Defining process and your data model

Every organization is unique, and setting up Zoho CRM is different for every business. Figuring out how your company operates can be a tricky thing sometimes. Even the word “process” has different meanings to different people.

When it comes to CRM and managing your business, understanding and defining process is about triggers and actions. Someone does something, which then causes something else to happen. Process isn’t always about formalized procedures.

Some business processes are informal, not written anywhere. Effectively implementing CRM requires you to get in your employees’ minds and find out what really happens every day.

You first set up your data model, which captures the information you need about your leads, clients, vendors, and their companies.

Then, you set up lead scoring and automation around that scoring, as a way to
segment and target your best lead.

Applying Management by walking around

If you aren’t intimately familiar with how your business operates on a minute-by-minute level, you need to spend some time with your employees. Leave your office and observe how business is done. The better you listen, the greater your understanding.

Gathering cultural information informally

Go to your customer service department and listen to the phone calls that are made. Notice how your support team interacts with customers.

  • How do your employees answer the phone?
  • What happens when they have a problem they can’t resolve there? How is their quality measured?
  • Can customers give feedback to the company about their experience?
  • Go to marketing and sit through a marketing strategy meeting.
  • Are their strategies consistent with your vision is their voice consistent with your brand?
  • How do they hand off their leads to sales?
  • Are they tracking which campaigns are working, and which are not?

Go to your sales department and listen to them talk about the leads that are coming in.

  • Are they happy with them?
  • Are there frustrations with the product?
  • Why are clients happy or unhappy?
  • Do they have marketing-related information to help them close deals?
  • What happens when a new lead shows up?
  • How often are they following up with leads?

Answering these questions help you learn more about how your organization runs on a daily basis. In turn you gain direction in how to design your CRM.

Looking beyond the obvious answers

Sometimes when you sit in on a meeting, you may miss verbal and visual communication. Look beyond what people say and what is on the PowerPoint presentations. Pay close attention to the informal leaders, the people in those meetings who are looked to for guidance and approval. Sometimes that person is not the one with the formal job title.

When information is presented about operations, look behind the numbers you see. Examine how those numbers were collected and look for subjective bias. If people are filling in the gaps with assumptions, question those assumptions.

Moving from Whiteboard to Zoho CRM

When you apply the concepts of Zoho CRM to your business, the data is there to show you what you want to know. As your organization transitions to becoming data-driven, you rely on what the numbers tell you, but it’s important to make sure you have the right data, Break down the silos of information so that information from sales, marketing, and operations all contributes to the big picture.

Collecting company feedback through surveys

Surveys are a powerful intelligence-gathering tool. When directed internally, you can ask questions about what your employees feel is working and not working.

This can guide you toward making strategic decisions that benefit everyone.
Surveys are not only useful for getting feedback from clients. Employee feedback can easily be collected through surveys, too. When you write your survey questions, be as specific as possible to get the feedback you can use. The more detailed information about how people do their jobs, the easier it is to establish requirements for your CRM.

Outlining Key Areas

A big part of understanding who the important players are in an organization is by looking at how your business works. Set up a process diagram to see how your leads move through their buyer journeys. Draw another diagram for how your organization manages customer services.

After you have a clear picture of how things work within your organization, you see the key players who influence critical steps in that process. Those key players are the ones you must win over in the implementation of your CRM.

Moving from Whiteboard to CRM

The final step is figuring out how to go from your ideal process model to your CRM. This step is tricky because you have to work within the limitations of the software you’re using. If you are still in the vendor selection phase, share your process diagrams with your CRM vendor to understand where challenges lie. If you already have a vendor chosen, work with the staff to translate your ideal
model into its software,

Looking at the complete picture

If you find the vendor is unable to accomplish your goals, you have three options: live with it, accepting that some processes have to be done outside the CRM or find a new vendor.

Looking at the complete picture using a flowchart builder helps you visualize what processes you need to support with your CRM. Build multiple flows, as you follow the purchase process for different market segments and different products and services that you offer.

Process flowcharts are also valuable in modeling and designing your marketing campaigns. These flows determine how you guide your leads toward the process of buying from you and encompass all the channels you wish to use.

Building flowcharts of business processes flowcharts that you use for documenting your business processes generally have four main components:


A decision point looks at whether the person in the journey takes an action or possesses certain characteristics. Based on the contact’s behavior or demographics, different actions are triggered. For example, when a lead who reads an email is sent a different follow-up email than a lead who didn’t read the initial email.


A delay is a pause in the process flow, waiting for someone to take an action. For example, you want to incorporate a delay to give a lead a reasonable amount of time to read an email and reach a decision point.


An action can be either one the contact takes or your organization
takes. For example, scheduling or completing a CRM activity, sending an email, updating a contact record in the CRM, or anything a workflow can do. The possibilities are endless.


A stop represents the end of the journey. When someone has completed a process flow, or disqualified herself from the rest of the journey, her journey ends. For example, if a lead says she’s not interested in what you have to offer in spite of your best efforts.