Client Relationship Management.
Yes, we know CRM stands for customer relationship management, but I like the term client better! It is the term we use on the consulting world, and within service-based businesses.
It is also an acronym primarily used to refer to the systems used to manage those relationships. Every business has 3 types of primary relationships in their business: Prospective clients, current clients, and past clients.
- Prospective clients are people interested in your services that may LEAD to a sale.
- Current clients are people that have bought into your services and you will be, or are, rendering services to
- Past clients are people you have worked in the past and hopefully are happy with the end results
After people have seen, clicked, and engaged with your marketing campaigns, some will be interested enough to give your their information. These are leads, and they are HOT! Especially within the first few minutes. Gotta act fast!
As a new business, or solo-preneur, you will eventually want to have a central hub where you keep your client information. In the old days, businesses used to use manila folders (and some still do) and file them in cabinets in alphabetical order. Being good at filing documents is a skillset many of us had on our resumes many years ago!
Back to the 2020s, a CRM system helps automate the lead qualification process. By that I mean everything that happens after someone tells you, “Hey, I am interested”. You can send emails, follow ups, documents, track activities and pretty much anything about the interactions you have with your clients. You can send confirmation emails to the lead, and also alerts to yourself in real time. That way you can get in the phone with that prospective client asap.
Once that lead converts to a client, you can also use a CRM system to manage what happens once a client buys into your services. You will need to send questionnaires, proposals, contracts, emails and calendar invites.
In our filing cabinet analogy, that client manila file continues to get filled with more information, documents, and notes. In the CRM, they convert to a client and enter a different process.
You will need to manage appointments, forms, deliverables, invoices, surveys, sensitive documents, etc. The exact process and needs depends on the industry you are in. For example, a beauty expert may need consent forms signed before beginning a procedure. A graphic designer may require an initial payment before beginning on the project. A law firm may automate due dates based on the statute of limitations date to stay compliant. A powerful CRM will be flexible enough to allow you to design the ideal process based on many unique factors.
Even better, the best CRMs integrate with other systems such as marketing platforms, invoicing and payments, and electronic signature systems! Reach out to us if you need guidance on how to get started on automating your internal operations!