5 steps of the CRM process and how to implement them

Alibaba.com AUGUST 20, 20217 MIN READ
5 steps of the CRM process and how to implement them

Great products alone are no longer enough to satisfy online shoppers who are spoiled with choices nowadays. Online consumers not only want quality products, but also prefer personalized customer experiences that cater to their specific needs. According to Epsilon1, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business that provides personalized experiences. If you are struggling to meet such expectations, the CRM process may be your answer to deepening your relationship with customers or service users.

CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management, refers to any business strategies, tactics, tools, and technologies for attracting, maintaining, and acquiring consumers. Many companies use CRM software to store details such as customers’ contact information and social media profiles, their recent interactions with the business, and any outstanding customer service issues. This helps a business better understand its relationships with individual customers over time. On the other hand, the CRM process is a strategic approach that involves utilizing the data and functionality provided by a CRM system to keep every customer interaction personalized and meaningful and to eventually convert leads into sales.

In this article, we’ll elaborate on what the CRM process is before diving into the five major steps in the CRM process. We’ll then explain why the CRM process is important to your business. Finally, you’ll learn how to choose the right CRM process for your business.

What is the CRM process?

Before we talk about the CRM process, you must first understand the “customer life cycle”. It is a process in which a potential customer becomes aware of a brand, purchases the brand, and ideally becomes the brand’s long-term customer. The process, which consists of five stages (reach, lead acquisition, lead conversion, customer retention, and customer loyalty), requires the collaborative effort of a company’s marketers, sales force, and customer support department.

The CRM process includes five steps that a company can take to help drive consumers through the customer journey from awareness to advocacy. The purpose of the CRM process is to develop long-term relationships that go beyond a single purchase. Like in the customer life cycle, marketing, sales, and customer services are the three key players in the implementation of the CRM process. A CRM platform is also important because it streamlines operations and customer interactions, making them more efficient and effective. Below, we’ll explain what the five steps are and how to execute them using a CRM tool.

5 steps of the CRM process

Every stage of the customer life cycle corresponds to a step in the CRM process. For example, we know that the first step in the customer life cycle is to reach, so the first step in the CRM process would be to maximize reach by building brand awareness via targeted marketing campaigns. Now, we'll go over how each step works in practice and which company department is responsible for it. We'll also introduce different types of CRM software for each step.

1. Build Brand Awareness

The first step in building brand awareness is to introduce potential customers to your business. To captivate your audience when making your first appearance, your marketing team should first understand them and have a clear perspective on their likes and needs. There are several measures they can take to start:

  1. Research their target audience: Collect information on their target audience’s demographics, communication styles, hobbies, and interests.
  2. Segment their target audience: Create customer personas to group their target audience based on their consuming behaviors and qualities such as age, gender, personality, income, and interests. This helps paint a picture of which types of people are most likely to become customers and who their campaigns should target.
  3. Create targeted marketing campaigns: Use A/B testing to experiment with different campaign elements to find out what works best. It is also important to create custom campaigns for different customer segments.

An excellent CRM tool can help your marketers collect data to complete the above steps. It can reveal patterns in previous leads and customers to paint a clear picture of their target audience. Marketers can also check the sales notes in their CRM to see what led to conversions in the past, in addition to identifying similarities in demographics. Understanding what resonated with leads helps marketers build effective campaigns.

2. Acquire Leads

After presenting your brand to potential customers, it’s time to encourage them to learn more about your business and engage with it. This lead acquisition process may fall within the responsibility of the marketing or sales teams, or both, depending on your company's structure. And the responsible team(s) shall engage with your target audience through available communication channels. For example, your marketing team can encourage visitors to your company’s website to subscribe to newsletters by using a sign-up prompt or running a giveaway on Facebook. On the other hand, the sales team can use their CRM’s live chat function to contact potential customers and respond to inquiries.

Whether your company is collecting leads through website traffic, social media ads, or referrals from past customers, using your CRM to capture leads across all channels and centralize all relevant data will set you up for more efficient workflows throughout the sales process.

3. Nurture Leads

Once you have the attention of your potential customers, you have to convert them into actual paying customers. Sales reps can use their CRM to create and maintain contact records to store the information they have learned about their leads. Here’s an example:

Say your company sells kitchenware and kitchen appliances and a new lead gets saved as a contact in your CRM because they signed up for a free guide on your website titled “Five Ways To Use An Electric Omelette Maker”, your CRM can log their contact record as someone who may be interested in new kitchen appliances as opposed to being interested in new pots and pans. Your reps can then make use of these records through personalized outreach.

Your marketers can also get in on the action and nurture leads through content marketing. Examples are making a product demo video, writing blog posts about your key product features, and sending newsletters, guide articles, or e-books on topics that might interest your target audience. This helps build further trust with your prospects until they decide to make a purchase. Your marketers should consider using a marketing automation solution to automate their daily marketing tasks, such as sending marketing emails and keeping track of all the social media engagement. By automating time-consuming marketing duties, marketing managers can focus on strategic marketing initiatives that will help the company grow.

In the lead nurturing process, it is beneficial to have a CRM system with a lead-scoring function that allows your sales reps to add or subtract points based on any features, such as salary, region, or email activity. This enables salespeople to quickly identify opportunities that are likely to result in a purchase. In addition, a study2 has shown that ‘63 percent of consumers need to hear a company’s claims three to five times before they trust it,’ so your sales team should make use of their CRM to set reminders or list tasks to follow up with promising leads.

4. Provide Excellent Customer Service

As customer retention is one of the stages in the customer life cycle, the CRM process does not just end once a customer makes a purchase. Your business needs to keep customers coming back in order to thrive. The answer to that goal is an excellent service from your customer support team.

According to Customer Communications Group’s 2020 Retail Customer Loyalty Study3, customer service is a critical factor in determining a consumer’s loyalty to a brand. Another study4 shows that 49 percent of customers regard being able to resolve their problem quickly as the most important aspect of a good customer service experience. With a CRM’s help desk and service system, your agents have the data and resources they need to resolve a customer’s issues efficiently and effortlessly. Support agents can simply look up the historical customer information stored in a CRM, without having to ask customers to provide their order details. This allows an agent to resolve a ticket quickly and ensures a smooth customer service experience.

The same study reveals that 47 percent of customers prefer a choice of channels when contacting customer support. A CRM provides your agents with communication tools like live chat, email, and telephone that they can use to immediately respond to customer complaints as soon as they pop up. In addition, a CRM will also automatically contact your customers and ask about their shopping experience after they have received their purchases or services. Getting honest feedback from customers is important to understand the changes that your business needs to make to improve customer satisfaction.

5. Upsell

Upselling is a sales technique for convincing existing customers to purchase more products or upgrade their original purchase. Offering a warranty in addition to a device is an example, as is informing a consumer that another product has more features than the one they selected. How do you convince customers to buy more products or go for a higher value option? Start by emailing personalized recommendations to existing customers.

Your marketing team or sales team can use CRM to organize customers into smart lists according to purchase history and send custom email templates about relevant product releases for each list. In this way, you can ensure that the promotional offers or releases you send are reaching the people most likely to use them.

If your business is service-based, your sales team can set reminders in their CRM to find upselling opportunities via regular check-in calls with repeat customers. This is an opportunity to ask for feedback on your service, as well as suggestions for how you can improve customer experience. It's possible that your customers’ needs have changed since the last time they spoke to your sales reps and that they are ready for upselling.

Benefits of the CRM process to your business

While CRM has typically been seen as a sales and marketing tool, some of its most significant advantages manifest in customer service as well. Here are some of the ways CRM can help various business processes:

Sales teams can use CRM to better understand their sales pipeline. For example, sales managers can access reliable information on how well individual sales members or teams, products, and campaigns are performing. Sales reps benefit from reduced admin tasks, a deeper understanding of their clientele, and the opportunity to spend more time selling and less on data entry.

Marketing teams can use CRM to make accurate forecasting easily. They can get a clearer picture of every lead, as well as map out the entire customer journey from inquiry to sale, giving them a better grasp of the sales pipeline or incoming workload. They also get valuable insights from customers' public social media activity, namely their likes and dislikes, as well as their feelings about certain brands and companies.

Customer support reps can effectively keep track of conversations across channels. For example, an issue raised by a customer on Twitter or Facebook may be seamlessly transferred to email, phone, or live chat and be resolved privately. Without CRM acting as a centralized platform for customer interactions, communications might be overlooked or lost in a stream of information, resulting in an unsatisfactory response to a valued customer.

Thanks to the CRM process, the customer life cycle no longer feels abstract. You can utilize your CRM to build a thoughtful, tailored experience that naturally guides prospects through your sales funnel.

Choosing the right CRM process for your business

CRM offers not only contact management. It offers a variety of tools that help you boost sales and run more effective marketing campaigns. Here are the essential components of CRM software you should look out for.

Lead Management

Find new customers by automatically capturing leads from various channels like social media, website traffic, inbound calls, newsletter sign-ups, and more. Follow up with leads automatically with pre-set emails and tasks. You should also have the option to contact the leads directly yourself. From lead acquisition to sealing the deal, CRM can nurture prospects all the way through the sales pipeline.

Sales Force Automation (SFA)

Automate workflows that create a streamlined sales process. The main features of an SFA system include contact management, task management, diary sharing, sales forecasts, and team performance. It can also automatically create and save sales quotes as well as track invoices.


Many CRM solutions come with built-in marketing tools, such as email templates, email marketing pipelines, text messaging, and lightweight project management tools. Some even include features like competitor tracking and sales forecasting capabilities.


Some high-level CRM software includes built-in e-commerce functionality, while others allow for simple e-commerce integration via an API or a third-party service.

Help Desk

Pull relevant support tickets and display them contextually under each lead and contact in your CRM. Similarly, customer profiles from your CRM database can be displayed contextually in each ticket in your help desk.

After narrowing down a list of CRM providers based on the above features, you should ask the potential vendors the following questions:

  1. Is it built for the scale of my business?
  2. What is the implementation process like and how much technical assistance will be provided?
  3. Can my employees easily learn to use the software? Will there be training provided?
  4. Is it a cloud or on-premise CRM? Which one suits my business better?
  5. Is it easy to integrate with other solutions I already use?
  6. How much does the software cost? Does the cost cover the setup? Are there any additional fees?
  7. Is the API accessible?
  8. Does it work on mobile devices?
  9. What type of security features does the software offer?

With so many types of CRM solutions available, choosing the correct one for your business is an important and sometimes lengthy process. As you begin your CRM research, the suggestions above might help guide your decision making. You want to make sure your solution is the right fit for your business model to set your business up for success.

Sell on Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com is a great platform for B2B wholesalers who are looking to launch, expand, or scale their businesses. Sellers on Alibaba.com are equipped with a fully loaded backend suite that will help them skate through sales and grow their businesses with ease. Some of these features include demand forecast reports, advertising, lead generation, detailed market analytics, secure transactions, CRM tools for fostering relationships with clients, and more.

Additionally, the Alibaba.com platform facilitates businesses that are looking to trade across borders. The buyer-seller chat portal automatically translates messages in real-time, so sellers don’t need to worry about language barriers. The same applies to currencies, which are automatically converted.

Alibaba.com offers not only tools for sales pipeline management; its nature as an online B2B marketplace delivers a steady stream of qualified leads, which can save sellers a lot of time searching for leads. Account management professionals on the Alibaba.com platform will guide you throughout your entire seller journey, from onboarding to achieving long-term goals.

Ready to start selling on Alibaba.com? Create an account today and choose “Seller” as your trade role. With our smart listing tools and online storefront support, you can have your digital business up and running in no time.

References: 1. https://www.epsilon.com/us/about-us/pressroom/new-epsilon-research-indicates-80-of-consumers-are-more-likely-to-make-a-purchase-when-brands-offer-personalized-experiences 2. https://www.themarketingblender.com/statistics-boost-sales/ 3. https://www.customer.com/blog/retail-marketing/factors-affecting-customer-loyalty/ 4. https://www.zendesk.co.uk/blog/good-customer-service-defined/