The consulting market is booming, with new projects coming in every day. But if you're juggling several clients and prospects all at once, that means you need to stay in touch with opportunities on a regular basis.
With so much going on, how do you stay organized and maintain the top of your selling game?
In this article we'll cover CRM for Consultants - what it is, why it's important to use one, and some of the best options out there.
What Is CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.
The term has come to encompass a broad range of activities, from managing leads and sales opportunities, to marketing campaigns that help you build relationships with potential clients or customers who aren't yet ready to buy your product/service.
It's important in all stages of the sales cycle to be able to track prospects, leads and customers.
Why Is CRM Important?
CRMs automate the many tasks that you'd otherwise do manually - like tracking contacts, keeping a backlog of your activity items, or managing deliverables for each client.
It can also help reduce the number of hours spent on administrative work, freeing up your time to spend on sales.
To showcase the best options for consultants, we've put together a list below of five great tools and identified who they might be good for:
Salesforce - this is an all-inclusive Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that will help you manage your entire sales process, from lead management to marketing automation.
Zoho - an all-around customer relationship management platform that has the basics covered but also includes more advanced features like data visualization and analytics tools for businesses of any size or complexity.
Aha! - if you're looking for a simpler CRM solution with less administrative overhead, this might be the best option for you.
With one-click reporting, prioritized to-dos and a sleek interface - it will help simplify your workday without sacrificing efficiency or features.
Infusionsoft - CRM software that's tailored specifically for small businesses just like yours by offering simple onboarding and friendly pricing plans
CoSchedule - a task management solution that's geared towards marketers and content creators. If you're looking to stay organized while staying on top of your social media marketing plan, CoSchedule might be a perfect fit for you
Why Consultants need a CRM?
It's important for consultants to keep up with the sales process - and that means taking care of new business, client development, marketing campaigns and everything in between.
With CRM software you can automate your daily tasks so you have more time for what really matters: closing deals!
Two Main Parts of CRM:
- New business: Opportunities that have come from your sales, marketing, referrals or business development efforts
- Client development: Upselling or cross-selling clients on further services and retainers.
With these two main parts of CRM covered, keeping this customer relationship management software updated will ensure success for any consulting venture.
In terms of CRM for consultants, this means staying in touch with potential leads - through sales calls, emails or social media posts - to make sure they don't slip away.
Likewise it's important to keep your existing customers happy by following up with them regularly so that you're top of mind when the time comes for a new project.
When done right, these activities will help turn prospects into loyal buyers and create an efficient and profitable pipeline of recurring revenue from client retention programs.
How do you stay organized as a consultant?
If you're juggling several prospects all at once, then how do you keep up the top of your selling game?
The best CRM for consultants is one with an easy to use interface - so you can reduce administrative overhead while still getting things done!
It's also important to track contacts and leads in order to identify opportunities that might be slipping away.
Keeping up with these two areas without an organized system can be daunting for any consultant or account manager who knows what each activity needs to look like in process flow diagram form but doesn't know how to track them manually when they're executed out in the field.
Benefits of CRM for consultants
As the owner or operator, it's important that you're looking at long term success in order maintain growth for your business - which is where CRM software can help.
- Automating your sales process is a great way to ensure you're following best practices - and freeing up hours of time spent on administrative work.
- CRM software can help establish better methods for nurturing prospects, which in turn will lead to higher conversion rates and more recurring revenue.
- If you have an established system with the customer relationship management software, you'll be able to see where improvement is needed in order to generate better results.
- CRM for consultants can also track client development opportunities so that when a prospect comes through your door or signs up on your website, they're already familiar with the benefits of working with you instead of going elsewhere.
- A CRM for consultants also helps you stay on top of your to-do list by prioritizing tasks and giving you a visual representation of what needs to be accomplished.
What CRM does for Consultants
The higher up an individual goes in any organization, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay on top of all that's being done - and with CRM software there are always opportunities to make improvements to a process.
CRM for consultants is about more than just making the sale: it's also getting that customer back on board with more work even after they've been satisfied with their first project.
Get your lead-to-client conversion rates up by using CRM software, and watch as you're able to grow your business with more recurring work and a steady stream of new leads.
Every organization relies on a sales process with specific steps along the way. For a consulting firm, these pipeline stages might include: New lead generated Discovery call Solution development/proposal Pitch Negotiation Contract Deal won or lost.
Every company needs to have some sort of structured sales process and keep track of where they are at-- the process. For a consultant, this would be from new leads through to closing deals and won or lost contracts.
"Using CRM software effectively is about more than just making the sale: it's also getting that customer back on board with more work even after they've been satisfied with their first project."
Keeping up-to-date with your CRM software is not just about making a sale but it also ensuring that the customer comes back for more work.
Email templates are an easy way to keep your emailing organized and more personal. When dealing with several leads, it's likely you're sending the same emails over and over again.
Instead of writing them from scratch, use a CRM that allows you to store and send templates on the fly.
As mentioned above, when using a CRM for consultants, you'll have an organized system that will allow to track everything from sales leads through negotiations.
In this example, the email is personalized with the recipient's first name and company name.
But it also allows for further personalization where necessary, allowing you to amend certain areas of the copy - like in this case when we mention their company.
It's important to personalize your emails as much as you can with recipients' first names and details about the company - this helps make them feel like they're more than just a name on an email list, but rather a person who deserves attention.
This will lead to better response rates for future correspondence or sales pitches, as well as a higher overall customer satisfaction.
Reporting and Forecasting
A CRM for consultants will have all reporting and forecasting functionality built-in, allowing you to create high-level dashboards and in-depth reports on how well your sales function is operating.
Here's what a revenue forecast looks like inside Pipedrive, which shows sales opportunities and potential revenue segmented by individual sales reps.
When building up your CRM software, these reports are crucial for understanding how well your sales team is doing.
It also helps you make changes to improve that performance and provide a better experience for the customer as they move through each stage of the pipeline.
Forecasting should be done at least twice per year in order to understand what's going on with potential revenue.
This is important for both the company and the individual sales rep, because it can be an indicator of their performance.
If your revenue forecast has dropped dramatically but you're still bringing in new customers, then there might need to be some changes made either at a personal or team level.
How to Evaluate & Choose a CRM platform?
Now that you have a basic understanding of the different CRM features and functions, it's time to find something that will fit your needs. To do this, we're going to use a decision tree approach with six questions:
- What are my goals?
- Do I need sales automation or just pipeline management?
- How many people work at my company or do I work alone?
- What does the CRM need to have in order for me to be completely satisfied?
- How much am I willing to spend on this platform?
- Can it integrate with other tools that we already use, such as email marketing and project management systems (e.g., Salesforce)?
This post is aimed to be informative and I can say with surety that it will be helpful for someone who wants to start a business or expand his knowledge about CRM systems.
It also offers information about the common features that are needed to run CRM system, like email templates or forecasting reports. As well as some questions you should think through in order to find the right program for your business needs.
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