One of the questions that I get asked the most in my communities is what’s the best CRM to use, especially as a solopreneur. This is an excellent question because your customer relationship management system is the heart of your practice – it’s what helps you make sense of your interactions with your clients, and ensures you’re giving them the best service possible.
The problem with this question is that it looks at the CRM in isolation. But your CRM is only a part of what you actually need as a thought leader or expert.
The Best CRM To Use
Rather than looking at the CRM in isolation, we need to be looking at it in terms of customer relationships, project management and your newsletter. In fact, these three items make up the elements that you need from your online systems.
In other words, your CRM is useful until someone buys something from you. That’s great! You’ve made a sale. But now you have to deliver the service that they’ve purchased. And for each service, you may have 20 or 30 individual tasks to undertake to provide that service. It’s vital that you have a project management platform to ensure you’re meeting each of these tasks.
In the same way, without a newsletter, you’ve got no data. You need to know if people are paying attention to your communications. Are they engaged and interested, or are they disengaged and uninterested? And if it’s the latter, how can you change it. Additionally, without a newsletter, you have no way to reach out and invite, an essential part of any practice.
In this model, you can see the three components of successful practice – the CRM itself, the project management platform and the newsletter. Each of these is important within your practice and not every CRM is going to offer each of these features.
These features are important because when you’ve got your CRM and your projects working well together, then it speeds up your workflow, making you more efficient. Where your projects and your newsletter intersect you have an implementation. This is where you are able to service the people that have already bought from you and are moving into your client journey.
Finally, at the intersection of your CRM and your newsletter, you have insight. Your newsletter helps you gather the data you need to understand your clients and provide them with the best customer service possible. Research shows it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. And increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
How to Choose Your Platform(s)
It’s important to recognise that you don’t necessarily need one to do everything. What you need to do is find the platform, or the combination of platforms, that gives you the suite of features that you need to best serve your clients.
Active Campaign, for example, has a CRM and a newsletter function but doesn’t offer project management. Pipedrive has a CRM, but nothing else. While Infusionsoft(now Keap) has a CRM, projects and a newsletter but it’s really expensive. And of course, there are many other options to consider.
In the same way, when you choose your CRM you want to make sure that it not only gives you the features that you need but also that enough people are using it that you can get the training and help that you need to learn to run with it. More importantly, can get the training or help you need without it being prohibitively expensive
I have a client who came to work with me after trying four different CRMs to find a workable choice. The changes were made because my client was growing, and her CRM needed to grow with her. But even though a couple of her choices were referred to her by expert mentors, she found that the CRMs were either unworkable due to scaling, far too expensive or that she simply couldn’t get the help she needed to implement them into her practice.
Our Personal Recommendations
While every practice will be different and so the needs of every expert or thought leader will be different, we’ve pulled together our personal recommendations for the suite of products that work best for us.
CRM – Active Campaign
In terms of a general CRM, we use and recommend Active Campaign. Active Campaign has the capabilities to grow with your practice, and it’s common enough that there are experts out there that can help you nail down what you need to learn in order to use it well.
Projects – Asana
In terms of project management, we use and recommend Asana. Asana can carry every single project that is handled within a practice. And Asana has excellent templates that allow you to pull out each individual task that needs doing for every single project that you’re offering.
Newsletter – Active Campaign
For our newsletter, we, also use Active Campaign. Organisationally it’s easy to use, it can grow with your practice and it integrates beautifully with its CRM aspects.
Remember, ‘Efficiency is doing better than what is already being done’.
– Peter Drucker
Take Care with Recommendations
Always take care when taking recommendations (yes, even from me!). Make sure you’re thinking about what you need and about what will work best for your particular market.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert, speaker and the author of seven books including the upcoming Catalyst Content. She has over 20 years of experience helping people to communicate confidently. And she is obsessed with authentic influence and human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. Jane delivers Content Creation Bootcamps (Virtual and Face to Face), Coaching and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.