The 2023 Guide to Setting Up Your CRM: Practical Tips and Expert Advice

Setting up your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system correctly can mean the difference between your team using it and not.

That’s a big statement, but we’ve found it true in many companies we visit. Often a CRM is already in place when we’re called to help out a sales and marketing team, but is not being used, either because of complexity or apathy.

But we’re here to help, so this guide will go through the various set-up stages of implementing your CRM. We’ll use screenshots from BuddyCRM so you’ll know what to expect from the information you store.

Setting up a CRM can feel overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers, but it needn’t be so. We pride ourselves at BuddyCRM on including the support you may need, from scoping your needs and importing data, to customisation and reports.


Because your success is our success! When your company starts closing those extra deals, we’d love for you to give us a recommendation to your friends and colleagues.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through practical and actionable tips on setting up your new CRM, whether you are a CRM buyer, sales manager, or marketing manager. Backed by expert advice and examples, you’ll be well-equipped to create an efficient and effective CRM system for your organisation.

1. Define Your CRM Goals and Objectives

Before diving into the technical aspects of setting up a CRM, it is essential to clearly outline your goals and objectives. These could include:

  • Creating a sales process (if one doesn’t already exist)
  • Streamlining individual elements of the sales process
  • Enhancing customer service
  • Generating more leads
  • Increasing customer retention
  • Reduce admin on the sales team

By defining your goals, you can better align your CRM with your organisation’s overall strategy, ensuring it brings tangible benefits to your business.

2. Choose the Right CRM Platform

Selecting the appropriate CRM platform is a crucial step in setting up your system. Consider the following factors when making your decision:

  • Budget: Determine the price range that fits your organisation’s financial constraints. Remember to factor in potential ongoing costs, such as ongoing support, maintenance and upgrades.
  • Features: Ensure the CRM offers the essential features you need, such as lead management, contact management, analytics, and integration capabilities.
  • Scalability: Choose a CRM that can grow with your organisation and adapt to your changing needs.
  • User Experience: Opt for a CRM that offers an intuitive interface and requires minimal training.
  • Support: Choose a CRM that will help you to implement it and provide great follow-up customer support to your team.

Examples of popular CRM platforms include BuddyCRM, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Expert Tip: Many of the large well-known platforms essentially provide a sell-you-once and you-are-on-your-own afterwards approach. You’ll be left with expensive consultants afterwards to assist you with your CRM. That’s not the case with BuddyCRM – we want you to succeed and are here to help you do that.

3. Customise Your CRM to Fit Your Business Processes

A one-size-fits-all approach to CRM rarely works. Customise your CRM to align with your organisation’s unique processes and workflows. This may involve configuring fields, creating custom objects, setting up automation, and designing tailored reports and dashboards.

With your standard sales process in mind, from unqualified lead through to sale and repeat business, define the steps you would see the sales team doing at each stage. Then take those elements and ensure your CRM has a defined method for each stage. For example:

  • When a lead arrives, is it automatically added to the CRM, or does your sales team research the lead first to ensure it is genuine? Does it need qualification? Can additional information be gathered from third-party systems to ‘flesh out’ the lead? ie. LinkedIn research.
  • Once the lead passes the suspect stage, it should be entered into the CRM. This can be done automatically through a workflow or via the admin team.
  • Following entry to the CRM, at what point should the salesperson be alerted? And what type of contact goes out first? Do you ring or normally send an email? Or is a brochure sent out? These activities can be automated in the CRM to reduce admin time.
  • First contact with the prospect should be recorded in the CRM along with notes taken from a meeting or email.
  • Additional information from the sales call can be entered to discover the worth of the lead and if an opportunity exists to quote for a project or work.
  • Set up the opportunity in the CRM with steps needed to determine its progress. ie. sales meeting, quote, follow-up, negotiation, re-quote, close, etc. This information can be combined later with the entire team to provide accurate reporting to sales managers for targets and budgeting.
  • Producing quotes and recording additional contact with the prospect in the
  • Closing a sale and converting the lead into an account.
  • Placing the contact into a regular contact cycle for future business. Automatically adding regular follow-up calls and emails to them in your CRM.
  • Adding the contact to your regular marketing email subscription.

Expert Tip: Consult with your sales and marketing teams to understand their requirements and pain points. This will help ensure that your CRM meets the needs of its users and drives user adoption.

Below we share a sample sales cycle/process. In the second image, we explain the inputs that BuddyCRM can be used for in the various steps.

A sample of a sales cycle from BuddyCRM
An example of the sales cycle or sales process shown with inputs at each stage from your CRM.

4. Migrate and Cleanse Your Data

Transferring your existing customer data into your new CRM is a critical step in the setup process. Data migration may include:

  • Exporting data from your current system
  • Cleansing and deduplicating data
  • Mapping and importing data into the new CRM

Expert Tip: Data cleansing should be an ongoing process to maintain data quality within your CRM. Implement data validation rules and schedule regular data audits to keep your CRM data clean and up-to-date.

We provide importing of your existing data as part of your plan so there’s nothing to worry about when moving from an existing system to a modern CRM like BuddyCRM. We’d be proud to have you onboard with BuddyCRM even if you initially made a mistake and bought the wrong one!

It’s important to remember your CRM is only as good as the information you give it. Garbage in, garbage out! Read our tips on keeping your contact records up to date here.

5. Integrate with Third-Party Applications

Integrating your CRM with other business tools, such as marketing automation platforms, accounting packages, social media management tools, and customer support software, can enhance its functionality and streamline your workflows. This helps create a cohesive ecosystem that improves efficiency and reduces data silos.

The more information you can give your team, the more likely they are to have the knowledge to counter objections and close the deal. Plus, you’ll avoid issues where one department is treating a prospect/customer differently to another.

Expert Tip: When choosing third-party applications, prioritise those that offer native integrations with your CRM to minimise compatibility issues and ensure seamless data transfer.

6. Train Your Team

Once your CRM is set up, invest in training your team to ensure they can effectively use the system. This may involve:

  • Providing user manuals and video tutorials
  • Conducting live training sessions and workshops
  • Establishing a help desk for ongoing support
  • Appointing an ambassador or champion for the team who can be a point of contact internally for those who need assistance using the CRM.

Expert Tip: Regularly reassess your team’s CRM proficiency and offer refresher courses to ensure they remain up-to-date with new features and best practices.

7. Continuously Monitor and Optimise

Finally, regularly review your CRM’s performance to identify areas for improvement. Track key metrics, such as user adoption rates, lead conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores, to assess the impact of your CRM on your business objectives. Use this information to make informed decisions about necessary adjustments and enhancements.

Reports are a powerful tool that CRMs produce and BuddyCRM has a powerful, fully customisable reporting engine that can report on anything stored in the database along with the third-party integrations you set up. From sales and accounting data to marketing information held elsewhere, all can be combined to produce compelling reports you can mine for information on the success of your team and the software.

Example report produced in the CRM with pie graph in BuddyCRM

Expert Tip: Schedule periodic CRM audits to review system configuration, data quality, and user adoption. This will help you identify and address any issues early on, ensuring your CRM continues to meet the needs of your organization.


Setting up a CRM system in 2023 may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it will become a valuable asset for your organisation. By defining your goals, choosing the right platform, customising your CRM, migrating and cleansing your data, integrating third-party applications, training your team, and continuously monitoring and optimising your system, you’ll be well on your way to creating a CRM that drives success for your business.

It’s always best to have a plan in place to implement your CRM throughout your organisation and ensure your team uses it consistently. With BuddyCRM’s assistance, you’ll be set up correctly and ready to transform the sales, support, and marketing functions of your team.

Whether you’re a CRM buyer, sales manager, or marketing manager, this guide offers practical tips and expert advice to help you set up your new CRM effectively and efficiently. As you embark on your CRM journey, remember that a well-implemented CRM system can greatly enhance your organisation’s customer relationships, leading to increases in customer retention, new business, revenue and growth.

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