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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.

The Crowd

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!

  • Robert W. Bowles

    I found this helpful and like the idea of employee compliance.

    • Glad to hear it Robert! Have a great week, stay tuned for more.

  • Mike Ramirez

    Always looking forward and much appreciated.

  • John Belchamber

    Great article and by the way, WORKetc help me run my consulting business from anywhere and any device. Keep up the excellent work guys!

    • Thanks John, happy to hear you found the article and WORKetc useful.

    • Steve Westrop | WORK[etc]

      Thanks John – always a pleasure working with you

  • Sky Bird

    This was really helpful business inspiration. Thank you!

  • I’ve printed this out after reading it quickly here online. With posts like this, I like to reread on paper, highlight, and create action lists. Of course I’ll be creating those as a new project in WORKetc!

    • Creating these ideas as a task or project within WORK[etc] is kind of clever, almost re-reinforcing the knowledge with action.

    • Thanks! So happy you found the article useful.

  • Robert W. Bowles

    One platform, that has been our mantra since starting on WORKetc. Good stuff.

    • The “one platform” is obviously our goal also – especially as we’re one of the biggest actual users of WORK[etc] as we manage our own business on it.

    • Thanks for the compliment Robert! 😀

  • John Arne Løberg Jørgensen

    Any CRM is as good as the data you put into it. By being easy to use, and supportive to the daily tasks it is easily adopted by the guys in the office.

    • Truth, the data plus everyone buying into the platform is critical for its continued success.

  • What would you know… after rolling out across our structure we are in the very process of developing an employee guidebook for our company’s use of WETC . It is not immediately obvious – but while the flexibility of WETC allows it so so well adapt to the needs of a company – it does mean that clear guidelines must be imposed to ensure that this flexibility does not translate into looseness in utilisation – which diminishes the advantages and gains in productivity to be had.
    This post is therefore very aptly timed in our case.
    Thanks for your insight Brian!

    • >> employee guidebook for our company’s use of WETC

      Hi James – let’s talk, maybe we can share or make some version available to the wider community.

    • Thanks for reading and the kind words! Good luck with your employee guidebook, I would definitely synch with @Daniel_Barnett:disqus on it to share it with the larger community.

  • Arturo Garcia Cifre

    Seis pasos para conseguir implantar un CRM con exito, es un excelente resumen, yo ya he empezado, una vez hecha la segmentacion vamos a ejecutar el segundo paso. Generar leads mediante emails directos a las necesidades de cada segemento. Siempre, claro esta! con nuestro omnipresente Work etc…

  • Another useful idea is getting the client using the CRM so they feel at home with your solution – I think the new WORKetc client portal will greatly assist with this.
    This helps bring the focus into the CRM (rather than email, which is where the client communication centre of gravity of most organisations is)

    • >>”I think the new WORKetc client portal will greatly assist”

      We’re absolutely hoping this as well – using the new portal needs to become an almost addictive behaviour. The launch is going to be interesting for sure.

    • AGREED. Thanks for reading Dallas.

    • Steve Westrop | WORK[etc]

      Sure is Dallas – I’ll be activating it on admin for a few folk soon… watch your inbox buddy!

  • chs

    Number 6 is only with WorkETC Analyze, rinse and repeat Otherwise its Integrate, Analyze, rinse and repeat

  • Christina Fowinkle

    It’s still limited on what it can do on mobile, I find. But it’s still a great asset with plenty of room to improve and grow. I must give a shout-out to the community behind WorkETC and how close the developers work with their customers to make sure popular requested features get pushed into production.

    • Thank you Christina, mobile will continue to get better in the future. I couldn’t agree more, WorkETC has one of the best communities around. We’re lucky.

  • Vrm Staff

    Great! We love the blogs here! they are a great resource and its awesome to have actionable items on each one! Well done!

  • Dan

    Great article and by the way, WORKetc help me run my consulting business from anywhere and any device. Keep up the excellent work guys!

  • j05huamcclure

    Communication is key, I think you hit the nail on the head. Without some type of CRM that actually has a good system on organizing the conversations – business is 10 times harder. WORK[etc] has a great way of showing the activity on projects, tickets, and other items. This helps me work together with the rest of the team in wrangling what I think is the most complicated part about business; communication.

    • Couldn’t agree more! Thanks for reading. Happy New year.

  • Allen Bayless

    Great article and explanation of integrating the 6 steps with WorkETC. WorkETC is truly the best all-in-one management tool out there!

    • Thank YOU for reading and all the kind words. Enjoy your week ahead.

  • sasquatchbill

    We’re a 50 person company but we don’t spend much time on CRM – we use WORKetc mostly to manage projects and as record keeping – and it’s managed largely as you think it would: a couple of key people have their own internal methods of CRM. It doesn’t really get shared well, and if they leave that info goes with them, etc. There are some good points in here about how to think about CRM even if it’s not really something we as a company focus on at all!

    • I’m happy to hear you’re using the platform to success with project management and record keeping as opposed to its typical CRM usage. Thanks again for reading.

  • Michael Hill

    Great Post. I’ll keep saying it – efficiency is what WORKetc has helped us achieve. It’s important to continue to analyze our systems to see what and where we can improve. WORKetc helps us do that. I’m so glad I found it!

    • Efficiency is certainly key, seems like we are on the same page Michael. Oh and thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the weekend!

  • Jonathan Hickman

    I personally know the pain of trying to create an all-in-one solution for customer data management. It is really not worth the time. WORK[etc] was able to simply our solutions and hits all of the points you mentioned.

    • Hi Jonathan, happy we’re able to save you and your company much needed time!

  • billyards

    We are getting there and have made progress on 1-3. We are making good use of 4 different web forms that target different segments of our market. For example, we ask clients seeking help with new product development (NPD) to complete a WORKetc web form that captures contact details and key info on the kind of help they are seeking. When the client completes the form, it adds them to our database and tags them, creates a lead for and emails our NPD team, and sends an email to our admin so she can make sure the client contact info is complete.

    We need to do a better job of creating process for our team and in training them in those processes and in getting management to use the system to manage the business.

  • This is a great stuff, very helpful. Adaptation (even for me) is always a big piece of the puzzle, if your team likes using it, it will get used. If you force it, its like the uncle no one wants to talk to at a party. From a lead standpoint, getting a scheduling solution like Timely integrated into the lead process would be really helpful for those (like us) who typically follow up leads with a consultation call.

  • Thomas Lawler

    “One Platform” idea is what brought us to work[etc.] originally! Although we have only been users for several months, the team has really adopted the collaborative nature of the work[etc.] solution.

  • Tony Tsicouris

    Having worked in teams with multi platforms, it is great to finally be only down to one platform that meets are needs like WORKetc.

  • David Jones

    We consolidated 3 systems into one installation of WorkEtc. Great product.

  • Linda Williams

    great steps explained very interestingly
    IT
    supported CRM solutions

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