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Article 7 min read

What is the CRM process?

By Liz Coffman

Last updated July 13, 2021

Consumers today expect a personalised customer experience catering to them as individuals. In order to meet these expectations, you have to understand what your audience wants and needs, and you must understand how to deliver on these requirements better than your competition.

The CRM process helps your organisation achieve these goals. Consisting of five main steps, it’s a strategy for keeping every customer interaction personalised and meaningful. The CRM tool itself is what provides the data and functionality required by your team to execute this strategy – and ultimately to turn leads into customers.

What are the steps in the CRM process?

To understand the steps in the CRM process, you have to understand the customer life cycle. It’s one of the first concepts that you learn as a sales rep to understand how a person becomes a loyal customer.

The CRM process is this concept in action, and working through these steps is the purpose of a CRM.. It’s the tangible steps that an organisation must take to help drive consumers through the cycle of learning about your brand and ultimately becoming loyal (and repeat) customers.


According to the customer life cycle
, we know that the first step in the CRM process is maximising reach with leads. In practice, reach is using your CRM to generate brand awareness via targeted marketing campaigns.

Every stage in the customer life cycle corresponds to an actionable step in the CRM process. The key is knowing what those steps are and how to execute them.

How to execute the five-step CRM process

The five steps in the CRM process are a collaborative effort between Marketing, Sales and Support departments. To help you understand how each team works together, we’ll go through how each step works in practice. We’ll cover not only how each part of the process can be completed with a CRM tool but also who is responsible for each step.

1. Generate brand awareness

The first step in acquiring new customers is to introduce them to your business. The Marketing team generally takes on this task using a number of measures:

  • 1. Learning about your target audience: Marketers will conduct research to identify their audience’s target demographics, interests, preferred channels of communication, which type of messaging they respond to most and what they care about.
    2. Segmenting your target audience: Audience personas are created to segment a brand’s target audience into similar groups based on similar interests or demographics. This helps marketers identify which types of people are most likely to become customers and who their campaigns should target.
    3. Creating marketing campaigns that speak to the target demographics: A/B tests are used to identify what works and what doesn’t, to create unique campaigns for unique customer segments and to create strategies for lead acquisition.

When it comes to completing these steps, CRM software contains a wealth of information. . The tool can show patterns in past leads and customers to give marketing teams a clear picture of their target audience. Beyond understanding similarities in demographics, marketers can also analyse sales notes in their CRM to understand what led to conversions in the past. By understanding what resonated with leads, marketers are better equipped to create effective campaigns.

2. Acquire leads

Introducing your brand to a potential customer is just the beginning of the CRM process. From there, you have to encourage them to learn more about your business and engage with it.

Depending on how your company is structured, this lead-acquisition step could be a Marketing or Sales team responsibility – or both. Your Marketing team, for example, might encourage website visitors to share their email with a newsletter sign-up CTA or a giveaway. Sales, on the other hand, could use their CRM to set up live chat on your site. With this feature, your team can proactively contact potential customers who land on your website.

If your CRM comes equipped with a lead-enrichment tool, such as Reach, lead acquisition is unbelievably simple. All the tool needs is a lead’s email address to instantly reveal detailed information about the person. With this data, you can personalise your outreach with the lead to start the relationship off on the right note. Not to mention that you can save a lot of time by not having to research leads yourself.

3. Convert leads into customers

You’ve successfully engaged with your leads, and they’re interested. Now it’s time to turn those leads into customers.

To do so, sales reps must first be skilled at identifying how interested leads are and, specifically, whether they’re interested enough to make a purchase. A CRM is very helpful here. The historical data from past successful sales can be used to identify lead-qualification criteria. These criteria can be added as ‘attributes’ to your CRM’s lead-scoring tool to help reps identify opportunities with the highest probability of a sale.

If leads do seem likely to make a purchase, reps must then be able to nurture them further and build their trust enough to convert. One way to do this is for reps to send leads case studies, white papers and other resources that may sway their decision.* *

Reps should also use their CRM to set reminders and tasks to follow up with interested leads. After all, studies have shown that ‘63% of consumers need to hear a company’s claim three to five times before they actually believe it’. Use your CRM’s dashboard to help you remember to follow up to ensure that no opportunities are missed.

4. Provide superior customer service

You’ve successfully converted your lead into a customer. Fantastic! But the CRM process doesn’t end when a customer converts. In order to grow as a company, you need to retain customers. How do you keep the customer coming back? With excellent service from Support.

According to Zendesk’s 2020 customer experience trends report, customer service is the biggest factor determining a consumer’s loyalty to a brand. Conversely, poor customer service can cost you customers and have a negative impact on your reputation. Support teams must be able to deliver superior support whenever, wherever and however their customers expect it.

Forty-nine per cent of customers say that being able to resolve their problem quickly is the most important aspect of a good customer service experience. With a CRM, support agents can easily access the historical customer information that they need to resolve a ticket quickly.

Fifty-seven per cent of customers expect to have a choice of channels when contacting customer support. CRMs allow support agents not only to provide omni-channel support but also manage the conversations in a single, unified view.

With a CRM, your agents have the data and resources that they need to resolve a customer’s problems quickly and effortlessly. This allows a stress-free and efficient experience for both the customer and the support agent.

5. Drive upselling

When we think of a returning customer, we imagine a shopper continually coming back to the same business to buy the products that they know and love. But there is another key way in which existing customers provide value – by upgrading to most expensive products.

How do you convince customers to switch products? Personalised recommendations via email are a good place to start. You can use your CRM to organise customers into smart lists based on similar purchase histories. You can then create custom email templates that send relevant product releases to entire lists of customers at once. In this way, you can be sure that the promotional deals or releases you send are reaching the people most likely to buy them.

If your business is service based, you may find upselling opportunities via check-in calls. Set reminders in your CRM to contact repeat customers regularly to ask how they’re doing and whether there is any way in which you could improve your service. Their requirements may very well have changed since the last time you spoke and they may be ready for upselling.

With a CRM process, the customer life cycle no longer feels abstract. You can use your CRM to create a deliberate, personalised experience that drives leads through your pipeline naturally.

Create a better customer experience with the CRM process

To stand out from the competition, you can’t go wrong by delivering a personalised, meaningful customer experience – one that makes your customers feel that you’re on their side, no matter what.

The five-step CRM process is a strategy for delivering this experience throughout every stage of the customer journey. And with all of the customer data you need, a CRM tool makes it possible to execute this process.

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