How to Step Up Your CRM Software for Improved Customer and Revenue Growth


  • Customer Relationship Management is a journey. Continuous advancement of CRM software delivers continuous improvements to customer and company growth objectives.
  • Applying a progressive model aids planning and measurability. It shows how CRM capabilities build upon each other and contribute to the most important financial objectives. It allows the company to think big, start small and pursue a journey of continuous improvements.
  • A 3-step progression model can be used to systemically advance your application and the business outcomes it facilitates.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Customer Relationship Management software doesn't stop evolving after the go-live event. At least it shouldn't.

In fact, because many companies strive to get their CRM system implemented expeditiously, the value and benefits are normally nascent in the beginning. Getting the application live is only the beginning of the journey. Getting it into production creates a platform to build upon and accelerate customer objectives and revenue growth.

There are many ways to advance CRM for improved customer relationships and the financial benefits. You can pursue these methods piecemeal or pursuant to a holistic plan. Using an overarching plan permits better forecasting, compares alternative scenarios, prioritizes actions according to investment and payback, and can sequence actions so that completing one jump starts another to reduce overall time and cost.

The Johnny Grow Progression Model is a 3-step framework that plots the fastest and least cost route to slated customer and revenue objectives. It also eliminates trial and error, accelerates time to value and reduces risk.

Here's how it works.


Begin with Business Outcomes

The model starts by defining the company's prioritized customer and revenue outcomes. Beginning with business results is opposite the more common but less successful approach of starting with progressive software additions and hoping technology features eventually deliver financial benefits.

Trying to start by adding individual software capabilities that hopefully roll up to the most important business outcomes occasionally works but even then the effort is grossly inefficient and results are normally de minimis and often temporary.

So how do you know the most important customer and revenue outcomes to pursue? There's three methods.

  1. Company Revenue Target

Nearly all companies have revenue targets and nearly all revenue comes from customers. You can show how CRM software capabilities can be engineered to increase customer acquisitions, grow customer share and improve customer retention and collectively sum to the company's revenue target.

We use a proprietary tool called the Predictive Pyramid to show the multi-tier linkage between technology capabilities and company financial results. The image below is an example.

Revenue Growth Predictive Model

It's a predictive model that can be manipulated in real time to see how different software capabilities cascade to financial results.

The data that drives the calculations is sourced from company history if its available or industry benchmarks if it's not. In working with clients to populate the predictive pyramid, we find that most believe they don't have the necessary data. But quite often they have more data than they think, it's just lying in wait and disorganized in siloes.

The pyramid is needed because no application capability or process lives in isolation. Each has cascading effects that impact many areas and those impacts must be considered when making tradeoffs.

This visualization is extremely helpful in finding the most direct route to a financial target that can be accomplished in the least time and cost and with the least risk.

Without this type of visibility, CRM advancements are made in the dark, strategy is little more than wishful thinking and results are haphazard at best.

  1. Apply Industry Benchmarks

Many times, you can accelerate results by fixing the weakest areas that deliver the biggest uplift. The challenge is knowing what areas are weak and how much uplift can be gained. Industry benchmarks can help.

Benchmarks provide a comparison to identify where the company stands relative to peers and most needs to improve. They also enable predictive analytics.

For example, sales performance research shares sales win rates. When filtered by industry and extrapolated, business analysts or other users can calculate how even small improvements to sales win rates deliver a significant revenue uplift.

Sales Win Rate Benchmark

Many managers like to apply pro forma models to show how a 1 percent improvement in any process impacts revenues or profits.

Others with key performance indicators (KPI) below the industry median may prefer to see the financial impact of improving their performance to the median level. Knowing the financial upside impact allows managers to know how much they should invest to achieve that upside.

And rather than guesswork or estimated ROI figures with questionable assumptions, these predictive analytics are built on real data to provide confidence in calculating pro forma financial outcomes and setting realistic goals. The knowledge of what has worked for similar companies lowers risk.

  1. Use Design Thinking

Design thinking is a people-focused design method that applies deep empathy for users and collaboration among cross functional teams.

A Design Thinking workshop brings together a multi-disciplinary team to determine the highest impact and most important CRM objectives and success criteria; measured in user, customer and business outcomes; and according to the people that will most use or benefit from the application.

Design Thinking for CRM

This approach cuts through technology complexity – to simplify, humanize and focus on the technology capabilities that drive the most important results.

What makes this approach different and better is that it shifts objectives from being measured in software features and functions (which most users and managers don't care much about) to being measured in user and customer business outcomes (which users and managers care deeply about).

And it's not just effective, it’s fast. With an expert Design Thinking facilitator, most companies will complete a Design Thinking workshop in one day. And at the end of that day, the company has defined a prioritized list of capabilities that will deliver specific and measurable company results.

A recurring pattern among lower performing application administrators and project teams is that they don't know what capabilities or methods deliver the biggest financial returns, so they pursue the easiest instead of the most effective. This results in a higher investment, prolonged period and much lower results compared to any of the three methods above.

Regardless of which of method you choose the exit criteria for this step is a list of prioritized and measurable revenue and profit objectives that will be facilitated with CRM software.


A Progressive Model

Successfully implementing any single software capability, process or tactic (hereafter 'program') will deliver an incremental benefit. That may be sufficient for some.

Others seek business transformation to create order of magnitude improvements and deliver significant and sustained revenue growth.

That requires a more holistic approach which can be achieved by deploying an integrated mix of CRM programs.

Once you have prioritized objectives defined by investment, payback and risk you can plot a course. But you can't do everything at once. So, the smart approach is to define your journey pursuant to an evolutional model.

Below is an example which applies four types of programs over successive phases, whereby each phase delivers measured revenue and ROI improvement.

CRM Maturity Model

See how to advance CRM software with a maturity model and achieve order of magnitude customer and revenue growth.

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Each phase of each program should be supported with use cases, the right metrics and preferably evidence-based best practices that can be replicated.

Below are some examples that could be applied to the above Process Automation program.

  • In the Lagging phase use cases may include the sales lead to opportunity conversion, the campaign acquired lead to sales cloud conversion and the roll-up of opportunity data to the pipeline and forecast reports. These use cases are helpful but do not deliver much ROI, which is why we build upon the journey.
  • In the Efficient phase use cases may include things like the 6 marketing automation processes (i.e., digital lead tracking, lead acquisition, lead scoring, lead nurture campaigns, lead transfer to sales and lead analytics), customer case processes (i.e., receive, record, route and resolve automation) and multi-step predictable sales processes (i.e., qualification, discovery, strategy, presentation, proposal, closure).
  • In the Leading phase process automation use cases may include the integration of a sale methodology with the above referenced predictable sales process, or cross-channel and integrated marketing campaigns, or proactive customer support. At this phase, each program delivers linear payback compared to the incremental returns in the prior phases.
  • In the Exceeding phase, use cases may include things like revenue engineering, full scale marketing engine execution, AI-infused Smartbots or customer self-service. These process automation capabilities are often competitive differentiators and create sustained revenue streams or lower cost to serve.

A key to your success is aligning the right CRM program use cases with the desired business outcomes. Your results will be accelerated if your use cases include product backlog user stories with user acceptance criteria, estimated effort and forecasted value. They will be even more accelerated if they are supported with prescriptive best practices.

The maturity model is your roadmap. Because it's architected by program and phase, it's agile and can be modified or reprioritized as needed. Because it's holistic, programs and use cases can be logically assembled to show prerequisites, relationships and cumulative effect. And because it's built on data it can be measured in real-time and forecasted with accuracy.

When your advancements are designed holistically, each accomplishment delivers a slated business outcome and financial result, and quite often a by-product that advances the next objective. The combined effect reduces time and cost and dramatically improves ROI.


Operational Blueprints for Execution

In step 1 we identified the top customer and business objectives enabled with CRM.

In step 2 we prioritized them pursuant to a multi-phase journey.

Now in step 3 it's time to execute and achieve those objectives is an orchestrated way.

Some use cases are straightforward. Others are more sophisticated. It's the later that carry more risk and usually deliver the biggest financial results.

We use solution Blueprints to bring structure, specificity and predictability to sophisticated or complex CRM programs. Below is an example that brought together four strategies to achieve a revenue growth goal.

Best Practices Blueprint

It may look difficult. It was. But the company exceeded is 18% revenue growth goal after previously incurring a prolonged period of flat revenue, so the effort was clearly worth the investment.

The CRM Blueprint prescribes the workplan, sequence and measurements.

It's a value chain model that starts with the headline goal, identifies the best practices to support the chosen strategies (which are selected using the predictive pyramid) and specifies the metrics and conversions that calculate forecasted payback.

It continues the theme of targeting specific and measurable objectives and then working backwards to engineer data, processes and technology to deliver those outcomes.

The Blueprint brings precision to CRM program planning and execution.

Additional Considerations

The 3 step CRM Progression Model may look like a lot of work. We've been using it with clients for decades and our experience shows step 1 generally consumes anywhere from a week to a month but thereafter is easily and quickly updated as business priorities change.

Step 2 is similar in duration. Building the multi-program, multi-phase evolutionary model with use cases generally consumes 1 to 4 weeks if you have the needed data or prescriptive best practices, or longer if you don't. And like the like the prior step, once you have the model you can make as-needed adjustments indefinitely.

The time required for Step 3 is divided between the blueprint definition and the program deployment. Many companies skip the upfront definition and simply jump into software configuration, customization or integration. It's an approach that can work but often doesn't because it is void of prescriptive guidance, data driven visibility and forecasted predictability. Our experience has been that well begun is half done. Investing the time for diagnosis makes the prescription more accurate.