By Tonika Bruce, CEO of Lead Nicely, who helps startups, nonprofits and leaders WIN with unique & innovative marketing and business strategies!

Working with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool is the fastest way to develop a custom strategy for any business. In the past, CRMs were always considered tools for sales. However, today, their solutions have expanded to work for marketing, customer service and even e-commerce functions.

A CRM strategy can boost business growth by doubling sales, maximizing revenue and improving customer service. So, let’s see how entrepreneurs can fast-track business growth with a smart CRM strategy.

What Is A CRM Strategy

Usually, companies adopt CRM tools solely to get more leads and effectively guide them through their funnels created with business goals in mind. But in a highly competitive and customer-centric market, this is not very customer-centric.

With so many product and service options, customers are picky and can switch to any company they want. That’s where a CRM strategy comes in.

A CRM strategy is the application of CRM tool intel to develop a business plan to grow sales, improve customer service and boost growth opportunities. The concept hinges on combining planning, process and technology.

Instead of implementing CRM software from strictly a business perspective, a CRM strategy helps entrepreneurs understand how customers can best receive value when they choose their products and how to operationalize this.

Why All This Matters For Business Growth Today

In a market where customer loyalty is not guaranteed, customer satisfaction is the only way to retain and attract more targeted potential customers. That leaves business success tied to customer satisfaction. But just how much?

According to PWC research on the future of customer experience:

• 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after one negative experience.

• Speed, convenience and helpful, friendly employees rank top for consumers at over 70% each.

• 54% of U.S. customers want improvement in company customer experience.

What does all this mean? Customer satisfaction is the most vital strategy for any business.

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The trend in software growth seems to prove this point, as CRM snagged the giant spot in the software markets in the last five years. At a 16% growth rate, this can point to a forecast hit of about 80,000 million U.S. dollars in revenue by 2025.

Savvy entrepreneurs know this and take the customer-led approach by implementing a CRM strategy.

How To Leverage Growth With A Customer-Centric CRM Strategy

A good CRM strategy is always evolving. To implement a customer-centric approach to strategy, you must understand the customer more than they do.

1. Research customer goals.he CRM strategy supports the development of a customer-led approach to sales, marketing and customer service. In this sense, implementing any meaningful strategy starts with clear goals and a vision of what a happy experience looks like for the customer.

Understand what your customers need from you. What are their pain points? What do they want to achieve? Once you understand this, you can develop a strategy to address their needs. This involves gathering insights at critical moments through surveys and spot interviews, with questions about what they are looking to accomplish, what motivated them to invest in the product and the features they love most.

Part of this research is also profiling the customers—knowing which types of people find value in the product or service.

2. Understand processes.Understanding the process from when a potential customer makes contact to the point of purchase is a savvy CRM move. What are the steps involved in taking a customer from initial contact to a closed sale? By mapping out your processes (the customer journey), you can identify areas where there may be bottlenecks or opportunities for improvement.

Mapping out the customer journey entails identifying the preferred communication channel, the team the customer engages with at each stage and the content they interact with most.

3. Automate customer-centric processes.Greater customer satisfaction is achieved through efficiency, speed and convenience. By automating customer-related processes such as marketing, sales and customer care, a company can expedite meeting customer needs.

The most important customer-centric processes to begin with can be segmented as below:

Marketing

• Customer profiling

• Campaign creation

• Campaign execution

• Project management

Sales

• Lead nurturing

• Purchase and accounts management

• Cross-selling and upselling

Customer Care

• Complaint escalation

• Inquiry management

• Service tracking

• Feedback management and after-sale

4. Measure results.Analyzing data is the final crucial step so that you can fine-tune your strategy. Data will help you understand what’s working and what’s not, and you can use it to drive decisions about what products to sell, what services to offer and how to price them. Be sure to track key metrics such as customer satisfaction, sales growth and revenue per customer.

Smart entrepreneurs understand that a customer-led approach is necessary to create a successful CRM strategy for their business. When you focus on the customer and what they want, you’re not just shunting leads down a funnel that leads them to the product or service. Instead, you are meeting customer needs on your terms and according to your preferences.

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