I was a panelist for on a call for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) last week. The topic was “Harnessing The Power of CRM to Grow Your Business”. I was one of 3 panelist discussing what a CRM was and how it helps your business.
So you may be asking “What is a CRM?” Here is a definiton from Zapier:
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, so by definition, a CRM is an app that helps you manage your relationships with current and prospective customers. Your email and address book already do that, in some ways—your email links related messages together, and lets you find all messages from a contact with a quick search, while your address book can hold as much info about your contacts as you want. Even the old-fashioned Rolodex was a CRM of sorts.
As you can see having and utilizing a CRM is crucial to your business, especialy if you want it to grow. So I wanted to share with you some of the tips I shared on this Teleconference.
Why Do I Need A CRM & How Early In My Business Should I Implement
One of the questions asked on the call was “Why do I need one and how early do I need to utilize one?” My colleagues all gave great answers saying the sooner in business the better to be thinking about and utilizing a CRM. This is true that you do need to be thinking about a CRM at the earliest stages of your business. Especially if you plan on growing your business. But my advice was that if you are just starting out and don't have a lot of contacts yet you can still utilize a hybrid system of a CRM like your Google Contacts, Phone Contacts, Evernote, or a scheduling system like Vcita. The reason you want a CRM is because for any business to grow you need customers and clients. You need to build a relationship with these customers and clients. The more people you come in contact with the more disorganized it can become to keep up with who said what and when to follow up. So that is where having a CRM comes into play.
I shared that when I first started out I utilized my Palm Pilot's roledex feature and kept paper notes in a notebook. This was way before there was a way to scan in business cards like you can now. That was a ok system until I got a little bit bigger and attended way more networking events. Then I graduated to ACT. Only now 19 years in am I utilizing another true CRM for my business as my business model has changed.
That was my experience but if you know that you want to grow your business bigger and will be starting out in business going to a lot of events, I would definetly try out a couple of the CRM's I will mention below. Most, if not all of them have Free trials and a few have a totally free version depending on the number of contacts and people in your business needing to utilize it. You have way more technology available to you now than I had when I first started. Do what is comfortable and right for your business.
CRM's To Start
Below is my list of CRM's. They vary from free to paid and from simple to complex. My advice is choose two that meet your needs right now, but has room to grow as your business grows.
These recommendations are in no particular order and certainly does not encompass all that is available, but it does give you a few that I have tried personally and some that have been recommended by other professionals to get you started in the right direction.
- I also shared that when you are looking for a CRM you want to make sure that they have integrations with other services; like your email managment system, etc. You should also make sure that you can get all of your information by download or export.
- Also make sure that you can access your info via the cloud. Because there is no point in having a CRM if you can't access your notes and info on the go.
- Look for free trials and only put in about 20 contacts when you are first starting out so that you can really see if it is going to be a good fit without sacrificing a lot of time and energy by putting all of your contacts and information in.
There is more that I plan to write on this subject as there was more questions that people asked that we didn't get to get to. So stay tuned to my blog for future posts on the subject.
If you have a CRM recommendation or if you are using a hybrid solution of a CRM I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
If you are someone who needs more help in figuring out what is the right solution for you can contact me or check out my 4 week program Blueprint for Success: Pushing Past Tech Fear. You can learn more by clicking here.