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Building a Data-Driven Business: Your CRM as a Data Source

Ahoy, and welcome to the first article in our new column, “Building a Data-Driven Business”. In these articles, we aim to demonstrate the value of data-based decision making and show you some of the ways that different data sources can contribute to making such an approach possible. In this one, we’re taking a look at the good old CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.

Any company with a sales team will have some form of CRM, to monitor and manage sales and ensure that leads are being followed up. The data-driven business, however, can pull far more value out of a CRM system.  If you can plug the data that your CRM system generates into your business intelligence systems, it can be invaluable in helping you identify sales trends, making for smarter, more informed decisions. How can you leverage the data that your CRM yields, and what considerations need to be made to ensure that data is as valuable and predictive as possible? Let’s take a look

Step 1: Grooming Your CRM for BI

First things first. If you’re going to start making your CRM a key data source that can contribute real value to your decision-making processes, you need to be sure that the data it yields is accurate and detailed enough. The following are key questions to answer:

Is your sales team sufficiently staffed and trained in CRM use?

One of the most common reasons sales staff fail to make proper use of CRM systems is lack of time. It’s vital to ensure that sales staff understand the importance of following CRM protocols, and are given enough time in the day to follow them.    

Are employees following CRM protocols and using the CRM to record interactions?

Even the sharpest CRM protocols are worth nothing if your team isn’t actually following them. Now’s a great time to conduct an in-depth audit of the situation, in order to find out if the protocols are being ignored or executed incorrectly. It’s a good idea to explain to your team that the value of the CRM data extends far beyond just managing sales.

Are there any unnecessary steps or roadblocks in the customer journey or CRM protocol?

If your CRM is producing valueless data, you’re just making work for yourself. Ensure that any unnecessary steps in your CRM protocols are eliminated. In support of our first point, look for bottlenecks and roadblocks in your CRM protocols. Eliminating these can ensure staff has time to input all the information they should.

What data are we looking for?

Starting off knowing what questions you would like your CRM data to answer will help you identify the most important data points that the system might yield. Then, you’ll be able to take any steps required to ensure that data makes it into the system.

The importance of different metrics will vary between industries and even individual businesses, so its important to identify the key data points that will help your team to make more informed decisions. For example, these are some key metrics that SaaS companies would want to have access to:  

  •       Total number of open opportunities and number of opportunities/lead
  •       Total number of closed opportunities and opportunities/lead
  •       Win rate. ie: Total closed won opportunities / (total closed opportunities won + lost)

Step 2: Tools for Accessing and Processing Data

Once we’ve ensured that our CRM system is outputting a constant stream of valuable data, we’ll need to decide what we want to do with that data and ensure that we have the systems in place to extract as much value as possible.

IT and Infrastructure

Perhaps the most obvious consideration; we’ll need solutions that allow us to access and process the data from our CRM. If your company has established BI systems, then it will be a matter of feeding your CRM data into the existing systems. If this is your first foray into building a more data-driven business, however, you’ll need to invest in some tools.

Fortunately, the tools you need are more affordable and accessible than ever.

First up, you’ll need to be able to pull the data from your CRM’s database. Sure, you could hire a database manager to generate the reports you need using SQL, but Kloudio has made that seem like a pretty old-school way to do it. Kloudio allows you to pull just the data you want from your CRM database, without any coding or database knowledge at all. You can connect Kloudio to your Salesforce system with just a few clicks. You’ll rarely want to pull the entire database, so Kloudio’s report builder allows you to set up filters so you just get the data you’re

looking for any given report. Once your data has been pulled directly to a Google Sheet, you can work with it however you like, or feed it into your BI systems for visualization and further processing.

If you aren’t yet using a BI tool, Gartner’s exhaustive list of reviews will give you a good idea of which tools are most popular.

Step 3: Start Making Data-Driven Decisions

Once your CRM to BI pipeline has been constructed, its time for the exciting part. Putting your data to work in helping you make more educated and informed decisions. A word to the weary; be prepared for some harsh truths and tough decisions. Objective data is notoriously good at unearthing operational and systems issues that you never knew existed. While you might need to make some fundamental changes to the way your business operates, rest assured that its all in pursuit of a stronger. A more sustainable business that’s built on data, and not gut feel. 

Improved Targeting

One of the first and most valuable insights that your CRM can provide is a clearer and more realistic understanding of your customer and his/her needs. If you want your sales team to focus on prospects that are most likely to convert, then this is invaluable.

Improved Marketing ROI

When you know what points are most effective at moving prospects through your sales funnel at each touchpoint, then you can focus on those in order to improve ROI along the entire customer journey. What’s more, you can identify marketing spends that are not yielding sufficient returns and cut them out of your strategy.

Improved customer experiences

If you’re able to identify which channels and touchpoints work for one customer profile you’ll be ready to craft more memorable experiences for both kinds of customer. In a crowded global marketplace brand offers to depend on the experience. Over price-point or service, this is critical.


The reality is, you’re competing with data-driven businesses right now. If your business can’t find ways to extract insights from the data its systems generate. Then you’re at risk of lagging behind. Want to read more about building a more data-driven business? Subscribe to our blog and get articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Visualize your CRM data in real-time with Kloudio

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