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How to build a CRM strategy in 7 steps

Create a CRM strategy to improve customer relationships and help your business thrive in seven simple steps.

It’s not just about making the first sale or rating the initial connection with a customer. To keep customers coming back, businesses large and small need to support their customer relationships actively and continuously. Whether or not your business has a customer relationship management (CRM) solution in place, you need a CRM strategy.

What is a CRM strategy?

A CRM strategy is a company-wide game plan that’ll help guide how your business improves customer relationships and, in return, reduces costs and grows revenue. This means a CRM strategy can help manage both internal and external contacts from one centralized platform to accomplish specific goals. A CRM strategy can cover key stakeholders, success metrics, timeframe, financial considerations, staff training and onboarding, and how the project supports the overall goals of the business. There is no set amount to how many CRM strategies a business needs. Many businesses combine various plans and actions to create a CRM strategy that ensures they’ll achieve all their organizational goals.

Usually, a CRM strategy is used in conjunction with CRM software for marketing campaigns, customer service interactions, and sales strategies. While you don’t necessarily need a software solution in place to create a CRM strategy, it’s helpful in managing touchpoints, storing contact information, predicting potential future sales, guiding customer communications, and tracing a customer’s lifecycle. As the sole source of truth for your customer data, a CRM solution can help reduce errors, gaps in customer service, and erroneous sales. And by using that data to guide your CRM strategy, you’ll be able to manage the entire customer journey, create a more personalized sales strategy, and deliver better customer service.

Why your business needs a CRM strategy

Implementing a CRM strategy is a critical component to the success of your business. Deepening relationships between suppliers, partners, service users, and teammates, while promoting customer loyalty for better acquisition and retention are the goals of every CRM Strategy. Your strategy will be positioned at the center of everything you do, ensuring your data-driven decision-making puts your product and business as industry leaders.

The benefits of having a good CRM strategy are:

  • Keeping track of your current sales leads as they move through sales funnels.
  • Identifying all prospective leads and opportunities quickly.
  • Using customer data and insights to guide your business strategies in progress and forecast future performances.
  • Creating more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns and sales strategies.
  • Strengthening all your lines of business to work collaboratively.
  • Providing a successful customer experience at any stage of your customer journey.

Examples of CRM strategies

As you learn more about your customers, you gain knowledge of which marketing and sales tactics would work best. In evolving and improving your CRM marketing strategy, consider these tried-and-true examples that can be adjusted for your business however you see fit:

  • Content that adds value and conversions. Writing relevant, SEO-optimized content for people within various stages of the sales journey can help move them through the sales pipeline with ease. Even if the people searching for products or solutions like yours are not ready to purchase, they’re still able to walk away with valuable information and the possibility to position your business as a thought leader in the marketplace.
  • Personalized customer communications. Delivering a tailored message to each customer boosts engagement rates and helps create a stronger bond between the customer and your business. By using previously recorded data collected on customers, you know exactly the types of correspondence to send when they need it.
  • Growing customer relationships with CRM software. Building positive customer relationships is important. Making those relationships a top priority increases your chances of long-term industry and revenue growth. CRM software can help keep track of all your customers’ needs, adding a personal, introspective touch to every interaction.
  • Also using CRM software to automate tasks. If you see a lot of manual labor tasks that can be completed digitally, a CRM solution may be able to help. A CRM system can take over tedious administrative tasks, so your team is able to focus on bigger-picture duties and projects.
  • Loyalty and rewards programs. Incentivize customers with loyalty and rewards programs so they keep coming back. Discounts, rewards, gifts, and other bonuses function as incentives and customers are more likely to refer friends to your business. In a competitive market, these discounts can also make customers dedicated to your product, even if they find a better price elsewhere.

Seven steps to create a CRM strategy

When creating your CRM strategy, you need to follow these seven steps to plan for the future of your business:

Step one: define your vision and outline goals

You want to be sure that the goals of your CRM strategy align with what you want to achieve organizationally. When creating a CRM strategy, be sure to take another look at your overall business strategy and high-level business goals. A straightforward way to define them is by using the SMART goals method: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time sensitive.

A good CRM strategy framework ensures project managers are always addressing all touchpoints and goals, guiding the key areas of success. As the CRM strategy framework constantly evolves, it’s consistently highlighting the business, goals, and what the team needs to do for the strategy to add value.

Step two: identify the audience

In order to build relationships between the business and the customer, you need to understand who the customer is. Whether it’s creating a persona that represents your ideal customer or just an overview of who you’d like to target, you need to know the specifics of your audience to reach them and market appropriately—to prioritize your customers and meet them where they are. Some research methods are to:

  • Interview your marketing, sales, field service, and customer service teams.
  • Send and record customer surveys at all touchpoints.
  • Study your customer profiles and interview other customers to get in-depth feedback.

Step three: map the customer journey

Familiarize yourself with all possible initial touchpoints of the customer journey. Your CRM strategy is like a more refined version of a sales funnel—while both aim to attract and convert, your CRM strategy goes a step further and takes your customer’s specific needs into consideration, building stronger, long-lasting relationships.

With a solid CRM strategy, it’s possible to capture data at every stage of the journey. That data can provide insights into each type of customer to help structure all your buyer profiles. When mapping each stage, be sure to ask:

  • Which teams are interacting with the customers at this stage?
  • How can these interactions be improved?
  • What is the type of communication? Is there a better way to get your message across?
  • At this point, what do the customers want?
  • What challenges might customers face and how can you better support them?

Step four: organize your CRM components

In your findings, you should have spotted areas that you could use for improvement. For each line of business to perform effectively, each component of your CRM strategy needs to be able to provide a solution to every customer’s problem. Depending on the type of CRM tool you use, you may be able to break down those components even further. These components include:

  • Customer service
  • HR (Human Resources) management
  • Lead management
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Analytics
  • Pipeline management
  • Workflow automation
  • Automation
  • Business reporting

Step five: know the market

Now that you have your plan in place, you need to see how it stacks up against your competitors. Without knowing how your competitors position themselves in the marketplace, it can be difficult to know where to you fit in. Once you have those answers, use them to help organize how you form your CRM strategy to target the right people and refocus on becoming a customer-centric business. To stand out, ask yourself:

  • How does the business fit into the marketplace?
  • What’s our unique selling propositions?
  • How do our competitors differentiate themselves from us?
  • What trends are happening in the industry now?
  • Are there any new opportunities we can try?

Step six: think about adding technology

Enhancing your CRM strategy with innovative technologies can help make tasks easier for your team. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to implement AI chatbots that capture customer interactions and learn from the feedback given. Automating workflows helps guide customer service teams within interactions to tell them what to say, when to say it, and what to do next to best inform the customer.

Integrating automation and utilizing AI free up additional time for your sales, marketing, and customer service teams which they can use to nurture more leads, close more deals, and reduce costs.

Step seven: invest in CRM software

Investing in CRM software can help bring your CRM strategy to life. Implementing CRM software that evaluates current processes to find inefficiencies, meets all your organizational needs, and drives your CRM strategy forward is necessary. In managing your new CRM software, you’ll be able to streamline customer data to all teams, so everyone has a holistic view of your customers, targets, goals, and performance.

Choose the right CRM software for your business

To be able to provide what your customers need when they need it, you’ll need a CRM solution that supports your CRM strategy. Strengthen relationships with current customers, cultivate new ones, communicate effectively, and manage all customer contact points—all with one simple tool.

Dynamics 365 offers a new way to bring sales, customer service, and marketing teams together. Connect with customers to help deepen relationships, streamline data and insights, reveal new selling opportunities, and drive revenue. Choose from a single application to meet the needs of a single line of business—or implement multiple applications to explore how your CRM tools can work together, advancing your CRM strategy to network, collaborate, and sell successfully across many channels.

Frequently asked questions

How many CRM strategies are there?

The number of CRM strategies varies by organization, depending on the need. For example, businesses may combine marketing and sales strategies to create a single CRM strategy that helps accomplish all organizational goals.

What is a CRM strategy framework?

A CRM strategy framework is the strategic outline of which actions to take to cultivate relationships and sell successfully.

What are the main components of a CRM strategy?

The main components of a CRM strategy are customer service, HR (Human Resources) management, lead management, marketing, analytics, pipeline management, workflow automation, sales, automation, and business reporting.

Why is CRM an effective marketing strategy?

CRM is an effective marketing strategy because you’re able to forecast, strengthen relationships, and increase sales through customer data and insights.

How do you implement a CRM strategy?

To implement a CRM strategy, you need CRM software that gets you the data you need to deliver personalized experiences, communicate, and close deals.