CRM Talks #24 with Stefano Balian

CRM & Personalization Manager at Petlove explains what CRM is not, emphasizes the importance of starting with simpler solutions and strategies, and highlights that AI is not the only key to the future of CRM.

WeAgency Digital
6 min readNov 21, 2023

We are excited to announce the release of our latest CRM Talks episode!

In this episode, we are happy to have Stefano Balian, the CRM & Personalization Manager at Petlove, who has 15 years of experience in customer loyalty and monetization.

Stefano will explain what CRM is not, emphasize the importance of starting with simpler solutions and strategies, and highlight that AI is not the only key to the future of CRM.

Could you provide your definition of CRM?

I still observe considerable confusion and misconceptions surrounding the concept of CRM, particularly in Brazil. This confusion may have arisen due to companies offering solutions that align with the CRM concept but are not synonymous.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to clarify what CRM is not:

  • CRM is not just email marketing. Email serves as a channel that can support a specific CRM strategy.
  • CRM is not a mere tool. CRM tools facilitate strategies, but they do not define them. Notably, many professionals, especially those at the beginning of their careers, often focus more on mastering the tools rather than developing strategic thinking.
  • CRM should be separate from a sales funnel or customer service, although its scope may encompass these aspects.
  • CRM cannot single-handedly resolve all of your business challenges. If your product faces pricing or positioning issues or your operations consistently fail to deliver on customer promises, CRM alone cannot insulate the company from these difficulties. While valuable, CRM optimization and enhanced customer engagement cannot transform the situation. Addressing your product is equally important.

With these distinctions in mind, CRM represents a company’s primary mechanism to actively engage with its customers and proactively reach out to them. When well-structured, this interaction can lead to the development of enduring and profound relationships with customers.

Primarily, CRM is a strategic business approach aimed at comprehending and positively influencing the behavior and experiences of your customers, consumers, and prospects. Its guiding principles and practices aid companies in retaining, sustaining, and enhancing customer satisfaction through intelligent and personalized management of their interactions and direct communications. The ultimate objective is to augment the profitability and long-term sustainability of the business, essentially maximizing Customer Lifetime Value.

Why is it necessary for companies to implement CRM?

Today, we have limited opportunities to acquire new customers through digital marketing. The market has predominantly focused on three major players: Google, Meta, and TikTok. While there are alternative avenues and channels for customer acquisition, we understand that most customers utilize these platforms in the digital landscape. Given this concentration, the competition for new customers is intensifying, leading to an inflation of the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).

As the CAC continues to rise, maintaining or improving your Return on Investment (ROI) necessitates a shift in focus towards the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). As previously mentioned, CRM proves to be an excellent tool for this purpose. In a utopian scenario, where a company ceases to acquire new customers, it can still enhance its revenue through CRM by employing techniques such as cross-selling or upselling.

Moreover, CRM empowers product activation, fosters user habits, and amplifies engagement — all essential elements for effective customer retention. In a world where people have increasingly limited time and seek swift and straightforward solutions to their daily challenges, the question remains: How can a company convey its ability to assist a customer not currently using its product? The answer lies in CRM.

Which CRM key metrics do you use?

The interesting point about metrics is that many companies tend to think about and choose them before defining their strategy. Metrics should ideally reflect your strategy and objectives.

At Petlove, we employ different metrics depending on the product because we operate within an ecosystem offering various products and services, each with distinct strategies and challenges.

For instance, in the e-commerce segment, our initial indicator is the generated revenue and the market share we hold within the overall business unit’s revenue. We aim to achieve a significant share of revenue to make the most substantial impact on results. Simultaneously, we monitor the growth of individual CRM tactics, such as promotional campaigns and marketing automation.

We also consider metrics like contribution margin, average order value, and our share in the sales of exclusive brands. Naturally, performance metrics for specific channels and each campaign/automation also come into play.

However, when we shift our focus to our pet health plan, we emphasize metrics related to usage, renewal rates, upgrades, and churn. Additionally, we track cross-selling metrics between products within our ecosystem.

What are common mistakes made when working with CRM?

There’s a significant debate in the market regarding what should come first: the strategy or the selection of a CRM tool. From my perspective, opting for a solution and only contemplating the strategy afterward is a substantial mistake.

Defining your strategy and, most importantly, your CRM objectives before considering investing thousands of dollars in a tool is crucial. Undoubtedly, a tool can enhance your strategic possibilities and expand your opportunities. However, a CRM leader should initially grasp the company’s strategy, objectives, profit and loss, market positioning, corporate culture, workflow processes across departments, and the available support level. You should assess whether you have executive buy-in, especially from the teams from which you’ll need the most assistance.

After all, CRM operates cross-functionally and necessitates collaboration with departments such as pricing, trade marketing, product, sales, technology, and data. Highly siloed organizations may hinder your access to specific data, for instance, making it challenging to maximize the value of a solution.

That’s why it might be better to start with a simpler, lighter, cost-effective, and easier-to-implement solution, even if it’s more feature-limited. Gain maturity, demonstrate your value to the company, and test all these processes before aiming for a big tech solution.

I’ve lost count of how often I’ve seen large companies with big tech providers struggling due to poorly executed implementations, missing essential data, unreliable data quality, isolated departments, and immense efforts to demonstrate results.

In conclusion, failing to understand your company’s context is a significant error before initiating a procurement process.

How do you envision the future of CRM?

Artificial intelligence is now fully accessible and has a profound impact on CRM. The possibilities are limitless, offering a straightforward way to scale the production of personalized content, for instance. With AI, it has become more effortless, quicker, and cost-effective to create images, illustrations, texts, posts, or any other aspect of communication on a large scale. It will also assist in scaling predictions, segmentations, and, most importantly, generating insights on a large scale.

However, AI is something familiar, much like the concept of an omnichannel experience or marketing and process automation. There’s still plenty of room for improvement. Before contemplating any other revolution, I hope that in the future, more companies will genuinely succeed in delivering customer experiences based on ideas conceived many years ago.

About Petlove

Petlove is a technology company with over 30 years of experience in the market, aiming to democratize and simplify pet care, providing the best experience for pet owners while empowering veterinarians and entrepreneurs.

Considered the largest pet ecosystem in Brazil, the Petlove Group offers over 15,000 products on our website and app and services, including pet boarding, pet sitting, daycare, and more. They also provide pet health plans for dogs and cats, along with B2B solutions for veterinarians, pet hospitals, and pet shops.

Petlove is a digital platform, but we also maintain a physical presence with stores in São Paulo (and soon in other states), serving as pet shops and offering grooming, veterinary services, and a Pet Play area.



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