The CRM Process – Step By Step

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A simple, step-by-step guide for businesses implementing a CRM process, also called a Customer Relationship Management process.

 Overview of the CRM Process

At some point in the business lifecycle, you’re going to find yourself needing to set up a CRM process.  Maybe you’re growing, maybe customers aren’t being managed the way they should.  Whatever the reason, here is how to do it in 5 simple steps:

Step 1:  Clearly Identify Your Target Market & Value Proposition

This is the first step in establishing a CRM Process.  Most business owners will have this well documented in a business plan; although as many as 50% won’t.  Ensure you know exactly who the target market is (this is more than just customer demographics), and a clear value proposition being offered.

List customer profiles in priority, for example: A, B, & C.  “A” would be your most valuable customer. “B” would be second priority, etc. 

Let’s look at how the customer priority list in a CRM process looks:

  1. Customer A- Past/Repeat Buyers (Conversion rate of 75%)
  2. Customer B- Subscribed to Email List (Conversion rate of 34%)
  3. Customer C- Website Traffic and/or Walk-in Customer (Conversion rate of 15%)


Different customers may also have different value propositions, but knowing what is important to each type of customer is what sets the CRM process up for success.

Step 2:  Define Your Overall CRM Strategy and Consider Costs

This is solely based on what type of customer service and relationship management will work better for your business, and your customers.  Believe it or not, you actually have many different options for customer relationship management.  These can include co-creating the CRM process with customers, having a dedicated online social CRM community for your business, or handling customers the old fashioned way with hands-on assistance.  Each has their positives and negatives.  Each option in the CRM process also has different prices that you’ll want to explore, which can have a great impact on your business’s ROI.  Choose carefully. 

For a deeper look into selecting a CRM strategy for your business, read: 6 Great Examples of Customer Service Strategies in Business.

Step 3: Define How Each Customer Type Will Be Handled

Taking the customer profiles in priority from step 1, and the customer service strategies in step 2; define how each customer type will be handled throughout the CRM process.  I’ll explain this step with a real example so you can see how it’s played out:

Headway Themes sells an online product.  They have 2 different pricing levels. 

The lowest pricing level is for consumers, offering a base level version of the product.  This customer receives less dedicated customer service, in the form of access to an online support community where customers help each other.  These customers are a lower priority, due to the fact they’ll likely only purchase the product once for personal use.

The higher pricing level is for B2B customers.  These are developers who use the product to customize, and then resell to their clients.  This pricing level is much higher, so these customers receive lifetime dedicated customer support.  These are also Headway Theme’s repeat buyers.

Step 4:  Select a CRM Software to Measure Performance

Most of the businesses out there will choose a CRM software to measure the performance of their strategy. The good news in selecting a CRM Software, is most of the complexity has been taken out of the process now.  The best CRM software solutions include Saas (software as a service delivered online), and innovations in this area improve everyday.  This means there is no longer a costly need of an inhouse IT team and server space.  At least this will be the case for 97% of all businesses with less than 10 employees.

For a deeper look into selecting a CRM Software, read: The Best CRM Software of 2012.

Step 5: Continue to Re-engage Customers

Customer engagement is a hard task to bring to perfection.  Several studies have shown us there is a very thin line between aggravating customers); and re-engaging them positively in your business.  Three of the most used forms of customer re-engagement in the CRM Process are customer satisfaction surveys, email, and social media. 

With surveys – You should measure customer satisfaction strategically throughout the CRM process.  These customer surveys can help with this.  If you find you’re not receiving adequate responses with surveys, try giving out an incentive.  You can also try adding a fun twist to the otherwise tedious (and not so interesting) surveys.

A few great resources for performing customer satisfaction surveys are:


With email- For most customers, keeping in touch with an email newsletter about once a week, or twice a month is more than enough.  Send only important communications, like the top articles featured on your site for example. 

For higher level customers that require personal assistance in the CRM process (like the relationship with a major client), keep in touch on a personal basis.  Don’t rely solely on an email newsletter as a means of engaging with these types of customers.  Personal & professional attention is more than likely what they pay for, and that’s what these customers should get.  

With social media – Don’t over tweet, or overload social feeds on Facebook.  And when you do engage, engage with more than just a sales pitch.  Have a real conversation.  Be a real person.  Be the face behind the brand, and you’ll see true success in your CRM process.


You may also like:

5 Customer Relationship Management Techniques that Works

5 CRM Software Reviews for your Small Business



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