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6 Steps to Grow Your Web-based CRM for Long-Term Success

Is your company CRM starting to go stale?  Has the excitement of managing all your customers with the one system faded? Our six steps will help you refocus efforts on not only getting more value from your web-based CRM, but also how to position for long-term success.

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Every business wants to grow, most realize that the customer is the key, but few realize how powerful a CRM can be in strengthening customer relationships and making sure they’re nurtured properly over time.

According to Yahoo, a CRM can increase sales by up to 29%, sales productivity by up to 34% and forecast accuracy by 42% for your business. It sounds great, but how do you make it work for you?

Here are six steps to growing your CRM exponentially year after year:

1. Focus More Efficiently on your Niche

Focus

From the very beginning it should be clear what your ideal customer base looks like, whether it is comprised of 18 – 25 year old males interested in sports or female business owners, to ensure that your time and effort in generating leads and nurturing those leads into customers is spent efficiently on the right type of prospects.

By focusing on your niche at every stage of the prospecting process, you’ll be more likely to understand where they live online, what content they like, their interests and business needs.

Creating this interest graph of data around your niche will more effectively connect your business with the right customers genuinely interested in your products and services since your approach is catered to them specifically.

Actionable advice:

  • Identify your niche
  • Conduct market research on your niche.
  • Identify their interests, activities and typical actions online. Ie What blogs do they read? Where do they shop? etc

2. Plan an Extensive Lead Generation Strategy

Plan

Lead generation is crucial to building a network of potential customers in your CRM, which can be done through content, events and pure advertising, to name a few approaches.

A lead often visits your website, downloads content, fills out your contact form or calls your business because they’ve already received value from your business or because they believe they can gain value from your business.

Your lead generation strategy should be centered on how your business can provide value to leads or give the impression of implied value. You can provide value to a lead through creating and distributing engaging content like an eBook or blog post, offering a free trial or consultation or by giving a demo of your products or services.

Implied value is when a lead has not yet experienced value from your organization first hand, but has gotten a positive impression about your business through word of mouth, at an event or in an advertisement online or offline. Develop a clear strategy that keeps in mind both approaches to value when it comes to bringing qualified leads to your business.

Actionable advice:

  • Map out where your leads are coming from
  • Focus on the channels that are delivering the most business
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Can email lists be further segmented? Should tweets go out at a different time of day?

3. Integrate Other Business Functions to Improve Your Bottom Line

Integrate

Integrate your CRM across your organization to better prepare for monitoring your company’s performance and to spot customer trends as they happen.

Capturing all the interactions current and potential customers are having with your website and brand like downloads, page views, subscribes etc., will help make your CRM more actionable and robust with a more complete picture of each of your customers.

It is important to strive for accuracy across each business department including sales, marketing and customer service by integrating the technology each is using in one platform to boost productivity and save time and money. This is often done through the integration of your API’s through your organization, with the use of a cloud based platform or a combination of both approaches.

Actionable advice:

  • Set weekly meetings between various departments to ensure they are all using the CRM as part of their daily routine.
  • Define the purpose of each department’s use of the CRM ie How can the marketing team generate more of the right leads? Is the sales team evaluating the quality of the leads? How can the customer support team retain the customer for the long-term?

4. Encourage Employee Compliance Across the Company

Encourage

Similarly, ensuring that all your employees are following the same procedures when it comes to how your CRM is used, how communication should take place with your prospects, how to score your leads and how each department should collaborate at each step of the process.

Requiring the use of your CRM may seem strict, but it is crucial for the sake of consistency that all actions with a customer are conducted and recorded through the platform in the same way.

With consistency in your CRM comes cleaner data, a more robust database of customers and less time wasted on inefficient procedures since your team is constantly collaborating about how the CRM is best utilized.

Actionable advice:

  • Develop a written code of conduct for your employees with sections that are applicable to the focus areas of each department. This doesn’t have to be a 50 page extensive document, but a clear and succinct outline of what is expected of employees in regards to each function of the business.
  • Discuss these written policies in person to bring them to life

5. Incorporate all Client Communications Through One Platform

Incorporate

All communications with your customers from sales, marketing and customer service should be completely integrated and standardized to make the most of the value a CRM tool has to offer.

This means that the same customer that downloaded an eBook and discusses business tactics with your marketing team through your CRM should also be chatting with customer service to handle their issues on the same platform. Having your company’s history with a particular customer’s correspondence will help empower your employees to provide more value in future conversations, which ideally will lead to customer retention in the long-term.

Consistency across your communication channels guarantees efficiency when any member of your team interacts with prospective customers and current customers alike.

Actionable advice:

  • Invest the time to properly train employees on how to use your CRM. This can be done on a one-on-one basis or in a group but open interaction between the instructor and those learning is the key
  • Have written policies for employees to refer back to

6. Analyze, Rinse and Repeat to Find Out What Works and What Doesn’t

Analyze

Analytics are crucial to the growth of your CRM because extensive reporting can help give deep insights into what is and isn’t working when it comes to onboarding customers, among other company functions.

Being able to identify and analyze trends that affect your businesses’ bottom line is a helpful tactic to help strategize for future attempts at customer retention, lead generation, marketing and other business needs.

Customize your CRM reporting to match the goals of your organization and focus on the areas that are business drivers for the company and where your team can deliver the most value.

Actionable advice:

  • Look at your company goals and find data that relates to them.
  • Use the data to determine your priorities ie Do you need to focus on creating more leads or should your focus be on making sure those leads turn into sales?
  • Identify a problem, identify which customers are most “at-risk” then find a solution. Ie If you’re concerned about your customer churn rate, use your CRM to identify which customers are most likely to lose interest in your business and then email triggers to help pull customers of this nature back into the fold.

Implement the 6 Steps with WORK[etc]:

  1. Focus more efficiently on your niche
    Assign custom tags to your contacts to segment your customers and identify certain niche markets.  For example, tag all your customers that are eco-warriors and send them personalized information on your new organic range.
  2. Plan an extensive lead generation strategy
    Use  Web Forms on your business website to capture valuable customer information then automatically create and assign a new sales lead.
  3. Integrate other business functions to improve your bottom line
    Your sales, support, project, finance and management teams are always up to date as everyone in your account is using the same system.  For example, as soon as sales closes a big new deal, your project manager has instant access to review exactly what was over promised(!).
  4. Encourage employee compliance across company
    Every action your employee does in your business is captured in an activity stream.  Use simple filters to identify important actions and save those filters to quickly access a compliance view in the future.
  5. Incorporate all client communication through one platform
    Every touch point with your client is captured in your account.  So when your team is handling a support ticket, they can instantly scroll back through all the relevant communication to quickly get on top of the issue.
  6. Analyze, rinse and repeat to find out what works and what doesn’t
    Create real-time Reports and Smart-Lists to identify what CRM activities produced results. Tweak those activities, then come back to your saved reports to monitor progress.

How are you growing your CRM to the next level? What strategies seem to work best for your company?  Best comment wins a re-tweet for your business!

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