Since I’ve been asked multiple times in the past couple of weeks about recommendations for CRM systems, I figured this topic would make a good blog post.
What is a CRM? Depending on which website you land on, it stands for Client Relationship Management or Contact Relationship Management. Think of an address book – in digital format – that not only stores every piece of info that you’d like to know about a client, but it can also keep track of where you are in project timelines, store notes about your interactions, and send you reminders about what to do next.
Which CRM systems are the best ones to use?
That depends on your needs. Therefore, the first step is deciding what your needs are. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to get the brain a-churnin’:
Do you want something software-based (computers must be networked in order to see the information)? Or would you prefer cloud-based (you can get to your info from any device with internet access)?
What type of backup does the CRM company provide? What type of guarantee do they provide in having 100% of your information accessible to you at all times?
Is the company a start-up, or has it established a solid reputation after being in business for several years?
How many client records will you need to store now and grow into in the future?
What type of information do you want to store for each client?
Does the CRM provide templates, or will you need to build your system from scratch?
How many people on your team will currently need access? How many people might you have on your team in the future?
Do people outside of your organization need access?
What do you want to be able to do with all of the client information?
Do you want to use your CRM for project management?
If so, what type of set up do you need?
The ability to add notes after each step?
Access to client projects by multiple people?
Tasks assigned to multiple people?
A reminder system that’s emailed?
A reminder system that’s texted?
A reminder system that provides pop-ups?
Or all of the above?
Do you want to be able to create and send eblasts from this same platform?
If so, what features do you want the eblast system to have?
How does the CRM system charge? By the number of people who have access or by the number of clients stored or by the number of projects or…?
Once you decide what you want your CRM system to do, prioritize that list.
Which features must you absolutely have?
Which ones would be a “bonus” to have?
Which are totally unnecessary?
This will help you compare apples to apples. This will also help you understand why some CRMs will only cost you $5 per month and others might cost you $500.
Do you already use one or more CRM systems, but haven’t realized it?
If you start from scratch, you will spend either a lot of time learning a whole new system, or you’ll spend a decent chunk of dough to pay someone to set everything up and teach you. Therefore, start your research with what you already use.
Do you have industry-specific software that might already contain these features, but you’re not using them?
Are you already using an eblast system that has these features if you upgrade?
If nothing that you currently use will fit your needs, here are a few CRM systems to start your research with:
If you’ve been using a CRM for quite some time, all of the above may seem pretty basic to you, but it’s where you need to start if you’ve never used a CRM. If you’ve been comfortable with CRM systems, feel free to post your favorite one below or list features that you think are important and should be considered.
For more info about CRM systems – and other productivity tools and tips – from time management keynote speaker Helene Segura, click here.