So, you have bought a CRM (or are thinking of buying one). What information do you need to make the most of it?  It sounds so easy and obvious, but you need to use your CRM to get value. And while part of that use is habit that you need to build into your daily business activities, those habits and connections do not arrive magically with purchase. They must be built over time, prioritising what is most important for you.

Basic customer information

Representing your customers and their details is the skeleton of your CRM. Your CRM should become the central point of reference for customer contact information – names, email addresses, and physical addresses are only the start.

Depending on your customers, you may capture other information:

  • Organisations: do you need to capture information about organisations and people? Don’t forget to link the people to the organisations they work for!
    • Why do you care? If the organisation is the buyer of your product, you need to capture them. With complex sales, you may also need to represent a complicated buying team on the customer side, different teams for different products.
  • People and their biographic and/or demographic details: Knowing specifics about your customers, whether it is an age group, interests, stage of life, or motivations. These can be valuable to capture to communicate more effectively with your customers, offering them the right products at the right time.
    • Why do you care? This information can be critical to customising your communications, targeting your sales activities, and prioritising your workload.
  • Relationships: your customers might have relationships with each other or your teams. Knowing who has those relationships might be the difference between winning a sale or just building a strong relationship.
    • Why do you care? Whether you are organising meetings or setting up sales teams, you care about knowing the relationships your customers have with each other and the people on your team.


Interactions are the beating heart of your relationship with your customers. They can be as simple as linking in individual emails you have sent, recording phone call details and meeting records.

Some interactions relate to specific CRM processes:

  • Initial customer registration, like signing up to your newsletter, downloading a lead magnet or making a first purchase. Make sure to capture where they came from, so you can link their future activities to their source. That way you can work out if those facebook ads are paying off, versus other marketing!
  • Marketing emails and the customer responses to these, whether a click on an email link, a form submission, a website visit, etc.
  • Sales conversations that may be part of a longer sales process.
  • Customer Service calls or emails.
  • Sales orders, invoices payments and other transactions

Some of this information might reflect activities created directly in CRM, like marketing emails. That is easy – the information is just there, as long as you send the marketing!

Other information might be things you are doing anyway, like sending an individual email to your customer. How will you make sure that this is in your CRM? Will you need to send the email from inside your CRM? Or do they have an add-in for your email system that will send it over?

And how about meetings? Will you be setting them up within the CRM? But how will that link to your calendar so you don’t double-book yourself? Do you need to send booking polls or have a “book a call with me” feature? Some CRMs can sync appointments with your calendar. Others will have these polling or booking features. Others will be able to link to external products like Calendly.

Sales information is often a very important and valuable part of customer information. What products are they interested in? What products have they bought? How much have they spent? Over what time? But if you are capturing and storing your sales information elsewhere, like a payment or accounting system, it may not be easy to consider by customer. You can re-think where you create your invoice and move it into your CRM, but often the information needs to end up with accounting eventually! Does your CRM let you link automatically with your existing accounting or payments software to share this information effectively?

And then there is information that might be specific to the business that you run.

  • Do you have a membership? You might want your CRM to capture key member activities such as when they log in, what resources they download. If you have this along with the other things above you can start to build a picture of the profile of a member that stays or one that goes. Do they always stay if they log on immediately after they join? Or if they access particular resources? If you know this, you can follow up the customers that don’t in a different way to encourage them.
  • Do you sell physical or virtual products? Tracking customer behaviour and sales patterns can help you learn about likely customer behaviour and implement cross-sell and up-sell strategies. Just look at Amazon to see how this works!
  • Do you sell online courses? You might be able to use your CRM to help you communicate effectively through the sales and course delivery, and use the cross-sell and up-sell ideas. When a participant completes a certain module, you could offer additional resources? When they complete a program, are you ready to offer the next course in their learning sequence?
  • Are you a consultant? You can track agreements; some CRMs even help you with templates and online signature capture. And if you have ongoing service agreements like retainers, you can ensure that your CRM is reminding you (and your customers!) about regular activities and renewals.

A CRM can only give you back what you feed it. Are you worried about the nutritional composition of your CRM’s data diet? Or perhaps you are putting nothing in at all and your CRM is getting starved out of existence. Please book a call if you want some insights into your specific situation.