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Customer relationship management, or CRM, as we all know it, is about making sure the customer is at the center of everything you do. 

In today’s consumer-focused milieu, your CRM should be one of your tech stack’s MVPs. CRM applications can be used for more than just the recording of customer touch points. 

It’s time to give your CRM strategy a data-driven makeover. 


What Is CRM, And Why Do You Need One?

CRM stands for customer relationship management— and relationships are truly what business success all about. Whether it be an existing customer, a past customer, or a potential one, CRM tools are geared towards managing those relationships and leveraging the data in order to improve future interactions.

Additionally, CRM systems help companies streamline processes— they consequently improve productivity and profitability. They can also help keep varying departments aligned. 

Modern CRM tools can now be used to manage customer relationships across the entire customer journey, which spans marketing, sales, customer service, and more. 

So, what’s the overall goal? To improve overall business relationships in order to grow your business. 


What is the Role of  CRMs in Business?

In today’s business world, the customer truly is king, and they have more buying power than ever. If they don’t feel like they’re at the center of everything you do, they won’t hesitate to turn to somebody else who will prioritize them and their needs. This is where CRM systems come into play. 

CRM is the fastest growing enterprise application software category for a reason — it works. And it’s crucial for running a streamlined, profitable business. 

Everyone in the world of B2B marketing will tell you that data-driven decision making is the standard. But how can you make an informed decision when the data is coming in from sales, customer service, marketing, social media, etc? 

In other words, how do you make the data make sense? CRM tools can host all of that information, and compile it into an easy to understand profile of a customer. This provides sales and marketing teams with clear visibility of every opportunity or lead, with the ability to manage inquiries across channels. 

In regards to implementing a CRM system, it’s a no brainer — you need it. 

Need more convincing? Here are a few more benefits of having a CRM system in place:

  • Reduced business silos
  • Identified and categorized leads
  • Improved customer support
  • Increased customer retention and lifetime value

How To Develop A Data-Driven CRM Strategy 

Everything in the B2B world, or rather, the business world, requires strategy. And your CRM system is no exception. A plan needs to be put in place in order to grow sales and improve customer service through a combination of processes, actions, and tech stacks

Below are some core steps you need to take in order to build out a successful CRM strategy for your B2B business. 

1. Define Overall Vision And Goals

In the planning stages, you should be asking yourself: What am I hoping to get out of a CRM system? Maybe you want to increase customer satisfaction, or boost productivity and efficiency. Or maybe you just want to decrease customer churn rates. 

Whatever your goal is, keep in mind that it should be integrated with the rest of your strategies and platforms in order to truly drive business goals. 

2. Identify Buyer Personas And Target Customers

Having a clear and defined buyer profile is essential to creating a customer-centric CRM strategy. In order to maintain strong customer relationships (and attract new leads), you need a clear and solid understanding of who is purchasing from you, and what their pain points are. 

Before plotting out your CRM strategy, make sure your ideal customer profiles are clearly defined and as detailed as possible. That way, you know precisely who you should be targeting, and what kinds of problems they may be facing. 

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3. Plot Out the Customer Journey

In order to manage customer relationships, you need to know every step of the customer journey, starting from the very first touchpoint. 

When mapping out the customer journey for your CRM system, consider the following questions: 

  • Which team or system is interacting with the customer at specific touchpoints?
  • How can these interactions be improved?
  • What is the customer trying to achieve at each stage?

4. Leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI can assist your CRM strategy in a myriad of ways such as customer service assistance, lead management, and best course-of-action analysis. 

  • Customer Service: AI chatbot interactions can be captured and leverage through CRM applications. And since bots can be programmed to learn from feedback based on customer satisfaction, they can suggest improvements to customer service processes. 
  • Lead Management: AI can be a useful addition to your CRM application when it comes to lead scoring. AI can analyze leads based on interest or buying history. It can then provide a score and recommend what steps should be taken by sales and marketing teams to increase success. 
  • Next Best Action: AI embedded in CRM applications can provide next best steps to salespeople or customer service professionals by analyzing data that’s already been entered in the software. For example, if a salesperson just scheduled a demo with a potential customer, but they haven’t interacted with any case studies yet, your CRM application can recognize that and suggest a touchpoint that includes sharing testimonials. 

[Read more] Learn How Advances In A.I. Will Change The B2B Data Industry


5. Enable Automation Capabilities 

Your CRM application is automation’s new best friend. With a CRM tool, you can automate workflows that will trigger an action once a specific event takes place. For example, once a service request is closed, an email response can be triggered to inform the customer. 

Automation features within your CRM tool can go as far as guiding sales reps in their customer interactions, telling them what to say and do to best inform the customer. 

6. Integrate Data For Better Communication

Another thing to prioritize when developing your CRM strategy is data integration. Many modern CRM systems provide communication capabilities that enable the access to data via web services. 

This kind of collaboration enables a company to communicate with other sources and organizations to share customer information needed to quickly handle customer service requests. This kind of integration enables organizations to increase efficiency, whether it’s an SMB or an enterprise organization. 


[Read more] The Relationship Intelligence Guide For Customer Opportunities


A Data-Driven Strategy For Your CRM System

At every step of developing your CRM strategy, you should ask yourself whether or not your customer is at the center of your decision making. What will make their lives easier? What will allow your team to provide them better, more efficient support? 

And when you use CRM data to inform these decisions, you gain a fully integrated, holistic representation of your customers, and the steps you need to take in order to make sure they’re having a positive experience. 

While your customer may know best, your data knows better. 

Download this whitepaper on CRM Strategy

About the author

Reyna LaRiccia

Reyna LaRiccia is a Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact database and sales intelligence solution.

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