Do you get lots of leads and send out lots of estimates? Would you like a better tracking system? Or would you like a better system to keep up with pertinent information about your customers, including details of previous conversations, special needs or requests, the services they use, information about their property or business? If so, your business might benefit from a CRM (Customer Relation Management) system. I made the move to a CRM system this year – I needed a better way to keep up with my leads, my lead conversion, and could also have an assistant enter information for me.
A CRM is basically a great big customer database at its core. It contains master file information on a lead or customer, such as name, company, address, contact info, and custom fields. You can also log activity such as emails, calls, meetings, proposal dates, and more. With a CRM program, your employees can enter the detailed information and you or a sales manager can see what’s going on. You can also track custom information about a customer or lead such as interests, something specific to a job or estimate, etc.
A good CRM system also integrates with your other internal systems, such as your QuickBooks and email systems. In some CRM systems, you can not only enter notes, but quotes or estimates, see invoice and payment history, so that when a customer calls in, you can also peek to see whether they owe you money or what they ordered that they may be calling about.
There are literally hundreds of CRM systems to choose from. Before choosing a CRM, decide what you want it to do and how you will be using it Of course, I’m biased and like mine to integrate with QuickBooks, and there are several good ones. You can go to the Intuit Marketplace and search for CRM programs that integrate with QuickBooks. Usually these are generic, not specific to your industry. Some will need a link before it can integrate with QuickBooks, such as Salesforce.com, and ACT. I also like it to have a gold or silver rating. Results CRM and Legrand also have good reputations. You, however, may prefer an industry-specific software; so often, there are fields and templates specific to your business, saving lots of time and generating better reports.
Personally, I selected Method Integration, which is a web-based, highly customizable CRM program (and highly rated). While there are some upfront costs working with a consultant to get started (I highly recommend this step), the monthly subscription is very reasonable. I’m able to use my custom fields from QuickBooks and it has real-time sync with QuickBooks (that’s almost unheard of with other software). Method also integrates with Outlook and even has a mobile app. I can create estimates for leads, which you can’t do in QuickBooks (unless they are a customer), as well as create sales orders and invoice for customers. You can even enter purchase orders and bills for vendors. At one time, there was a “QuickBooks Remote Access” level of Method and the CRM was a step up. So, you could have someone do some QuickBooks data entry without giving them access to QuickBooks. As you can see, Method is really more than a CRM program, which was another reason why I selected Method.
One of the most important aspects of benefitting from a CRM is to make sure it gets used, and that takes some habit-changing from you and your staff. Once you have your requirements, you can evaluate the software options available, and choose the one that works best for you. When you are able to stay on top of potential opportunities with leads and customers or your leads and customers start talking about how great your service is and how much attention you pay to the details they care about, you’ll know your CRM is paying off for you.
Let us know if you want help in looking at a CRM program or want more information about Method Integration.