For consultants, clients are what keep the wheels of your business turning. But you don’t only have to find customers. You have to retain them as well. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to delight as many clients as you could if you have an ad hoc sales process. Particularly so if that sales process evolved and wasn’t planned. If you hop between spreadsheets, email, and documents to track your leads and deals, chances are you’re losing out – the solution? Get a CRM system.
What you will learn in this article
- Why you need CRM
- The benefits of a CRM system
- What you need in a Customer Relationship Management system
- How to choose the right CRM for your business
- Getting started with CRM
Why you need CRM
Usually, consultants are well aware of the competing demands on their time. You’re juggling existing clients and trying to convert prospects at the same time. Depending on the complexity of the product or service (and its sale cycle), you need to remain in touch regularly with opportunities.
Fortunately, CRM is the answer to staying organized and on top of your demanding workload. But, of course, new business opportunities and developing those clients you already have are two distinct challenges. Keeping them both moving efficiently along is often challenging. CRM can help by allowing you to track customers and leads closely. Thus, minimizing the risk of missing an opportunity.
You need CRM if you struggle to answer the following:
- What happens when you get a new lead referred or captured?
- What is the follow-up process?
- How long is the sales cycle?
- What are the FAQ/common objections voiced by prospects?
- What are the individual stages of your sales pipeline?
The benefits of CRM
The following outlines the key benefits of CRM and why you need them.
Automation: CRM enables you to automate and streamline your sales process. With CRM automation, you can automate many routine areas of your everyday activity. You can, for example, assign a lead to a specific sales team member as soon as the referral is generated.
Structured pipeline: Every business needs a sales process with distinct steps. Using a CRM, you can chart each stage and maintain high visibility of potential leads in the pipeline. This results in more accurate forecasting of when a lead is likely to close.
Keep tabs on your sales: Nurturing leads and clients is a challenging proposition. A good CRM for consultancies will allow you to track and manage activities and tasks at each point in the sales funnel.
Reporting and forecasting: This functionality lets you obtain real-time business intelligence. You can run reports when required or add them to your dashboard for quick overview stats.
What a CRM system should include
Growing a consultancy business is hard work. But having a CRM helicopter overview and automation will make your life easier.
Among the sales activities you can automate are:
- Mapping your sales process – CRM allows you to monitor each stage of your sales pipeline and track lead progress through it.
- Email outreach and follow-ups – You can automate much of your email outreach and get reminders about follow-up actions. Your CRM should integrate with your existing email system.
- Nurturing existing customers – Generally, most of your business comes from your existing customer base, so you want to look after them. In addition, detailed tracking of customers will inevitably throw up new opportunities.
- Free up time – Ensure there are plenty of opportunities to automate your backend processes. For example, if you can get staff away from time-consuming admin, it gives them more time to work directly with customers.
- Ensure your leads are a good fit – Leads need to be qualified, so ensure the CRM you are looking at does this. CRM automation of lead qualification speeds up the sales process. It ensures you are not wasting time on customers that you can’t help.
How to evaluate and choose the right CRM for your business
Follow these four steps, and you increase your chances of CRM success.
- Define your requirements – Draft out a checklist of your requirements and find the CRM system that fulfills them all. The secret here is to find the CRM that’s a good fit for you, not the other way around.
- Establish your budget – With a clear idea of your requirements, figure out your budget. But look at the Return on Investment instead of the price tag.
- Selecting the vendor – [Spoiler alert: It’s cloud-based CRM if you are a small business]
- Making the decision – Once you’ve tried out a few cloud CRM free trials, check out online reviews to help narrow down your shortlist further.
Getting started with CRM
So long as you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with CRM, you should have few problems. But for this vision to be realized, it also has to include:
- The problems you wish to solve
- And a mapped out sales process
Once you have that defined, it’s time to go CRM shopping. And like any significant purchase, it’s wise to try before you buy. As mentioned above, it’s highly recommended you get a few free trials under your belt before committing yourself to a particular CRM system.
Pro tip: Consultants and small business owners with less than 200 employees should narrow their search down to cloud-based CRM providers. Having the system online is cheaper, easy to implement, accessible anywhere, and can grow along with your expanding business needs.
CRM is not a fad or about keeping abreast of technology. It’s a well-proven path to transform your sales process, enhance customer experience, and boost your business development. This applies to consultants and small businesses just as much as large corporations with thousands on the payroll. If you want to invest in a CRM system for your consulting firm, contact us today. We are cloud CRM specialists with a sharp focus on small businesses.