CRMs are a bit like Swiss Army Knives. Despite their versatility, most folks only ever realize a fraction of their potential (whether that’s slicing open Amazon packages or storing lead data). But here’s the thing: unlocking your CRM’s potential is essentially free. So step forward, MarkOps friend. Here are four free ways you can use your CRM to drive more value across the whole company.
#1: Refine your ICP by feeding your CRM better data
You can look at your CRM in two opposing ways: as dumb storage or as a queryable database. Most businesses default to option 1, and use their CRM as a static repository of demographic records (names, emails, titles and so on).
But the smartest companies interrogate the data in their CRM to find qualities and attributes that identify your best opportunities. You can use those insights to find more prospects that fit that Ideal Customer Profile, and turn them into customers. So what data do you need to understand what your best customers look like? And how do you find it?
The best ICPs are about data quality, not volume. So start by looking for characteristics shared by your highest spenders. Avoid data overload by focusing on qualities that clearly impact the nature of an opportunity (like size, appetite, timelines, stakeholders etc.). If you aren’t sure, ask your CRO or Head of Sales for help – they’ll usually see patterns that conventional demographic CRM data misses.
Top tip: Once you know which customer insights have the biggest impact to your sales motion, you’ll need a mechanism to capture them effectively. You want to empower your Sales colleagues to find and input that information into your CRM. And obviously, that requires new data fields. But you’ll need them to be field-specific — otherwise you’ll open the floodgates to all kinds of non-standardized, irrelevant BS.
#2: Target your marketing segments more effectively
Now you’ve refined your ICP, you can use it to segment your customer base to get more timely and personalized with your outreach.
Let’s say you create two cohorts — one for your best prospects (with the highest buying intent), another for the rest (lower buying intent). Instead of blanket bombing both sets with the same nurture campaign, you can make better decisions about who receives what message, and when.
Prioritize the prospects most ready to buy – and get assertive! Segmenting doesn’t mean starting from scratch with your newly created audiences – it could mean coming in hot with an activation-focused BOFU nudge to tip your most engaged opportunities into taking action. If that doesn’t work, aim for a short nurture flow (around six-weeks, max) before trying again.
Top tip: Targeting the most engaged people in your database should be less sprinkler and more hosepipe. It’s better to target your best customers with everything you’ve got vs. targeting a wider group of customers with varying intent.
#3: Lead more prospects to proven customer journeys
You can also use your CRM to identify the common pathways your ideal customers took before they bought, and then lead more prospects to those pathways.
Let’s say that you sell accounting software. Using your CRM, you can see that some of your best customers followed the same steps before converting — they looked at your comparison page, then clicked through to your pricing page, and then filled out a form to take a demo.
Neil called this kind of pipeline a “Defined Customer Journey” in his post about new performance marketing metrics. So how do you lead more prospects to the start of that journey? You could write a few blog posts about specific product comparisons – and link to your comparison page to help readers zoom out and compare multiple products at once.
Top tip: You can also use your CRM to inform your content strategy. Look at the journeys your best customers took before they converted: what topics were they engaged with? What interests them? There’s a good chance that other prospects are also interested in whatever your customers were looking for.
#4: Understand marketing’s real impact to revenue
It’s really hard to understand what actually drives buying decisions in B2B. The truth is that every deal is a confluence of multiple factors – brand awareness, messaging, salesmanship, timing, compatibility, luck and so on.
But most businesses don’t think about attribution with anywhere near that level of nuance. In fact it’s often so oversimplified that it turns into a pissing contest:
- If a deal started with a marketing campaign, that’s a marketing lead
- If a deal started with a cold call, that’s a sales lead
It doesn’t have to be this way. Your CRM can help you get way more precise with attribution – by identifying which marketing touchpoints actually impact pipeline and revenue, and even quantifying by how much.
Say that you invested $15,000 creating a blog series, a long page and an ebook. You can infer the ROI of these individual assets by pulling together two data points from your CRM — individual customer spend, and the content they engaged with before closing.
Top tip: Obviously there are different ways to model this. Some marketers opt for an even split that applies the same weighting to all touchpoints – so if there were 5 sales and marketing touches before a $100k deal, you’d attribute $20k to each touch. Another approach is to use a W model, which allocates 30% to the first touch, 30% to lead creation, 30% to opportunity creation and 10% to everything else in between.
Whatever you choose, your CRM can help connect the dots between how marketing and sales both contribute to the bottom line.
This is just the start
There are a ton of ways to realize more value from your CRM. So many in fact that it’s no surprise so many companies get overwhelmed and never progress past using their CRM like a spreadsheet.
If you don’t know where to start (and the options above don’t feel right) start by asking yourself what’ll really drive your immediate goals.
- Is it understanding and accelerating the lead-to-sale process?
- Is it reaching more ideal prospects?
- Is it finding and activating up-sell/cross-sell opportunities?
- Is it sales forecasting for better financial planning?
- Is it automating manual processes (like generating invoices or tracking payments)?
- Is it helping your service agents provide a better experience when speaking to customers?
Whatever you want to achieve, your CRM can probably help you get there. The first step is to stop thinking of it as a mundane operational necessity, and start using it as a tool to make your business better.