b2b_crm.jpgEven if your business has a large database filled with quality leads and happy customers, if you aren’t managing them correctly you won’t maximize their value. Here are the top steps for improving customer contact management by integrating your database with a B2B CRM.

1) Start with clean data

Remember: garbage in, garbage out. Before you port your contact database into your CRM, make sure that the information in it is accurate. Pay specific attention to ensuring that data is placed in corresponding fields accurately: first names in the “First name” field, email addresses in the “email address” field, etc.

2) Identify your unique data traits

No matter your industry or company mission statement, there is always something that sets your contact data apart from others. Perhaps you only sell to customers in a specific geographic region, or maybe you target customers in a particular industry. Whatever the case may be, make sure your CRM is set up to organize and display this information in a cohesive way.

3) Understand how to segment your database

Most businesses have several types of customer contacts in their databases. Some contacts may be happy customers who have been with you for years; others might be new leads who have only recently reached out. People in different stages of the sales process should be sorted appropriately in your CRM so that they can be handled the right way – for example, you may want more inexperienced reps to cut their teeth on simple accounts who are easy to please, while seasoned reps take care of customers with more complex demands who are harder to please.

4) Don’t sacrifice customer knowledge for technical expertise

Many companies rely on an outside source for CRM integration, one with more technical knowledge and experience than they have internally. There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing the integration of your contact database and your B2B CRM, as long as it doesn’t compromise the way your organization handles its customer contacts. Make sure that the company or individual you have contracted to handle this integration understands how you need to use customer contact information and sets up your CRM with knowledge of your business operation in mind.

5) Take advantage of CRM sales tools

Once your database is properly integrated with your B2B CRM, the next step is capitalizing on the sales benefits. Have a customer with a birthday coming up? Mail them a handwritten greeting card at their office. Do you have a lead who says she might be ready to buy in two weeks? Make a note to follow up then. A quality B2B CRM shouldn’t just help you store and maintain customer data: it should enhance customer communication as well.

6) Stress adoption among your team

You can have a CRM that’s been flawlessly integrated with your old contact database, but it won’t matter if no one on your team is using it. Consider holding team-wide training days or periodically meeting with individual team members to ensure that everyone understands how to use your new CRM. Once they’ve received adequate training, hold your team accountable: check out activity reports to see who is putting in the volume of work necessary to meet their goals and who might need a little more inspiration to find success.

When your business gets to the point where salespeople have difficulty working normally when your CRM goes down, you’ll know you have successfully integrated your contact database with your CRM.

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