August 1, 2023

8 Steps to Creating a CRM Strategy for Your Business

Reading time about 10 min

A CRM strategy sounds intimidating to many small businesses. Is it about technology or about sales? How high-level should it be?

Fear not.

We’ll walk you through the basics to help you start your successful CRM strategy from scratch.

What was once the traditional buyer-seller model has shifted from transactional to customer-centric. Customer relationships today require higher levels of maintenance, which is why businesses now have entire CRM strategies dedicated to managing them.

One of the reasons is that consumers have bigger expectations than ever when it comes to customer service. They’re not going to think twice about going elsewhere if yours isn’t up to scratch.

When we hear the words ‘CRM strategy’, we’re inclined to think about CRM software or CRM technology. But software is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

The best strategic customer relationship management incorporates both people and software. It also includes pieces such as:

  • CRM data (such as contact information)
  • Management tools
  • Marketing efforts

What will CRM strategy do for my business?

There a number of reasons why your business needs a CRM marketing strategy.

A good CRM strategy will help you:

  • Provide an enjoyable customer experience at all touchpoints of the customer journey, leading to customer loyalty
  • Strengthen collaboration between sales, marketing, and customer service teams
  • Clearly and quickly identify the most worthwhile leads and opportunities, and move them down the sales pipeline with the help of marketing automation
  • Keep track of your leads and customers as they move through the sales funnel
  • Run targeted marketing campaigns 
  • Provide data insights for sales forecasting and inform your future business strategies

Read more: 8 Key CRM Benefits for Small Businesses

How to create a CRM strategy from zero

There are 8 essential steps to follow when creating an effective CRM strategy from scratch. 

Step 1: Define your CRM strategy vision and goals

The first thing to do before creating a CRM strategy is to revisit your overall business strategy and high-level business goals.  

Create a vision of what you want to achieve from the CRM strategy. That way it has a clear purpose from the very beginning. 

Think about how you want to contribute to the success of your business.

Increased customer satisfaction, higher productivity and efficiency, and decreasing customer churn rates are all examples of common CRM strategy goals.

Remember, your CRM strategy is not an end in itself. It exists to drive business goals. So you need to integrate it into the overall strategy of the business.

2. Define your target customer with buyer personas

customer profile in a CRM


Create a buyer persona that represents your ideal customer based on market research and the marketing team’s collective insights. Make it as detailed as possible. Include customer information such as demographic and behavioral characteristics, as well as interests, challenges, and aspirations.

Here are some research methods you can use:

  • Interview your sales and customer service teams 
  • Study different customer profiles and even interview customers directly
  • Send customer surveys

To maintain strong customer relationships and attract quality leads, you need to understand exactly who is purchasing from you and why.

Having a clearly defined buyer profile is essential to becoming a customer-centric business. It’s key to ensuring your teams are focused on the true needs and expectations of your customers.

That’s not all. Knowing exactly who to target will also ensure your sales and marketing don’t waste time on unsuitable leads.

Step 3: Define your customer journey

Customer journey example

Customer journey example from GCH Hotel Group (source)

To master customer relationship management, you need to know each and every step of the customer journey. Then you need to ensure a top notch customer experience at each of those touchpoints.

Start at the beginning.

Map every single customer interaction from the moment they first discover you. It might be through digital ad campaigns, email marketing, direct contact with team members, or other processes.

This is where you’ll highlight areas for improvement and establish who is responsible for what.

When mapping each stage of the buyer journey, ask yourself:

  • Which team/process is interacting with the customer at that moment?
  • How can these interactions be improved?
  • Look at the buyer personas developed in Step 2. Based on what you know about your customer, is this his or her preferred means of communication? Could there be a more effective way to get your message across?
  • What’s the customer trying to achieve?
  • What challenges does the customer face? How can you offer better support?
  • What content is the customer coming into contact with?

Step 4: Plan how to provide a 360° customer experience

Your CRM strategy planning so far should have highlighted the areas that need improvement.

Now you’re going to look at the structure of your internal processes. Do you have the resources in place to provide a 360-degree customer experience?

Do an audit of roles and responsibilities to check all the necessary bases are being covered.

Here are examples areas to optimize processes:

  • Presales: How are you doing when it comes to analyzing customer needs, gathering information, and putting together business cases?
  • Sales processes: What sales tasks can be automated to increase efficiency?
  • Customer relationship management: Are your offers tailored to your customers’ needs? Are your communications personalized and relevant?
  • After-sales: Have you got the necessary support systems in place to resolve customer problems quickly? What feedback do you receive on the quality of your customer service? Do you need to be able to follow-up with customers regularly?

In short, ask yourself ‘How can I do it better?’ and then make the necessary changes within your organization.

Step 5: Study the market and decide your positioning

It’s always a good idea to look to the competitive landscape for inspiration when developing CRM strategies.

Ask yourself:

  • Where does your company fit into the market?
  • What is your unique selling proposition (i.e. what makes you different from others in your space?)
  • How do your competitors differentiate themselves?
  • What opportunities exist?
  • Can you learn anything about how your competitors handle customer relationships?
  • What are the trends in your industry right now?

Step 6: Know your product or service

Take the time to revise and develop your product/service narrative and elaborate your value proposition.

What are the messages you want to transmit? What benefits do you want to highlight? Why should a customer choose you over your competitors?

Communicate this narrative internally and implement employee training where necessary. Everyone needs to be on the same page, relaying the same message.

This is also a good opportunity to define your brand tone of voice and put in place best practice guidelines for communicating with customers.

Step 7: Implement CRM software

It’s impossible to drive forward your CRM strategy without a CRM software for your business.

A CRM system streamlines collaboration between teams, stores customer data, and tracks all interactions between you.

adding contacts

A CRM solution streamlines contact management

To choose a CRM platform, evaluate your existing business processes and get input from your various teams. The main factors to be considered are price, capabilities, and ease of use. It’s also important to choose a CRM tool that integrates with the other marketing tools you use. 

Good news – Brevo’s Sales Platform is now available for free!

As a part of the Brevo CRM Suite, the Sales Platform is fully integrated with the other marketing channels offered in it. Manage deals in the pipeline and assign tasks to your salesforce for a more effective workflow.

If you already use Brevo for marketing, communication history will appear in each contact profile along with engagement metrics. You can set task reminders and send emails directly from the contact profile page.

With the Meetings feature, you can also create custom booking landing pages and schedule demos, consultation sessions, and other meetings directly with potential customers.

Once you have the software, define best practices to support your outlined CRM strategy. Designate an admin to manage user access. When and how will your teams use this software? What would be the experience for your customer base?

Then, set up what counts as a lead, a prospect, or opportunity according to your CRM strategy. Remember to clean your contact list before importing it to start off with an organized and up-to-date database.

Step 8: Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

deal pipeline win probablity

All strategic actions need to be backed up by figures and data – and your CRM strategy is no exception. You need to be able to measure its progress.

You outlined your CRM strategy goals back in Step 1. Now you’re going to give your sales team some concrete targets to work towards. 

Remember to set smart goals for your marketing and sales teams. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Examples of performance metrics you may wish to include are:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer retention
  • Customer churn (when a customer leaves the company)
  • Profits (overall total, totals per customer/account)

The success of your CRM strategy depends on the levels of engagement and collaboration of your teams. 

Get your employees on board from the beginning. Keep them informed, educated, and up to date on all aspects of your CRM strategy.

Launch your CRM strategy today

A well-thought out CRM strategy will do wonders for your customer retention and bottom line.

Follow the 8 steps above and you’ll be well on your way to customer relationship management success. And the best CRM is the one fitting your business needs and budget.

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