When most businesses break ground, one of two things usually happens in regard to tracking client information: One, your sales and Customer Relations team (at this stage typically “you”) track information by hand in notebooks, scraps of paper, and the like; or two, you take a more organized approach and use a mix of spreadsheets, calendars, and tools like Evernote to keep everything aligned.
Though each of these approaches has its merits, at some point you reach a threshold where winging it is no longer a viable option. Eventually your business grows to the point where you can no longer effectively track and manage your clients and prospects with spreadsheets and little orange notebooks alone.
As the person in your business charged with expanding client relationships and new sales, you should be constantly interacting with your customers through an ever-growing list of mechanisms and opportunities. Effectively managing multiple communication channels from email and marketing sales campaigns to lunch or happy hour meet ups, requires a strong understanding of how these channels work and how you can leverage them to reach out and recruit new customers. Each customer is different and you have to cater your outreach and marketing to fit their preferred communication style.
That is where CRMs come into play.
A CRM is a digital (usually cloud-based) system that provides tools and services to help you stay organized and track your customer through your own specific sales pipeline. From initial inquiry to closed deal, CRMs provide you with the tools and resources to track your customers and their relationship with you as well as critical information that will assist you in moving them through your funnel. CRMs ensure that you have a consistent interaction with your targets, through activities like scheduled email campaigns and appointment setting, as well as creating centralized collection for all contact-related information.
CRMs vary in both features and cost and can range from extremely simple to very complex. Choosing the right CRM for your business will require you to think strategically and effectively about how you want to organize your business and sales and outreach processes. Here are some items to consider when researching which CRM may be best for you:
- Customer Relationship Tracking
Leads can (and hopefully do!) originate from any channel in your marketing ecosystem.A good CRM allows you to keep tabs on your customers including all contact information, most recent touchpoints, notes on all communication and interactions, and social media contacts and preferences. Good information to collect for current or future sales opportunities.
- Sales Pipeline Organization
Tracking a customer from initial contact to closed deal is crucial to replicating your business success. Certain CRMs provide automation opportunities to move prospects from station to station in your sales funnel as milestones are achieved. You can also create automatic touches for clients as they go through the pipeline ensuring that you don’t drop the ball and lose communication.
- Social Media integration
For most small businesses, consistent social media outreach and engagement can become a time suck, so creating mechanisms and systems to streamline this process is important. Many CRMs can integrate Social Media platforms into their systems to help save you time and ensure that your customers and potential clients feel engaged and allow you to measure and track metrics and data on engagement.
- Email Automation
In sales, it’s often said, “Your list is your biggest asset.” Crafting systems around outreach and enabling bulk email sends can be an incredibly effective mechanism to drive goodwill and engagement with your clients and prospects. If constructed properly, your CRM can work for you as an autopilot for email marketing; enabling you to focus more of your time on what matters most for your business.
- Reporting and Analytics
Creating opportunities for insights into your conversion and outreach is perhaps one of the most important features of any CRM. Along with getting up-to-the-minute stats on sales, any good CRM will help provide you with valuable information about which channels are working best for your business so you can focus your attention and investment on those activities that return the biggest value.
- Third Party Integrations
At Relish, we have found our processes work most effectively by leveraging the Google suite of apps and services. Migrating our all of our information and systems to a proprietary CRM has never been something we wanted to undertake. Finding a CRM that can integrate with your suite of digital tools – including email software, landing page builders, tracking systems, etc. – is important. Some CRMs play better than others when it comes to third-party systems integrations. Conversely, a full-suite CRM may enable you to ditch costly tools and streamline your processes. Weighing these integration options is something to consider when you make your CRM selection.
- Subscription Model
There are a variety of pricing models available for most SAAS CRM tools. Understanding your commitment and the pricing model is SUPER important. Many CRMs require that you purchase a license for each user. Some have minimum license purchase requirements. Others require upcharges for upgrades, feature add-ons, and exceeding email send limits which can result in significant monthly fee increases depending upon your use. It’s important to identify what resources you need from a CRM and select accordingly to ensure that you get what you need out of your chosen system.
There are literally hundreds of CRMs available for use. We have tried a few of these and our first piece of advice is that the best tool is the one you use. Consistent use of your CRM is going to produce the best results – no matter which one you leverage for your business. Here are a few to consider:
- Zoho CRM:
Summary: Zoho started as an open-source CRM platform. In the last two years, the company amped up its products to try and become the premiere CRM integration with a variety of tools and integrations so that Zoho is your one stop shop for all marketing and customer related things.
- Pros: Vast collection of tools. Inexpensive to get started. Month-to-month subscription model.
- Cons: Feels like it is still on the way up in terms of sophistication. Set-up can be tricky.
Summary: Hubspot’s generally orange and positive aesthetic has become widely known around the marketing world. With tools like sidekick that allow you to see when and how often someone opens a personal email you send, Hubspot focuses their products on what marketers really need. Real-Time data from their customers and a plethora of autoresponder templates to make sure you can always say the right thing at the right time.
- Pros: Super sophisticated, all-inclusive marketing automation platform. CRM is actually free to use. Gmail and calendar integration via Sidekick add-on is pretty slick.
- Cons: Cost of the full automation platform prohibitive for many smaller businesses. Long-term contracts.
Summary: A very simple and clean CRM with great visuals to help you understand where a customer is in the sales process. Pipedrive cuts out a lot of the fluff and focuses on sales pipeline management. They also have a very nice mobile app making it easy to update client interactions on the fly.
- Pros: Simplicity. Easy email integration.
- Cons: Meetings integrations require Zapier which can cause issues.
Summary: Salesforce has been the gold standard for CRM’s over the years. Their platform is extensive, and is designed with a full suite of services that allows you to do more than just customer management. With Lightning, Salesforce has updated a lot of its static and limiting interface issues to create a dynamic and visually pleasing interface.
- Pros: Designed to focus on more visually appealing sales reporting.
- Cons: Still in development so a lot of services other CRM’s easily offer are limited or non-existent as platform is being developed.
Summary: Similar to other CRMs, Apptivo offers fairly comparable services and tools including invoicing, email marketing and project management. Their tool is very simple and clean which allows you to better visualize the sales process.
- Pros: Full suite of features. Affordable pricing.
- Cons: Email integration is very difficult.
Summary: Insightly was designed to be as minimal as possible. The platform focuses on building customer relationships with marketing templates and other tools that keep the customer engaged from initial contact to final sale.
- Pros: Gmail integration and storage. Price. Intuitive to use.
- Cons: Limited Social Integration. Customization is challenging.
If and when you are ready to integrate a CRM with your business, it can be a daunting process. To set up everything so it can work automatically can take some time and effort. Fortunately, here at Relish Studio, we offer CRM integration solutions – from improving your current CRM to helping you include a CRM with your next website update – we can help integrate the tools you need to reach your business goals.
Want to chat about integrating a CRM for your business? Go ahead and schedule a phone call here.