As your business grows, it's important to consider having a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) to track your leads and sales. I can't tell you how many potential jobs I lost early on in my career just because I forgot to follow up and keep up with people I spoke with. It doesn't matter if you're handling just a few contacts a month or have a salesperson working for you, you need a workflow that helps you grow your business.
What do CRM's do?
There are a TON of CRM tools out there that are geared towards everything from photographers to massive corporations, but the basic functions of all CRMs are the same. A CRM should allow you to record contact information people and connected organizations, track communications (phone calls, emails, etc), provide reports on growth and activities, and schedule followups.
I have two creative businesses and have separate CRM's that are geared towards the specific needs for the businesses. For my wedding videography business, I use Honeybook, which does everything I listed above, but is more focused on date-based client work, and handles proposals, contracts, invoicing and payments internally. For my brand-focused creative business, I use Pipedrive which is a standard CRM, but much more powerful for handling lead tracking in bulk.
Building a workflow that works for YOUR business
I'm a big believer in creating processes to make running my businesses easier. With that, I've tested a TON of CRMs in the past few years. The last thing that a CRM should do is consume a bunch of time to maintain. It should take some work to get set up, but after a week or two, it should be running mostly automated and be integrated with your workflow. Some CRM's have a ton of enticing features, but often those features become something you have to take a lot of time to keep updated, otherwise, you won't have a good pulse on your business.
- Create custom fields for your contacts to track things that are important to your business
- Create stages for your deals that are representative of your workflow. Mine are
- Discovery Call Scheduled
- Negotiations in progress
- Schedule your next follow-up after every interaction so you don't lose contact with your client
- Make use of reporting tools. My favorite thing about Pipedrive is that I can see a forecast of potential revenue and I can make decisions around that. For example, if the next quarter is looking dry, I know I need to reach out to past clients to try to generate some work and increase my outbound efforts.
- Track your lead sources - this is so critical to have in a report, so you know
Setup your own CRM!
If your business is focused on date-based events like weddings, portraits, etc. check out my full writeup on Honeybook
If you run a business that isn't based on one-off dates, check out my favorite CRM, Pipedrive (use this link and get a full-month trial free!)
Also, I'll be doing a free webinar in the next few weeks on how to set up a CRM and make it work for YOUR business. Sign up with the form below to be notified when it's live!