In the world of Virtual Business Support, the Blue Ninja team are always striving to find the best tools to streamline operations and optimise working practices for our clients.
One of the most productive ways to achieve this is working with CRMs, but which software should you choose for your business?
What is CRM?
Before we look at the comparisons, let’s start with a basic overview.
What is CRM?
It stands for client relationship management and is a software that helps you manage the relationships your business has with your clients or customers.
The beauty of CRM is the ability to capture all the information you need about your clients in one place. This includes their contact details, buying habits, how they interact with your various platforms online, and so much more.
Having this information together allows your team, or an outsourced agency, to access data quickly and make educated real-time decisions about sales and marketing strategies.
How can you sell your products or services if you’re not clear on who you’re selling to?
A CRM provides the foundations to analyse the data you collect and organise it in a way that an Excel spreadsheet can’t achieve. Each entry to your CRM can be categorised, and the information used to highlight potential leads, sales funnels, and active customers, making sales forecasts easier to predict.
How can a CRM streamline my business?
Did you know that approximately half of your business data is unreliable? It’s a fact of life. As we change jobs, move house, or switch business focus our data alters.
How many email lists have you subscribed to over the years? Have you ever signed up to a newsletter only to realise you signed up to it two years ago, but you’d forgotten? A CRM can keep up-to-date with all this information and filter duplications.
Bounce rates on your newsletter campaigns equate to lower sales and revenue. Insufficient contact details such as a wrong phone number, old email address, or missing information can have a negative impact on your sales strategy.
Here are just some of the simple processes available in a CRM that can streamline your business:
- Contact forms
- Integration with financial software such as QuickBooks
- Calendar booking tools
- Gives a clear view of your sales funnel
- Tracking phone calls
- Employee collaboration
- Company insights
- Supporting workflow of sales teams
Incorporating a CRM requires dedication in the growth of your business. It’s a technical process that demands an investment of both time and money. We always recommend opting for the most user-friendly system but at the heart of any CRM system, their needs to be a business owner with a drive to succeed.
The size of your business will determine how you use CRM. Understanding your companies’ goals, scope, and budget will help with the decision process.
CRM and business growth
Do you want your business to grow? Investing in the right CRM is a step in the right direction. Adding your client data to a spreadsheet will only be sufficient for a limited time, as your business grows, so should the processes you have in place to support you.
We always recommend testing a CRM system before you purchase. You must ensure that the chosen CRM does precisely what you need the data to do. Some of the free options are limited to the tools they provide and can cost more to add-on the relevant pieces to achieve your goals.
Live testing with a small chunk of your data allows you to see the CRM’s capabilities before you make your decision.
82% of top salespeople cite CRM tools as critical to their ability to close deals. Ensuring you make the right choice for your business is also crucial.
When used correctly, CRMs provide real-time information that guides businesses through the complexities of client relationships, making any priorities a focus.
Here at Blue Ninja, we’ve used many of the CRMs available to help our clients improve their productivity and grow their business. This has given us an insight into the tools, operational aspects, and ease of use.
HubSpot is a free CRM that gives you an up to the minute view of your sales pipeline in a clear, visual dashboard. It includes detailed reports on performance, productivity, and sales.
This software can be accessed by unlimited users, hold up to 100,000 contacts, and has no expiration date. Whether you’re a solopreneur or have a team of 100, HubSpot can help you manage your business through the reporting dashboard, pipeline management, company insights, and deal tracking.
The free option of HubSpot may not offer you everything you need from a CRM such as email marketing, and you will therefore need to pay extra to make sure you get what you want. Prices start from £34 a month up to over £2,500.
The Blue Ninja team have been using PipeDrive with a social enterprise client to help him automate his business while keeping costs down. They offer a good deal for not-for-profit organisations.
For this client, PipeDrive suited his needs perfectly as we were able to create categories for his overseas clients and his clients in the education sector. We could also integrate his financial software. Having the capacity to attach documents to each of his customers allowed him to see his sales at a glance.
The pricing plans for PipeDrive go from £12 a month for their basic Essential plan up to £99 a month for their Enterprise plan.
If you’re looking for a user-friendly CRM that feels comfortable navigating, then Active Campaign is worth further exploration.
We mentioned the extra add-ons you need to buy with HubSpot to give you a fully robust marketing system. With Active Campaign, these marketing elements are built-in, giving you more for your money.
The customer service is also exceptional as they make sure you are supported every step of the way in using their CRM system. They do this through both online support and, dependant on your plan, booking a call with a one of their support team.
At Blue Ninja, we are all about finding the right tool for the right job, and we’ve found that Active Campaign fits the needs of our own business and that of our clients.
Active Campaign offer four plan types from their Lite plan at $9 a month up to their Enterprise plan at $229 per month.
Need help setting up your CRM?
Deciding to use a CRM in your business means you are dedicated to growth, success, and boosting productivity.
Navigating any new process can be time-consuming, confusing, and overwhelming, which is why we offer our clients full support via our Admin Ninja.
We can provide Product/Services evaluation and advice to find the right solution for our clients’ needs. That mission underlines how we support businesses with their CRMs by integrating a new system, evaluating a current system, or transitioning from one to another.
“Julie and Louisa have integrated well with our team and have supported us with the development of our CRM system and data management and process and procedure creation and documentation. They were invaluable during product research for a live event registration solution and also in providing live support with registration onsite at our flagship event in London, UK.
Their ‘can do’ attitude, enthusiasm and forward thinking focus, coupled with a wide ranging skill set, objective eye and superb attention to detail has made them a pleasure to work with. They have been able to work to some very tight deadlines and have gone the extra mile and delivered beyond our expectations.
Julie and Louisa have been very flexible in order to meet our requirements and they’re currently helping us to re-adjust to this current changing landscape we now face.
Blue Ninja is our ‘go to’ external support system and we highly recommend their services.” Christophe Sauerwein, iCAAD
To find out more about how a CRM can benefit your business, arrange a 30-minute call with Julie and Louisa to discuss your requirements.
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