Lead Generation

9 CRM Best Practices You Need to Implement in 2024 & Beyond

Mastering customer relationship management (CRM) can take time and effort. With today's CRM tools being more complex and powerful than ever, knowing the ins and outs is crucial to maximizing your investment.

In this article, we'll discuss CRM best practices that are key to the success of your CRM project. We'll explore how to choose the best CRM software, customize it to your needs, and handle your CRM data carefully to maintain its value.

From identifying your CRM goals to automating tasks, we'll guide you through the golden rules of CRM. So, if you're ready to boost your customer lifetime value and improve your bottom line, keep reading.

9 CRM Best Practices to Get the Best Results

Here are nine CRM best practices that you should follow to make full use of your chosen CRM software solution.

1. Set SMART CRM Goals

Setting specific CRM goals is not just an essential practice but a decisive one.

By sketching out SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals at the outset, you're already setting the groundwork for long-term success. The goals should align tightly with your overall business objectives.

Here’s an image explaining the SMART goals framework, which you can use to set your CRM goals.

Image via Whatfix

But why exactly are SMART goals crucial for your CRM strategy?

Because your goals will determine your choice of CRM. Having clear goals helps you choose the right CRM that can help you meet your goals.

Ask yourself:

  • Why is a new CRM software or a switch required?
  • How will CRM software enhance your team's productivity?

Translating these answers into SMART goals will help tremendously.

For instance, one achievable CRM goal could be creating a central repository of clean, complete contact data. This could streamline mailing and event lists, especially for new CRM adoption.

If you want to maximize return on an existing CRM, more sophisticated goals like tracking sales activities or pipelines might be in order.

Establishing clear goals allows you to develop robust metrics for measuring progress. This could be vital in identifying any obstacles early on and tweaking your strategy as needed.

2. Implement the CRM Properly

Success with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems isn't accidental but the result of careful planning and execution. It's not just about choosing the right CRM tools but the process, from training to implementation.

Consider the resources needed for a successful CRM implementation. Your implementation team needs to be adequately trained. Allocate enough time for preparation and structured implementation.

In general, implementing a modern CRM takes between 4 to 8 weeks. Beware of proposed timelines that exceed this period as you might be dealing with an outdated CRM.

Increasing your company's lead-to-customer ratio, driving satisfaction, and improving the bottom line is achievable with a well-implemented CRM.

Here is a list of strategic steps to adopt:

  1. Understand the unique features and cost implications of various CRM systems.
  2. Conduct thorough research to identify one that fits your unique needs.
  3. Remember that resistance to change is a major reason CRM implementations fail. So, conduct rigorous, structured training for your team to succeed. Make it clear how CRM implementation will improve their efficiency and simplify their tasks.

When running your training program, ensure your employees understand the tool's components and benefits squarely.

The outcome of your CRM implementation depends on the initial steps you take. With thorough preparation and proper training, your CRM will become more than just another tool—it will catalyze your company's growth.

Companies fail or succeed depending on how well they implement their CRM, so do it right.

Here’s a visual that illustrates the process of implementing a CRM in more detail.

Image via Fit Small Business

3. Keep CRM Data Updated and Enriched

In a dynamic world of shifting trends, you're bound to see new data and users constantly getting introduced to your CRM system.

The continuous evolution of technology keeps the system compatibility changing over time, opening up gaps where data processing inefficiencies, data integrity losses, and even incomplete contact data issues can creep in.

Here's how you can stay on top:

  1. Establish a solid audit and updating plan for your CRM. A robust plan will help you look for inaccurate contact data in the CRM and cleanse those records promptly.
  2. Keep a close watch on redundant tags. Conducting regular audits also entails removing tags that no longer add value. This action alone makes information more accessible and relevant.

Here’s an image that shows the five steps involved in a CRM audit.

Image via Nektar

Your CRM provider is invariably in a race to beat the competition. They're perpetually introducing modern technologies to enhance their offerings and satisfy new and existing customers.

So you mustn't lag. It's necessary to upgrade your CRM software solution whenever a new and more potent version is available. Failing to do so can make your CRM outdated, crippled, and less capable to serve your customers' needs.

The business world moves at a blink-and-you'll-miss-it pace, where unique CRM tool features become necessities overnight. These staples include mobile access and business intelligence, once considered exclusive luxuries.

Adapting your CRM to time and trends means you're maximizing your CRM's effectiveness. Staying ahead of the game equates to having an updated, enriched CRM tool that can give you a competitive edge while making the most out of each cent invested.

4. Automate and Customize Wisely

Proper customization is integral to optimizing and tailoring your CRM tool to meet your needs. Consider the features and functionalities that could aid your team. Embed these in your CRM strategy and reap the benefits.

Don't make the mistake of underestimating the power of automation in CRM. CRMs take on cumbersome tasks like data entry, freeing your team from repetitively donning the data-entry hats.

The benefits are twofold—not only does automation give your staff more time on profitable tasks, but it also slashes the chances for human error.

However, exercise discretion as not all automation is created equal. It's crucial to discern between:

  • Meaningful automation that transforms processes and enhances lead quality.
  • Surface automation that feels good, but doesn't improve processes.

Your CRM solution is more than just a fancy contact manager—exploit it to its total capacity. Make intelligent automation your right hand, the secret weapon under your sleeve.

With clever automation, you're time-efficient, the sales costs dwindle, and no vital task slips through the cracks.

Finally, remember to customize judiciously. The right CRM software will allow room for customization tailored to your needs.

The mantra here is short and sweet, “The cheaper your CRM, the scarcer the opportunities to mold it to your wishes.” Choose wisely and enjoy the endless possibilities of a well-oiled, customized CRM tool.

5. Train Your Teams

Knowing how to use new CRM software strategically is paramount. Proper and timely training for your entire workforce is crucial to accomplish this.

The concept of ‘just in time' training is worthy of application within your organization. You'll want to train your employees just ahead of the CRM implementation date.

If held too early, there's a chance crucial information will be forgotten. Training done too late may result in frustration.

Some of the CRM practices that you should implement are:

  • Onboarding your team members who'll use the new platform.
  • Continuous feedback to amend and improve CRM use.
  • Customized training for different teams within your organization.
  • Encouraging CRM competencies through organization-wide buy-in.

Training should consider the team's and the individual's needs. For instance:

  1. Marketing teams require training on contact segmentation, list building, event management, and reporting.
  2. Data teams should have training focusing on research and data-quality best practices.
  3. Assistants will benefit from learning about inputting and updating information.
  4. Sales teams should concentrate on tasks and tools to improve productivity and close rates.
  5. Managers must learn to glean insights from relevant metrics and reports.

Finally, incorporate a variety of training formats. Combine both group sessions and self-paced learning in person or online. Providing an array of training options allows your team members to choose the method that suits them best.

Remember, the success of your CRM implementation significantly depends on how well your workforce can manipulate the system, apply it strategically, and leverage its capabilities.

If appropriately done, investing in comprehensive CRM training will improve your CRM processes and maximize your return on investment.

6. Analyze Data to Make Smart Decisions

The proper implementation of a CRM tool can do wonders for your business. However, the trick lies in effectively harnessing and interpreting the data it generates.

Businesses use CRM data to realize several benefits, as shown in the image below.

Image via Validity

Integrating various business systems is critical in creating a cohesive customer view and making informed decisions.

Your CRM system allows you to import and integrate data from different domains of your business, such as sales, marketing, financial, accounting, and logistics.

The wealth of data, however epic in volume, has no value without the correct utilization. So here's what you should do:

1. Stick to Relevant and Valuable Data: Regular audits and decluttering are key. Remove the cobwebs, eliminate the noise, and stick to the golden data nuggets.

2. Use Built-in Analytical Features: Choose a CRM with in-built analytics to mine your data. This will save you time and resources while ensuring no crucial data escapes scrutiny.

3. Consider Marketing Data: Don't underestimate what your marketing data can reveal about your prospects' interests and engagement levels.

Remember, CRM systems are not just data storage vaults. They're developed to capture and organize large amounts of information. Businesses must learn to turn that data into actionable insights to extract maximum benefit.

7. Keep The Customer Experience Top of Mind

It's time to shift gears and zone in on the significance of customer experience in your CRM strategy.

Remember, if used correctly, your CRM can help you deliver an exceptional customer relationship experience that might forever change how your contacts view your brand.

Interactions through your CRM should be:

  1. Timely
  2. Consistent
  3. Personalized

Such best practices can turn contacts into lifelong clients, significantly impacting your conversion rate.

One of the top customer retention strategies is delivering exceptional customer experiences, and that’s exactly what a CRM can help you achieve.

Customer interactions, such as support conversations, web visits, application usage, and marketing email prompts are all nuggets of information your CRM should capture and analyze.

You can use it to evaluate the customer's readiness to buy, renew, or upgrade. These insights can help you understand your customers’ challenges and resolve their problems promptly, greatly improving their experience.

8. Update Your CRM and Processes Regularly

In a constantly evolving world of business and technology, CRM data and system compatibility face the risk of becoming outdated and inefficient.

New users, technologies, and data all contribute to this problem. This is where many organizations fail and why it should be one of the top CRM best practices you should follow.

You must do more than just set up a CRM and expect it to function flawlessly over time. You need to regularly update your CRM and processes.

Work closely with your CRM vendor to promptly install any updates and start using new features that it launches.

Alongside your CRM, business processes and applications are constantly changing, too. You must keep tabs on the latest systems that could improve your CRM setup to stay competitive.

Updates could include new plugins, promising third-party solutions, and more efficient campaign strategies.

Remember, your CRM is not just a tool; it's part of your business strategy. So keep it fresh, keep it updated, and most importantly, keep it efficient.

9. Keep It Simple

Simplicity is key in crafting efficient CRM strategies. Keeping your CRM-related procedures straightforward is one of the most important CRM best practices.

Simple processes are easy to remember and bring maximum benefits without causing stress to your employees.

An important best practice involves choosing a CRM that fits your needs. Resist the temptation of opting for complex systems with many advanced features that may not be necessary for your business.

Instead, opt for a CRM that's simple to use and easy to onboard. Advanced features may sound impressive, but remember, they won't add value if they're unused or add unnecessary complication.

Consider these points while making your decision:

  • Your Needs: Assess and prioritize your needs before choosing a CRM.
  • Ease of Use: Choose a simple and user-friendly CRM like HubSpot that your team can easily navigate.
  • Relevance: Choose a CRM that offers features relevant to your business needs.
  • Price: Ensure you stay within your budget. Don’t opt for a high-end product when a simpler one works just fine.

Another one of the CRM best practices is proper data management. Having a large volume of data might seem beneficial, but having valuable and relevant data is more important.

Regular audits and decluttering of irrelevant data are vital steps in this process. Utilize the data you acquire effectively to foster successful customer relationships. Remember—more isn't always merrier.

Getting lost in what a CRM can or cannot do is a real risk, but having clarity can help avoid this. The question “Why is the firm choosing this CRM?” is always a good start.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the 5 phases of CRM?

A. The 5 phases of CRM are reaching a potential customer, customer acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty.

Q2. What is a successful CRM project?

A. A successful CRM project balances strategy, process, technology, and employee initiatives within time and resource limitations.

Q3. What is a CRM model?

A. A CRM model is a framework for managing customer relationships, from acquisition to retention, by learning, grouping, contacting, and optimizing internal processes.

Q4. What are the 3 C's of CRM?

A. The 3 Cs of CRM are crucial, correct, and consistent data, which ensures optimal data quality and integrity.

Q5. What are the 4 P's of CRM?

A. The 4 P's of CRM are planning, people, process, and platform or product.

Final Thoughts

The CRM best practices discussed in this post will help you choose, implement, and use CRM tools to your advantage and get the best ROI.

Using these CRM best practices you can leverage your CRM to its fullest potential to deliver exceptional customer service, retain loyal customers, attract new prospects, and improve conversion rates. Let these CRM best practices lead you to business success. Good luck!

Jamie Cohen

Jamie Cohen is a dedicated freelance digital marketer and writer with a deep passion for entrepreneurship. He thrives on assisting small businesses in reaching their full potential. In his spare time, Jamie cherishes moments spent at dog parks with his two Boston terriers.

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