A woman is pictured in an office talking on a phone headset with a client.
Using your CRM to its fullest potential will improve customer relationships and the performance of your sales team. — Getty Images/chee gin tan

Your business can benefit significantly from customer relationship management (CRM) software. It's ideal for improving customer relationships and sales performance. But introducing a new system can be challenging for sales and marketing teams. You can overcome barriers like poor user adoption rates using CRM optimization tactics.

Before tracking your sales contacts and goals, you’ll want to create a CRM strategy based on best practices. You can achieve business growth more quickly by crafting an implementation process and using automation for repetitive tasks. Here's how to begin.

Develop a CRM strategy

A CRM strategy outlines how you will improve the customer experience using technology and workflow improvements like automated follow-ups and personalized marketing campaigns. First, you must identify your ideal client, understand your current sales process, and define the customer’s journey through your sales funnel.

Next, look for ways your CRM software can assist your sales and marketing teams. For instance, early engagement with a sales prospect using automation features can kick off a new relationship even if your lead discovers your brand while your team sleeps.

You’ll then want to define sales performance and customer relationship goals your CRM solution will help you accomplish, such as:

  • Shortening the sales cycle.
  • Growing customer engagement.
  • Improving the return on investment of marketing campaigns.
  • Reducing customer acquisition costs.
  • Unifying sales and marketing efforts.
  • Enhancing operational efficiency.
  • Increasing customer retention.

Lastly, determine which CRM analytics to use. While a marketing strategy may look at social media ad impressions, a CRM strategy assesses deals won and revenue generated. Your software offers customizable reports and dashboards. Choose CRM metrics that measure goal progress at the company, team, and individual levels.

[Read more: 12 Common CRM Questions Answered]

You can overcome barriers like poor user adoption rates using CRM optimization tactics.

Improve CRM implementation and promote user adoption

Develop an implementation process that describes how you will handle data migration, new user training, and employee feedback. This plan can help you avoid duplicate data and problems with user adoption. Your CRM platform should be user-friendly. But your team may want guides and tutorials to get the most out of it.

In addition, CRM tools should complement your workflows, not complicate them. Define your CRM processes to ensure consistent data entry methods. Ask your marketing and sales team if they need custom fields to track customer information, like clothing sizes.

Integrate the CRM system with business-critical tools

Integration plays a key role in CRM optimization. It syncs customer information between different platforms, reducing repetitive tasks and data entry. With connected systems, your sales reps can call from their CRM software, meaning less toggling between applications.

For example, integrating calendars makes booking appointments, scheduling calls, and seeing team availability easier. With an integrated business phone system, you can automatically add voice conversations and text messages to your CRM tool.

[Read more: How to Choose the Best CRM Software]

Leverage sales and marketing automation

Before the sales process begins, your software collects CRM data, like how potential customers found your company or what link they clicked on. Sales and marketing automation helps your staff manage customer data without spending hours on tedious tasks. Many CRM systems monitor lead and customer interactions and then alert your sales team when it's time to follow up.

CRM analytics and customer feedback can help you identify areas for improvement. Suppose you notice many missed opportunities at a particular part of the sales process. Consider implementing an automation rule to deliver an auto-reply to initiate a conversation.

Audit CRM platform usage and customer data

Inspecting marketing and sales data, integrations, and processes is a CRM best practice. The CRM provider Close suggested completing an annual CRM audit, as it helps your small business "get the most out of your CRM by reducing gaps in the data and removing processes that waste time and resources." Finalize your assessment by creating recommendations to improve your CRM strategy and processes.

A CRM audit involves analyzing the following:

  • Customer data quality.
  • Service, marketing, and sales teams usage rates.
  • CRM metrics and key performance indicators.
  • Integrations and automation.

[Read more: 10 Free or Low-Cost CRM Tools for Small Businesses]

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