Article

What is the CRM process?

By Liz Coffman

Published April 16, 2020
Last modified April 16, 2020

Consumers today expect a personalized customer experience catered to them as individuals. In order to meet these expectations, you need to understand what your audience wants and needs, and you must understand how to deliver on those needs better than your competition.

The CRM process helps your organization achieve these goals. Consisting of five main steps, it’s a strategy for keeping every customer interaction personalized and meaningful. The CRM tool itself is what provides the data and functionalities your team needs to execute this strategy—and ultimately turn leads into customers.

What are the steps in the CRM process?

To understand the steps of the CRM process, you have to understand the customer lifecycle. It’s one of the first concepts you learn as a sales rep to understand how a person becomes a loyal customer.


 
The CRM process is that concept in action. It’s the tangible steps an organization must take to help drive consumers through the cycle of learning about your brand and ultimately becoming loyal (and repeat) customers.


 

According to the customer lifecycle, we know that the first step in the CRM process is maximizing reach with leads. In practice, reach is using your CRM to generate brand awareness through targeted marketing campaigns.

Every stage in the customer lifecycle corresponds with an actionable step in the CRM process. The key is knowing what those steps are and how to execute them.

How to execute the 5-step CRM process

The five steps of the CRM process are a collaborative effort between marketing, sales, and support departments. To help you understand how each team works together, we’ll walk through how each step works in practice. We’ll cover not only how each part of the process can be completed with a CRM tool but also who is responsible for each step.

1. Generate brand awareness

The first step to acquiring new customers is to introduce them to your business. The marketing team typically takes on this task through a number of measures:

    1. Learning about your target audience. Marketers will conduct research to identify their audience’s target demographics, interests, preferred channels of communication, what messaging they respond most to, and what they care about.

    2. Segmenting your target audience. Audience personas are created to segment a brand’s target audience into similar groups based on similar interests or demographics. This helps marketers identify which types of people are most likely to become customers and who their campaigns should target.

    3. Creating marketing campaigns that speak to those target demographics. A/B tests are used to identify what works and what doesn’t, to create unique campaigns for unique customer segments, and to create strategies for lead acquisition.

When it comes to completing these steps, a CRM is a wealth of information. The tool can show patterns in past leads and customers to give marketing teams a clear picture of their target audience. Beyond understanding similarities in demographics, marketers can also analyze sales notes in their CRM to understand what led to conversions in the past. By understanding what resonated with leads, marketers are better equipped to create effective campaigns.

2. Acquire leads

Introducing your brand to a potential customer is just the beginning of the CRM process. From there, you have to encourage them to learn more about your business and engage with it.

Depending on how your company is structured, this lead acquisition step could be a marketing or sales team responsibility — or both. Your marketing team, for example, might encourage website visitors to share their email with a newsletter signup CTA or a giveaway. Sales, on the other hand, could use their CRM to set up live chat on your site. With this feature, your team can proactively reach out to potential customers who land on your website.

If your CRM comes equipped with a lead enrichment tool, like Reach, lead acquisition is unbelievably simple. All the tool needs is a lead’s email address to instantly reveal detailed information about the person. With this data, you can personalize your outreach with the lead to start the relationship off on the right note. Not to mention, you can save tons of time by not needing to research leads yourself.

3. Convert leads into customers

You’ve successfully engaged with your leads, and they’re interested. Now it’s time to turn those leads into customers.

To do so, sales reps must first be skilled at identifying how interested leads are and, specifically, whether they’re interested enough to make a purchase. A CRM is very helpful here. The historical data from past successful sales can be used to identify lead-qualification criteria. These criteria can be added as “attributes” to your CRM’s lead-scoring tool to help reps identify opportunities with the highest probability of a sale.

If leads do seem likely to make a purchase, reps must then be able to nurture them further and build their trust enough to convert. One way to do this is for reps to send leads case studies, white papers, and other resources that may sway their decision.* *

Reps should also use their CRM to set reminders and tasks to follow up with interested leads. After all, studies have shown that “63% of consumers need to hear a company’s claim 3-5 times before they actually believe it." Use your CRM’s dashboard to help you remember to follow up to ensure that no opportunities are missed.

4. Provide superior customer service

You’ve successfully converted your lead into a customer. Great! But the CRM process doesn’t end when a customer converts. In order to grow as a company, you need to retain customers. How do you keep that customer coming back? Excellent service from support.

According to Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report, customer service is the biggest factor that determines a consumer’s loyalty to a brand. Conversely, poor customer service can cost you customers and negatively impact your reputation. Support teams must be able to deliver superior support whenever, wherever, and however their customers expect it.

Forty-nine percent of customers say being able to resolve their issue quickly is the most important aspect of a good customer service experience. With a CRM, support agents can easily access the historical customer information they need to resolve a ticket quickly.

Fifty-seven percent of customers expect to have a choice of channels when reaching out to customer support. CRMs allow support agents to not only provide omnichannel support but also manage those conversations in a single, unified view.

With a CRM, your agents have the data and resources they need to resolve a customer’s issues quickly and effortlessly. This allows for a stress-free and efficient experience for both the customer and the support agent.

5. Drive upsells

When we think of a returning customer, we imagine a shopper continually coming back to the same business to buy the products they know and love. But there is another key way existing customers provide value — by upgrading to more expensive products.

How do you convince customers to switch products? Personalized recommendations via email are a great place to start. You can use your CRM to organize customers into smart lists based on similar purchase histories. You can then create custom email templates that send relevant product releases to entire lists of customers at once. This way, you can be sure the promotional deals or releases you send are reaching the people most likely to buy them.

If your business is service-based, you may find upsell opportunities through check-in calls. Set reminders in your CRM to regularly reach out to repeat customers to ask how they’re doing and whether there is any way you could improve your service. Their needs may very well have changed since the last time you spoke, and they may be ready for an upsell.

With a CRM process, the customer lifecycle no longer feels abstract. You can use your CRM to create a deliberate, personalized experience that naturally drives leads through your pipeline.

Create a better customer experience with the CRM process

In order to stand out from the competition, you can’t go wrong by delivering a personalized, meaningful customer experience — one that makes your customers feel like no matter what, you’ve got them.

The five-step CRM process is a strategy for delivering this experience throughout every stage in the customer journey. And with all of the customer data you need, a CRM tool makes it possible to execute that process.