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Sunny Mohla
Sunny Mohla

According to a CIO magazine report, approximately one-third of all customer relationship management (CRM) projects fail. Lack of focus and unclear strategy were cited as the main reasons for such failures.

If your CRM business is also plagued by these issues, it is important to understand what you can do now. In this blog, we will try to find how you can create a successful CRM strategy for your business.

Before setting up any CRM program, every organization must answer four basic questions:

  1. WHY do we need a CRM program?
  2. HOW do we develop our CRM strategy?
  3. HOW do we monitor the progress?
  4. WHAT is our plan for implementing it?

WHY do we need a CRM program?

From the good old days of just being an Excel or a few siloed applications, CRM has now evolved to become an entire product. If entered in the right way, CRM data can be the key to important details about a customer. If the required information is not collected properly, it can cause CRM-related challenges, such as:

  • Adoption
  • Non-reliable data
  • No cross-sell and up-sell opportunities
  • Unable to view customer 360
  • CRM is a data entry liability rather than a success factor

HOW do we develop our CRM strategy?

The focus must be towards developing a robust CRM strategy, which can be a catalyst to success rather than just a data entry liability. To do so, we can use any powerful solution such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Oracle CRM.

Having a sound CRM strategy is the first and most important step towards successful CRM implementation and true ROI realization.

A successful CRM strategy must focus on the following aspects:
a. Business ecosystem: Understanding the business ecosystem is the first step of the CRM ladder. Here are some examples:

  • Understand the business goals or organization vision
  • Understand the unique selling proposition
  • Identify the challenges and critical success factors for growth
  • Determine the important KPIs and goals

b. Customer: Customers can help your business succeed but before that, the underlying question is: how can we better understand our customers? Here are some options that can be helpful:

  • Build customer journeys – Journey mapping can build empathy for customers to provide them with the best user experience. You must also ensure that you identify the happy and sad points in the customer journey.
  • Personas – To provide an optimum experience, understanding the customer is a must. This customer segmentation or profiling (based on demographic and psychographic data) can lead to better marketing campaigns.
  • Buying pattern – This is directly related to customer personas. For example, through the buying patterns – check if a customer typically buys in bundles or opts for only one specific product or has a seasonal rush of product buying.
  • Customer Interviews – Customer interview is another useful way to understand their needs and challenges with products or services.

c. Operational analysis: No successful CRM strategy is complete without analyzing the operational aspects.

  • How do sales work? Is it in accordance with customer service or marketing automation?
  • What are the communication channels?
  • What is the content approach?

All three pillars: sales, service, and marketing, need to work as one. Therefore, it is critical to create:

  • Process Maps – It is always better to navigate with a map in hand. Similarly, it is always easier to relate to processes and identify gaps. During business discussions, Swimlane diagrams or process maps can help immensely in understanding the entire CRM process landscape
  • Content strategy – In CRM, content can be website content, marketing email, newsletters, knowledge articles, etc. Having a strong content strategy could be a game-changer. For example, having informative articles on the website can lead to better customer self-service, which enhances customer trust and reduces the burden on Customer Support. Similarly, having a meaningful marketing email and newsletter can augment your gains (or leads) from marketing.
  • Voice of the team – One of the critical success factors of adoption is the team’s voice. Successful adoption involves addressing the needs of the sales, service, and marketing teams. Most organizations are struggling with adoption because the needs of these teams are decided by the senior management, and not by the respective teams. It is crucial to understand the team’s perspective and ensure that the CRM tool is not just a data entry tool but a selling assistant, customer support colleague, and marketing advisor.
  • Channels – Irrespective of whether your business is B2B or B2C or both, it is extremely critical to be available on channels that your customers are on. This would also be driven by the personas you define. The ideal channels to engage customers are:


  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Pay-Per-Click advertising
  • Social media
  • Display advertising
  • Google Search Network
  • Blogging and other content marketing channels
  • Email marketing
  • SMS marketing
  • Webinars
  • Others


  • Field sales
  • Online sales via ecommerce
  • Partners/distributors
  • Inside Sales
  • Franchisees


  • IVR/Call Center
  • Social Media
  • Web Portals
  • Live Chats/Chatbots
  • Email
  • Contact Us forms
  • Partner Channels
  • Others

Whatever channels you focus on, the strategy must be omni-channel, as it leads to better customer engagement and improved customer experience.

HOW do we monitor the progress?

KPIs – For a successful CRM strategy, it is imperative to define achievable KPIs. Setting ambitious KPIs puts a burden on the teams, which can cause the CRM strategy to fail. Therefore, it is important to define achievable KPIs that are aligned to your corporate strategy. For example, a KPI for successful sales could be something like “Lead conversion to successful opportunity Win percentage”. It is better to start by defining this KPI as 5% for the initial 6 months and then increase by 5% or re-evaluate it based on the sales performance. But it would be wrong to increase this straightaway by 10-20%.

Examples of good KPIs:

  • Opportunities win percentage
  • Lead conversion ratio


  • Average time to resolve a case
  • Survey score
  • Percentage reduction in complaints


  • Email click rate
  • Customer engagement
  • MQL to SQL conversion ratio

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): Gone are the days when CRM was just a data entry tool or a customer data extraction tool in the data mart. Nowadays, organizations want CRM to be an equal participant in selling or servicing customers, or when running marketing campaigns, making AI and ML very important. The amount of predictive and automation help you would require in your CRM system depends on your organization culture, which drives the adoption. Most of the off-the-shelf tools come with inbuilt AI features that organizations can leverage easily.

There is also a hybrid approach: use CRM, and AI or ML is done outside the CRM. The results can still be utilized within the CRM to benefit your sales representatives, support agents and marketing designers. How AI or ML should be leveraged is a key component of defining your overall CRM strategy.

WHAT is our plan for implementing it?

CRM tool selection: This is a highly debatable, grey area where most organizations struggle. Some common pain points comprise the resistance from existing workforce to change, preferences of different departments, and no single platform, leading to no customer 360.
Ideally, it is not recommended to blindly get the best tool in the market, since the one-size-fits-all approach does not work here. What is considered to be the best in general, might not necessarily be the best-fit for your organization. Therefore, it is better to first evaluate your CRM strategy and then look for a tool. You can choose from many good tools such as Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Oracle CRM, SAP CRM, Sugar CRM, and more.

Roadmap: Organizations should not look at a system in isolation but as an important cog in the entire business and IT landscape. Building a roadmap gives you adequate time to roll out the features that can be adopted operationally and on the IT side. For example, you would not want to implement quotes and orders in CRM if the ERP system cycle is not complete, as this will leave the process half-cooked and will not be fully adopted. How should Marketing provide data to sales, how does sales provide data to service and how do organizations construct customer 360?

Bottom line

An effective CRM strategy that is scalable and extensible can be a game-changer in the current competitive age. It leads to better adoption and a happy workforce. Some of the other benefits we have seen in the industry are as follows:

  • Increased customer engagement leading to client satisfaction
  • Increased adoption within internal sales, service, and marketing teams
  • Better focus of customer service on quality rather than quantity
  • Increased hit rate for lead conversion to opportunity win
  • Increased sales productivity and efficiency
  • Better results of marketing campaigns

Are you looking to increase customer engagement and boost sales? We can help you in developing a winning CRM strategy!