Get a CRM system that works for you

As explained in our separate article, CRM is about much more than your IT system… it’s important for any business that you have excellent relationships with your customer. A good starting point, however, is getting your CRM system set up correctly – or refined to meet your needs if you already have one in place.

Whatever your situation, the following tips will help you get a CRM system which works well, for you, your business and your customers.


Decide what information you want to include in your CRM system

Think about what information will help you to understand your customers and their needs, to communicate with them, to identify triggers which will prompt you to take action, to monitor progress and performance for your business, your sales people and customer service staff. Also consider what information will help you model the impact of potential changes to your customer offer.

Things to think about:

  • The information you use to segment or organise your customers
  • Will you want to connect customers in any way – for example if they have a common owner or director, or if there is a family relationship?
  • The different ways in which you engage with your customers
  • Permissions for marketing contact, when and how they were given (linked to the new GDPR regulations)
  • The key points/stages on the customer journey through your ‘sales funnel’ or sales process and including post purchase follow up
  • Your pricing structure – is it fixed or variable?
  • Repeat purchase timeline – does your service have an end/renewal date?
  • Linking accounts to specified sales or customer service personnel
  • Your business and marketing KPIs
  • Performance targets you may want to use as progress measures
  • What time periods you want to be able look at – and what sort of comparisons you want to make


Define the reports you will want your CRM system to generate

Focus on what you’re going to want to see reported. Things which will enable you to take action. These could be a mix of automatically generated standard reports on a fixed timescale and bespoke reports which can be generated when needed.

Examples might include reports which cover:

  • Identifying and monitoring stars and poor performers (customers & sales staff?)
  • New accounts / Potential customers / Lost business
  • Increases or falls (above a certain level of value/volume) in sales
  • Complaints
  • Time since last purchase or between purchases
  • Time since last contact or between stages on the buyer journey
  • Response to promotional activity
  • Enquiry sources and conversion rates
  • Performance vs targets
  • Profitability

Once you’ve defined your reports, go back and check that you’re planning to hold all of the data that you need to generate them, in a format which is compatible with your requirements.

It can also be useful to check that you’ve not specified some ‘nice to have’ information that you don’t have an idea of how you will use. This can lead to wasted time and effort in gathering it as well as clogging up your system.


Be realistic about what you can manage well and keep on top of

If you don’t have the capacity for the all singing and dancing set up, it can be better to start smaller and build up over time. You will want to be sure that the system can accommodate your longer-term needs, so scope out the full requirements at the outset, even if you’re not going with it all straight away.

Things to think about:

  • Is your customer information up to date or is there a pre-system step of checking the information you hold? Remember rubbish in = rubbish out, so definitely make sure you’re not in this position.
  • Do you have all of the base information you want to include about all your customers, or will you need to gather some of that?
  • How will you get the initial data into the system? Are there staffing or operational implications linked to this?
  • What is the minimum information you need to set up a new customer record and do you have a procedure in place to collect this?
  • How will future information be added – can it be automated in some way, such as from an on-line form, linked to your email communications or promotions. If so, do you have the necessary permissions in place?
  • How will you keep the information updated? Do you need to build in review dates, or set up procedures to check or clean some elements?


Make sure your CRM system is set up to suit your needs

This should include the resources you have available and the tech capabilities of the people who are going to manage and use the system.

Things to think about

  • The ease of entering data and how it can be checked for accuracy, both initially and over time.
  • Whether you have the skills in-house (and does the system allow you) to make changes to the system, to add or amend fields, to create bespoke reports. Will you need to buy-in support from the provider to do any of these?
  • Can you, and would it be helpful to, link the system to other IT programmes that you use, such as your financial management, project management and email packages?
  • The differing needs and competencies of your management, marketing, sales and service delivery staff. Don’t forget your finance team if this area is integrated with your CRM system.
Finally, I would recommend making someone within your organisation a champion for the package – a person who can help you fully explore and use the functionality – so you can use it to your maximum advantage.


So, there’s a lot to think about, but it’s worth investing time and effort to get your CRM system right. Doing so will give you an essential tool which will help you build excellent customer relations, which in turn will lead to strong and profitable sales.

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If you need assistance with any aspect of your marketing, or would like to know more about how we work, please get in touch.


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