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Customers, whether current or prospective, are the number one asset to every company! And your Customer Relationship Management software (CRM), when used correctly, is the best way for you to build relationships, manage needs and communicate with this asset.

CRM puts the customer first and helps you to create a bond with each contact, for example, it can record each companies’ preferences and purchasing needs – so you know what would appeal to each customer in the future and understand, what they might buy, allowing you to plan accordingly.

Your CRM is a fully functioning sales and marketing tool. Once you have a good system - and supporting processes - in place it will be easier to engage with both your customers and new prospects, no matter where they are on the buying journey.

Here are my top 10 tips for CRM best practice:

  1. Attract, engage & excite your customers
  2. Improve business efficiency with all teams using your CRM
  3. Keep ahead of your sales prospecting processes
  4. Use dashboards and Business Intelligence (BI) for sales forecasting
  5. Create a data management process
  6. Train your teams continuously 
  7. Review the CRM system and process on a regular basis
  8. Audit your data every quarter - clean data will improve marketing effectiveness
  9. Accurately segment your data for better targeting
  10. Only input clean data and keep it that way!!

Attract, engage & excite your customers

Does your CRM assist with the attract, engage and excite lifecycle for your customers? You need to provide great services and experiences along the buyer journey to keep your prospects interested.

Today, data connected to almost everything your contacts do online. Customer information is collected whenever they engage, across all marketing platforms, but this information should not be kept separately from your CRM data; it should be integrated too!

Your CRM system should be one source of truth for all interactions made, whether that be sales calls, website downloads, exhibition stand visits, sales meetings, social interactions or customer service/support calls.

Using CRM with Commerce

Do you sell items online and deal with returns? This data can be useful to you (and the customer) because it can help you to understand customer preferences and give you useful feedback on your products.

CRM can also track revenue and order history with each of your customers so that you can tailor your product and services offerings in the future. You can even use it to organise repeat purchases or gift card or loyalty programs too.

How to be Selected in the B2B Buying Process_Columbus UK_Sana

It isn't just for managing sales...

Good data in your CRM isn't just used to make new sales, it can help you to keep in touch with customers that you already have, with new information that will help them. For example, you might inform them about an award you have won or a change of address. Keeping in touch with your customers regularly helps to keep you front of mind and will continue to build trust with them. 

2. Improve business efficiency with all teams using CRM

Share your CRM data and CRM tips, don't keep it all to yourself.

The Management Team will want to see where you are with prospects and opportunities for example – It should be easy to see this information at a glance.

What happens if a colleague leaves your business or changes role? A shared system will make it much easier for other team members to pick up on a prospect or customer and carry on the relationship.

Customer support

You might use CRM to log support calls. You will be able to see if you're often asked the same questions, turn these questions into a Q&A page on your website – or write a blog post for your users. This will help new leads find your company too.


  • What is your return on investment?
  • How much is a customer worth to you over a lifetime?
  • How much does it cost you to attract each new customer?

These could be interesting questions to ask your finance team, but can your CRM system be set up to give you the answers too? With these figures in mind you can adapt your marketing strategy to ensure you invest enough in both your current customers and in attracting new ones.

3. Keep ahead of your sales prospecting processes

  • How do customers find you?
  • How does their information get into CRM?
  • How do your leads become sales?
  • What happens after the sale?

Share the responsibility of accurate CRM data with all teams, set clear goals for CRM use and what you want from it.

Update your CRM constantly with sales or support conversations, upgrade requests, website visits and social media interactions, visits to exhibitions stands and downloads of blogs or demos of YouTube videos – you name it – if they are interacting keep a note of it.

Always follow up form fills from website or telephone calls to your office; often it is the first company that gets backs to the caller who gets the sale. Don’t let your leads get cold - or even worse – get forgotten or picked up by a competitor!

A good system integrates all teams

Ask your sales team how they would like your CRM to work. Some might want to attach sales notes or quotes. Some might want to update sales notes live with the customer present.

You will need an onboarding session with all users of your CRM system. What is the CRM System for in the first place? How do you expect people to use it? What are its benefits? If everyone understands the reasons behind installing a CRM system at your company and can appreciate the benefits of its use; they are more likely to use it.

Improving your processes

Monitor your sales process closely with check points at each stage – use tasks to set timetabled calls and activity. Are some Sales Managers or Account Managers more efficient than others? What are they doing that other team members could try?

Talk to your technical team and get some data updates automated – you want your sales team to be meeting prospects – not doing data entry. Find out how to bulk update if you have many pieces of information to add at one time (from an exhibition stand event for example) or better still get a hand-held device to use on a show stand that will update your CRM automatically for you.

Record useful information from a sales meeting or call against your record – it will act as a great memory boost each time the customer calls or you call them. Get CRM to manage your time better - use CRM to schedule follow up calls – even if you just send a thank you for being a customer message.

Tip: Look at all contacts records by last update date. How many records have been added to CRM and then never been updated since? What did the record go into CRM for if not to get followed up?

4. Use dashboards and Business Intelligence for sales forecasting

Do you have a CRM dashboard which opens every day to give you a snapshot on your leads and sales pipeline? Dashboards are a powerful tool to get your teams excited about using and updating CRM. 

You can use dashboards to show where you are with opportunities in your pipeline, so that you can see which opportunities are closing soon – and which tasks or calls are needed now.

The management team can export some useful insights and reports on CRM data use and adoption too, such as:

  • Who is adding the most leads?
  • Who is adding the most tasks?
  • Where are the bottlenecks?
  • How long is the usual sales cycle?
  • Who is adding the most sales quotes?

Comparing this information can help you ascertain where training gaps might be and where you can make process improvements.

Microsoft Power BI training from Columbus UK

5. Create a data management process

Have you ever done a mundane repetitive job like a mailshot or had to put a press pack together? Lots of small steps are needed to collate all the papers and brochures, gifts and bags together… if you break each step down into a production line then the job is much simpler.

Updating data in CRM can be done in a similar way.

Look at what is missing in your system and fill in the gaps like a production line – concentrating on one feature at a time. Your sales team need time to sell – they should not get bogged down with admin duties. Focus on reducing unnecessary CRM admin time:

How is your CRM used?

A well-planned CRM can streamline processes, eliminate extra clicks and speed up processing. You should ensure the following to maximise user adoption.

  • Make it user friendly – if it is hard to use your teams won’t use it
  • Ensure it's available on mobile - whether you are working at home, office or at a client site
  • CRM should load quickly, save quickly and not crash  - especially if your internet goes down or you go through a tunnel on a train

User adoption is one of the largest challenges to successful deployment of a CRM system – don’t have 150 fields to fill in for each record – it should only take a few minutes to add a new contact – just get enough data into the system to get the ball rolling. Other data can be collected by data admin teams later if required.

Tip: Always check website links – they are great resource for updating telephone numbers, site addresses and useful facts about your customers.

6. Training should be ongoing

Are you using all the features of your CRM? Ongoing training courses and blog posts could help you realise what other companies are using the program for and make sure that you aren't missing out on a few top tips or tricks of the trade.

Review your processes regularly 

Are they all working? Is anyone struggling with the system? Would they benefit from extra training? Keep in touch with your CRM provider too. Keep informed on any new features or updates that you could be using to make your system better.

Get all users using your CRM every day; this will aid familiarity on some tasks. Also, the more you use it, the more you can get out of it. 

Consider an online forum for Questions and Answers on CRM or try some regular but focussed CRM training sessions on some interesting but rarely used features of your system.

And remember to make friends with your CRM support team – they can often show you short cuts in the program or how to quickly export data or search for interesting facts in your data.

7. Review the CRM system on a regular basis

The installation of a new CRM system is just the beginning – you need to know where to go from there. You need a strategy for CRM usage and CRM growth. This might include customised fields, layout changes and setting up access permissions for different teams plus workflows and automation.

Review your CRM system once it has been implemented and been used for a while. Are there any problems or pain points with it? Does it do what you need? Are some regular tasks just too slow or technical to do?

Ask your teams how your CRM system could be improved. CRM is not a static system; it should continuously evolve and improve, you might get some interesting suggestions too.

8. Audit the data regularly 

A data audit saves you time and money.

You don’t want a database full of bounced emails – it will affect deliverability on email campaigns. You also don’t want incorrect telephone numbers in your database when your sales team call a client.

A good CRM system is a scaffold to your data.

Make sure everyone builds the bricks for your data in the correct places – have a good CRM process in place for this. 

Audit your data quarterly. How many customers and prospects do you have? How many contacts per customer? What data is missing? Have any import errors occurred? Look at the audit data for last quarter – are things improving?

When is the last time you updated a contact record? Do you just update details when a client contacts you? You should be appending other crucial information to their record even before they ring you. Do you have details of all regional addresses, turnover information and credit scores? When is the last time you checked out their website or social channels to see what interests them? You might also get ideas for offers or cross-selling opportunities.

9. Segment your data

What do your customers look like based on your CRM data? What does your corporate customer profile look like? Do these two match? Once you have a better idea of what your ideal target customers look like, selling to them just gets a lot easier.

You can use this information to find prospects with similar profiles or use commercial databases or research companies to find prospects who will be most likely to understand your value proposition and buy from you.

Leverage your CRM fields

Look at all fields in your CRM system. Some fields can help you spot segments in your data. Segments could include geographical area for prospective visits, prospects, customers, active, inactive, business verticals, purchases made – it really depends on what you sell…

For a fresh water company, for example, postcodes for delivery routes might be very important and you could set up a system to only send an email for repeat sales when a delivery van might be in their area that week. Some mail order companies keep details of your first order date so that they can send you a voucher on your anniversary with them.

Segmentation will help your marketing effectiveness

Segment your data for your teams by geography, size, product interest – however you do business and make sure all data has an owner and a segment category. This will help you with email offers and blog posts too as you will have a greater idea of who needs what information and where they are in their buying journey.

Once your data is segmented you can create marketing campaigns tailored to each segment. This enables you to effectively nurture leads and build stronger relationships with customers.

10. Input clean data and keep it that way

The better your CRM data is – the more the software can do for you.

Data degrades every single day… jobs change, addresses change… emails change (etc). You need to keep in contact with your contacts and customers and keep updating your information on them. Even email bounces should be followed up; find out new contact details straight away.

Having clean, reliable, up to date data is essential for team collaboration and for getting everyone to use CRM in the first place. Does your CRM warn you if it thinks you are entering duplicate data? 

The quality of data directly effects sales and marketing success. CRM helps you close deals, achieve more cross selling opportunities, it can even save you money by not sending out mailshots and catalogues to inactive contacts.

All new data added to your CRM should be clean. Check your data often for import errors or integration problems or human data errors. Nip these errors in the bud. Get the technical team to fix any issues, tell individuals what they might be doing wrong and fix any configurations that might have gone array.

CRM is a vital business asset; it helps you to market effectively, nurture leads, close deals and create long and successful relationships with your contacts over time. 

Four common customers demand _Columbus UK_CTA


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