I recently heard a marketing consultant, during one of his lectures, tell his audience that it was not essential to have a CRM for one’s painting (insert your industry) business. This statement was made because someone in the audience asked him what CRM he recommended. The marketer did not recommend a CRM and just said, “I do not care what you use for a CRM…Excel would work fine or even a pencil and a pad.”
I get what the consultant was saying. This was in the context of hunting for new leads and reaching back out to past clients. The marketer had the idea that sometimes a CRM can be overkill and a time waster for salespeople.
Is a CRM Really Necessary?
I have seen companies use a rolodex system, files/folders, CRM, Excel, Email, and Post-It notes to keep track of reminders, next steps, sales process, and their customers. Should your company invest the time and resources by using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program?
I know some of you will not be shocked when I say that a contracting business should use a CRM. Why? I think it helps keep your business on track, focused and more sellable down the road. It also provides better accountability with your team.
I recently talked to someone who hired their first salesperson and asked if he had a CRM to keep track of his prospecting, lead generation, and sales pipeline? I, then, encouraged the owner to try a CRM for a few weeks and get the sales guy to commit to using it. Fast forward a few weeks, the owner ended up firing the salesperson. The decision to let him go was largely due to the fact that the CRM did not lie. The salesman was lazy, and he could not continue to get by the owner now that the CRM was giving him reports.
A CRM has been a wise choice for me because it really does help keep me on task. I do the bulk of the selling at my job. However, I do not prospect and sell everyday. It is just my industry. It is every now and then. An estimator for a painting company should be prospecting and/or selling each day. That is why a CRM is vital for a sales staff. Because my sales is not full time, I still use a CRM to help with the next steps and my long sales cycle. I sometimes have proposals that can take weeks if not months to sell. Sometimes prospects will come back 6-12 months later and sign up. I can go into my CRM and within seconds have their information at my fingertips.
Does It Matter What Type of CRM To Use?
The marketing consultant I mentioned at the beginning of this post said it did not matter what type of CRM one used. On that point, I actually agree with him, but I would strongly suggest staying away from Excel, Post-It Notes, and a Rolodex! There are hundreds of choices on the market to have a contact manager. A CRM should at least have the basic functions of a contact manager, a sales cycle that you can customize and good reporting.
I have tried dozens upon dozens of CRMs over the years. I continue to get emailed from CRM companies asking me to review their program. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. There are some that are more geared toward the construction industry. Yet I don’t care for some of those programs because they are not real user friendly or provide more features than my customers will ever use.
Most of the painters I work with nationwide have settled on using a CRM called Pipeline Deals (affiliate link). I have worked with Pipeline close to when I started my company in 2009. They have been great to work with, and they produce a very simple and easy to use CRM that works. I am an affiliate because I have a bit of influence with them. In other words, I can provide feedback that my customers want…and they listen to me! We are a great team.
The other program I use, and I know many folks have signed up to use, is Base CRM. This is a simple CRM but also has very complex and advanced features as well. It is scalable for small, medium, and even large organizations. Try Base. I am affiliate of Base as well as I have helped with testing out new features and am kept aware of development. I am also able to provide valuable feedback to their development team.
The biggest player in the industry continues to be SalesForce. They have a number of pricing levels to fit the bill…and you can’t go wrong with it. I only have a few clients using Salesforce. They all seem to think it is “just fine.” I would say it requires a lot more training and time investment to utilize all their features. It is a pretty powerful CRM system. The companies that use it do over $10M a year in revenue and have a larger sales staff.
I know what I mentioned is not rock science in this post. It was written in response to this marketer who thought that a CRM can be a waste of time for many businesses: gets in the way. My point is that having a CRM and making it a part of your system will really streamline your business systems. You just need to commit to getting and using a CRM. Do you agree? What are you using to keep track of clients and stay in touch?