This week in the Behind the Scenes series we’re looking at one of the things that has made the biggest difference to how I work in my business. My CRM system.
I’ve written about CRMs on the blog before and how they can make nurturing relationships with your clients and contacts really easy. And it really is easy. Once you’re over the notion that CRMs feel too corporate for your business, that you’re adding something else to your list to keep on top of, that your business is too small for such a system, I hope this will help you make the move and see the difference it can make to your business. It has made a big difference to the way I work.
So what actually is a CRM?
Essentially, CRM stands for Customer or Contact Relationship Management, which I will grant you does not sound very friendly. The purpose of a CRM system is to keep you on track with your contacts and clients, it’s where you can keep contact details, key dates, details about how you’re working together or how you met, details of people you work with in your business, your VA, website designer, or coach. Everything is in one place, and you can see at a glance who you’re connecting with on what, when you were last in touch and what you need to do next to keep that relationship going.
Each one of your contacts has a contact record and you can add notes, reminders, tags, and even sync your emails to show in the record too.
Can’t a spreadsheet do that?
Yes, they can do the basics, but spreadsheets can be clunky. What happens if you need to make notes on a contact, or put in extra information that only relates to a couple of clients? How can you easily see when you need to make contact again? The more information you need to keep about your contacts, the more a spreadsheet or any other way of keeping details becomes inefficient and a chore to use. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re less likely to do it!
The hidden extras
There are CRM systems designed specifically for small business owners, with great functionality and design (not at all stuffy and corporate). As I mentioned in my previous blog, each will have a slightly different main focus, but each will do the fundamentals of what you need to get started.
Nimble for example is very social, with links to social media accounts allowing you to see and interact with your contacts across those platforms from within Nimble, and recording each tweet, or update on a contact record. Where Salesforce is more of an all in one solution focusing on growing your pipeline, high quality leads and turning them into clients.
I use Capsule, having recently changed from Nimble. And I love it! I changed because I was using my CRM more and more and I also wanted to integrate my CRM with my task management, and I didn’t like Nimble’s interface for this. I was using Todoist for tasks (which I would still highly recommend). I like to work with as much in one place as possible so having all my client details and notes, and now tasks relating to my clients all in the same platform has made a big difference to my productivity. Did I mention Capsule is free, too?
Making it work for you
CRMs don’t sound quite so bad now do they? Tempted to give it a go? The really important thing now is to set it up and make it work for you the way you want, as you should do with every system in your business. Here’s a few ideas…(and what I do too)…
Customise – most systems will have customisable fields so you can tailor what you need in each contact record making it easy to capture what you need to know. I have added a date field to my records for when I first start working with a client, I can also record review dates. I can also create reminders and recurring tasks that alert me to events or milestones that I have noted they have coming up in their own business. It’s a great way to keep up to date.
Really use it – try out all that your chosen CRM has to offer to really make the most of it. You might be surprised at how useful using the pipeline feature, or follow up features can be to help making working in your business easier. Capsule’s tracking feature is excellent at setting milestones for keeping in touch.
Keep it up to date – any system in your business is only as good as how current it is. Your CRM should become one of your go-to places for an overview of what’s happening with your clients and connections. Make it a regular task to go in and make sure it’s all up to date. It’s not going to work for you if it doesn’t reflect your business as it currently is.
If you don’t currently use a CRM I would really really suggest you think about using one. It doesn’t matter whether you have 10 contacts or 10,000 you will notice the benefits.
This is a very broad overview of a CRM, there is a lot more I could write! It will depend on what you want from your CRM and how you like to work, but if you’re thinking about starting to use one, check out the ones I have mentioned here and in my previous blog. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch and I’d be happy to help.