CRM For Consultants: The Ultimate Guide For 2023
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      CRM

      CRM For Consultants: The Ultimate Guide For 2023

      CRM
      05/12/22
      13' read
      05/12/22
      13' read

      While some consultants manage their own information and keep a spreadsheet or file cabinet in order to organize their clientele, others rely on external tools for reference.

      Consultants — independent consultants and consulting firms, both, need to know that CRM is a powerful tool that can help organizations in many ways. It is not just a sales tool, but it also gives them the ability to track their leads, clients, and competitors.

      By using the right CRM software, you will be able to easily track the sales pipeline, understand why it is failing or succeeding with new clients, and find opportunities for growth within the CRM system. This helps increase productivity because you’ll know what needs to be done next with your existing client base.

      This means that you should put CRM software at the top of your list if you want to effectively manage the business, analyze results, build client relationships and increase your income.

      But with so many options out there for CRM systems to choose from, you could be overwhelmed by looking at too many details and strategies. To help you save time and make the right decision, we’ve created this blog post that focuses on what you should consider when you want to pick one and lists down the five best CRM software for your consulting business. Whether a simple or highly complex tool is better suited for your consulting firm depends on the type of business you have and what kinds of information you need from it.

      Why Consultants Need CRM

      CRM solutions vary as per the business requirements of a consulting firm. Consultants need CRM for:

      • Building strong and lasting client relationships
      • Screening leads
      • Responding to requests
      • Invoicing contract proposals
      • Organizing workflow to avoid inefficiency and missed opportunities
      • Customers and lead tracking to drive more business revenue

      [Source]

      This is how CRM systems benefit consulting firms:

      Saves You Time

      With the right CRM tool implementation, you can save time by automating a series of mundane tasks — such as data entry, team updates, project management, etc. It consolidates interactions across the teams and allows you to focus on improving client relationships and business growth. You can increase efficiency within your business consulting firm by automating marketing campaigns, administrative tasks, and lead follow-ups.

      Is Pocket-Light

      As a consulting firm, it is ideal to implement CRM software that allows cost saving for tight budgets and improves ROI in the long run. A comprehensive CRM system comes packed with a wide range of tools with flexible pricing and customizable features.

      Helps Increase Marketing Campaign Success Rate

      With integrated CRM, you can personalize your marketing campaigns for specific clients or a group of clients. These emails can also be customized as per specific sending dates and recipient lists.

      [Source]

      A profitable CRM software would provide you with reports (provides visibility to your campaign success) allowing you to access the bounce rate, click-through rate, open rate, opt-outs, spams, etc. to evaluate the campaign success rate.

      Helps Improve Consulting Strategy With Actionable Insights

      As a consultant, you must have complete clarity about your project statuses, marketing efforts, client accounts, and the cases that need action. You can also evaluate the entirety of your sales pipeline with analytics, measure the productivity and performance of your teams, or whether your leads are dropping or consistently rising, etc. Such powerful insights help in enhancing your whole consulting strategy.

      Strong Collaboration and Communication

      A CRM tool allows you to gather client information — communication history, contact details, etc. and organizes these into a single database accessible by all your teams, who can then put in a collaborative effort to decide the right course of action for each client.

      Your team can use a cloud-based CRM to:

      • Maintain accurate visibility into a wider picture
      • Improve project management
      • Drive better client engagement across departments to achieve the single goal of revenue growth and enhanced client relationships.

      Enhanced Customer Experience

      [Source]

      As a consulting firm, your ultimate aim is to land the maximum number of clients. With clients, there are varied circumstances of clientele satisfaction as well as client issues that demand instant resolution. With the right CRM tool, you can streamline the client experience by understanding their needs and catering to them efficiently. You can deliver excellent customer service, increase the client satisfaction score and improve customer retention rate.

      How To Strategically Use CRM For Streamlining The Sales Process

      Outline The Sales Process

      A CRM tool allows you to track the progress of every stage of your sales pipeline. But you can use a CRM tool only after brainstorming with your sales team and account managers to know what these stages are. These vary depending on the complexity of what you’re offering to clients.

      The process needs a holistic understanding of:

      • How does a lead turn into an opportunity?
      • In what ways does the sales pipeline react when a new lead enters?
      • How and what is to be communicated to the prospects during the process?
      • How to negotiate?
      • What is the length of a sales cycle?

      Client Outreach

      We know that CRM helps you automate email outreach. It allows you to use ready-to-send email marketing templates without having to type the same emails every time. But how do you determine which activities must be automated with a consulting CRM?

      • Step 1As soon as a new lead enters the pipeline, send them a personalized email to get in touch. You can include a call-to-action for taking one step ahead toward booking an appointment.
      • Step 2Update your prospects with more required information before going ahead with a phone call. You can use email templates (with images or attachments) to provide your prospect with a visualization of your solution.
      • Step 3Set reminders, use follow-up email templates, and make sure to follow up with your leads to get results.
      • Step 4Documents FAQs you receive in your emails and create personalized answers to make your leads feel like they are your top priority.

      Nurture Existing Clients

      Your existing clients are an opportunity for new business and can be a gateway to cross-sell. Cross-selling can significantly drive up revenue with additional purchases. Document these opportunities in your CRM platform.

      Integrating an automated platform with your business allows you to create drip campaigns, schedule appointments, and create web forms and newsletters. This helps you to create a unified marketing portal and efficiently manage all your clients.

      Integrating CRM With Phone Solutions

      Phone calls work wonders in the sales and marketing sector when coupled with the right technology. Integrating your phone solutions with CRM tools help turn cold calls into efficient business.

      You can juice out the most from your cold-calling efforts by:

      • No manual dialing — Automate with click-to-call to contact your prospects and leads.
      • Use digital platforms for calling instead of traditional hardware phone systems.
      • Record your calls to use them for guidance and sales rep training.


      Five CRM Tools For Your Consulting Business

      HubSpot Sales Hub CRM

      HubSpot is a power-packed customer relationship management tool that helps you manage your contacts efficiently. It has a seamless user interface and allows you to organize your sales pipeline and nurture leads. With tools and data brought together in one place, Sales Hub aims at removing friction in the sales process.

      [Source]

      Built on the HubSpot Growth Platform, the Sales Hub offers a Free plan and a Premium edition with three paid plans. The free plan (ideal for individual consultants) offers the following striking features:

      • Contact, deal, and task management
      • Notifications and email tracking, email templates, and scheduling
      • Document sharing
      • Integration with Gmail and Outlook
      • Quotes, live chats, and meeting scheduling

      The Premium edition has three paid plans:

      • Starter at $45/month — Offers simple automation, rep productivity, and performance.
      • Professional at $450/month — Offers task and lead rotation automation, and deal staging.
      • Enterprise at $1200/month — Offers custom objects, predictive lead scoring, and playbooks.

      Pros

      Extensive Free Plan

      HubSpot is a CRM platform with extensive free plans and paid plans with robust capabilities. Sales Hub supercharges your sales process with the following catchy features:

      • Sales engagement tools for enhanced client outreach
      • CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) functionality for closing more deals at a faster rate
      • Total visibility with robust sales analytics and reporting for teams

      Seamless Integration

      This powerful sales software helps you in closing more deals, improving customer relationships, and managing the pipeline more efficiently through a single connected platform. It allows you to integrate seamlessly with over 1160 tools in HubSpot’s App Marketplace.

      Task Organization

      Sales Hub offers easy task organization by segregating it into emails, phone calls, to-do lists, etc. It helps increase overall productivity.

      Cons

      Poor Functioning Ticket View Filter UI

      The ticket properties are laid out in random order instead of being presented in alphabetical order — making the Ticket view filter UI less intuitive to use.

      Overwhelming Activity Logs

      The activity logs can be staggering at times and there is a lack of navigation. Also, to support larger enterprises, more robust conversion reporting is required.

      Maximizer CRM

      The Maximizer CRM tool is built to give you actionable insights to improve revenue performance for small and medium-sized businesses. It is an integrated customer relationship management solution that is ideal for industries of all sizes. It is deployable on-prem as well as on the cloud.

      [Source]

      It offers three plans:

      • Small Office Edition at $35 per user per month (Contact management capabilities for small offices);
      • Business Edition at $55 per user per month (Customizable, powerful, configurable, CRM for sales team for maximum efficiency and productivity);
      • Professional Edition at $100 per user per month (High-quality intuitive reports and dashboards that deliver complete business oversight).

      Pros

      Improved Client Acquisition

      Maximizer helps enhance client acquisition by:

      • Using built-in analytics that help monitor and assess sales rep activity and real-time performance.
      • Providing the sales team with clear insights to help you take timely action on salespeople activity and specific coaching, if needed.
      • Deploying automated lead management, prospects, and renewal.

      Efficient Pipeline Management

      Maximizer allows you to effectively manage your pipeline by ensuring that all the leads are followed timely. It provides essential visibility to the sales leaders, sales teams, and executives so that they can spot trends and flag outliers for the required action. This is made possible with customized reports, forecasts, and dashboards.

      It also declutters the database by removing irrelevant data or outdated reports.

      Productive Business Management

      The intuitive platform of Maximizer enables sales leaders to:

      • Provide the best view of the performance of the sales team.
      • Consolidate all the client information in a single database.
      • Capture, assess, and organize leads and prospects.
      • Analyze the client base to identify and leverage cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

      Cons

      Complex User Interface

      Maximizer can be confusing to learn and has some features (such as extensive factor analysis, filtering, etc.) that might not be required. Also, email tracking and contact update can be sluggish at times.

      No Multiple Search Functions

      Upgrading the tool causes errors. It doesn’t allow multiple search functions. Also, customizing the database via the backend is possible only by paying Maximizer to create add-ons.

      Salesforce Sales Cloud

      Sales Cloud by Salesforce is a well-equipped CRM tool that comes with a series of exciting features built to benefit your consulting firm. The list includes management of contact, opportunity, leads, forecast, activity, pipeline; mobile solutions; sales automation; files sync and share; territory management; sales collaboration, and more.

      [Source]

      In addition to a free plan, it offers four paid plans with customizing options:

      • Essentials at $25/user per month (All-in-one sales and support),
      • Professional at $75/user per month (complete CRM system for businesses of any size),
      • Enterprise at $150/user per month (extensively customizable sales options), and
      • Unlimited at $300/user per month.

      Pros

      Management On-The-Go With Mobile CRM Software

      You can manage your entire day on this unified app that allows you to view meetings, and events and get updates in a single place. It also allows you to make conference calls with a tap and take notes while on the move.

      You can access your CRM data or update it even when you are offline using its mobile app. This helps with:

      • Closing deals faster by tracking accounts and approving deals on the go.
      • Instant collaboration with your team members — thus helping you create, view, and manage conversations, and send files and attachments instantly to maintain a consistent workflow.
      • Easy and quick access to files (uploaded on Salesforce) from anywhere and enables you to browse, share and edit files including Microsoft Office.

      Boosted Productivity With Process Automation

      With workflow automation incorporated into your deal cycle, you can enhance overall business productivity.

      • The Process Builder comes with a convenient point-and-click interface for business process automation. You can optimize the deal cycle, create automatic email alerts and assign tasks automatically.
      • You can create workflows and help sales reps with qualification conversations and suggest the next appropriate step required to close a deal. You can also augment or replace complex manual tasks.
      • The deal discount approvals, travel, and expense reports, and various business requests can be automated directly in Chatter or via email.

      Strengthened Relationships With Business Process Management

      This helps you close multiple deals and win client trust.

      • Manage accounts and contacts by accessing the complete view of your clients, such as activity history, client communication history, internal account discussions, etc. It helps you gain insights from popular social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
      • You can access deal stages, products, quotes, competition, and more with Opportunity Management. This tool keeps you connected and well-updated regarding the information required for closing every sale.
      • While the campaigns get optimized across various channels, this tool helps you track leads from click to close.

      Predictable Revenue With Real-Time Intelligence

      It allows you to get a real-time picture of your business with detailed reports and a dashboard that can be accessed from anywhere. The Drag-and-drop analytics keeps you posted with customized sales forecasting reports. The real-time view can be had by simply dragging and dropping the field, filters, groups, and charts.

      Pipeline and Forecast management helps you know how your team and business are performing. With the help of custom KPIs, in-line editing capabilities, and reporting tools, you can improve forecast accuracy.

      Cons

      Data Saving Issues And Limited Quote Templates

      Since the data is not saved automatically, it can be lost. Also, considering its pricey plans, its UX is subpar.

      It offers quite limited customization for the quote templates.

      Complex Learning Curve

      The tool is overwhelming with multiple functions and capabilities which makes it difficult for a new user to get a hold of it.

      The automatic detection of duplicate or similar client records lacks user-enabled changes. It should implement easy-to-understand error messages.

      Honeybook

      Honeybook CRM software solution aims to support service-based small business owners by combining tools such as invoices, project management features, and contracts to ensure business success. You can manage, streamline and scale your business with lesser groundwork.

      [Source]

      It offers two paid plans:

      • Unlimited Monthly at $39 per month (access all features, no transactional limit, unlimited concierge support, unlimited team member addition), and
      • Unlimited Annual at $390 per year with similar features as the previous plan.

      Pros

      Easy Integrations

      You can seamlessly integrate multiple tools with Honeybook for a more efficient workflow. It is easy to use and allows you to easily connect with apps such as Zoom, QuickBooks, Zapier, Gmail, and Google Calendar.

      Secure Online Contracts

      Honeybook allows you to secure online contracts which your clients can sign anytime and anywhere. It allows you to access ready-to-use contract templates, lets you add any legal language, and lets you tweak the style and format that suits your business.

      It automatically extracts the essential client details and allows you to use smart fields to auto-fill contracts with client details such as location, names, dates, etc. It helps reduce turnaround time and lets your clients sign the contracts online with features like:

      • Legally binding e-signatures and initials
      • Signing possibilities from any device
      • Auto-triggering follow-up tasks post contract signing
      • Allowing you to create and track contracts from your phone (available on iOS and Android phones)
      • Providing you with real-time notification as soon as the client signs a contract

      Unified Invoices, Contracts, And Payments

      Honeybook helps you provide a seamless experience to your clients by bringing invoices, contracts, and payments to one place. The invoices are designed to look professional with beautiful templates and smart notifications.

      The contract signing procedure is free from any back-and-forth hassle and allows your client to review, sign and pay (no cheques or apps required, but a simple click-to-pay experience) all in one place.

      Cons

      No Customization For Project Pipeline

      Honeybook doesn’t allow you to customize your project pipeline. The default features (which cannot be taken off) affect the processes which might differ from business to business. Also, the tech support is subpar at best, leading to unresolved issues.

      Restricted Files Type And Size

      Due to the restrictions on file type and size, it can be difficult to upload files to a customized template. Businesses that do not have the traditional methods might find customization difficult in Honeybook. Also, the calendar sync can be glitchy sometimes.

      Pipedrive

      Pipedrive is a sales-oriented CRM tool that helps you organize your entire sales process and close more deals.

      [Source]

      It is easy to use and can be set up in four easy steps:

      • Set up your pipeline stages
      • Focus on the required sales action
      • Track progress
      • Optimize and grow with analytics

      It offers four paid plans:

      • Essential at $11.90/user per month (for getting organized and setting up simple sales activities),
      • Advanced at $24.90/user per month (email scheduling, automation, and more),
      • Professional at $49.90/user per month (Everything for boosting performance and revenue),
      • Enterprise at $74.90/user per month (unlimited customization and unrivaled support).

      Pros

      Be In Control Of Your Schedule

      The custom chatbots and web forms help you to get leads fed straight into your sales pipeline. It also allows you to track calls, emails, and client history giving you complete visibility and control of your schedule.

      Identify Winning Patterns With Interactive Dashboard

      It allows you to leverage the CRM data with the sales reporting software. The easy-to-use interactive dashboard in Pipedrive’s Insight helps sales reps identify and understand winning pattern(s). Using this, they can optimize the workflow and marketing campaigns.

      Easy Integration For Expanded Sales Operation

      You can seamlessly connect your CRM with other apps. Integrations between systems empower multiple business functionalities and workarounds. Pipedrive’s Marketplace allows you access to over 300 out-of-the-box integrations. You can use this to connect Pipedrive with tools across varied categories, such as lead generation, phone solutions, video calls, and customer support.

      Cons

      No Free Plans

      Unlike most of the other CRM software providers in the market, Pipedrive offers no free plans. It has limited custom fields and reports. Phone support is available only in the Enterprise plan and the Essential plan is limited to merely email support.

      Difficult Lead Download

      It’s a bit cumbersome to download leads on Pipedrive. You need to follow a series of steps, and then you need to make sure that the settings are appropriate in order to secure the leads you want. There is limited support, so this process can be a bit tricky.

      Wrapping Up

      The best CRM software will depend on your business needs, your personal preference as an independent consultant (or a consulting firm), as well as how you want to approach your business, and profitability parameters. If you’re looking at getting into the game, be sure to research well, and don’t be afraid to chat with other consultants to see what they recommend.

       

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