What Are Guiding Principles For Ultimate CRM Success?

Last updated on December 8th, 2022

I get a lot of emails asking me questions in various fields of business and digital marketing, but one that often comes up is CRM. 

These range from what CRM is, how it works, and how businesses big and small can improve their CRM strategies. Although CRM is a very wide topic in business, it’s also a very important one – so I thought I would cover it in this ultimate CRM success guide. 

What Are Guiding Principles For Ultimate CRM Success?

Here, I will aim to answer all the questions by focusing on the guiding principles of CRM. Check out the information below, and I hope you find it useful!

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What Is CRM?

First, let’s cover the basics. What exactly is CRM? 

CRM stands for customer relationship management, and it’s all about managing your company’s interactions with its customers, both the already existing ones and the potential new ones your marketing has brought in.

To do this, 91% of companies with more than 11 employees use a CRM software to help them manage their data. 

Note: Most of the time, I see business owners and other technology professionals simply use the acronym CRM when talking specifically about the software.

This means that if you check out any other websites or blogs in your research, you may see them talk specifically about CRM as if it’s a type of software.

Although CRM actually also refers to managing the interactions between companies and customers as a whole, it can also just mean a type of software. 

CRM software is where a company will store all the information and data they need to analyze and consult when interacting with a customer. For example, these records can include customer contact details. 

The whole point of CRM software is to store all of a company’s customer data in one easy to use place. It’s convenient, helps keep data structured and clean, and can improve productivity in the workplace (see also, ‘How to Improve Workplace Productivity‘) .

74% of companies say that using a CRM software helped improve their access to customer data.

CRM is also used to help inform marketing decisions, customer service strategies, and more. So, there are plenty of ways businesses can use CRM to improve their relationship with their customers – and it’s easy to see why a majority of businesses use CRM software and technology (see also ‘Best Business Development Software‘).

This has led to the CRM being the fastest growing software marketing globally with its size estimated to reach $80 billion by 2025. 

However, it’s really easy to forget that CRM is not all about analytics. There are other factors to the CRM market including customer service, customer experience management, and marketing automation. These are all also classed under CRM. 

The Benefits Of CRM

Nearly 40% of small and large businesses alike claim that they are very satisfied with their CRM system, showing that businesses of all sizes find advantages in using CRM software. Let’s take a closer look at what these advantages are.  

CRM Helps Keep Customers Happy

Happy customers are key to customer retention, and there are many reasons why as a business you also need to focus on keeping your customers as well as finding new ones.

One study from Harvard Business Review shows that increasing customer retention rates 5% can lead to a profit increase between 25% and 95%.

Another found that current customers are 50% more likely to purchase a business’s new products and that they are 31% of current customers are more likely to spend more than new customers.

So, happy customers who stay with your business are more likely to spend more, and this can increase your business’s revenue. 

Keeping customers happy is also important for your business’s brand. 36% of customers share their experiences no matter if they were good or bad, and 94% of consumers would recommend a company they have had a good customer experience with. 

The average rate of customer retention is around 72.5% so there is still room for improvement for many industries. So, how does CRM come into this? 

CRM can be used to track customer experiences, so businesses can know when a customer has a positive or negative experience.

One study found that customers who have a good experience are 34% more likely to make a repeat purchase, while only 40% of customers would return to a business where they had a bad customer experience.

Overall, it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for a single bad one, so customer service needs to do damage control whenever a customer has had a bad experience. 

This is how CRM can help keep customers happy and satisfied. It tracks positive customer experiences and flags up any negatives.

By knowing when a customer has had a bad experience, customer services can get in touch to try and ‘make things up’ by offering discounts, apologies, free services, etc.

As 45% of consumers think  that this form of personalized engagement is the ‘coolest’, CRM can help mend bad experiences to improve customer retention. 

CRM can also be used to help support loyalty programs and memberships. 90% of businesses in  the US use this strategy, and consumers respond positively to them as 75% say they prefer brands which offer rewards.

One study found that the benefits businesses can earn is a 665% boost in monthly revenue, 319% increase in average order quantity, and another study found that more customers as 72% of US consumers are more likely to recommend brands with loyalty programs. 

More than half (68%) of businesses say that they find CRM systems help improve customer satisfaction either very well or well.

So, using a CRM software can potentially help improve your customer satisfaction rates and this can lead to a boost in sales, customer retention, and more. 

CRM Leads To Effective Personalized Marketing Strategies

One of the leading trends in marketing is personalization. 

Personalization in marketing is a strategy used to connect with customers by using their data to offer an ‘optimized’ experience. Basically, you use their data to learn things about them and tailor your marketing around this information. 

A really easy and common example is sending a customer a ‘happy birthday’ message on their birthday – you are using their data to send a very personal message.

This can lead to the customer feeling appreciated and valued by your business, and perhaps encourage them to continue making purchases with your company.

One survey found that 80% of consumers said that they would be more inclined to make a purchase after a personalized experience. So,  there’s a lot of marketing power in personalization. 

Other businesses and studies have found this too.

Over 20% of marketers agree that personalization improves email marketing results, advanced personalization sees a ROI of 20:1 (return of $20 for every $1 spent), and it also increases marketing spend efficiency by up to 30%!

But, in order to provide a personalized experience, you need customer data – and CRM is all about sourcing, storing, and understanding that data to help ensure marketers can personalize their marketing strategies right down to every unique customer. 

CRM Boosts Productivity 

Employees waste around 61% of their working hours on menial, repetitive tasks. This can include organizing customer information, cleaning data, and analyzing it all.

This wouldn’t be too much of an issue if you have a larger business but small businesses often only have a few members and a lot of work shared between them. 

Luckily, CRM software features automation technology which can run menial tasks in the background and even execute marketing strategies (like drip campaigns) for you.

For small businesses (see also, ‘Best Books for Small Businesses‘), this is a huge help as team members can focus on more productive tasks instead while the business still benefits from CRM. 

51% of automation initiatives were proven to boost employee efficiency, so it’s easy to see why 83% of organizations use CRM systems for process automation and also sales reporting. 

What Are Guiding Principles For Ultimate CRM Success 2

Should You Use CRM?

A lot of marketers and business owners like myself take a look at the information above and decide that CRM is definitely something to try out. The benefits can be vital for a business’s success – but that doesn’t mean CRM is without its challenges. 

Nothing is perfect, and I’ve met a lot of people who struggle to introduce CRM to their business and get it to work successfully.

So, if you want to try out CRM for your own business, then here are some of the guiding principles which I find help a lot of businesses successfully implement CRM to their business. 

The Guiding Principles For CRM

1. Define Your Strategy

A lot of people make the mistake of viewing CRM as a software rather than a strategy. The thing is that CRM software, while incredibly helpful, is just one component to the overall process.

You also need people and proper business processes to help support CRM so they can all work together to create meaningful and profitable relationships with your customers. 

However, a lot of businesses go into CRM without a clear vision of what it’s for or how it sits with your other business processes. So, think about your business’s needs and how CRM can help achieve your business goals. 

For example, does your business have a high churn rate of customers? Globally, customer churn rate is around 30% but if your business is losing a lot of first time customers, then perhaps you want to use CRM to improve your customer retention rates. 

So, the first guiding principle for successful CRM implementation is to define what your CRM strategy is and how it is going to benefit your customers.

Some great brainstorming questions I like to ask during this initial setup is: 

  • What kind of experience do I want my customers to have? 
  • What do my customers actually want?
  • How do I want my team to interact with the CRM technology?

In my opinion, these are great starting points to open up further discussion into how you plan on using your CRM. 

Businesses use CRM for different purposes.

According to this study, some of the most used features for CRM software are calendar management (52%), email marketing (50%), and marketing automation integration (44%).

Other desired features include social media monitoring (25%), customer loyalty tracking (19%), and eCommerce integration (16%). Finding which one you and your CRM strategy will fit into comes with a lot of brainstorming.

2. Plan Ahead For Growth And Scalability 

Coming up with a CRM plan helps you envision how you plan to use your CRM so it can best benefit your business’s needs – but it does more than just that.

It also helps you define what features are a must for your CRM technology and software – and I don’t mean in terms of what features it offers like automated email marketing or data cleaning.

I mean how easy is the interface to use, how many devices can you access it from, how easy is it to customize and adapt to your business needs? 

26% of CRM software users identify system customization and integration as the biggest challenges. So, by defining what you need from your CRM for your strategy to work, you can also highlight challenges to prepare for and plan ahead to overcome them. 

Your CRM needs to match your business’s style of work rather than waste your employees time trying to bend and mold to fit the software.

Changes like this can be disruptive to your employees productivity so you need to find a CRM software with the right architecture that can work the same way you and your business does. 

This is also important for future growth and scalability. As your business grows, your CRM strategy will likely change as you pick up more complex business processes – and your CRM software will need to be flexible and able to adapt.

This can be done through software enhancements, customization, add-ons, etc. 

Unfortunately, finding a CRM software that meets this principle is tough, and a lot of businesses end up switching CRM software.

In that previous study from Capterra, 66% of businesses cited the reason for switching CRM software was because the previous CRM did not have the features they needed. 28% found that it was no longer supported, and 22% said it was too hard to use. 

Switching CRM can be costly in both time and money so finding the right CRM software from the beginning with good flexibility and scalability options can definitely save you more in the long run. 

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3. Measure The Benefits

I’ve seen a lot of businesses bend over backwards to implement CRM into their business but don’t bother trying to measure its outcomes.

Many just assume that CRM is an essential and thus it’s impossible to fail – so they don’t bother setting out any goals or metrics to track what kind of effect their CRM has had on their business (see also ‘What is the Difference Between SCM and CRM?‘). 

To me, this is a huge misstep for businesses. 

By measuring the impact of your CRM on your business through quantitative data and goals, you can adapt your CRM strategy over time to see what works and what doesn’t. This will help you get the most out of your CRM and reach your goals, and more! 

To measure the benefits of your CRM, you first need to set the baselines as a starting point to see which direction your rates and other quantitative data goes. You can then use these as a comparative point while you monitor your data going forward with CRM. 

As to what quantitative data you want to measure, this all depends on your CRM vision and what you hope to achieve.

For example, if you want to improve customer retention, then measure factors like customer satisfaction scores, starred reviews, loyalty program sign-ups, the number of complaints, etc.

These all feed into reasons why customers leave your business and CRM can help impact them in different ways. 

If there’s one metric or quantitative data I’d recommend you keep a close eye on, it’s the return on investment (ROI). This will help you ensure that your CRM is paying for itself and that you are not wasting money on an ineffective, inefficient CRM. 

Surprisingly, one survey found that 61% of marketing leaders do not use ROI when it comes to their decisions. The reason why? They weren’t confident in their own data. This brings me onto my next point – clean your data. 

An issue with CRM software is that it’s easy for mistakes to happen. Some pieces of data can be duplicated, entered incorrectly, or are so old that they’re no longer applicable or relevant.

Remember to ensure that your data is high quality and ‘clean’ otherwise your results for analysis could be inaccurate, outdated, or straight up wrong. Cleaner data means more reliable results that you can use for more effective and informed decisions. 

Over time, you will start to be able to see how CRM impacts your business – and sometimes, you may find new and surprising benefits.

For example, a business could start a CRM to automate email marketing simply to save them the hassle of emailing each of their loyal subscribers individually.

However, while they expect this to boost employee (see also, ‘The 4 Phases of the Employee Onboarding Process‘) productivity, it also helps cut marketing costs, improve revenue, and increase customer engagement. 

By measuring the benefits of your CRM, you will have a much better understanding of how it impacts your business. If the results are not what you hoped for, then you will have the data to back your decision to make some changes. 

4. Be Patient

Using a CRM is a marathon, not a sprint, so you need to be prepared to be patient and wait for the benefits to take effect on your business. 

First, you’ve gotta give yourself and your team time to adapt to this new software and the results it gives you.

You’ve got to wait for more and more customer data to flow in so you can have more accurate results, you then have to use this to inform your decisions for your business, and then wait for the effects of those changes to show on your measured benefits to see how CRM has impacted your business. 

Like I said, it’s a long process but giving up on it too soon could end up wasting your time and resources. Don’t be afraid to trial CRM for a few months to see how it all works out – the benefits could be worth it in the end! 

Best CRM Software

Clearly, a lot of the guiding principles revolve around finding the right CRM software for you and your company to use. As the CRM market is so huge, there are lots of softwares for you to choose from – but only a few will truly meet your needs. 

Here are a few quick examples of great CRM software I have seen businesses use:


One of the industry leaders in CRM is Salesforce, and it’s one of the best providers for offering the scalability new and growing businesses need. It offers a lot of different solutions (see also, ‘What is White Label Solution?‘) that are ready for a range of areas including marketing, sales, and even customer service.

Thanks to its easy to use interface and advanced AI tools, Salesforce is a lot of businesses first choice when it comes to CRM.


Zendesk is a great CRM software provider if you want ease of access for better collaboration across your business.

It offers support for sales (see also, ‘What is Funnel Hacking‘), marketing, and customer services, and allows for unified data to help prevent duplications, missing context, and other issues that can interfere with the quality of your data. 


Most businesses use third party tools alongside their CRM for better data organization and cleaning, and HubSpot is one of the best CRM softwares that allows for easy integration.

It also offers plenty of features including centralized information, ease of access, and great scalability as your business grows. 

These are three great CRM softwares I have seen businesses start and stick with as they take off. Of course, you don’t have to choose between these three – there are plenty more CRM software options available out there! 

Final Thoughts

So, those were my guiding principles that you can use to make your CRM implementation a success.

However, a lot of it does rely on you and the decisions you make – the goals you set for your business, the CRM you choose to use, what metrics you measure, how you define your CRM to be a success. 

Ultimately, the principles above are meant to be a guide and not a rulebook, so if you truly don’t want to follow the principles above, you don’t have to. Nevertheless, best of luck for your future CRM endeavors!

By Ramunas Berkmanas

As a full-stack marketer, I have been actively involved in the digital marketing industry since 2014. Over the years, I have gained extensive experience in various areas such as SEO, media buying, and performance marketing. Read my story

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