The customer relationship management (CRM) process refers to the steps and decisions businesses make to manage and improve their relationships with leads, prospects, and customers. CRM software is a useful tool in this process as it streamlines operations and customer interactions, making them more efficient and effective. In this article, we outline these steps and the roles sales, marketing, and support teams play in the whole process.
1. Generate Brand Awareness
The first step in the CRM process is to make your potential customers aware of your products and services. The marketing team begins this task by researching your target audience’s demographics, consuming habits, interests, and preferences.
The team will also create customer personas to segment the audience into groups with similarities. Then, you can launch marketing campaigns that are tailored to your target audience’s interests.
A buyer persona is a fictional character representing your ideal customers, including details such as their demographics, behavioral interests, values, and challenges. This helps businesses identify their specific target market and understand what they need to provide to their customers.
An excellent CRM solution collects data, uncovers patterns in the behavior of past leads, and shows you which approach led to more conversions. You can use this data to customize your marketing campaigns based on what appeals most to your target audience to convert more leads into customers.
2. Acquire Leads
After you have introduced your brand to your potential customers, the second step is lead acquisition. The sales or marketing team (or both) engages with the target audience via available communication channels. For example, the marketing team could use the sign-up form on your website to encourage visitors to subscribe to newsletters. The sales team may take advantage of your CRM’s live chat function to respond to visitors.
CRM platforms with lead generation and enrichment tools help you pull in important information from your site visitors. This way, it is easier to personalize prospect outreach. One example of a CRM solution with a lead generation tool is Zoho CRM. Its lead management system qualifies, analyzes, and nurtures incoming leads so that they can be converted into opportunities.
Lead generation is the process of attracting leads (potential customers) into your sales funnel. This is done through multichannel engagement and by generating content that captures the interest of your audience. It also involves nurturing them through the buying process to increase the chance they turn into customers.
3. Convert Leads Into Customers
Once you have captured the attention and interest of your potential customers, the next step is to convert them into actual paying customers. This is done through a combination of content marketing and marketing automation. The sales team gauges lead interest and builds further trust with them until they decide to make a purchase.
A CRM system with a robust lead scoring tool is helpful in the lead nurturing process because it helps reps easily identify opportunities that will likely turn into a purchase. Using a lead scoring system, you can add or subtract points based on any variable like revenue, location, or email activity. In addition, you can use CRM software to set reminders or list tasks to follow up with promising leads.
Here are some examples of content that reps can use to nurture their leads:
- Introductory product demo video
- Whitepaper with customer case studies and testimonials
- Survey about customer goals or product preferences
- Blog posts about key features of a product
- Email newsletters about useful skills
- Link to relevant webcast or podcast
- Guide articles or e-books
4. Provide Quality Customer Support
The CRM process does not end when a customer makes a purchase. A business needs to retain customers for it to grow—and this is where your support team comes in. Excellent support service keeps customers coming back for your products or services. Make sure you deliver superior customer service, preferably via various communication channels (live chat, email, and phone) and whenever your customers need it.
Leverage your CRM’s help desk and service system to understand your customer’s user experience after they make a purchase. It is important to get honest feedback from them to understand the changes that you need to make to improve their experience.
A good CRM provides your support reps with the data and resources they need to resolve customers’ issues efficiently (e.g., customers do not need to rehash their information since reps can simply look it up in the CRM). Also, the CRM provides you with communication tools (chat, email, or phone) that you can use to immediately respond to customer complaints as soon as they crop up.
5. Drive Upsells
Upselling is a sales strategy used to convince existing customers to buy additional products or upgrades related to their original purchase. Examples of upselling include offering warranties in addition to a gadget and letting a customer know that another product offers more features than the one they chose. Grouping together several varieties of a perfume brand to create a new bundle is also considered upselling.
Use a CRM to organize your customer list according to purchase history and send custom email templates about relevant products for each group. You can also set reminders for regular check-in calls with repeat customers. This is your chance to ask them for feedback about your product or service and how they think you can improve their experience.
Key Benefits of Incorporating Software Into Your CRM Process
A good CRM solution helps make the CRM process more effective and drives sales return on investment (ROI). There are different types of CRM to choose from depending on your business needs, but all of them contribute to the growth of your business in ways that help you nurture customer relationships, reduce labor costs, and offer quality customer support. Let’s take a closer look at the key benefits of CRM software:
Higher Conversion Rates
After your marketing team generates new leads, the sales team works to convert them into customers. Many CRMs now offer built-in marketing features you can use to target and engage the best leads and prospects who are most likely to convert. Lead tracking features allow you to monitor the progress of your leads so your sales reps can reach out to prospects at the right time and help them make decisions faster.
Nurturing Customer Relationships
An excellent CRM system helps businesses develop a deeper understanding of their customers’ history, goals, challenges, and preferences. It also recommends appropriate products, promotions, or content that matter to them at the right time. CRM features like email templates, tasks reminders, and a built-in phone dialer help facilitate better and faster communication with your customers.
Improving Business Performance
A CRM solution can improve business performance by prioritizing leads that are most likely to convert, increasing upsell and cross-selling opportunities, and finding referrals. It also reduces the time it takes for you to close a deal because it gives your teams a full view of your customer data from a centralized location. This means that everyone can see all the customer’s interaction with your company and there is no need to request information from another team.
Increasing Employee Productivity
CRMs allow you to automate repetitive and manual tasks across sales, marketing, and service departments. Some of the tasks that CRMs automate include email sending, lead scoring, workflow management, and sales pipeline management. Since your employees no longer have to spend time looking for contact information or entering data, they can spend more time selling, engaging with your prospects and customers, or providing quality customer support.
Best CRM Software Providers for Small Businesses
When choosing a CRM provider, keep in mind that the best solution for small businesses should be reasonably priced and easy to use, especially for beginners who do not have technical knowledge. It should also include core CRM features like contact management, account management, lead management, sales automation, and reporting.
Here are some of the top CRM software providers recommended for small businesses:
Small Business CRM
Recommended Use Case
Best overall for small businesses needing a robust CRM with free and affordable plans
Free or $19 per user, per month
Best CRM for social media integration
Free or $7 per user, per month
Best CRM with a built-in phone for in-app calling
Free or $19 per month
Best scalable, free CRM for unlimited users
Free or $45 per month
Best CRM with project management features
Free or $29 per user, per month
Best small business CRM with advanced features like lead generation, customizable reports, and case management
$25 per user, per month
*Based on annual pricing. Monthly billing is also available at slightly higher rates.
The ultimate goal of the CRM process is to create a better customer experience in each stage of the customer lifecycle. With the help of a reliable platform and a good CRM strategy in place, you’ll have access to the data that you need to personalize your audience engagement, making the whole process more efficient.