Get customers first. Investment in CRM systems can follow.
CRM softwares are great “farming” tools. The deeper your engagements are till date, the more insights you have in his needs.
Among engagements, the best ones to base your judgement on are the paid ones. So, a customer may have attended seminars and responded to emails and asked for quotes. But, the only time she has actually backed her actions with money is when she has paid money for goods and services. As the electorates vote with their finger on the button, customers vote with their money.
When we target customers for our marketing messages, we tend to rely on profile based targeting. That is, we use information related to her department, seniority, industry, size of the company and so on to tailor messages for her. While this will continue to be used, the need is to make far greater use of behavioral data (related to actions the customer may have taken in the past) to target her. Actions speak louder than words. And, among actions, as I said earlier, actual purchase in the past is a great validation of what her profile or other behavioral history is leading us to believe.
CRM systems are only as good as the data you log about the customers: their profiles and behaviors and engagements in the past. Their true power is the ability to harness the past data to build compelling marketing campaigns for the installed base. So, couple your investment in CRM systems with robust processes for logging customer interactions and keep the profiles updated. And, ensure you have a sound analytics and reporting engine coupled with your CRM to drive action based on all that data.