I've always been wary of formalized CRM (Client Relations Management) systems, especially for smaller businesses or larger companies who serve a modest number of important clients (like most non-residential architects, engineers or contractors). Sure, you need good client relationships, but formalizing it within software packages which require data entry and maintenance seems to be putting your energy in the mechanism rather than the actual client relationships, not a great idea in my opinion.
But this weekend, facing a new sales lead management and co-ordination challenge (my sales team dumped the problem right back on me), I decided to reinvestigate the situation, and see if I could find a solution. And I recalled an interesting recommendation by Toronto painting contractor George Zarogiannis of Ecopainting Inc. recommending zohocrm.com.
By Friday evening, I had turned Zohocrm.com on for a test run. (It is totally free for up to three users, and if you wish to add a fourth, you pay only for that person, meaning your cost would be $12.00 per month). It is early going, but appears to solve the immediate lead-handling problem. Inbound inquiries from my website go into a holding file, where they can be reviewed for suitability before they are assigned to sales reps; and then can be tracked through their life-cycle: Exactly what I need in the circumstances.
I posted my findings on remodelcrazy.com and received some interesting responses, the most useful from Rory Swan at Servicez Unlimited in Washington, D.C. He wrote:
I think for most of us. The CRM function will be more simplistic.
- My software ranks the customer from the day the lead is first entered and changes based on factors
- We capture the types of projects that come our way.
- We also look at what jobs are more profitable than others.
- We use the data collection as a way to market to lost bids and follow up with potential clients.
- We enter the data in so that template letters can go out, that have enough customer info for them to seem personalized to that person, but not be difficult to produce.
- Good CRM can tell you
- What jobs are profitable,
- How did a customer find you
- What marketing avenues are working and what is the cost of acquisition
- Did a past client send you any referrals, what was the result of the referral
- A data base for marketing and promotions.
- I keep a 5 year log most homes here are sold and renovated every 5 years
- Maintenance data base to follow up on warranties and new sales opportunities