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CRM For Consultants: What To Know Before You Start

As consultants, your client is the backbone of your business. It's not just about getting them to work with you; it's also important to ensure they are pleased with your services and stay engaged.

However, if you have a partially executed sales process with different strategies for tracking deals and prospecting leads, you could be missing out on business opportunities. If you're using a variety of methods to capture new lead information from various sources, it can mean missing out on dozens or hundreds of dollars.

You'll learn what to look for in a CRM system and how to use it in the article from this guide. When you have the data to proactively sell your products or services, your sales will skyrocket.

What Is The Need For CRM In Your Consulting Firm?

As a consultant, you are juggling several clients and prospects all at once. To stay in touch with opportunities for each of your clients, you need to contact them regularly.

There are many rewards for a self-sufficient marketing strategy, including the booming consulting market. The freshly available opportunities can be a difficult task, but one that's worthwhile with all the benefits gained.

So, how do you stay organized for such a demanding job and growing industry?

There are two main parts to the customer sales journey - pre-sales followed by post-sales. The pre-sales phase is all about opportunities stemming from your sales, marketing, referrals, and business development efforts.

Upselling And Cross-Selling Clients On Further Services

A business development executive, consultant, or account manager knows the tasks assigned to each contact. Without an organized system, you are prone to missing out on important conversations.

Whereas, if you fail to track your customers and leads properly, you could be missing monetizing opportunities from them.

Common benefits of using a consulting CRM include handling billing, customer conversations, and other sales-related tasks. Using one such as Zoho CRM can save you time and effort while still providing quality service.

1. Sales processes are automated

In order to survive and flourish, your company needs to be generating new business. If you can't answer the following questions, then opportunities are being left on the table:

  • What is the next step when a lead is captured/referred?
  • The process of follow-ups?
  • Duration of your sales cycle?
  • Common questions and objections that your prospects often ask?
  • What are the stages in the sales pipeline?

With a CRM, you can automate many areas of your day-to-day activity. the referral process is automated, so once someone becomes a customer, your sales team will be alerted and assigned accordingly.

2. Structured pipeline

For many companies, their sales process will include a number of specific stages. For example, if you are a consulting firm, your pipeline might start with the following stages:

  • New lead generated
  • Discovery call
  • Solution development/proposal
  • Pitching
  • Negotiation
  • Contract
  • Deal won and lost

Using a customer relationship management tool, you can map out each stage of the sales pipeline and gain a high-level view of where your potential clients sit. Example how the efficient CRM, EZZYCRM, looks like:

As you can see, it's clear where each opportunity lies within the entire process. This means you can forecast sales and capacity based on how close a lead is to closing a sale.

3. Email templates

It's likely that you're doing the same thing over and over again when dealing with several leads. Rather than recreating the wheel, use a CRM that allows you to store templates for different emails in a way that allows them to be sent on the fly.

With this email, you can personalize the copy and produce emails that are more engaging and relevant to the recipient. You have full control to amend any part of the copy whenever needed.

4. Keep on top of sales activities

Most salespeople and account managers grapple with juggling their workload. They don't have an easy way to know when they need to spend time focusing on leads and clients, so they end up spinning plates of fragments.

A good CRM for consultants must be able to track and track the different stages of activities and tasks. From how important the task is to who needs to do it, you'll always know what needs to happen in your workflow as a consultant.

Let's take an EzzyCRM activity example.

This feature allows you to stay on top of your leads throughout the week, month, and quarter. You'll know exactly when to follow up with each lead, so there never is an excuse for not following up.

5. Reporting & forecasting

If you need to track activities, opportunities, and results in detail, it can be time intensive to use spreadsheets. It is difficult to keep track of all data on a spreadsheet. A CRM system will have all the needed functionality, such as reporting, forecasting, and a dashboard to create customized reports and drive your sales. EzzyCRM offers forecasts created by individual reps to ensure assets are prioritized in order to maximize revenue.

For individuals interested in growing their struggling consulting firm, knowing where your company stands needle-in-haystack in terms of revenue and clients can help you justify what you're spending. A high-level view of the business will also help you communicate with investors about progress and show them the overall health of your company.

Want To Streamline Your Sales Process? EzzyCRM Can Help!

Here, we will outline some common sales activities that can be automated using an EzzyCRM platform. We will also show you how to make those activities more effective.

1. Mapping the sales process

Sales pipelines are very beneficial for organizations. They're usually visualized as a stage-based process that can move opportunities along through certain steps. CRM systems allow users to prioritize and track the progress of specific opportunities down their pipeline more effectively.

Before you can write blog post headlines, you have to find out what the content stages are. The best way to do this is to talk through it with your sales teams and account managers.

  • Why Marketing Automation can make your lead enter pipeline
  • How to turn a lead into an opportunity
  • Anders Fagerström's discovery process for writing blog posts
  • How do we effectively communicate with prospects throughout the process?
  • An in-depth blog post about negotiation

The following questions can help you get to know your sales process better and set up your CRM system. It depends on the complexity of your offering as well as certain individual aspects. Once you've defined these, you can plan out the stages of your sales process.

When you meet someone in your sales process and are able to guide them to the next step, you can assign that lead to the appropriate pipeline stage -- from nothing to a new prospect.

2. Email outreach & follow-up 

A CRM enables you to automate your email outreach processes by taking care of the writing for you. You can simply input a template when you are ready to send an email, and it will automatically be sent out.

When properly implemented, a CRM can integrate with your existing email system. Here are some examples where automation can reduce time in your workflow:

When a new lead comes in during the first week, you need to contact them quickly and make an appointment. Send an email with a call-to-action to set these appointments right away.

Providing additional information is valuable because it can help make the sale more convenient. Email templates allow you to include attachments, such as visuals, when you are sending information either through email or with a phone call.

Suppose a lead is not responding, set up notifications and stay engaged with them by using email follow-up templates. Instead of writing endless emails asking for their feedback, you can set reminders on your CRM and easily be reminded when it's time to do so.

With so many questions and answers waiting in your inbox, it's important to begin collecting them into a document and using them for templates. In following up, we recommend creating templates for every stage of the sales process. Follow-up emails are often automatic, but for more important tasks like calls or reminders to get a cup of coffee with your boss, it's best to write the email by hand.

With the right sales and marketing tools, you can also integrate email marketing and automation tools to make lead follow-up more seamless for your clients.

Our funnel is a marketing automation tool that integrates with EzzyCRM. With a sales-focused marketing automation tool, consultants can automate their email marketing and provide the sales team with relevant leads.

Here Are The Benefits Of Using Outfunnel

EzzyCRM is one of the many great features of the email marketing tool that makes it more efficient for consultants. With a tool like this, consultants can easily start and end campaigns based on current events.

1. Manage existing clients

By targeting your existing clients, you are able to identify new business opportunities. Working on projects for these individuals will inevitably lead to the identification of needs that can be fulfilled by other products.

2. Make time to do cold callings

Cold calling can still be effective, especially when you've narrowed down your target to people with a specific need and understand why they would want to listen in the first place.

Using a CRM, you can specify and schedule your outreach with the goal of getting better results. And many CRM platforms will integrate with phone solutions, making it easy to reduce wasted time with cold calls while increasing conversions.

Follow these tips to improve your cold calling efforts:

You don't need to manually dial any individual during a company call via voice; the Circle Loop app turns the process into a simple click-to-call. Software-based phone systems are becoming more popular. You don't need complicated infrastructure and hardware with a digital platform like CircleLoop to get set up without a fuss.

Listening to sales calls can help build training material and guide reps who work with customers. Use CircleLoop to centralize listening for all your sales team members.

If paired with the right technology and market research, the phone can be a wealth generator for your company. A mobile app or marketing automation software paired with a database of clients can harness data and make sales in no time.

CircleLoop is a task management software that allows individuals who act as consultants to create and collaborate on project plans. It's easily accessible on mobile and desktop devices, ideal for task management on the go.

Consultants have to juggle multiple clients, each with unique phone numbers, CRM integrations, and often menus that include several layers.

4. Ensure your leads are a fit for your offer

It is helpful if you prequalify leads before pursuing them by examining their website and their LinkedIn profile. Manual research often has high labor costs. If you aren't using a CRM, data enrichment might be an answer to fill in any gaps created by outdated lead information. With Prospect.io, you can analyze lead data and understand where leads are coming from and what companies they work for.

How To Pick Your CRM Platform

By now, you should be equipped with ideas for automating your sales process and making your consulting practice more efficient. The issue is, how do you select the right CRM platform?

Get started with this process when you're looking to use CRM software. Read our comprehensive guide on CRM to help you choose the best one.

Step 1: Define your requirements

The first step is to assess your needs. As a whole, it's best not to choose a CRM based on its features as you won't be able to use them. Select one that will help you make what you are doing better, more efficiently.

For consultants, especially smaller firms, this often leads to a lack of established methodologies. They will prioritize the actual work over organizing it, which causes wasted time with manual systems. Procuring a CRM at the early stages of a business is a smart idea, but it's never too late to streamline your existing process.

By tapping into the Internet of Things (IoT), consultants can gain access to structured data that helps them organize their tasks and make more informed decisions. CRM systems give them access to all of the calls, emails, and tasks they've received and create reports that help increase efficiency and formalize processes.

When you're speaking with potential vendors, it helps to create a statement that summarizes exactly what needs to be met. That might look like:

We're searching for a CRM that helps us qualify resumes and prioritize leads, personalize our outreach activities for the best possible results and provide complete reporting about the effectiveness of your firm.

To come up with a list of features, you need to achieve your goals; start by brainstorming the features that are required. One of the necessary features might include sophisticated reporting, email templates, or pipeline management.

Ask questions like what happens when your blog post is published and how long it takes to publish a blog post.

  • What is your onboarding process like? Do you guide us through the process, or do you provide a self-service platform?
  • How do you provide training materials? Do you offer hands-on training or just documentation?
  • How do we use your service? It looks like it will be pretty straightforward.
  • What is the best way to integrate with other business-critical platforms?
  • Most likely, your chosen CRM will work with other systems and processes you typically use in-house. Be careful to weigh this against the rest of your requirements.

Step 2: What is your budget?

Now with your requirements in mind, it's time to calculate the general costs and how much you can invest in a CRM platform. This is critical as, if you're aiming at a low budget, you may need to sacrifice some advanced (maybe even "nice-to-have") features to get a solution implemented.

However, the importance of assessing the potential return on investment becomes more understandable once the added value against a competitive product is made clear. CRM systems will require an investment at first, but it is easier to justify when it leads to increased productivity for your team.

Competition in the consulting industry is always fierce, meaning time and effort into developing a competitive edge is crucial.

Businesses are reporting more concerns.

Investing in a CRM tool that frees up admin time, enhances sales, and streamlines processes may be just what you need to stay ahead of the game.

It's important to measure the activities your sales and accounts team are completing on a day-to-day basis in order to determine how to free up time. You can then figure out how to scale your sales function in the process.

Step 3: The selection process for vendor

With your needs laid out and a budget clearly defined, you'll have a better understanding of the type of solution you need. You might need something lightweight, like a SaaS platform or enterprise level.

SaaS platforms are an affordable and time-efficient way to meet the needs of smaller businesses. Organizations can easily sign up and begin using the software in a week or so.

How To Consult Your Vendor About Your Needs

The main goal is to show a potential business partner how their products can help your team's goals. Revenue and business growth goals for the next 12 months.

Share your mission in your bio. Explain how you help vendors and what makes your company unique. You can set milestones for each step in the process of creating your CRM system. When are you hoping to implement the new system? What do you need help with, when, and will it be done soon?

Before you decide on a vendor for your project, ask for references to get an unbiased perspective on the solution. Asking vendors who work with other consulting firms and getting introductions from them is the best way to answer all of your questions in a non-biased way.

Use this process to communicate your goals and needs to the best CRM sales team. Focus on the features that will help you get your tasks done, such as automated onboarding, data analytics, calendars, and tasks.

Step 4: Evaluating and then deciding

With a variety of options, trialing them will give you an idea of the overall experience that each CRM offers. Different CRMs have different features and benefits, so to get an idea of which suits your needs, try out each of them and see which delivers the best benefits for you.

Before posting your blog post, you can search via Google to find third-party perspectives and directories such as G2.

Here is a process template that you can follow to get your hands on each CRM platform:

Demonstrations: Request a salesperson to walk you through the features of each CRM on your shortlist. If they properly demonstrate the product, they should clearly link your needs to how the product can fulfill them.

Find out what other companies gained from using each CRM system by reviewing case studies, pricing comparisons, and canned materials. Try before you buy. After the demo, get your hands on each platform by asking for a limited trial. There's no better way to have a feel for software than trying it out.

Negotiate: Finally, start negotiating on price and discuss your timelines.

Dialog between team members should include areas that anyone on the team may have missed. Make sure you get input from a variety of stakeholders and people to ensure that you cover all bases in the process.

Concluding Thoughts:

EzzyCRM can be used to organize your sales process and should not solely be used when a company is trying to "keep up with the times." When CRM is used properly, it can help business development efforts and increase sales.

To make sure you're connecting with your prospects at the right time, it's helpful to plan out how they'll get the most value from you and what their goals are. The first idea to keep your sales reps better organized is to use a CRM service. From the very start of the contract, your salespeople never need to think about timing or how best to reach out again.

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