What the heck is CRM software and do I need it?
Many of my clients come to me because they have a CRM that they aren’t really using or they tried to set it up themselves with other people’s templates and now it’s a mess that isn’t working for them. Take my one client (let’s call her Laura). Laura uses 17hats as her CRM software and she had paid for someone to load their own templates and workflows into her account. Unfortunately, this person’s client process was different from Laura’s process. Even after she had customized the email templates in her own words, a bunch of them didn’t work for her. And she couldn’t use much of the automation that the expert had set up, because it didn’t match what she needed. When she came to me, Laura was overwhelmed and had mostly given up on using her CRM altogether. This is an example of what can happen if you’re not ready for a CRM yet or you haven’t fully figured out the process you want your leads and clients to go through. Do you need a CRM? Watch the video below!
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What is CRM software?
What the heck is a CRM and do you need one for your business? CRM stands for Client Relations Management or Customer Relations Management software. This software is where you manage all of your administrative tasks related to managing your client relationships. This could be anything from invoices and contracts to scheduling online appointments with you.
How can a CRM help my business?
What can CRM software do to help you save time and energy in your business? Well, most CRMs are a one-stop shop for a lot of the regular administrative tasks that you do in your business, so they're definitely going to save you time and they're going to save you energy and stress, because everything is going to be all in one spot so you don't have to be going back and forth between a bunch of different softwares to manage all of these things.
So you can have your invoices contracts quotes and proposals all in the same place, and you can send out questionnaires or PDFs or other documents that your clients need, and keep track of documents that they send you. You can also keep notes on what you're doing with your clients and anything that you want to remember for the future. Some CRMs even track your email communications with your clients so that's all in one spot too and you can see what has happened in the past.
They also allow you to set up online scheduling links that you can send to people so they can book right on your calendar and you don't have to go back and forth via email to try to pick a date and time. (Because is that really what you want to be spending your time on?)
You can also use CRMs to track tasks that you're doing in your business and to set up automations. These would be workflows that send things out to leads and clients automatically without you ever having to do anything and also do follow-ups and other parts of the process so that everybody is getting a consistent experience and they feel taken care of.
Do I need a CRM?
Now, do you need a CRM to effectively run your business? No, you absolutely do not. If you have a system that is working for you, or working for you for now, that's just fine.
I ran my business for the entire first year without having a CRM and it was fine. It may have saved me a little bit of time to have a CRM, but I wasn't at a point where I was ready to set one up. I didn't necessarily have a firm process yet that I wanted to set up and automate, and I wasn't at the point where I was feeling ready to invest in a CRM. If you don't feel like you're ready to make that investment and take that step, that's totally fine now.
One thing I would recommend is finding a CRM and starting to set up those foundational systems a little bit before you think you need to. One thing that happened to me, and has happened to several of my clients, is that I got a sudden influx of clients when I wasn't expecting to. I didn't have the systems in place to take care of that properly and it was very overwhelming. I wish that I had taken the time to set up my CRM and get those foundations in place before that had happened, because trying to get those things set up when you're right in the thick of it and you're trying to keep up with all of these clients and give them quality work and services is just too much. It's not going to happen.
I recommend that you start at least thinking about what CRM you might want down the road and what kind of processes you want to set up so that you can dive into those and get those foundations set up before you get overwhelmed and you definitely don't have the time or space to do it.
What CRM do you recommend?
Honestly, there is no right or wrong answer to this. Many CRMs out there offer free trials or free versions, so trying out a few to see what you like and what makes sense for your learning style is a great place to start. Some CRMs that I regularly use and would recommend are:
Out of these three, I would say Dubsado has the steepest learning curve, but they all have different things that they do well and other features that could be improved. If you find a CRM that makes sense to you and does at least most of what you need, then it's perfectly fine to go with that! If you have questions about CRM software and if it's the right option for your business, let me know down in the comments or feel free to reach out.