What Are the 6 Steps in the CRM Process?

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Written By SmarterrMoney.org

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As a business owner or sales manager, you know that building and maintaining strong customer relationships is the key to success. That’s easy to do when you have a handful of customers. But what about 50 or 100 customers? What about when you have dedicated sales and marketing teams connecting with hundreds of potential leads each month?

You need a CRM process to effectively and meaningfully manage customer relationships at scale. In this article, we’ll walk you through the six essential steps of the CRM process, from growing brand awareness to measuring your success. We’ll also tell you about TigerLRM, a CRM with a sales enablement platform built right in, that enables your salespeople to optimize their sales strategies.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to streamline your customer interactions, boost customer loyalty, and ultimately drive growth for your business. Whether you’re just starting with the CRM process or looking to improve your existing strategy, this article will provide the tools and insights you need to succeed.

What is the CRM process?

The customer relationship management (CRM) process is the strategy businesses use to grow customer relationships throughout the lifecycle. 

The customer lifecycle is the journey users take to become loyal customers. It has five stages:

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Conversion
  • Retention
  • Loyalty

First, customers become aware of your brand. Then, they learn more about you (and your competitors). You convert them, then they consider buying from you again, and a few become loyal customers for life. By creating and refining a CRM process, you aim to improve your company’s marketing, sales, and customer success efforts to, ultimately, increase revenue.

You can think of the CRM process as the tangible steps your business must take to drive your customer base through this sales cycle. The process involves every department, from marketing and sales to customer support — and collaboration between departments is essential.  

The CRM process mirrors the customer lifecycle, but with one additional stage:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Lead acquisition
  3. Lead conversion
  4. Customer support
  5. Upsell and retention
  6. CRM process analysis

It’s important to constantly analyze your CRM process and look for areas to improve. That’s why the process doesn’t stop with retention (or customer loyalty), but rather with ongoing analysis. 

Why should you implement a CRM process?

Having well-defined sales and marketing goals or implementing a CRM platform can help a business generate more revenue. But it’s not the same as having a structured CRM process. 

When you purposefully and carefully implement a CRM process into your sales organization, you benefit in the following ways:

Streamline sales and marketing processes

Sales and marketing teams thrive on repeatable processes. Closing a customer is a massive task. But taking simple steps such as generating leads, nurturing leads, making a call, etc., are way more achievable. 

A CRM process lets you break down those big, scary tasks into manageable steps that almost anyone can achieve. 

But that’s just the start. Combine this process with a powerful CRM and you can automate the many time-consuming manual tasks that weigh down sales and marketing teams. TigerLRM, for instance, has an Auto Followup feature that lets reps create drip messaging campaigns across a range of communication channels.

Boost customer satisfaction

One of the biggest benefits of using a CRM to store all user data in one place is that it allows your customer service and success teams to understand a customer’s history with the company when interacting with them. 

By seeing their purchase history, preferred communication channels, previous methods, etc., customer service reps can ensure they provide the best experience possible. TigerLRM contains all of this information in their CRM, which is accessible to the sales team so everyone knows exactly what they need to push and mention while selling.

(Image Source: Tiger LRM)

In some cases, customer service reps don’t even have to leave the CRM to deliver an award-winning service. A good CRM will have a unified messaging center to manage messages across multiple channels (like TigerLRM). 

You can even create pre-made templates and populate them with CRM data to not only speed up your response time significantly but personalize your message as well.  

Improve sales

Ultimately, the whole point of a CRM process is to help everyone (marketing, sales, and customer success) ‌drive more sales. When everyone is clear on the steps they need to take to convert users into customers and has the tools available to do it, your business will quickly become a revenue-generating machine. 

What are the 6 steps in the CRM process?

The CRM process consists of six steps: brand awareness, lead acquisition, lead conversion, customer support, upsell and retention, and CRM process analysis. Let’s dive into each of them in more detail below. 

1. Brand awareness

The first part of the CRM process is to make customers aware of your brand, products, and service. This is typically achieved through marketing channels like SEO, social media, and advertising campaigns. But you can also use cold outreach methods (like cold calling and email) to raise brand awareness and open the door to an initial conversation. 

Whether you prefer inbound or outbound strategies, it’s essential to create one or more customer personas (also known as ICPs, or Ideal Customer Personas) so that sales and marketing teams understand exactly who they should be targeting. Not only do personas help you define and target your ideal customer — those most likely to convert and become long-term customers — but they also let you create individual campaigns tailored to each group and their interests. 

A CRM is the best way to store the data you create from brand awareness campaigns. Adding every lead into your CRM makes it easier for sales teams to complete the next step of the CRM process, lead acquisition. But it also allows you to understand which channels generate the most leads and how you can improve brand awareness campaigns in the future. 

When you look back on customer data a year later, it becomes easy to see which brand awareness channels were most effective at bringing in customers who actually ended up converting. Odds are, those channels will also be profitable in the future. 

2. Lead acquisition

Introducing your brand to potential customers is just the start. Not everyone who sees your brand awareness campaign will turn into a lead, and fewer still will become customers. 

That’s why lead acquisition is the next step in the CRM process — one that’s usually a joint effort between sales and marketing. Inbound marketing campaigns, for instance, can encourage users to download ebooks and whitepapers in exchange for their email addresses or encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter. 

(Image Source: Tiger LRM)

Sales teams can use the information you’ve generated from initial brand awareness campaigns to find out more about the customer and make first contact where appropriate. 

Getting as much information into your CRM platform about each lead as possible is important. In some cases, sales reps will have to enter information manually. In other cases, integrations and APIs can be used to automate the process.

3. Lead conversion

Once you have a list of verified marketing-qualified leads, it’s up to your sales team to convert them. But your sales team only has a finite number of hours in the day. They need a way to separate the wheat from the chaff, to find high-quality prospects from the time wasters. 

That’s why most CRM tools have some form of built-in lead-scoring mechanism that helps sales teams analyze each prospect’s propensity to buy. Historical data from previous sales can be used to create criteria with which you can score current and future prospects. The more similarities each prospect has with your best customers, the better. 

Sales enablement tools are also essential at this stage of the CRM process. Nurturing prospects will often require sales reps to provide a range of collateral, like case studies, whitepapers, and other resources. Reps need to have these to hand at all times, which is why TigerLRM’s CRM has a digitized database of sales collateral called Media Center Management. 

All this doesn’t mean marketing can’t convert leads. Email marketing campaigns and PPC ads can be effective ways for marketing teams to convert customers without the help of sales reps. However these campaigns are even more powerful when they leverage the data stored within your CRM to create highly targeted campaigns.  

4. Customer support

Your CRM process doesn’t end when your sales team converts prospects into customers. Far from it. You need to encourage customers to remain loyal, and one of the best ways to do that is to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Enter your customer support and customer success teams. By ensuring new customers quickly get to grips with your product or service, and have any issues resolved swiftly, your team will be well placed to renew or upsell them in the future. 

(Image Source: Tiger LRM)

Once again, a good CRM can be pivotal in this part of the CRM process. A good CRM will provide your customer support teams with everything they need to do their job effectively. That’s not just customer data, mind. It’s a complete history of all previous interactions and a unified mailbox that everyone team member can use to ensure customers get the attention they deserve.

5. Upsell and retention

In order for your business to continue to grow, you need to retain customers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a subscription business (where maintaining customers means ensuring they renew every month or year) or a product-based business (where retaining customers means they buy new products every few months), ongoing customer support is key. 

That means making customer retention, upselling, and cross-selling a key part of your CRM process. Every revenue-focused department can play a role in this part of the CRM process. 

Upselling is a strategy where sales or customer success teams encourage customers to buy additional products or services related to their initial purchase. Cross-selling is where sales reps encourage customers to buy complimentary products or services that increase the size of a deal or monthly subscription. 

You can use your CRM to automate parts of the upsell, cross-sell, and retention process. For instance, you can create an automated cross-sell marketing campaign that gets sent to every customer who purchases a particular product. Alternatively, you can send out automated renewal reminders a month or so after each customer’s license runs out. 

6. CRM process analysis

It’s important to understand the effectiveness of your CRM process. Which marketing channels are generating the best leads? What actions are your top sales reps taking? To what extent does customer support impact retention rates?

When you know the answers to these questions and others like them, you can start taking steps to optimize your CRM process and drive even more revenue. 

(Image Source: Tiger LRM)

How do you find out those questions? By running reports using your CRM data. Take the account source report shown above. That report will show you where customers came from, allowing you to optimize your brand awareness and lead acquisition efforts. Best of all, you can run these reports for every part of the CRM process.

Use the right CRM to create a better CRM process

The success of any organization relies heavily on its ability to build strong customer relationships. Defining and implementing a CRM process can improve customer satisfaction, streamline your sales efforts, and convert more customers. However the effectiveness of your CRM process will hinge on the quality of your CRM software.

A centralized database of contacts isn’t enough. You need an all-in-one solution that automates sales cadences and reports, provides a unified multichannel inbox for customer support reps and lets everyone from marketing to sales manage the entire sales process from one place.

You need a CRM that simultaneously provides you with the data you need and enables your sales reps to do their best work.