Why you need a CRM for your creative business

February 26, 2020
James

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.

  1. Create custom fields for your contacts to track things that are important to your business
  2. Create stages for your deals that are representative of your workflow. Mine are
    1. Lead-in
    2. Contacted
    3. Discovery Call Scheduled
    4. Proposal
    5. Negotiations in progress
  3. Schedule your next follow-up after every interaction so you don't lose contact with your client
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

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