Project Management

Why do you need a CRM - 5 tips to choosing the perfect system

What is a CRM and why do you need one.

What is a CRM?

A CRM or Customer Relations Management system is, at its most basic level, a glorified, shared address book and notes system. It enables you and your team to have a centralised location for client information, and most systems will also include tools for tracking prospects, leads and existing client deals. The more advanced and in my opinion useful systems will also include marketing automation (more on this later).

Why do I need one?

You might not, it may be that you have a shared contacts system that provides the bulk of the functionality you require. A CRM isn’t a magic pill and it needs to be set up and used efficiently by your whole team to be really useful. If you think that this is unlikely then it may be an added, unnecessary expense. On the other hand, as long as your team are engaged and keeping it updated, then a CRM will become a valuable resource and should provide essential information - such as the last time a client was contacted (and how) as well as reporting and general metrics.

Marketing automation

A CRM with Marketing Automation used to be a considerable investment and several companies have released products that provide these services (Hubspot and Infusionsoft amongst others). At it’s most basic a marketing automation system might provide a sign-up form on your website that once submitted will email a client with targeted information or a PDF guide. The system can then be set up to provide further information and personalised emails. This might be a follow up email two days later if the guide wasn’t downloaded, or an email with specific content, depending on which links were clicked in the initial email. A good system will also track your prospect / client as they return to your website providing instant alerts as they are on the site, and a list of the pages they are looking at.

How much will it cost?

From free to eye-watering large numbers, CRM systems are available at many price points. If this is the first time you are considering a system a cloud based system is likely to be the best place start. With most offering free trials and monthly usage fees per user, you can scale up as your business grows. Once you have used a cloud based CRM for a period of time, to make sure it works well for your organisation, you may be able to pay less by agreeing to a one or two year term.

Where do I start to look?

A google for CRM system will return 69M results! We would suggest that a great place to start your search is by talking to other businesses in a similar field to your own. We would also suggest that these systems might be worth investigating, we have either used or supported our clients on these CRM solutions:

Agile CRM
Our current CRM of choice and incredibly cost effective. We recommend this to our clients and the websites we build can link to Agile CRM. It includes contact management, deals and pipeline management as well as marketing automation.

It’s free for two users, then as low as $8.99 / month.

Possibly the most popular CRM and and incredibly rich in features. It is a complicated product and really needs expert support to integrate in order to get the best from it. Definitely not a DIY option in my opinion.

As a market leader, it’s pricing starts at £17 / month through to £170 / month, so requires a considerable investment. They do also offer discounted and free licences for 'not for profits' which may be a false economy if lots of set-up support is required.

One Page CRM
A great CRM that we used prior to moving to Agile CRM. One Page CRM has a wealth of features and is very easy to use. It doesn’t have marketing automation features which was the main reason we moved away.

It’s incredibly cost effective at £8 / month a user with a not for profit scheme providing five users free of charge for qualifying businesses.

Highrise HQ
From the same stable as Basecamp the project management tool this was our first ever CRM. It had a lot going for it but didn’t really get the development attention it required. It has subsequently been spun off into separate business and new development is underway. It’s a little too basic for our needs, but it will be a good fit for a lot of companies.

Price wise it is $24 / month for up to six users.

These are just a section of the systems that you might like to investigate and if you don’t have the internal resource to research the market I would suggest trying Agile CRM or One Page CRM.

If you have any questions about how we use our CRM to manage both clients and prospects please connect with me and send me a message. As we don’t sell CRM solutions my advice and thoughts are based on experience rather than commission and if I can’t help I am sure I can refer you to someone who can.

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