Table of Contents
It's rare today to find a company that doesn't use a CRM software platform.
In fact, 91% of businesses with more than ten employees use one.
But just because every business has a CRM, that doesn't mean they're using it particularly well or with any kind of process or system to back it up.
We want to help you get the most out of your software tools by exploring how a thorough understanding of the process of CRM (customer relationship management) can help you attract, engage, close, and retain more customers.
Let's dive in.
What Is a CRM Process?
A CRM process is a system you follow to attract, engage, convert, nurture and retain customers using your CRM software. The idea is that prospects go through a variety of steps on their way to becoming paying customers. We call this the customer journey, and it looks something like this:
- Awareness of a given problem - "Hmmm, this is impacting my life."
- Research into potential options - "What are my options for solving this problem?"
- Purchase of a relevant solution - "This seems like the most suitable option."
- Value received from that solution - "Wow, this is really helpful."
- Recommendation of the solution to others - "Hey, I think you should use this too."
Your company can support them across the whole journey, and it's about more than just sales.
Marketing is responsible primarily for the awareness stage, generating brand, product, and problem awareness. Generally, there is an overlap between marketing and sales at the research stage, as both teams can support helping the customer understand their options.
The purchase stage is an out-and-out sales activity, and the value and recommendation stages are the domain of your customer service, support, and success teams. However, the marketing might get involved in the recommendation phase, such as when requesting reviews, testimonials, or developing a referral program.
Your CRM process essentially defines how you'll interact with your customers (that is, how you'll manage the customer relationship) at each stage.
The Key Benefits of Process in CRM
Building solid CRM processes offers eight key benefits:
- More focused lead acquisition
- Smoother customer journey
- Improved conversion rates
- Greater customer retention
- Enhanced customer lifetime value
- Time savings through automation
- Improved cross-team collaboration
- Better decision-making
Let's explore each in a little more detail.
1. More Focused Lead Acquisition
A well-developed CRM process helps you improve your acquisition of leads as you become more focused on the specific customer types you help, and are better able to appeal to their needs, desires, and challenges.
2. Smoother Customer Journey
Most customer journeys today involve a variety of touchpoints across marketing, sales, support, and success.
This can often come off as disconnected and clunky for customers, but building a comprehensive process in your CRM that includes smooth handoffs from one department to another makes for a much more fluid customer experience, which is the expectation today.
3. Improved Conversion Rates
Leveraging tools like automation, reporting and analytics, and conversational intelligence (all things you can include at various stages of your CRM process) contribute toward an enhanced ability to communicate with customers, appeal to their needs, build trust, and ultimately close deals.
4. Greater Customer Retention
A quality process in CRM doesn't stop at customer acquisition; it also includes processes and systems for nurturing customer relationships after the first purchase. This positively impacts customer retention as you continue to meet their needs, provide value, and impress them through your helpful customer support and success initiatives.
5. Enhanced Customer Lifetime Value
As a result of both improved lead acquisition and customer retention, you'll drive the customer lifetime value (CLV) up.
That means for each new customer you bring on board. You'll create more revenue, improving the ROI (return on investment) of your sales and marketing efforts.
6. Time Savings Through Automation
The best CRM processes leverage the automation functionality in your CRM platform to delegate repeatable manual work, allowing your reps to focus on the activities that matter.
7. Improved Cross-Team Collaboration
Well-developed processes in CRM align marketing, sales, and service teams toward a common goal and delineate responsibilities for each department to meet their shared goal.
This helps bridge the gap between teams and create improved collaboration. No longer is it "marketing generates leads, sales close them," both can collaborate effectively on each aspect of the customer experience.
8. Better Decision-Making
A strong CRM process uses the powerful reporting and analytics capabilities of your sales software, so you can make smarter, data-driven decisions about changes to your processes.
For instance, you might identify that a particular customer segment is not converting at the same rate as the rest, so you decide not to target them with your CRM marketing efforts and reallocate that budget to more productive segments.
7 Steps Involved in a CRM Process
Follow these seven steps to build a powerful CRM process, attract more customers, and grow revenue.
- Build brand awareness
- Generate leads
- Nurture leads
- Convert leads to customers
- Provide superior customer service, support, and success
- Drive upsells and cross-sells
- Leverage reviews and referrals
1. Build Brand Awareness
The first step in your CRM process is to build brand awareness. That is, your goal is to grow your ability to be recognized by potential customers.
You can't attract customers if they don't know who you are, right?
Your first task here is to gather details on your customers to understand their:
- Current challenges
- Other considerations/options
- Desired solutions
- Purchasing habits
Pull all of this information together into customer persona documents. You'll probably need a few, as you'll likely have multiple customer segments.
For instance, Ringy serves several use cases:
Each of these represents a different customer segment with different pain points and goals. So, our marketing efforts need to change to reflect these.
One way that marketers build brand awareness is by creating segment-focused content that helps customers solve common challenges.
For instance, we wrote this article on choosing an insurance CRM for our insurance segment.
2. Generate Leads
Acquiring new leads is where many salespeople start to get excited; we love new opportunities to open sales conversations.
Historically, this has been the domain of the marketing department.
They might, for example, run a retargeting ad on social media to get prospects to download an ebook or sign up for a free trial, like this Facebook ad from Shopify.
Today, though, sales agents are getting more and more involved in the lead generation process, particularly using platforms like LinkedIn to reach out directly to potential prospects.
3. Nurture Leads
Once you've captured a lead, you'll need to nurture that relationship to a point where they're ready to purchase.
This generally involves a combination of sales and marketing efforts.
Sales need to engage in a series of sales conversations, typically progressing like this:
- Prospecting and pre-qualification
- Needs awareness and qualification
- Sales demonstrations or presentations
4. Convert Leads to Customers
At the end of your lead nurture sequence comes the money shot: converting that prospect to a customer.
How this actually looks depends a bit on your organization.
For product-led growth organizations, it's likely to be automated. For example, at the end of an automated email lead nurturing campaign (triggered after a free trial is activated), you present an offer like this one from Shift.
In high-ticket sales and enterprise B2B environments, this is more likely to be an Account Executive activity.
After a successful sales demonstration, they'll provide a proposal, negotiate terms, and sign a contract once all stakeholders approve the deal.
5. Provide Superior Customer Service, Support, and Success
Remember what we said about CRM processes going beyond customer acquisition and focusing on the entire customer experience?
Well, that includes upping your customer service, support, and successful games. These, by the way, are all very different things:
Helping customers with their general queries
The process of solving technical issues (particularly important if you're a software company)
Helping customers get the most out of your product, and also identifying opportunities to upsell and cross-sell
6. Drive Upsells and Cross-Sells
This part of the CRM process is crucial for ongoing revenue growth in subscription-based businesses.
Let's quickly describe these two concepts:
Upselling is recommending better products. A rep at Airtable, for example, might use an upsell approach to move a customer account from the Plus plan to the Pro plan.
Cross-selling is about recommending additional products that would complement the existing purchase. For instance, that Airtable sales rep could also sell an additional storage package to a customer on the Plus plan.
7. Leverage Reviews and Referrals
Referrals are a great way to generate more business, especially as a B2B salesperson: 71% of frontline B2B reps say they see better conversion from referred prospects.
Reviews are generally the domain of the marketing team, and it's where the whole process loops back aground on itself. Marketing asks for a review, they publish it on their site (or on review websites), and then use that to grow their brand awareness.
Best CRM Software Providers for Businesses
Ready to adopt a CRM software platform to run this new process?
One of these four should do (or just go with the first one 😉).
In one sentence
A complete sales CRM solution that equips you with all the functionality you need to manage customer relationships throughout the entire buyer journey
$99 a month for unlimited users
A popular CRM and pipeline tool with automation, pipeline management, and in-platform calling
$14.90 to $99 per user per month
A sales software platform that's suitable for managing CRM processes thanks to sales automation, contact organization, project management, and deal/pipeline management
$23 to $99 per user per month
A CRM platform aimed squarely at B2B sales teams with features like team collaboration, website forms integrated with your sales pipeline, in-depth reporting, and automated email cadences
$16 to $42 per user per month
I mean, of course, we're gonna rep ourselves, right?
Ringy is a powerful CRM solution providing all the features and functions you need to manage customer relationships throughout the journey.
We're talking stuff like:
- SMS and email drip campaigns
- Powerful automation
- A solid reporting suite
- Cloud VoIP phone with local caller ID
Ringy costs just $99 a month, regardless of how many users you have. Nice and simple.
*Pricing is accurate as of October 2022.
Pipedrive is a widely-used CRM and pipeline tool with common features like automation, pipeline management, and in-platform calling.
Pipedrive also offers a decent email marketing automation platform, which can help you bridge the gap between your marketing and sales teams.
You'll pay at least $12.50 per user per month for Pipedrive, with more well-equipped plans costing closer to $75.
*Pricing is accurate as of October 2022.
Copper is another sales software platform that's largely suitable for managing CRM processes.
Copper's primary features include sales automation, contact organization, project management, and deal and pipeline management.
They also have some email and marketing tools that can help with the awareness and research phases in your customer journey.
Copper does have a mobile app, which makes sales on the go easy, but unfortunately, they don't offer SMS natively. You'll have to integrate with some other form of SMS marketing platform.
Copper costs between $23 and $99 per user per month, depending on which plan you go for.
*Pricing is accurate as of October 2022.
Nutshell is a CRM platform aimed squarely at B2B sales teams.
As such, you'll find a variety of B2B-focused features like:
- Team collaboration functionality
- Website forms (and integration with your sales pipeline)
- In-depth reporting
- Automated email cadences
One of Nutshell's biggest benefits is a wide variety of integrations with other software tools, allowing you to build an integrated sales tech stack. Examples include Intercom, PandaDoc, and Slack.
Nutshell has two pricing plans:
- Nutshell - $16 per user per month
- Nutshell Pro - $42 per user per month
*Pricing is accurate as of October 2022.
Building out your CRM processes is a long-term, iterative process.
Use your reporting and analytics tools to gauge performance and make adjustments from there.
Oh, and if you don't have a tool for understanding sales performance, you better check out Ringy, then.
We've got some pretty cool stuff to share with you. Book a demo with the team today.