How to Use Your CRM system the RIGHT Way to Boost Sales and Profits


Many CRM Implementation Fall Short of Expectations

I have observed that a large number of CRM implementations FAIL to achieve the results and/or ROI they were intended to produce.   Yet, businesses continue to implement them. Why? Because they have hope that they will work. And, for good reason. Those that do work well produce great results and a significant ROI.  

So, why do so many fail to live up to expectations?  And, more importantly, what can you do to improve your CRM system’s effectiveness?  That is what I’ll be covering in this article. 

I have been teaching people how to use CRM technology for more than 30 years — yes, CRM has been around for that long.  And, I’ve been a part of it since it’s beginning. I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years. And, in that time — and as a result of my experience —  I’ve observed that companies who have effective CRM systems use their CRM system differently than those who don’t. What is the difference? Those who have CRM systems that work use their system the RIGHT way.  They more fully leverage the power of their CRM system.

So, what’s the RIGHT way?  How do you more fully leverage a CRM system?  Let’s take a look.

What CRM IS — and What it ISN’T

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.  CRM is not a “thing”. It is a business strategy. And, the goal of that strategy is to MANAGE the RELATIONSHIPS with prospects and CUSTOMERS so they become loyal, long term customers — whom you can leverage for ongoing revenue and referrals.  That’s its purpose. Now, I know this is a bit of an oversimplification, but in essence, THAT is the purpose behind developing and executing a CRM strategy.

Business Processes Drive Strategy Execution

Next, the execution of your CRM strategy, requires that you develop and use business processes.  Business processes define HOW you manage the relationships with your prospects and customers as they progress through the buying journey into and through the fulfillment journey into and through the customer development journey.  It’s critical that these business processes be performed properly and consistently — the same way every time. And, they must be performed efficiently. And, that brings us to HOW to use a CRM system the RIGHT way.

The RIGHT Way to Use CRM — Enable, Enforce, and Manage The Primary Business Driver Processes

The RIGHT way to use a CRM system is to use it to enable, enforce, and manage the business PROCESSES that are used to execute YOUR CRM strategy.  A CRM system is a set of tools — including data — that help you and your team do that.  


There are 2 primary sets of processes that drive the growth of every business: 1) The Business Growth Engine ™ processes; 2) the Daily Work Management processes. And, these processes are those on which the most successful CRM implementations focus.

Let’s take a look at what I mean by the terms enable, enforce, and manage.  Then we’ll take a high-level look at the 2 primary sets of processes that are used to organize and get work done.

Enabling Processes

When it comes to using a CRM system to enable a process, it means that the system database must be able to be modified to add and modify database fields, and workflow automations that are used to collect data and track the progress of work through the process and trigger specific actions.  For example, let’s say you have defined a qualification process that requires a minimum of 6 attempts be made over the course of 3 weeks to reach and qualify a suspect. If the suspect is reached and qualified, the record is updated to prospect status, and a sales opportunity tracking record is automatically created.  In this case, to enable this process, your CRM system would need to have fields in which to track when you began the work, the number of attempts made to reach the suspect, a record status field to identify records (suspect or prospect), a workflow automation that would be triggered when a suspect is updated to prospect.

Enforcing Processes

Your CRM system must have features that make it possible to enforce a given process.  Process enforcement ensures that a process is followed, in a specific order, every time, by everyone who is responsible to execute a specific process.  Process enforcement allows you to define who does what — and when. Using the example from above, you might create a process enforcement rule that says you cannot create a sales opportunity unless and until the suspect has been successfully reached and qualified.

Managing Processes

Your CRM system must have tools that allow you to manage your various processes.  Primarily, these tools are in the form of metrics — database views, reports, and dashboards — that make it possible for you to track productivity, measure efficiency, identify bottlenecks, etc.  Typical metrics include:

  • Current and historical process counts — how many items are currently in; how many items have been completed within a given time period.
  • Current and historical process stage — how many items are at each stage in a given process; how long have they been in that stage; how long — on average — are items in each stage of a process over a given time period
  • Individual and team process metrics — ability to see process counts and stage behavior by individuals and team members

Now, you have an idea of what is required of a CRM system to enable, enforce, and manage the various processes you design, develop, and deploy to execute your CRM strategy.  Let’s take a look at the processes that are required by almost every CRM strategy — revenue driver processes and work management processes.

The Revenue Driver Processes: The Business Growth Engine™ 

It turns out that is a set of processes that is common to nearly every company’s CRM strategy I discussed earlier in this article.  I call that common set of processes, the Business Growth Engine™. These are a series of interdependent processes that work together to drive top-line revenue growth:

  • Collect, manage, and qualify prospects
  • Convert qualified prospects into customers
  • Deliver products and services with a powerful buying experience
  • Generate repeat business and referrals

The extent to how well each of the individual components works — and how well they work as a unit — determines how quickly and profitably the business grows.  If any of the functions are not working — or not working well — or if they are not working well together, the business will struggle to grow. So, your CRM’s purpose is to ensure that they work well independently and as a unit.  And, you do that by using the CRM system to enable, enforce, streamline, manage, and measure each of the Business Growth Engine processes independently and as a whole.

A detailed discussion of the specific processes — what they are, how they work, the specific steps, etc. — is beyond the scope of this article.  If you want to know more about the specific Business Growth Engine processes — what each does and how the system works as a whole and how to use CRM to enable each here are some resources you might find helpful.

The Work Management Processes

The next way to use your CRM system is to use it to enable, enforce, and manage a set of processes I call the Daily Work Management processes.  These processes are used by sales and/or marketing team members to manage and stay on top of their day to day tasks associated with prospecting, qualifying, advancing sales opportunities, ensuring customer satisfaction, and developing the client base.

Work Management processes help you and your sales team organize,  prioritize, and focus work. They ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.  And, they ensure that your you and/or your sales and marketing team members are always performing tasks that have the most value at any given time.  And, as a result, they help you accomplish much more with less time, energy, and stress.  

Work Management processes utilize a combination of proven time management tools and techniques and CRM activity management tools.  Let’s take a quick high-level look at what those are and how you can use CRM to help to stay on top of your work.

Proven Time Management Techniques

There are 3 primary, proven time/work management techniques that I teach my customers to use to organize and focus their day:

  • Covey Quadrant – helps identify the most important work that could/should be performed at any given time — and what work should be performed in what order to maximize results
  • Time Blocking – helps you focus your time into blocks of time where you are able to focus on a single or set of single related tasks
  • Work Queues – help you organize your tasks into focused lists that can be worked on within a given time block

CRM Activity Management Tools

CRM task management tools allow you to associate tasks with leads, accounts, contacts, and/or sales opportunities.  They can be organized by type of work (task, call, meeting), stage or step in a process (qualify, discovery, proposal, etc.), process (lead management, conversion, fulfillment, etc.), and/or priority.  Using this combination of information and custom groups and views, work queues (lists) can be easily created to focus work.  

More detail of each of these — how they are used AND how to use them — are topics I teach my customers as part of my CRM training and mentoring programs.  


A high percentage of CRM implementations fail to produce the results and/or ROI intended and/or envisioned by the businesses that implement them.  Many of them fail because they are not being leveraged or used to anywhere near their full potential. There are two ways to more fully leverage your Zoho CRM system:

  • Enable, enforce, streamline, manage, and measure the Business Growth Engine — a set of business processes that drive the growth of every business
  • Organize, prioritize, and focus your work to maximize results with less time, effort, and stress

If you have a CRM system — or you are considering implementing one — maximize your revenue production and your ROI by leveraging it and using the RIGHT way. 

Author: Michael Bitter

Michael Bitter is a small business sales and marketing process consultant, coach, and mentor with 30+ years of experience building — and teaching others how to build and use — CRM enabled sales and marketing systems to generate more and higher-quality leads, turn more leads into closed business, grow your customer base, and increase repeat business and referrals.

His passion — and the purpose behind is work — is teaching and helping small business owners how to build more successful businesses.   He does by teaching them how to implement and use Zoho CRM to enable a Business Growth Engine™ for their business and/or sales territories.