The 9 Highest Impact CRM Best Practices


  • Research findings show 9 CRM best practices most contributed to operational excellence.
  • Companies that succeeded in a majority of the 9 findings achieved Best-in-Class (e.g., top 15 percent) performance results.
  • The CRM best practices are symbiotic, meaning that achieving anyone contributes to others. When pursued holistically they lower operational cost, empower users for increased staff performance, and improve customer and company business outcomes.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Achieving Customer Relationship Management excellence is more of a dream than a vision for most companies. It's not that they don't want to advocate for customers, fully leverage their technology and maximize their contribution to the company, it's that they don't have a road map to get there.

The most recent CRM Benchmark Report provides a data-driven and insights-based road map. It shares how the top performers achieved what is an elusive objective for so many of their peers.

CRM excellence is not achieved by arbitrary pursuits. In fact, the research found that the Best-in-Class Leaders (i.e., the top 15 percent) applied 9 purpose-built methods that put their performance and financial contribution far ahead of their peers.

The Hallmarks of CRM Excellence

Here are those 9 best practices.


Staff Productivity Improvement

Two-thirds of survey respondents advised they achieved improved staff productivity using CRM software. However, the methods varied significantly by performance archetype. The below chart displays technology-enabled capabilities applied by different cohorts.

CRM Improves Staff Productivity

When comparing the Best-in-Class performers to the total population, the data demonstrated more differences than similarities. In particular, the top performers identified Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a top contributing factor to user productivity 3.1X more than the remaining population.


Better Decision Support

Decision support tools are effective at churning through large volumes of customer data and delivering insights and recommendations that are just not possible otherwise.

But to achieve these types of insights at scale, a mix of information reporting tools are needed.

But nobody has the time or budget to implement every CRM decision support technology well. So, the question is which decision support tools are the most effective?

Top 5 CRM Analytics Tools

The decision support tools shown above were ranked as the most effective by the Best-in-Class and as the numbers show, the differences between the top performers and the remaining population were statistically significant.


Customer Strategies that Create Customer Affinity

The overarching goal of a customer strategy is to create customer affinity. Achieving customer affinity is essential because strong customer relationships are a leading indicator to increased customer purchases, referrals, customer lifetime value and retention; all factors that deliver significant and sustained revenue growth.

The research revealed that most companies do not have a measured customer strategy program. However, those who did outperformed those who did not. The four most used customer strategies are shown below.

Top Customer Affinity Strategies

Each of these customer strategies have overlap but are unique and deliver unique benefits.

Each of the customer strategies are built on frameworks that define systemic approaches to achieve customer affinity and downstream revenue and profit objectives. Each defines how the company will align and engage customers, the technology to automate and scale customer relationships, and the analytics to measure success or inject course corrections.


CRM Software for Product Innovation

Innovation is a risk-reward business growth equation. Most business leaders understand that risk and reward are opposing forces but are reticent to acknowledge that growth and comfort do not coexist. CRM technology can help bridge this divide.

Innovation is not prescriptive but follows known patterns that can be repeated. It benefits from a framework that applies technology to replicate processes and lessons.

CRM for Innovation

We found it surprising that only 21% of survey respondents use their customer management application to improve their products and services. However, when filtering that cohort by performance archetype, we were less surprised to see that the Best-in-Class leaders were 3X more likely to use CRM to improve their products and services than their lower performing peers.


Technology Driven Marketing Best Practices

Marketing is a core tenant of the CRM stack. So, the research survey sought to discover what's most important to marketers and how they use software to achieve it.

The top reported objective was to grow the sales funnel. To do that they applied the 3 practices of automating 6 sequential marketing automation processes, shifting from piecemeal campaign management to portfolio optimization, and adopting integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels.

The below graph shows the 6 marketing automation processes and their adoption by each performance archetype.

Marketing Automation Process Adoption

Salesforce Best Practices

Sales leaders identified three top goals to be aided with their technology. They included increasing leads to grow the pipeline, improving sales win rates to grow revenues and making revenue generation more visible, predictable and deterministic.

The research uncovered about two dozen software methods to improve the sales win rate. But as shown in the table below, the Best-in-Class sales leaders identified 6 methods that outperform all others.

Sales Win Rate Best Practices

Customer Service Best Practices

Customer service leaders applied technology-enabled capabilities to achieve their top three goals of improving customer satisfaction, increasing customer retention and lowering the cost to serve.

The below table shows how they achieved the goal of improving customer satisfaction (CSAT).

Customer Satisfaction Best Practices

The above six methods are more sequential and integrated than they may first appear. For example, customer strategy defines and sequences the prescriptive methods to deliver the most important customer and business results. Strategy is followed by customer insights to identify what customers most want so you can deliver to known expectations. Finally, analytics measure what's most important and flag variances for timely intervention.


Center of Excellence (CoE)

A CRM Center of Excellence (CoE) is a best practice to leverage scarce and high-demand skills across the company to get more utilization and value from your technology.

The research revealed the top CoE objectives, core competencies and challenges. It also revealed the CoE ROI.

CRM Center of Excellence ROI

Among all respondents the median Center of Excellence ROI was 59%. But the ROI became much more revealing when viewed by archetype. Somewhat surprisingly, 13% of respondents did not know or did not calculate the CoE ROI. Not so surprisingly, 91% of those respondents were not the top performers.

For those that did calculate ROI, the lower performing respondents achieved a median ROI of 6%. For most companies, that's an unimpressive payback that puts the CoEs continued existence at risk.

The top performers achieved an ROI of 85%. That's 3.5X greater than their lower performing peers and an impressive ROI that not only validates the CoEs existence but makes it indispensable to the company.


Fuel the Revenue Engine

There are four ways to grow revenues organically. You can acquire more customers, increase customer share, improve customer retention or raise prices. CRM software provides the data and insights to engineer the optimal combination of these factors to maximize revenue growth.

Identifying the best revenue growth plan will require data and predictive modeling. The below example is a Johnny Grow predictive model. It extracts customer and sales data to diagram the company's lead to revenue funnel, calculates the conversions at each step and allows management to experiment and forecast different uplift strategies.

Company Growth Formula Predictive Model

This type of pro forma model can quickly, accurately, and holistically diagnose the operations that most benefit from improvements and advise the data-driven best practices that will deliver the biggest financial upside. This type of predictive analytic also shifts revenue generation, and growing revenue, from guesswork to systemic execution and precisely forecasted results.

See the research findings that show the top 9 CRM best practices to increase user adoption, software value and business transformation.

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Best practices are shared lessons derived from research and data to save time, reduce risk and improve business outcomes. They show which actions deliver results and which don't, and that helps prioritize what to do and is equally helpful in determining what not to do.

They should be categorized and aligned with a roadmap. They should show prerequisites, inter-dependent relationships and sequence optimization, so that each achieves its goal and delivers by-products that jump start or contribute to the next.

Certain practices have overlap, so doing them together will reduce time and increase the impact for both. And completing some will provide a jump start to others. So, logically sequencing them can further decrease time and investment and accelerate results.

Because they are data driven, they can be modeled to show investment, cash flow impact and payback.

A single CRM best practice will deliver an incremental performance improvement.
A collection will deliver exponentially more.