In an earlier article I focused on why and how an accounting firm would use a CRM tool.
In this article I talk about some options that firms have available.
You might recall I said a CRM system provides a suite of tools designed to streamline the operations of a business in several ways, improving customer service, enhancing client retention, and ultimately driving growth. And although it is called a customer or client relationship management system there are actually three groups of people that a CRM is in my view designed to manage:
- Existing clients
- Potential clients
- Contacts, which can include referrers (everybody you know not in 1 or 2 above)
I also talked about 8 things you might expect from a well implemented CRM:
- Centralized Client Data:
- Relationship Management
- Cross-Selling and Upselling
- Task Automation
- Integration with Other Systems
- Client Segmentation
- Performance Tracking
- Marketing Automation
Most firms use a practice management system which will have some, but usually pretty limited, CRM functionality. The use of custom fields often allows tracking of some key things and for some firms this might be enough. For many firms however I believe more functionality is valuable.
To give you some idea of how many options there are, when I typed “CRM” in the search bar in the Xero marketplace it came up with 114 apps! (Although I don’t believe a lot of them are really CRMs.)
Some confusion can arise when talking about CRMs because I think you could say that there are products described as email marketing software and marketing automation software that are really a part of the CRM category. For example Mail Chimp is probably the best know email marketing / newsletter sending software for small firms.
One way to learn about CRMs is to look at the websites of some of the vendors. Look at the functionality they offer and read any articles they may have – keeping in mind they will be written to make their product look good. This will however educate you on what’s possible with these systems and I hope help you get clearer on your goals in having a system in place.
Here are some options to have a look at. It’s up to you to do your homework but I reckon this is a really good cross section of what is available on the market. And if you are like me it often doesn’t take long to know whether you like a piece of software just by looking at some of the basic promotional videos.
|A US option that comes up a bit in conversation.|
|When I searched on the Xero market place this comes up in the number 1 spot. I have one client who uses this.|
|Eloqua||Eloqua Marketing Automation | Oracle Australia||From Oracle so you know it has a big end of town focus.|
|This is a Kiwi product which has some really nice account management functionality which I’d like to see offered by more vendors. Best for pretty small firms.
|This one often gets a mention in firms and is number 3 on the Xero market place for CRMs. Has a free option although a lot of what you need then only comes with high/er priced paid versions.|
|This comes up in the number 2 spot in the Xero market place when I search on “CRM”|
|Keap (Formerly Infusion Soft)
|Infusionsoft is probably best known for marketing automation.|
|Less Annoying CRM||www.lessannoyingcrm.com
|I just had to include this because of its name and very attractive pricing!|
|Probably the best known tool. A lot of firms use the free version (including me) as it has a lot of functionality for bulk mailouts – not really a full CRM but often connected to by others.|
|Microsoft Dynamics||Business Applications | Microsoft Dynamics 365||Aimed at the bigger end of town|
|Based in Estonia (which in case you did not know is a very advanced country when it comes to tech and also laws around tech) this is the tool I use in addition to a free instance of Mailchimp.|
|Sales Force / Pardot
|Arguably the business that invented the idea of a CRM. Historically big end of town but now also targeting smaller businesses.|
|A US option that I hear mentioned occasionally|
|Another US option that comes up in conversation sometimes.|
|An Aussie product which is starting to focus on accounting firms and I’m really keen to see where they go with it. Trying to bring lessons from the bigger end of town into this space.|
|Another Aussie product|
|Zoho is well known for offering a variety of applications for small to medium businesses.|