B2B Articles - April 20, 2023

3 Steps to Using Your CRM as an Intelligence Platform, Not Just a Rolodex

By Omar Sofradzija, Content Specialist

Using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software simply to store contacts (as too many sales and marketing pros do) is like using a smartphone just to make calls. You’re seriously underutilizing it, to your detriment. Why? Because through CRMs, analytical marketers and salespeople discover diamonds in the data that unlock success by making sense of client wants, needs, and likes.

Whether you parse it or not, data affects your entire operation – when cultivating leads, caring for customers, communicating within your organization, or just about anything else.1 And if you have a CRM, you can already collect an immense amount of telling data, such as:

  • Who and where are your customers
  • What, when, and how do they want everything from products to engagement
  • Who on your team is doing what, when, and how well
  • What is working, and what is not

Effectively analyzing such data with a CRM empowers you to implement strategies to optimize opportunities and overcome obstacles. Using a CRM, you can segment customers meaningfully, forecast sales more accurately, scale your sales processes precisely, and use your overall resources much more efficiently and effectively.2

So, what do you need from a CRM to see that sort of ROI? Let’s break it down into three steps.

Start transforming CRM data into buyer insights with Ironpaper's help.

First, Choose the Right CRM

What makes a CRM the “right” one? This one is simple but critical: it must offer robust reporting and analytics capabilities.

“Many CRM platforms offer data analytics tools that enable businesses to unlock insights that are invisible to the naked eye. You can measure just about anything from customer sentiment and whether you’re meeting their expectations, to your sales team’s performance or how well that last marketing campaign did,” says Forbes magazine.3

The necessary capabilities include:4,5

  • Keeping all your customers’ information in one place, accessible across your organization
  • Managing all communications and interactions with prospects
  • Tracking all parts of the buyer’s journey
  • Automating sales reports to identify key trends
  • Offering data-enabled sales forecasting
  • Creating detailed analytics to contextualize data

Otherwise, the CRM will not provide the type of data that marketers and salespeople need to do their jobs successfully. It’s like using a flip phone to browse the internet: technically, you might be able to do it, but you’ll miss out on all of the features and capabilities that make browsing the internet on a smartphone more fruitful. The features listed above make a robust CRM so much more than just a Rolodex.

Next, Maintain Your CRM for Optimization

A CRM is only as effective as the data it uses. So,. it must use and maintain clean, accurate, and robust data – and you and your team are in charge of that!

It really is a situation where vigilance matters far more than how cutting-edge chic your CRM may be. Email databases can decay 22.5% annually,6 and bad data resulting from such digital rot can cost companies up to 25% of yearly revenues.7 That makes keeping clean data imperative. Your data must be accurate, complete, consistent, uniform, and& accessible at all times.8

In short, your CRM data is a plant that needs watering, nurturing, and sunlight. How do you keep your CRM blooming by keeping its data clean? Here are some basic tips:

  • Train salespeople and marketers on data tracking. Ensure they know how to gather, update, protect, and use data.
  • Connect social platforms and email directly to the CRM. Make sure all the ways you interact with the world – and the world interacts with you – are populating your database to create a comprehensive and up-to-date single source of truth through automation.
  • Use integrations and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to connect disparate tech and info systems to a single CRM.9 Essentially, integrations and APIs are digital translators: they act as an intermediary between software, allowing two completely different applications to communicate and work together, immediately and seamlessly.10
  • Practice good data hygiene. Do regular data cleansing by detecting and correcting bad info in databases regularly.11
  • Update relentlessly (and automate as many of those tasks as possible so you can have and leverage those updates ASAP).

Then, Actually Use Your CRM for Insights

Having a fully-loaded and ready-to-go CRM is of no use if you don’t actually use it. Dive into it on a regular cadence for data analysis and lead intelligence. Collect, organize, review, and share data about prospects and deals using features like sales dashboards and reports. Have teams automate, manage, evaluate, and track prospects and opportunities.

Leverage its data, tools, and analytics to understand the buyer journey better. “With access to a collective resource of information a company might not otherwise have known, the insights it can reveal could lead to smarter business decisions that will shape the entire future of your company,” says Tech.com, a tech news and analysis site.12

Don’t just sit on your discoveries, either. Use data-driven decision-making to inform messaging and lead nurturing, identify which channels/platforms to pursue, optimize marketing and sales efforts, and more. 

Like a GPS, the data gives you directions. But you’re still the driver. So, see the route, and then get going!

Do CRMs Work? The Proof is (Also) in the Data

Not only do CRMs produce reams of data that help you work better, but they also offer evidence that they work well. According to Forbes, CRMs can help companies to:13

  • Improve lead conversion rates by 300%
  • Boost customer retention by 27%
  • Shorten sales cycles by 24%
  • Increase revenue per sale by 41%
  • Save 23% on sales and marketing costs

“In other words, CMS can help you make more sales at a higher value, faster, and for less cost,” says Forbes.14

Don’t those results sound sweet? Then get off your phone and get into your CRM. There’s data to dig into – and opportunities to discover, right under your nose. Good luck!


1HubSpot Academy: Reporting Certification Course lecture notes, 2023
2HubSpot, 12 Key Benefits CRM Systems Provide to a Business, 2021
3Forbes, 6 Key Benefits of CRM For Your Business, 2022 
4Tech.co, 12 Benefits of CRM Software Every Business Should Know, 2023 
5Business News Daily, The 11 Biggest Benefits of Using a CRM System, 2023 
6HubSpot Academy: Reporting Certification Course lecture notes, 2023
7HubSpot Academy: Reporting Certification Course lecture notes, 2023
8HubSpot Academy: Reporting Certification Course lecture notes, 2023
9HubSpot, The Ultimate Guide to Integrations and Why Your Business Needs Them, 2022
10Built In, What is an API?, 2022
11HubSpot Academy: Reporting Certification Course lecture notes, 2023
12Tech.co, 12 Benefits of CRM Software Every Business Should Know, 2023 
13Forbes, 6 Key Benefits of CRM For Your Business, 2022
14Forbes, 6 Key Benefits of CRM For Your Business, 2022

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