Article | 11 min read

How to create a CRM strategy and why you need one in 2022

Learn how to enhance your sales CRM strategy with best practices that make the most of your CRM sales software.

By Josh Bean, Director, Marketing

Published March 16, 2020
Last updated October 17, 2022

Investing in customer relationship management (CRM) software is a great step toward a well-managed business. But a CRM is only as useful as you make it. Without a great sales strategy, even the best CRM software can only be so helpful.

In this article, we’ll break down what a CRM strategy is, why you need one, and how strong CRM efforts can create the perfect plan for your company’s CRM success.

What is a CRM strategy?

A CRM strategy is a company plan meant to increase profit, decrease cost, and improve customer service. These plans can encompass a mix of systems, actions, and technology—typically incorporating how to use a specific CRM to manage customer relationships.

Why do you need a CRM strategy?

A CRM strategy provides a clear game plan for your company to achieve success. Implementing solid CRM strategies will:

  • Cultivate fantastic customer service through every point in the customer journey
  • Keep track of your leads as they move through your sales funnel
  • Focus and enhance your marketing plans
  • Organize your sales management tactics
  • Clarify communication and collaboration across departments
  • Cut down on out-of-date information, mistakes, and missed opportunities
  • Galvanize your lead funnel and increase lead generation
  • Create KPIs to clearly forecast future planning and initiatives

Without a strategy in place, it’s all too easy for your team to lose sight of targets and fall into confusion. Well-defined CRM strategies keep everyone organized, focused, and able to manage potential issues if they crop up.

How to create a successful CRM strategy

We’ve identified six sales process steps to build your own CRM sales strategy.

Step 1. Identify your sales CRM strategy goals

The first step in creating an effective sales CRM strategy is identifying goals. Clear goals target exactly what you need from your CRM. Once you know what you need, it’s easier to figure out how to use the software to achieve that specific goal.

Avoid vague goals like “retain customers longer” or “improve communication.” Set clear goals instead. If you know what you want to achieve with the system, you’ll be able to match software features to your needs. To develop goals for your sales CRM, follow these three steps.

Pinpoint problems in your sales department

The simplest way to identify issues that a CRM could solve is to ask your team and prospects for feedback.

Ask your team members where they need support. For example, do they feel bogged down with admin tasks? Or do they feel like too many prospects are low quality? As for prospects, assess negative feedback they’ve left about your sales process. Take note of this feedback—both from prospects and your sales team—as issues that good CRM tactics could potentially solve.

Choose issues your CRM can solve

To figure out which sales problems your CRM techniques can solve, learn about the tool’s features. The better you understand your CRM, the easier it will be to see opportunities for improvement with the tool. Here are a few examples of sales problems that your CRM can easily solve:

  • Information silos between departments
  • Disorganized prospect information
  • Too much manual admin work

Review your list of sales problems to see where software can close the gap. Transform your status from “It’s complicated” to “Everything is awesome.”

Set goals based on where your concerns and CRM features overlap

Based on the problems you’ve identified, set concrete objectives for your team’s CRM use. Say, for example, your problem is a low prospect-to-customer conversion rate, and you hope to use your CRM’s targeted prospect lists to increase the metric.

Armed with your knowledge of the feature, you set a CRM objective of increasing the conversion rate by 20 percent in three months. By articulating clear CRM goals, you and your sales team have a clear framework for evaluating how much value you’re getting out of the tool.

Step 2. Choose KPIs

Now that you’ve decided on which goals to focus on, you need key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your progress. Start by reviewing the goal you set in Step 1, and ask yourself which KPIs align with that objective.

Say, for example, you hope to increase monthly recurring revenue by 15 percent over the next six months with the help of your CRM. To evaluate how the tool is impacting sales, you might track the following metrics:

  • Monthly sales growth: A measure of month-over-month revenue growth
  • Sales targets: The total number of sales each rep closes in a period
  • Sales closing ratio: The number of sales closed compared with the total prospects received

Voila! You now have three KPIs to track for the next six months.

Step 3. Automate tasks

One of the biggest benefits of a sales CRM is that it can automate administrative tasks that typically burden reps, such as activity tracking and revenue reporting. In fact, 80 percent of automation users experience improved lead generation and 77 percent see more conversions.

Reap these benefits by figuring out which current sales department tasks could be automated with a CRM, such as:

  • Reporting: Many CRMs have analytics, too. They can create activity reports based on data like the number of sales calls per month, sales closing ratio rate, and sales rep follow-ups. They can also auto-generate monthly sales reports to track revenue and sales forecasts, along with a number of other reports.
  • Communication: Along with scheduling meetings, CRMs also automatically send your prospects reminder emails and texts.

Automation’s most significant benefit is how much time reps save on manual tasks. Instead of wasting precious hours on redundant emails and notes, reps can focus on high-level activities that actually help them meet their goals.

Step 4. Connect touchpoint channels with CRM

With so many calls, emails, and texts fighting for your reps’ attention, it’s easy for lags or gaps in communication to pile up. Your CRM can streamline the touchpoints between reps and prospects.

Determine where and how prospects interact with your brand

To figure out how your CRM enhances prospect interactions, first list all of the channels where reps interact with potential customers. These channels might include social media, email, phone calls, text, or even chatbots.

Ask prospects which communication channels they prefer. Also, consider taking advantage of an external research source to verify prospect communication preferences. Finally, rank the channels based on their popularity with your prospect base.

Explore your CRMs integrations

Once you’ve picked out your prospects’ favorite communication channels, see if you can integrate them with your CRM.

Many CRMs connect with communication tools through integrations and plugins. This means reps can reach out to prospects on social, phone, text, and more—right from their CRM dashboard. With centralized communication, reps can follow up promptly, reducing the likelihood of missed messages.

For example, Zendesk Sell offers the following:

  • Automated power dialer: Allows reps to call prospects directly from Sell without dialing numbers manually.
  • Chat widget: Enables live chat with site visitors from Sell.
  • Email: Connects existing email accounts to track email open rates and clicks.

When you identify touchpoints in your sales funnel that overlap with your sales CRM, it’s easier to show your sales reps exactly how the CRM can bolster their process. When your team connects with prospects at the right time, with the right channel, prospects flow more smoothly and quickly through the sales funnel.

Step 5. Align communication across departments

CRM data isn’t just useful for the sales team—it’s also incredibly informative for your company’s marketing and support departments. Likewise, marketing and support teams have data that could help your sales reps craft more compelling pitches and close deals faster.

Cross-team communication through your CRM makes it easy for your sales team to share data with other departments, and vice versa.

Sales and marketing

Your CRM facilitates sharing qualified prospects between the marketing and sales teams. With Zendesk Sell, this connection works by integrating with HubSpot. When a prospect interacts with your content—in one CRM strategy example, they download an ebook—the marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are automatically sent to Sell. Sell syncs and stores all contacts, conversations, and details across departments so your marketing and sales teams are always on the same page.

Sales and customer support

As with marketing teams, it also makes sense for sales teams to share data with support departments through their CRM. This connection works in Sell if your support team also uses Zendesk Support. Support reps share open tickets with sales reps who originally sold the product to the customer. The sales team then provides support reps with feedback and possible solutions.

Step 6. Develop a thorough sales CRM onboarding process

The final step in creating your sales CRM plan is to develop an onboarding process. Set up training so new team members know how to take advantage of your sales CRM shortly after starting.

Create onboarding manuals

Create a CRM sales training manual that describes how your team’s most commonly used CRM features work. Segment the manual into chapters that each focus on a feature so it’s easy for reps to scan through the guide and find the information they need.

Record training videos

Create tutorial videos to visually guide reps through CRM features. It’s best to use screen-sharing software, such as Soapbox, to record these videos so reps can see how the tool is used and how issues are resolved.

Keep your videos short. Research from video marketing platform Wistia shows that engagement is steady up to the two-minute mark. Beyond that point, reps in a rush may abandon the video. Keep your tutorial videos short and digestible by covering only one CRM learning topic in each video.

Use resources provided by your CRM

Many CRM systems come with an online resource page. Direct your team to these pages if they can’t resolve the issue with your internal training materials.

The CRM’s educational resources are especially helpful if there’s a feature upgrade. Instead of constantly updating your training materials, link to the CRM’s resources to teach reps about new features. You can even try a free CRM.

8 effective CRM strategies to help grow your business

Let’s explore eight strategies to organize and strengthen your sales process.

1. Define your goals

You’ll never get where you’re going without a destination in mind. Set clear goals at the beginning of your strategizing process. Goals need to be specific and achievable. Document and communicate them clearly to your team. When your employees know where they’re headed, they can plan their tactics accordingly.

2. Draft a sales plan

Once your goals are set, define the process to achieve them. Break down your sales pipeline and determine which teams and team members are responsible for guiding customers through each stage. A clear outline streamlines your pipeline and ensures that your strategies for improving sales are carried out.

3. Conduct an audit

An audit is a great way to get a clear picture of your business as a whole. Review all of your systems and processes, study the market, and size up the competition—do as much as you can to gain key insights that you can use to your business’s advantage. Good information leads to good decision-making.

4. Analyze key data

Once you’ve compiled key data, it’s time to analyze it. This is one place where CRM software will absolutely prove its worth. CRM software organizes customer data and gives your entire team access to it from a centralized dashboard, allowing you to easily analyze information for trends, missteps, and possible improvements.

5. Use predictive analytics

Forecasting future sales and business trends with a structured review process increases win rates by 25 percent. More accurate forecasting means a stronger ability to guide your business forward, no matter the market. Similarly, being able to predict trends in your industry translates into success in your market niche.

CRM software provides data and organizes it, so you discover trends more easily and have a clearer forecast in front of you.

6. Personalize your customer experience

The more you learn about your potential customers, the more you’ll understand what they want and need. Angle your marketing and lead nurturing strategies to suit your growing customer profiles. Personalization makes customers feel more valued, contributing to an overall more positive experience. This translates to great reviews, higher sales, improved brand loyalty, and customer retention.

7. Empower your employees

Training your employees on CRM software empowers them to perform even better. Giving them shortcuts, clearly organized information, and fewer day-to-day administrative tasks lets them focus on what really matters—whether that be selling, strategizing, or marketing. Trust your team to use CRM resources and take an active role in improving company processes.

8. Track and document your performance

While you’re taking all these great steps towards a robust CRM sales strategy, always monitor your progress. Are you hitting your goals? Has your planning been effective? Are you getting the data and KPIs you need to forecast the pathway to success? If the answer is no, change the process. Tracking and documenting how things are going will help you continuously improve and ultimately, smash your business goals.

Convert more prospects with a strong sales CRM strategy

You might have the greatest CRM software in the multiverse, but if you don’t have a plan to make the most of it, you won’t find it all that valuable. Learn the ins and outs of your CRM platform and articulate a clear strategy to incorporate your new tools. Thanks to your CRM, you’ll have an organized, streamlined sales process to attract more prospects and close more deals.

Enhance your CRM strategies with Sell and start your free trial today!

2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center

Learn why Zendesk was named a leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center.

2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center

Learn why Zendesk was named a leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center.

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