picture, the easier it’ll be to personalize sales and marketing interactions.

Collect more. Once you have a plan for your data and a process for organizing it, you can start collecting with purpose. Incorporate more sources to populate your CRM technology with data that’ll help you reach the right people with the right messages.

3. Refine your buyer personas and ideal customer profiles

Use your rejuvenated relationship with data to revisit your buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs). These two terms mean different things but are both important to your CRM strategy.

An ICP defines the perfect customer for your business on an organizational level, based on factors like budget, revenue, company size, location and any product or service limitations.

For example, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm might target US marketing agencies with revenue above $10 million, annual sales software budgets of $20,000–$40,000 and more than 40 employees.

A buyer persona focuses more on describing the characteristics of an individual sales prospect: like their demographics, pain points, location, values and goals.

Our SaaS company’s buyer persona could be a marketing manager whose goal is to reduce spending for their company and whose biggest pain point is having inconsistent customer data stored in multiple locations.

Both ICPs and buyer personas help you and your team understand exactly who you should be talking to at the various marketing and sales touchpoints, and how best to engage them.

4. Map your sales pipeline

A sales pipeline is an organized, visual representation of your sales process, usually in the form of a horizontal bar. It allows you and your team to keep track of potential buyers as they progress through different stages of the customer journey.

As well as adding a layer of accountability for reps, the pipeline enables sales leaders to collate and analyze data on how well their sales process is working so they can optimize it.

Say the sales pipeline shows that deals often go cold during negotiation, the sales manager or business owner could:

  • Reassess product prices

  • Change how leads are distributed to sales reps

  • Implement negotiation training for the team

A visual sales pipeline will help you to accurately measure the impact of any changes in your CRM strategy. For example, if buyers start moving more quickly toward conversion, it could be that your new marketing efforts are generating higher-value leads.

It’s possible to map your sales pipeline in a spreadsheet (and that’s quicker with a sales pipeline template) but you’ll get much more value from pipeline management software.

5. Plan your performance-tracking tactics

To gauge your CRM strategy’s effectiveness, you must measure it against any objectives you set while planning. To do that, you’ll need access to the right metrics.

Identify your key performance indicators (KPIs) early so you can capture all the right data from day one.

If the primary aim of your CRM strategy is to reduce marketing costs by increasing brand advocacy, it’d be most helpful to track customer acquisition cost (CAC), churn rates and customer satisfaction levels. Build a plan for how you’ll record and monitor these metrics, or any others that matter to your business.

All the best CRM applications have helpful sales reporting and dashboard features to save you from processing this kind of data manually.

6. Find opportunities to automate CRM workflows

Workflow automation saves time and boosts efficiency. There are many aspects of CRM that you can automate with the right tools and data, including:

  • Email marketing. Use marketing automation features to trigger sending personalized emails to leads, prospects and customers.

  • Lead generation. Fill your CRM system with valuable customer information by automatically pulling data from web forms, chatbots, social media profiles and more.

  • Lead scoring and qualification. Enrich CRM data with context from across the web to speed up the lead-scoring process, so salespeople always know who to target.

  • Analytics. Generate accessible, shareable reports for the whole team to see how well your strategy is working and identify improvement opportunities.

The more you automate, the more cost-effective your customer relationship management strategy will be. Boost your efficiency by implementing the necessary technologies early on.

Real-world CRM strategy examples for inspiration

An effective CRM strategy fits your unique business needs and helps you build unbreakable relationships with your target customers.

However, looking at what other customer-centric businesses do to succeed is a great way to gather ideas when you’re planning your approach. With that in mind, here are a couple of real examples of effective CRM strategies:

Let’s Do It World turns its vast audience into a fully engaged community

Let’s Do It World (LDIW) organizes and promotes environmental clean-up events and has a huge, global audience to keep engaged. People from 191 countries and territories participated in the organization’s initiatives in 2021 and 60 million people have taken part since 2018.

The success of its biggest event, World Cleanup Day, relies heavily on the efforts of partners and leaders across the world. To ensure these people always feel connected to the event, LDIW collects data using a happiness index.

This involves asking leaders three questions:

  1. Please rate how impactful and meaningful the work you are doing as a leader is

  2. How strongly do you feel that you belong to the LDIW movement and network?

  3. How much deserved recognition do you receive for your work (from your community, colleagues, media, government, other leaders etc.)?

All respondents answer by scoring each question out of 10, giving LDIW a reliable view of engagement levels across the world. The group can promote its engaged community as a way to get more people involved and also spot when engagement levels drop, so it can take action.

Accentuate keeps its team informed by centralizing contact data

Centralizing data is a key part of Accentuate’s CRM strategy.

The web design and marketing firm started out using spreadsheets to manage lead and customer information, but this meant team members could never get a full or clear picture of their target audiences.

Now it uses CRM technology as a central hub of customer knowledge and, since making the switch, has increased annual revenue ten times over.

Storing standardized data in one place ensures the whole team is always informed, so members can make decisions that contribute to stronger customer relationships.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re running a small business or a multinational corporation, a carefully-planned CRM strategy will help you maintain customer loyalty and keep customer retention rates high.

As you collect more of the right data to learn about your audience, you’ll find you can also streamline many of your sales and marketing processes.

Align CRM objectives and tactics with your wider business strategy to ensure all teams pull toward the same overarching goal of improving your bottom line.

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