mfCEOs Blog Thursday, June 15, 2017
Starting conversations

How do you put the customer at the heart of your business?

Lesley Daley
Editor, Lesley’s career has encompassed working with organisations of all shapes and sizes, from innovative start-ups through to public sector corporations, NGOs and international blue-chip companies.

Nurturing and converting leads takes deep customer relationships and these relationships begin by Starting Conversations (our sixth box).

Starting Conversations is how your business nurtures and converts leads into your direct source of revenue, ie sales. Your business needs to understand how your customers buy from you in order for you to maximise conversion opportunities.

Measuring the effectiveness of your sales function is crucial to your success because sales, as a function, has changed. Today, more than ever, the sales function is about deeper relationships.

In this context, we are often asked about CRM (that’s customer relationship management) programs. I thought you would be interested in the article below from Salesforce, which gives a really clear understanding of what they are and how to develop a CRM strategy that fits your business:


With the introduction of advanced customer relationship management (CRM), businesses are finally able to place customers at the forefront. However, the technology can only do so much. In fact, even though CRM has been shown to increase revenue by 41% per salesperson on average, it is estimated that 43% of businesses that utilize CRM are failing to use even half of their CRM systems correctly.

In a report for Forrester, analyst William Band surveyed approximately 150 different companies in an effort to identify problems with their CRM initiatives. He discovered that 18% of his respondents reported issues directly relating to inadequate strategies. Without an effective CRM strategy, businesses run the risk of missing the mark on delivering superior customer value. Here are some tips to help your business develop a winning CRM strategy.

  1. Set a destination

    More than anything else, your CRM should help your company achieve its goals. As such, your first step in implementing a CRM strategy is to identify those goals. Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, your next step is to determine how you plan on reaching your objectives. Break your goals down into smaller, achievable objectives, and then map out how and when you plan to complete these steps. This map should be flexible, allowing for revision along the way.

    Here's why you need a CRM strategy
  2. Prioritize your Customers

    It is common for businesses to want to treat all of their customers equally. The problem is that the business world is not a democracy; for a company to be successful, it must be willing to prioritize customers based upon how profitable (or how likely to become profitable) they are. For example, returning customers are often much more valuable, spending on average nearly double what new customers spend. Your organization may have its own definition of what makes a customer valuable, so it is up to you to identify the traits that you most look for in a buyer, so that can segment your accounts to increase metric-effectiveness.

  3. Communicate with your employees

    Your CRM may be designed to handle large amounts of data, and to facilitate communication between various groups, but it is your staff that will determine whether or not your goals are met. Involve your employee in every step of the strategic process. This will help them not only internalize the objectives, but will also give them personal ownership over the direction that the company takes. Invested employees will be better able to integrate new policies and technologies in a way that will benefit everyone involved.

  4. Stagger your changes

    If some aspect of your business isn’t working the way it should, you might feel pressured to implement new policies and technologies as quickly as possible in an effort to minimize any damage. The problem with this mentality is that too many changes all at once can have a negative impact on your employee’s productivity. Keep your workforce in mind, and whenever possible, introduce your new CRM policies gradually.

  5. Start tracking your customers before first contact

    The CRM framework makes it possible for businesses to capture data at every stage of the customer journey. Despite this, many businesses fail to put their CRM to work until after the first few steps have been made. Instead, prepare for initial contact with your lead by using your CRM to catalogue what kind of information your prospective customer shares across social media channels. This will give you an edge in understanding what your customer wants, how they expect you to deliver on those wants, and what they are likely to want in the future.

    The perfect a CRM strategy
  6. Sync everything to your CRM

    Many CRMs have their own built-in programs that mimic the functionality of other, often-used applications. When this is the case, then it is a simple matter for your system to sync together, so that any notes or appointments made throughout the system are automatically tracked through the rest of the CRM. However, for times when outside applications are necessary, be sure sync your CRM with whatever other programs are being utilized. The best CRMs will do this automatically, importing client-related appointments from your calendar, updating cancellations and other changes, and sending reminders when appropriate. Syncing everything together will help guarantee that you’re utilizing your CRM to its full ability.

  7. Evaluate and improve

    Every business has its own unique challenges, and no CRM strategy — no matter how in-depth — will be able to accurately account for every possible contingency. Accept this fact, and be willing to reevaluate your approach should it become apparent that something isn’t working as well as it could be. Remember: Knowing what is ineffective can often be nearly as valuable as knowing what is effective, so be grateful for every chance you have to identify weaknesses in your system.

When all is said and done, CRM is nothing more than a highly-advanced tool. By itself, it is incapable of helping your business reach its goals. But when combined with a detailed-yet-flexible business strategy, CRM can help you place your customer in the forefront of your business focus. It may take time, effort, and a few trips back to the drawing board, but if you make it a point to develop the right strategy, you’ll find that CRM has the potential to perfect your relationships with those who keep you in business.

By the way, the photo is of Otto, who likes to help out in the office occasionally.



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