Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a valuable tool that allows business owners to better manage relationships with their clients.
Since the success of any business consulting practice boils down to its client relationships, implementing a CRM can take your business from good to great.
CRMs for Business Consultants can help by automating, managing and improving relationships. This can lead to better client experiences, higher client satisfaction rates, and ideally more business.
In this article, we’ll cover what CRM software is and how a CRM can benefit your business consulting practice. Then, we’ll talk about how to choose the right CRM to meet your needs.
Let’s dive in.
What is a CRM?
A CRM is a type of software that can manage, track, and store data related to your consulting practice’s potential, current, and past clients. It typically helps business owners or sales professionals keep track of communications, interactions, and needs of their contacts.
The purpose of a CRM is primarily to help win new clients and retain existing ones. Some CRMs can also analyze client behaviour and unearth patterns that enable better customer service.
While at one time, business owners used spreadsheets to manage their client information, a CRM brings many functionalities into one platform to make client care seamless.
Benefits of CRM Software for Consultants
Business consultants who have implemented a CRM often say CRMs are worth their weight in gold. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re looking for new ways to mature your consulting practice, there are many benefits of a CRM.
Here are 6 benefits of CRM software for consultants:
1. CRMs Help Manage Client Data and Interactions
Managing client data can be an arduous process, yet if overlooked, can create a barrier to business growth. This data includes client contact information, email exchanges, and client behaviour like website click throughs or eBook downloads.
Knowing this information not only helps you keep in touch with your clients, but also enables you to personalize your services. It helps you understand what your clients are interested in, and arms you with insight on when or how to contact them.
A good CRM will also provide you with access to this data all in one location, making it easy for you to find information when you need it.
Here’s an example of how Value Builder – a sales, marketing and CRM software designed specifically for business consultants – provides all the client data and insight you need in one easy-to-access location.
2. CRMs Help Improve Client Relationships
Finding clients for your consulting business is one of the most challenging aspects of growth. But once you find clients, maintaining strong relationships is just as difficult.
The data collected by a CRM will help you understand your prospects and current clients so you can deliver exceptional customer service. For instance, a CRM can show you how long it’s been since you reached out to a client, so you can do it sooner next time. Doing this will help bolster their trust in you and will keep your business top of mind.
The best CRMs for small consulting businesses also give you the ability to optimize outreach to clients and potential clients at the right time with high-quality communications.
Value Builder, as an example, provides email templates and marketing automation that can help speed up this process. As a bonus, this content is proven to resonate with clients, which can mean better results than doing it yourself.
3. CRMs Help Improve Productivity
As a business consultant – or any business owner for that matter – maximizing productivity is an important way to help your bottom line.
When you’re a small business owner, you most likely wear many hats. If your main focus and passion is on serving your clients, chances are it’s difficult to find time in the day to keep detailed client records. This is where a CRM can help.
A strong CRM platform will streamline your tasks and improve productivity. With the ability to keep track of client communications and access analytics, you and your team can quickly take action in real-time.
It can also automate routine and repetitive tasks, such as triggering an email to be sent when one of your prospects or clients takes a certain action.
4. CRMs Help Eliminate Redundant Systems
One of the primary tasks of a CRM platform is to consolidate client data and give users the ability to manage all tasks under one roof.
Previously, business consultants had to use multiple platforms to get the job done. From spreadsheets and analytics platforms, to email newsletter tools and lead capture plugins, managing client data was like herding cattle.
A strong CRM platform merges these tasks under one roof, offering all the functionality you need to win and retain clients. By doing so, a CRM will help you avoid human error and save on costs.
5. CRMs Create One Single Source of Truth
Speaking of multiple systems and tools, have you ever had challenges with scattered information, conflicting reports, and passwords you can’t remember? Many different platforms often means many different problems.
Where one system will track one key performance indicator (KPI), another may say something different. Understandably, this can lead to confusion and for many business consultants, lack of action.
By using a CRM software to gather, optimize, and analyze data, consultants have a single source of truth that is verifiable through the data. They can see when their clients clicked a link, downloaded an eBook, engaged with content, and sent an email. This eliminates confusion and saves time.
Here’s an example of Value Builder’s dashboard, which provides a single source of truth that’s specifically designed for business consultants.
6. CRMs Track and Manage Leads
So far, we’ve discussed how CRMs can help you manage existing clients. However, CRMs can also be used to power up your marketing effort by managing prospects. In fact, one of the main purposes of a CRM software is to track and manage leads.
CRMs manage leads in a variety of different ways. They usually offer real-time notifications so you can strike when the iron is hot. Plus, you can often upload prospects, build lists, and segment contacts so you can personalize your marketing activities.
If you use an all-in-one tool like Value Builder, you’ll get unique access to a library of 500+ ready-made podcast episodes, eBooks, landing pages, articles, and email templates that you can use as marketing content to nurture your prospects.
How to Choose the Right CRM Software for Your Consulting Business
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of a CRM for your independent consulting business, let’s talk about how you should choose the right one. There are lots of options out there, but not all are created equal, and not all meet the unique needs of business consultants.
Here are several tips on how to choose the right CRM for you.
Want a deeper dive into this topic? Check out our blog post: How to Choose the Best CRM for Your Business Consulting Practice
Identify Your Goals
At the end of the day, the right CRM platform should align with your goals. But, what are these goals?
The first step in choosing a CRM is to get back to basics. Do this by making a comprehensive list of what your business goals are. This will help you determine what problems you need a CRM platform to solve for you.
Here are a few goals you might want to consider:
- Track leads and pipeline
- Track closing rate
- Automate marketing and sales activities
- Organize client information
- Manage emails
- Optimize client workflows
- Streamline reporting
- Gain a single source of truth
Once you have your list, put these in order of importance to your business and determine which will be most effectively solved with a CRM solution.
Understand Your Work Processes
CRM solutions are designed to optimize business processes, but everyone’s processes are different and yours are no exception. In fact, it could be that your processes are what differentiates you from your competition.
When considering the right CRM solution for your consulting business, ask yourself which CRM solution will meet some or all of those requirements. Will it make a process easier and more efficient, or does it simply add to your task list? Is it flexible and scalable as your business grows, or will it become a barrier to success?
Review Integration Compatibility
More and more applications can now be connected easily through APIs. But there are still a few hiccups you might experience if your CRM solution doesn’t integrate seamlessly with your core applications or your website.
When assessing a CRM, check to make sure you can, for instance, embed its forms within your website. If you’re using a different billing software, can your CRM speak to it?
Before you commit, make sure that the CRM software integrates with your other systems. If necessary, you can look for a third-party platform that integrates all of your systems into one streamlined organization.
Make Use of Product Demos
Most CRM solutions will offer a free product demo or trial. Make use of this to see if the CRM will fit your needs.
This is your chance to test out the system and see its strengths and weaknesses. Does it fulfill your list of requirements? Does it help streamline your workflows? Does it help with your marketing and lead generation requirements? Is it easy and intuitive to use? Does it seem worth the price?
Taking this time at the outset before committing to a subscription will help save you a lot of time (and money) in the long run.
CRM Platforms Available for Business Consultants
Gartner estimates the size of the CRM industry to be valued at $69 billion. Many businesses invest top dollar purchasing a CRM, and that means that the marketplace offers many different options. With so many CRMs available today, how can you choose the right one for your consulting business?
Here are 5 popular choices you can look at. Remember, not all are made equally and some are more complex than others to configure.
- Value Builder: The great thing about Value Builder is that it’s built precisely for business consultants and advisors. While some of the other options on this list are designed for all types of companies, Value Builder offers exactly what business consultants need.
Plus, it’s more than just a CRM platform – it’s specifically designed to help consultants
find, win, and keep more clients. That means it combines all the sales and marketing tools consultants need in one platform. It’s powerful yet easy-to-use, and gives intuitive insight into leads so you can take action quickly.
It also has over 500+ ready-made eBooks, webinars, email templates, articles, and more, eliminating the time it takes to create content.
- HubSpot: HubSpot is another popular choice that can work well for business consultants. However, it can become costly and complex, so you’ll need to plan to hire someone to manage the implementation. When it comes to cost, HubSpot offers a free plan which is pared down in capability and functionality. But if you’re looking for more robust features, the monthly licensing fee can be expensive.
- Capsule: Capsule is clean and simple, and can be ideal for small businesses. Its features include email templates, task and calendar management, sales pipeline systems, contact management system, analytics, project management, and more. However, you only get a certain number of email templates, there’s no pre-loaded content, and you do have to pay extra for their marketing add-on.
- Salesforce: Salesforce is a cloud-based solution that has over two decades of experience. Salesforce is incredibly powerful with a multitude of features that allow users to capture data, analyze, and take action when needed, in real-time. However, you’ll need to hire someone to implement Salesforce and subscriptions can be quite expensive.
- Zoho: Zoho is quite powerful with features that include marketing automations and comprehensive analytics, and can be used by both new and experienced users. Again, Zoho usually can’t be tackled alone, so set aside money to hire a developer to help you configure and integrate the platform.
Run Your Business the Smart Way With the Right CRM for Business Consultants
The importance of a strong CRM solution for small business consultants can’t be overstated. With the right solutions, business consultants can capture leads and build strong, long-lasting relationships.
Want a CRM that’s purpose-built for business consulting practices? Try Value Builder for free today.