How to Create a CRM to Maximize B2B Sales

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How to Create a CRM - SAles Tips from B2B Sales Connections

In today’s competitive environment, a properly designed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program is simply a must have in order for your business to survive and grow. But in today’s high tech automated business world, it not enough just to have a CRM. You also need to know how do you create a CRM that is specifically suited for your business. In other words, how should your CRM be designed and customized to maximize your lead generation and sales opportunities.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a direct sales representative, a small make-your-own wine store, a chiropractic clinic, an office equipment supplier. Every business must define the processes to be implemented to handle the contact with your customers. After all, as the old saying goes, if you don’t take care of your customers, somebody else will!

You Can’t Afford Not To Use A CRM Program!

Here are a few facts. First of all, other than mergers and acquisitions, there are only two ways to increase revenues and grow your business. One, you can sell to new customers, or two, you can sell more to your existing customers. The key to realizing your true business potential in the long term is to manage your customer relationships with a CRM program so that you can do both. In fact, PROFIT magazine identified “Adopt CRM software” as one of the seven best ways to build your business.

A Tool for Both New Business Development and Customer Retention

Secondly, it costs about 10 times as much to attract and acquire a new customer as it does to sell more to your existing customers. As such, an organization who properly manages the customer relationship tends to grow revenues faster and be more profitable than organizations that don’t.

Harvard Business School Press published a study, The Loyalty Effect. It stated, if a small to midsize company were to increase its customer retention rate by 5%, its profits would double in about 10 years! The same report also noted that if a Fortune 500 company boasted the same increase in loyalty, they could instantly double their revenue growth rate!

Given these facts, it is no surprise that, in addition to attracting new customers, the smart business person should also maximize their product/service penetration to current customers so that they can maximize profits. In today’s tougher economic climate, the question is no longer whether you should use a CRM system. There is little doubt it is one of the five must-have apps for salespeople.

CRM – The Best Marketing Automation Tool for B2B Lead Generation?

Although there are many out there who promise they have found it, there really is no magic bullet for lead generation. When you get right down to it, the best marketing automation tools are the ones that put you in the right place at the right time, that being when the prospect is most likely to buy.

Studies have shown that 2 of 3 sales are made to prospects who have said “no” not once, but 5 times! In fact, someone has to hear your company name at least 3 times before it even registers. One very successful sales rep stated he must leave an average of seven to ten voice mails before his messages are returned.

When Do You Customers Buy

How to Create a CRM to Maximize B2B Sales - Sales Tips from B2B Sales Connections

When all is said and done, a customer will buy on his time line, not yours. If he will not buy today, you must develop a plan to stay in touch with him so that when he is ready to buy, he will think of you first. Your frequent contact, if done correctly, builds a relationship. It’s like every contact is a drip of water. On its own, it doesn’t amount to much, but over time, each drip can add up to a very large pool of B2B leads!

So what do you need to create your “drip” marketing campaign for lead generation? That’s where creating your CRM comes in. In fact, this is the one tool that, when implemented properly, will have the biggest positive impact on lead generation than any other.

Now the question is how should you best create your CRM to maximize your profits!

What Makes for an Effective CRM Program

To be effective, your CRM program must go beyond just tracking who bought what, when.  It should also go beyond more than just contact names, email addresses and phone numbers.  It should also include all the elements you use to define your target market.  In a B2B sales organization, this includes, but is not limited to:

  • The industries in which your customers operate
  • The size of your customers businesses, based on the number of employees and/or annual revenues
  • The products and services that the customer has or will purchase from you
  • How much or how often your customers use your product or service
  • Competitive suppliers that your customers used prior to purchasing your product
  • Other products that your customers use that are related to your products

I go into great detail on what fields to include in your CRM design in my book, Action Plan for Sales Success. Or check out our automated sales tool, Target Market Definition Tool. By analyzing your past and future successes, this Excel Workbook with 3 comprehensive worksheets will clearly define your target market so you will spend most of your time talking to prospects that are most likely to buy.

How to Choose Your CRM

The CRM program you choose is largely a function of preference and budget. It can be as simple as using Outlook, Google Calendar or even Microsoft Excel. It can also be as complicated as a complete customized solution, complete with web access for every employee, designed for your specific business or industry. 

Today, the most common option is too use one of the many online cloud based solutions like,, or Hubspot. Many cost just a few hundred dollars and are suitable for the needs of most small businesses. One that I am particiularly impressed with from a sales perspective is Pipedrive.

To start your search, Salesforce published a comprehensive guide to help small business find the best CRM to fit their needs.

Also, G2 has an extensive list of CRM programs, with over 600 programs listed on their website. They allow you to choose the right CRM Software using real-time, up-to-date product reviews, all from one simple web app. They take pride in showing unbiased reviews on user satisfaction in their ratings and reports

To help you make your choice of which CRM to use, check out DiscoverCRM. They have a free online tool that gives you side-by-side comparison of your shortlisted CRM. You can also download it as a PDF to review later.

How to Create the Most Effective CRM

Whatever program you end up using to create your CRM, it should have the following features and abilities:

  • The ability to add user-defined fields. This will allow you to customize the program to ensure that you are tracking your target market characteristics.
  • The ability to customize drop down lists within these user defined fields. This allows you to simply choose the data being entered, as opposed to having to type it in for each record. This drastically speeds up data entry. It also ensures that data is entered in the same way each time, making it easier to search and analyze later. More importantly, it eliminates the “garbage in, garbage out” syndrome that plagues so many CRM databases today.
  • The ability to make search the database across multiple fields. This can be critical to ensure that your sales resources are being spent in the right place at the right time.
  • The ability to make certain fields mandatory for data entry. This allows you to decide what critical information must be entered into the database in order for it to be accepted.
  • The ability to have different security levels and user accesses. Giving everyone in your organization the ability to add and delete user-defined fields is just an accident of valuable information deletion waiting to happen.

How to Create a CRM – Mistakes to Avoid

Over the years, CRM programs have advanced from simple, easy to use systems to complex behemoths that no one uses or understands. To prevent this, your CRM program should avoid the three basic mistakes in CRM design:

  1. Tracking just your current customers only works if you have 100% market share. Since that is highly unlikely, you must also track your potential customers. However you should not have a separate system for each. This just wastes time and energy. When it comes right down to it, the only reason for a CRM program is to ensure that you are spending your sales resources on the company who is going to buy next. It’s not just who has bought in the past.
  2. Don’t just track who is going to buy, also track when. A CRM program that doesn’t track this critical information is really just a glorified phone book! Your CRM program should include a mandatory field such as “Next Sales Contact Date”. This will then change the filing method of your alphabetical phone book to a gold mine organized by the date of the prospects next purchase.
  3. Every company your organization contacts should be tracked, even if a company will probably never buy from you. Not only it is important for you to know where to go when. But it is also important for you to know where not to go.

Manage New and Existing Customers

The secret to an effective CRM program is twofold. It’s based on how you manage your relationship with your new customers, as well as your existing customers. It literally means the difference between building a successful business for the long term, or constantly fighting to keep you head above water because you always have to spend your time and resources attracting new customers.

The Bottom Line on How to Create a CRM

Most salespeople have some type of follow up system. Most even take the time to enter contact information like name, phone number and email address into them. However many forget the most important piece of information when entering in their contacts into their CRM. That’s the “Next Sales Contact Date”. Without this, even the most expensive CRM programs are only glorified phone books.

If you are not using a CRM system, start. Make using a CRM mandatory for all your salespeople and customer service reps. If you are using a CRM and your contacts are only organized alphabetically, reorganize it chronologically. Any time I have worked with sales organizations to change their filing method of contacts from alphabetical to the date of next contact, b2b lead generation, and more importantly sales results improve dramatically!

The Real Key on How to Create a CRM to Maximize B2B Sales? Your Daily Commitment to Manage It!

More importantly, no matter how you create your CRM, managing it takes a daily commitment. It must be updated each and every day, no ifs, ands or buts! Simply don’t leave the office until you have filed each sales call you made that day. If your CRM says call a certain prospect today, call today! It is very impressive to a prospect for you to do exactly what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it! Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today!

The right marketing automation tools are quickly becoming the “must haves” for lead generation for today’s businesses. When designed and managed correctly, a CRM will help you increase the number of leads you generate. More importantly, you will all free up valuable sales time to spend on converting those leads into sales.

Remember as Arnold Glascow once said, “Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”

Aim Higher!

Susan A. EnnsB2B Sales Coach and Author
Schedule a free sales coaching strategy session with Susan here.

“… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”

Do you have a question about sales? You’re not alone.  Most salespeople have questions like this on how they can sell more. For the right answers, check out my book, Ask the Sales Coach-Practical Answers to the Questions Sales People Ask Most.

3 thoughts on “How to Create a CRM to Maximize B2B Sales

  1. Susan, this is a great article on how to maximize the effectiveness of selling and staying on top of things with a daily commitment to dedicating some time to CRM tasks.

    But in today’s data-driven sales world. It’s not only about entering the data into the CRM but also taking advantage of all those thousands of data points to uncover the hidden Cross/Upsell Opportunities and Customer Churn Risks upfront using predictive analytics.

    Sales leaders need to use the right tools to take advantage of these data points and finding out hidden signals by their existing customers. A couple of important tools I came across the community can take advantage of.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Vinod. Really appreciate your feedback. Agreed, analytics are important and can definitely highlight opportunities. The key however is being able to interpret the data properlyto know were the sales reps time is best spent to open up the sales process.

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