5 Tips For Selecting The Ideal Consultant CRM

Amie Thompson
Amie Thompson

How Well Do You Know Your Business?

If you are looking for a list of CRM tools, and the pros and cons of each, and then a magic formula that helps you select the right one of your business, go ahead and stop reading.  This article isn’t for you.

There is no magic formula – selecting the right CRM tool starts with a little bit of homework.  If you can commit to that, than keep reading. This article is really intended for 1-5 person firms, but can be a beneficial read even if you are larger than that.

So here are few steps to help you make a good decision when you start looking through those lists of CRM tools.

Understand what a CRM is for.

At its simplest definition, a CRM allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them. That’s a very basic definition, which is good since a CRM is meant to be a tool to simplify your business. By having a tool, you’ll inherently understand your business better, increase your ability to accurately forecast your sales, and keep track of all of your open opportunities and closed business projects.

Do a thorough assessment of your business.

By understanding your own strengths and weakness, you’ll be able to determine the key pain points you may have that a CRM can help you solve. Many would say that time management, organization, good business sense, and efficiency are key characteristics for a rockstar independent consultant. If you are already a rockstar in each of those areas, great!  Look for a CRM that enhances that. But if you are like the majority of consultants, determine which areas you need to improve upon the most, and look for a CRM that can make you stronger in the areas you are weak.

Assess your commitment level.

Make sure you can commit to using a CRM.  Sounds easy enough, but the reality is that the tool alone will not solve any of your problems if you have them.  It’s the discipline, accurate data input, and good habits in conjunction with the tool that is going to the be the best recipe for success, regardless of what tool is selected. The fundamental question is whether or not you can commit to using the new system on a daily basis.  If you can’t commit to that right now, you probably aren’t ready to have a formal CRM and that’s ok. Just don’t spend the time and money if you aren’t ready.

Identify the features important to your business.

There are likely at least twenty really good CRMs and all of them will have similar basic functions that allow you to enter contacts, track leads and manage opportunities. So beyond that, what’s important to you? Based on the assessment of your business, you can come up with a checklist of important features to use as a guide when you evaluate popular tools. However, here are four that should be at the top of your list:

Cost: Take advantage of free trials or freemium plans so that you can test out the tool before buying. Once you’ve decided on a plan, try to avoid making long-term commitments of over 1 year just in case the tool doesn’t evolve along with your business. Finally, any cost you pay for the tool needs to be less than the benefits you will receive (such as efficiency and productivity).

Community: Many tools will have a built in community of users and this will be crucial to your success with the tool. These communities likely contain a wealth of information so that you can learn from the mistakes and successes of others. This can help with your own adoption of the tool.

Integrations:  Pay attention to which other systems the tool easily integrates with such as accounting software. If you invest in a CRM, you want to make sure that down the road you can connect this tool with other parts of your business.

Reporting:  Thoroughly understand the reporting capabilities of the tool, not only the standard reports the tool offers, but the ability to customize reports. Every business is different, so you should choose a tool that lets you manage your data to suit your business needs.

Take implementation of a new CRM very seriously. Even if you are a one-person organization, any disruption to your business and processes can be costly. In your search for a new CRM, take advantage of free trials in order to test 2 or 3 with real data from your business going through your sales process. If you are currently using a simple Excel document or Google spreadsheet to house your data, make sure that you clean your data before importing it into your new CRM.  Remember that garbage in equals garbage out. If you don’t have time to clean your data, then you don’t have time to move to a CRM.  No matter the size of your business, you would be wise not to implement the CRM yourself. The CRM that you choose should offer some support on how to get your data and and configure the tool for your needs. Be sure to take advantage of that.

Now that you have our tips, after you understand what a CRM is, assessed your own business needs, confirmed your commitment to using the system, and made a list of the critical features you need. You are ready to find the CRM that is best for you. Below is a list of five resources that highlight a comparison of features for popular systems to get you started in your search.

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