Brands depend on personal relationships to turn leads into customers and to deliver a great customer experience. And for budding businesses, that personalization process has often relied on gathering customer data from third-party sources but that era may be coming to a close.

1. Tell the software what to streamline.

Manual processes are not only time-consuming, but they're also prone to human error. CRM automation can remove this barrier by importing information, making smarter schedules and compiling related data.

According to a report covered on IBM developer Works, ease of use is the most wanted feature in a CRM. One way to make a CRM easy to use is by telling the system to group information together by prospect rather than by activity. This will help salespeople easily find everything, from emails to notes on specific conversations with prospects. This tracking provides a more comprehensive picture of the sales process, allowing users to identify strengths and weaknesses in their sales strategies.

2. Learn to spot at-risk accounts.

CRM software is the perfect tool to track customer engagement as it allows employees to step in to help clients when things look bad.

a company regularly receives calls related to technical issues. Without a CRM, those individual complaints might go unnoticed, especially if they were handled by different people. But with better tracking, budding businesses can identify those patterns and make proactive calls to solve problems before their customers abandon ship.

3. Make sales and marketing play nice.

All businesses both new and established run better when sales and marketing work together: Altify found that organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams had 26 percent higher win rates and 18 percent shorter sales cycles.

Larger businesses are waking up to the benefits such alignment offers, which should signal an important shift to startups, too. In an article for CMO.