A customer relationship management system, commonly called a CRM, is really an electronic version of your company’s address book. It’s a database that keeps information about your connections, from names to birthdays to buying habits.
CRMs come in all shapes and sizes, both as stand-alone software and online. They can include just the basics – almost like a fancy format for your Excel spreadsheet. Today’s CRMs now commonly include all kinds of helpful extras, such as social media integration, email management and marketing campaigns, sales tracking, and project management.
I recently switched back to Salesforce, which is what we used when I worked for a vendor that sold conference recordings. I adored the system. It allowed us to track every email we sent, every proposal we created, every job we confirmed.
At certain price levels, you can do everything from manage your contacts, track your communications and create email campaigns, to monitor sales (both the process and the signed contracts) and set up project management tools. In addition, it has hundreds of integrations in its AppExchange, many of which are in this book. I’m at the rock-bottom level: $5/month per user to track contacts, emails, events and calls. If my needs were more sales-oriented, the next level (where most of the goodies come in) is $25/month per user.
My favorite integration for Salesforce helps my email management immensely. You can use an email address that Salesforce generates to bcc all your emails to your Salesforce account, but they show up in a big, uncategorized pile, so you end up doing twice the work. So I pay $9/month per user for my assistant and me to have the capability to connect all emails and attachments directly to the Salesforce contacts with the Cirrus Insight app.
Another CRM, timetonote, is known as both a project management system and a CRM with attractive price points for small businesses. If I were looking for another system, this is probably where I’d start.
Both Salesforce and timetonote made Beth’s Top Relationship Tools list!