“Does anyone have a system for managing prospects from their first enquiry right through to them becoming a client?”
This was something that was asked during one of my group coaching calls a couple of weeks ago.
The client, who asked the question, went on to express frustration at not having a clear way to keep track of potential clients from the point of their initial enquiry, be that a phone call, email or social media enquiry, until the point when they sign up and become a client and beyond.
They were currently using Xero Practice Manager at the time and found it quite limited.
So, what I suggested, along with other members on the call, is that they should look at getting a CRM system.
So, what is CRM software?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.
It enables you to manage your prospects (and clients) relationships and date in one system.
You can store client and prospect contact information, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities in one central location, ideally in the cloud so the information is accessible by many, in real time.
What are some of the key features of CRM software?
Each CRM software provider is different, but they usually share some key features:
- Storing contact information – CRM software keeps all your prospect and client contact information in one place – including basic contact details, details of email activity and even social media accounts.
- Lead/Opportunity management – CRM software allows you to manage your leads and opportunities at different stages. For example, if you meet a prospect at a networking event, you could tag them as a new prospect. Someone who has downloaded something from your website might be tagged as a warm prospect.
- Integrate with calendar – if you need to set up meetings with clients you can send automated requests to them which they can accept or reschedule. It takes away a lot of the back and forward emails or phone calls when trying to agree on dates and times for meetings and makes the whole process more streamlined
- Automation – CRM software allows automated email marketing campaigns to be set up and sent out. This means you can use it to send out client reminders for information (e.g. for tax returns) and much more. You can also automate workflows which are a series of actions that take place.
There are many other features of CRM systems including advanced reporting, email tracking and task management.
What are the benefits of CRM software and do you need it?
CRM software can have a number of benefits for your accountancy practice. These include:
- Better relationships with prospects and clients
- Improved informational organisation – you’ll hold more info about your prospects and clients in one place
- Greater efficiency due to automation
- Better insights and reporting data so you know exactly how many prospects are in your pipeline etc
- And many others
It sounds great, right?
But do you really need CRM software in your accountancy practice?
I would say it depends…
Unless you’re in a position where you will use the additional features of CRM (marketing automation, sales pipeline management etc) and instead you are just looking for something to manage contact details – then perhaps using the free CRM bundled in with your accounts software e.g. Sage CRM or Xero practice manager might be the best option.
CRM software isn’t usually cheap and has a learning curve involved to get it working properly.
But if you do want to make the most of the additional features, then you might want to consider implementing one…
So, you’re convinced you need CRM software in your accounting practice, but which CRM software should you go for?
After we’d been discussing CRM software during our group call after the initial question, one of the other people on the call mentioned the software they use.
“I use Sage’s CRM software, but I find it’s somewhat limited. I haven’t been able to use it for a lot of the things you’re talking about”
The reason’s Sage’s CRM software isn’t the best, is because Sage make accounting software, not CRM software.
You need to look for software that is made by a stand-alone provider, rather than just some freebie CRM integration you get as part of your accounts production software to see the full benefits of it.
The software I use in all of my businesses is Infusionsoft (Keap). That’s not to say it’s the best, it’s just the one that we prefer.
Here are some other great alternatives worth checking out:
Let me know how you get on. And if you’ve got any questions then leave a comment below…