What is CRM?

9 simple take-aways to help service business owners avoid costly mistakes when choosing Customer Relationship Management software

What is CRM?

‘CRM’ is a software concept first popularised in the 1990s, the heady days of three-letter-acronym business software ? , but has changed a lot since. It stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. Yeah, imaginative. ?
In the 1990s and for most of the 2000s, it was ‘big business’ software only. CRM’s focus on the customer was in direct contrast to the other major software of the time ‘ERP’. Enterprise Resource Planning software focused, by contrast, on internal processes: planning, purchasing, inventory, sales, finance, human resources.

Modern CRM's role has evolved. It no longer needs six- or seven figure investments. It is more accessible to small businesses. With demands on the small business to do more, so too must the CRM. Some CRMs are now powerful platforms that connect all the information and workflows to do with your leads, customers and past customers, all in one place. The right CRM is now the place to record and manage all emails, meetings, calls and interactions to help you improve lead to sales performance, customer service, and generate more repeat business and testimonials for your business.

But the historical context is relevant. Those first CRMs were expensive and difficult to interpret large repositories of information and customer statuses. This is still - by and large - the way that CRMs are still perceived. Indeed, some of those long-established ‘CRM software’ companies still struggle with this. This results in implementation, usage and insight challenges for you and I, the small business owners.
Most traditional CRM companies don’t serve very well the way small service business owners now manage sales processes to address the way their customers now buy. So this is a practical ‘What is CRM’ guide for business owners who value their time and attention, and seek cost effective solutions when making buying decisions. If that’s you, you’re in the right place.

Key take away #1

"Modern small business CRM has evolved. With demands on the small business to do more, so too must the CRM."

Key take away #2

"How we now buy as consumers has changed the way businesses or consumers buy from us."

How do service businesses use CRM?

When considering how you should use a CRM in your service business, if your business’ processes are good but not scalable, then the CRM should support and improve that scalability and effectiveness, not reinvent them to support the way a particular piece of software works.
However, if your business has gaps in some key processes, then a comprehensive CRM can help address those process gaps. Examples of process gaps are:
  • Not having information about your leads and clients in one place: If you’re trying to manage information in your inbox, in notebooks, or on whiteboards, then a CRM that combines being able to record typed or scanned notes alongside tagging capabilities on the contact record can help you store information more consistently and comprehensively. ‘Tags’ are the digital equivalent of sticky notes, that allow you to search for contacts with things in common (e.g. past client, their interest in a particular product, their location etc).
  • If you feel that you’re not always following up with leads or life is just getting in the way and the trail is going cold, then a CRM can help you and your team see, in one place, where your leads or clients are at in visual workflows. You can also schedule follow-up reminders.
  • Not doing marketing as regularly as you’d like: some CRMs feature email marketing capabilities to send bulk contact email ‘broadcasts’ or even simple marketing automation functionality. This can include sending timed drip-feed emails as a follow-up to a web enquiry, a lead magnet download, an appointment, or in the run up to a meeting booking.
  • If your diary from week to week is a mish-mash of appointments and time bandits, at your clients’ convenience, rather than blocking time when it suits you better: a CRM with appointment booking capabilities can help you define rules for when leads and clients can book appointments with you. Setting days or hours you’re available for different activities can help you manage precious time and energy to run your week more efficiently.

The way you and I, as modern business owners, transact business with our own customers has changed. That’s because the modern context of how we now buy as consumers has changed the way businesses or consumers buy from us.

Our expectations as business buyers are driven by simple, on-demand experiences we have as consumers: how easy it is to buy from services like Amazon Prime, how readily available information is to us on Google or YouTube, or how, from simple apps on our phone, we can get almost anything we like delivered in no time at all.
Modern service business, especially those who transact directly with the consumer of the service, whether B2B or B2C, is conducted dramatically differently today than it was even five years ago.
Your customers won’t necessarily expect the same instant service, but there’s no longer an excuse for leaving leads and clients hanging. It’s a disconnect that the CRM software industry has been slow to address, but understanding what CRM is and what is possible in the context of your business is an important first step.

What does CRM software do?

There are wide-ranging opinions on what CRM software should do, from the basic to the comprehensive. A CRM is a place to:
  1. Record information: basic customer contact information like email, telephone and social media profiles, and updates and discovery meeting notes and actions;
  2. Manage and run your core marketing and sales activities: you and your team should feel that you are able to track marketing and sales interactions you are having with leads and clients, whether that’s automated tracking by the software or by the CRM being a home to record the outcomes of direct interactions.
  3. Improve the way you manage relationships, communications and processes in marketing, sales and service delivery operations CRM software.
To answer the 'What is CRM?' question effectively in your business, it's worth noting that a software provider may call their service a CRM even if it only meets the first of those functions; being a basic place to record contact information and simple notes.

But for CRM to provide value worth investing your time and money into, it is important that the CRM software you choose gives you confidence that you and your team can also achieve (2) and (3); being able to avoid losing important information being captured, and be able to use the service to improve conversations, service and business efficiency. If the CRM you choose misses important features, then not only is time and money wasted, but you'll miss opportunities to grow.

Let’s look at the specific features of a CRM that make a meaningful difference to your business operations.

5 key features of a complete CRM

Here are five key features of a CRM to look for:

  1. Visibility
  2. When you’re looking at a particular contact or opportunity / activity record, the CRM should give you a simple and complete place where you can see the history of those activities, so that you or your colleagues have a full picture of interactions and activities to-date. Often relationship building is about building continuity in the experience that a client has with you, and avoiding them having to explain themselves every interaction with you or one of your team. Keep business information consistently in one place, so that you can:

    • move away from managing everything from your inbox, spreadsheets, whiteboards, on post-it notes etc;
    • see contact email and phone interactions in a timeline, so that - in one place - you can quickly see where anybody is at in terms of your interactions and activities with them;
    • segment leads in different ways so that you’re communicating with them in a way that is consistent with where they’re at with you and they’d expect;
    • manage your data more effectively;
    • have a single picture of the contact e.g. by seeing their value to your business via an integration with your accounts package, such as Xero or Quickbooks;
    • avoid having to look in your email inbox and CRM to see a full picture if your CRM has an email integration, and;
    • keep on top of your diary and availability via an integration with your calendar.

  3. Workflows
  4. You should be able to create screens that allow you to see the contacts and opportunities at different phases of activity with you in one place, one screen at a time, and where it’s clear to you and your colleagues what the next steps are, e.g.:

    • your enquiries;
    • your sales pipeline;
    • your service delivery activities;
    • your post-service customer support activities, or;
    • a place where those who aren’t yet ready to work with you can be found.

  5. Communications
  6. What is the CRM doing to help you to communicate with your leads and customers? For example, sending:

    • 1-to-1 emails with somebody, and how the CRM links with your usual inbox / sent items in Google Workspace (GSuite) or Office365;
    • simple automated emails when somebody takes a common action with you, e.g. preparing them for a meeting they’ve booked with you, what to expect etc;
    • follow-up to auto-responder sequences, to a lead magnet request, including sending the lead magnet PDF document itself, or;
    • email ‘broadcasts’ such as newsletter-style emails to groups of recipients who have things in common, e.g. requested your communications, are all existing or past clients etc.

  7. Cashflow
  8. Your CRM should help you to get paid quicker and more predictably, by:

    • triggering the automated sending of invoices from your accounts software;
    • helping you to get paid quickly with integrations with payments services (like Stripe / GoCardless etc) to take credit / debit card payments or direct debit or bank transfer payments quickly and easily, or;
    • simply help you to avoid losing valuable leads as business gets in the way, so that you do not overlook opportunities to make sales.

  9. Time management
  10. As the owner of a small business, with a small team or flying solo, how you make effective use of your own time is one of the critical success factors. Your time is your most valuable asset. Any software you buy and use must align to this, otherwise it simply becomes another time bandit, taking you away from your goals. A CRM that:

    • does more things in one place helps you to avoid managing multiple activities or keeping multiple places up to date across more software logins;
    • allows your leads or clients to self-access and book appointments in your diary based on availability rules you set and without clashing with other activities can save significant time and energy each week without playing appointment tennis, and;
    • makes it easy for you to work on the go using a mobile CRM between meetings can save vital time and ensure things aren’t forgotten if you’d otherwise have to wait until you got back to the office.
Not all CRMs are made equally. Not all will feature all the above. Some include other features not listed in our shortlist and there will be other factors that could be important to you. But when you are drawing up your shortlist of 'must-have' functionality for your own business' processes, don't overlook the points on the above list as a start point. In our experience, when these key features are missing, processes begin to break or activities fall through the cracks, so are important to include as foundations.

Key take away #3

"If the CRM you choose misses important features, then not only is time and money wasted, but you'll miss opportunities to grow."

Do more than 'just' CRM

Most small businesses feel befuddled by software and it kills momentum.
Connectably is small business management software that helps you sign up and manage clients in one place. 
When you clean up your processes you get more time for your clients and your business grows.

Save time

Manage email marketing, sales and client workflows in one place

Grow simply

Think about your business in a more scalable, sustainable way

Get support

Implement quickly with excellent support and training provided

Save money

Replace multiple software subscriptions with just one

About Connectably small business management software

What can't a CRM manage?

When considering what a CRM cannot manage in your business, it’s worth considering the three software pillars that help systemise your small service business:
  1. your CRM;
  2. your online presence: your website and online social profiles, and;
  3. your accounting software (Xero / Quickbooks / FreeAgent etc).
Your CRM is one important part of the equation, but the other two are nonetheless crucial and usually separately managed outside the CRM:
Website: Under most circumstances, CRMs don’t tend to allow you to manage your website content. HubSpot’s CMS Hub module is, however, an exception. It’s not for the cost-conscious, but is ‘gold standard’ integration-wise. It’s £297/mo for the tier that offers ‘dynamic content’ that uses information and insights from HubSpot’s Marketing Hub (from £655/mo for the automation-enabled tier). At these pricing points, HubSpot is serving those businesses who can sustainably commit over £10,000 per year to their marketing software.
At a more accessible pricing level, for good reason, Wordpress tends to be a preferred website platform for small businesses. You can self-host on your own rented servers, or host using a supported service like WP Engine. Wordpress gives you fantastic flexibility and if you don’t want to manage your own site, it is the website platform with the most developer support.
Others are drawn to alternatives like Wix, or Squarespace, who manage the hosting for you and provide defined templates. This option can get you launched quicker, but is often considered to be more restrictive over time.
Whichever website platform you choose, be sure that there is a simple way to add leads you capture on the website into the CRM and email marketing service you select.
Social Media Profiles: In terms of managing social media profiles, advanced tiers of products like Sprout SocialAgorapulse and Meet Edgar provide a degree of ‘CRM’ style capability to marry social media engagements with social followers. These capabilities are, however, more limited than the sales and marketing process workflow-style CRM that most service-based businesses really need. These social CRM capabilities tend to be better suited to larger online followings, where followers are more sporadic in their interactions, rather than contacts who are in specific sales workflows.
Bookkeeping and accounting: Different geographies have different accounting rules and legal requirements to submit your accounts in a specified format and structure. This can include sales taxes, account coding and other formalities. Looking for a CRM that includes accounting functionality can be an impossible task.
Instead, be sure to select a CRM that connects seamlessly with your accounting software of choice. This would typically involve ensuring that you use a popular cloud accounting platform like Xero or Quickbooks and that you’re really clear on the functionality you want the CRM service to access without leaving it, for example, being able to:
  • see contacts and sales history;
  • access an accounting record with one click;
  • price jobs or proposals using products and services already set up in the accounting software, or;
  • automatically create invoices in the accounting software when a sale has been made.

Key take away #4

"CRM is one of three software pillars in your business, along with your web presence and accounting software"

Key take away #5

"A 'system' is not a piece of 'software'."

What are business systems and processes?

Let’s clear something up. Despite what the software industry would have you believe, a ‘system’ is not a piece of ‘software’. Multinational software companies have spent billions of dollars on marketing and PR to convince you that ‘system' equals [their piece of software]. But it’s not, and it’s misleading. The difference is explained below.

Business processes

A process is a series of steps for anything in your business that needs to be repeated more than once. If a task needs repeating, you need a process for it. You’re paid to solve problems for your customers so you need to have processes in place that provide the steps necessary to solve those problems repeatedly.
An example of one such process is how you book meetings with potential clients:
Do you send an email first including a call-to-action for prospects to go to a calendar link and book a time for the meeting? If so, do you then follow up with an email confirmation and the calendar placeholder? Do you send prep materials? Or a reminder on the meeting day?

Business systems

Systems are a level above processes. Systems combine multiple processes together with people, technologies, and customer contact points to create a core function in your business. 

Systems: Save Yourself Stress, Time Energy & Money.
Simpler Method by Connectably: the 3 systems and 7 processes your small business needs
The above diagram summarises the systems and processes in your business.

What are the customer systems in your business?

There are three customer systems in your business:
  1. Acquisition - how you find prospects, nurture them and agree what you’ll deliver
  2. Onboarding - how you sign off work to be delivered, then deliver it to new customers
  3. Delight - how you get one or more of: (1) more paid work; (2) a glowing testimonial, or; (3) referrals to others like your delighted customer.

What sales and marketing processes are in your business?

There are seven core sales and marketing processes in any small service business:
  1. Sign-up - Getting web visitors to become leads, or recording leads you met on social media or offline.
  2. Inspire - Using planned follow-ups (email / letters) to nurture prospects to take a next action with you.
  3. Meet - How interested leads schedule appointments with you, your communications leading to the meeting, and managing the meeting to gain verbal agreement for what will be delivered.
  4. Propose - How you document and send a professional looking PDF-format quote / proposal that summarises what you agreed to deliver in the sales meeting. This is the first part of successful onboarding. Your customer feels fully in control of the process without having spent money with you.
  5. Launch - How you onboard new clients, manage expectations and deliver the work.
  6. Expand - How you manage an upsell or cross-sell process to turn first-time clients into repeat ones.
  7. Refer - A systematic process for clients to endorse you with testimonials and/or refer warm leads.

How to choose the right CRM for your small business

With so many possible features and functions, it helps to rein in the range of factors you assess when choosing the right CRM for your small business. From a practical perspective, we’ve created two simple lists, the ‘must haves’ and the ‘differentiators’.

'Must Have' functions in a CRM

When you look at CRM, it should answer these four 'must haves'. Not doing so will see you managing an expensive mess of software services stuck together with digital sticky tape.
  1. Workflows: Does it let me see my business' workflows?
  2. Outcome: You should be able to see a visual representation of which sales opportunities or project activities are where, and what needs doing. This helps you to stay on track in your business.

    Avoid: Some CRMs are, in effect, glorified lists of contacts. They do little more than show you contacts' contact information for people who are at a similar stage in a process, or worse still, without any segmentation. Long lists are difficult and tiring to review. As a result, these kind of CRMs end up not really getting used.

  3. Relationships: Can I manage my entire relationship with the leads and contacts in the CRM?
  4. Outcome: You should be able to segment clients and leads by interest. At a deeper level, in those records, you should be able to manage core relationship management activities like booking appointments (or having them booked directly), recording notes, and managing tasks.

    Avoid: CRMs that don't link up with your office software, e.g. GSuite (Google Workspace) or Office 365, or CRMs that don't give your leads and clients a simple way to book appointments with you. If you think about your working week, being able to email, manage tasks and your appointments are core to how you run your service business on a day-to-day basis.

  5. Accounting: Does it sync financial activities with my online accounting and bookkeeping software?
  6. Outcome: a CRM that manages marketing and sales processes; an accounting software that manages bookkeeping and accounting activities; and an integration that syncs important information between the two with accuracy.

    Avoid: How can a CRM that doesn't link your accounting software with it give you any financial insights? A CRM that doesn't show you the lifetime value of a contact, or the transaction history of them makes it very difficult for you to judge and prioritise one contact over another, and as a consequence where you should be committing your other resource effectively: your time.

  7. Support: What solution gets me to 'live' quickest and how does the team behind the CRM help me to get there?
  8. Outcome: Choosing a CRM where there is a culture of supporting users to get live quickly and successfully is an undervalued 'must have', especially for first-time buyers of CRM software. Often it takes one poor or lacking experience with another provider to truly value it.

    Avoid: Partner channels can be valuable, but avoid those software providers where the cost-to-serve and support market seems bigger and significantly more expensive than the software itself. Not all software is simple to implement, but there should be cost-effective pathways to quick wins that deliver a rapid return on time and financial investment. Good 1-to-1 CRM strategy help and implementation support might cost hundreds or sometimes low-thousands of pounds, but - combined with the software - shouldn't end up costing tens of thousands overall. It's far easier to achieve a high return on investment from the former than from the latter in a small business.

'Differentiator' functions in a CRM

Whilst the four "Must-Have" functions are critical to avoiding software chaos when you consider what a CRM is to you, some or all of these following four "Differentiators" are ways to give even more boost to your business success:
  1. Marketing Automation: Does it do marketing automation follow ups?
  2. Outcome: Be able to do automate simple communications based on activities with different unique contacts, e.g. confirm a meeting appointment, follow up on a lead magnet download etc.

    Avoid: The huge time burden and systems hassle of doing follow up in multiple pieces of software, or the missed opportunities of not doing it at all or treating everybody the same.

  3. Appointments: Can I get appointments booked directly into my diary?
  4. Outcome: You set your availability and rules for how and when time can be booked with you, and without having to play telephone tennis or break off from your other work. Your leads and clients book time in your diary using an online booking facility.

    Avoid: Managing your diary manually or using a calendar booking software that doesn't record the details against the contact in your CRM.

  5. Proposals: Does it help you to send impressive looking quotes / proposals simply and quickly?
  6. Outcome: Whether you send proposals as a matter of process now, if the CRM allows you to send proposals quickly and, perhaps even, on the go, does that extra element of professionalism and thoroughness allow you to charge fees that are more in line with what you are worth - with fewer questions -, or to offer a more comprehensive set of services that your prospect really needs.

    Avoid: Laboured independent proposal creation processes where information isn't shared between your CRM and the proposals software, or worse still, the proposal is created manually each time in Microsoft Word or design software.

  7. Get paid: Does it help you to get paid quickly and securely?
  8. Outcome: Being able to easily take payments via card payments, direct debit or electronic bank transfer without lengthy debtor days.

    Avoid: Continuing to be the person your client knows as the person doing the quote, chase the payment and then also do the work. Separating the payment to an electronic payment avoids the social and client relationship awkwardness of having to play those multiple roles.

Taking a measured, scorecard-based approach to choosing the right CRM for your small business can help avoid missing important functions needed for success with it in your service business. You can download a print-out-and-use version of the checklist here
Let's continue with a look at what type of software mix might work best for you: a more all-in-one CRM, or a software mix of separate products for managing different processes.

Key take away #6

"Taking a measured, scorecard-based approach to choosing the right CRM for your small business can help avoid missing important functions needed for success"

Do more than 'just' CRM

Most small businesses feel befuddled by software and it kills momentum.
Connectably is small business management software that helps you sign up and manage clients in one place. 
When you clean up your processes you get more time for your clients and your business grows.

Save time

Manage email marketing, sales and client workflows in one place

Grow simply

Think about your business in a more scalable, sustainable way

Get support

Implement quickly with excellent support and training provided

Save money

Replace multiple software subscriptions with just one

About Connectably small business management software

Cloud CRM: should you choose an all-in-one CRM or separate products for CRM, email marketing, quoting, payments software?

What is 'CRM' and where do you draw the line? Above, we outlined the sales and marketing systems and processes in your business. And if we’re considering the remit of CRM, or perhaps 'CRM plus related software', we should review whether it makes more sense to choose one software product as an ‘all-in-one’ CRM, or choose multiple separate products that can be linked together to achieve the same outcomes.

The case for 'all in one' CRM

  • Simplicity
  • You can follow the digital journey of one of your clients or prospects much easier in an all-in-one CRM. They opt in on a form, or are added manually to the CRM, their email, notes, meeting and sales history sits in one place, and when the time comes to archive that contact, you only need to remember to do it in one place. Simplicity brings clarity, which brings focus and effectiveness. There are big advantages to you and any team you have in running a simple, all-in-one sales and marketing CRM solution in your business.

  • Time
  • Every product you need to set up and configure in the first place takes time that you could be devoting to more valuable activities. And on a week-to-week basis, logging into multiple services takes time, energy and focus. A single all-in-one CRM, with one login avoids those issues.

  • Cost
  • Every different software service has subscription fees associated with it. Thirty dollars here, seventy dollars there, another ten dollars on something else... the total cost of ownership to run a software stack quickly builds up and once subscribing, it's difficult to know where to draw the line or to know what can be switched off without consequence. A single, all-in-one CRM carries one subscription charge, making it easier to manage costs, and to run a more profitable operation.

  • Accuracy and certainty
  • Not moving data between services avoids the risk of data corruption or information being out of date. Time spent on data checks and data cleansing is time that you're not devoting to profit-generating activities. Furthermore, with the introduction of GDPR regulations, the risk of continuing to market to somebody who has opted out on one service but not marked as such in another is high. It's a complicated and time-consuming process to mark non-marketable contacts as such across multiple software services.

The case for separate products linked together

Managing contacts in a CRM, your sales pipeline in sales process app, linking your accounting software, building in an email marketing and automation service, incorporating an appointment booker, bolting-on a proposal sending service and taking payments using a simple e-commerce product are the alternatives to managing all your CRM processes in one place. Realistically, it requires that you have at least a good working and troubleshooting knowledge of a product like Zapier, that can provide the digital glue on contacts and workflows between the required online services. With that assumption in mind, let's look at some of the advantages of using separate products linked together.
  • Best in class
  • Using dedicated services for dedicated jobs allows you to select the very best in class for those services. There's no compromise and no need to implement digital workarounds or make compromises on your ideal process steps.

  • Flexibility
  • Need your email marketing solution to do that one specific thing that no other product on the market does? If you're implementing separate products for separate jobs, then there's never a need to make compronmises. You want the xyz widget processing function? You've got it. No need to accept an alternative way of doing it.

  • Innovation
  • The marketing software market changes all the time. New technologies introduce new ways of marketing to your leads and clients. Need that first to market product? You can implement it straight away with separate, dedicated products.

  • Spreading the load and risk
  • With an all-in-one product, the day might well come when you want to move everything to a different service. That's a more significant exercise to achieve to move from one single product to another all at once, than small parts of the process, one at a time. Could spreading the load of your processes across multiple software services provide you with a lower risk approach to managing your sytems and processes longer-term?

When weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of 'all in one' versus a 'best in class' approach, combining services to manage the CRM processes in your business, it's important to consider whether the benefits of split services are achievable without over-complicating the processes and systems that you want to run in your business. If the answer is 'no' or ''not sure', then it's very likely that trying to do so will actually hold your business back, and the additional complexity lead to not realising anywhere near the full benefit of attempting to do so. A simple solution, even one with imperfections, is more likely to deliver benefits than a more complex design not fully implemented.

Key take away #7

"Are the benefits that split services  promise achievable without over-complicating the processes and systems that you want to run in your business? If not, an all in one CRM is probably the way to go"

Key take away #8

"There's never going to be time without business distractions, which means that set up and systemisation in your business needs to be a step-by-step process."

How long does it take to see value from CRM?

There is a saying that putting processes in place in a small business is very much like putting the wings on the plane while you are still flying it. There's never going to be time you can completely take out to get everything set up without business distractions, which means that set up and systemisation in your business is a step-by-step process, doing things when you can fit them in.

That being said, here's a list of where you might find the greatest value by timescale you might expect to get up and running. You don't need to do them all, but choose the ones that you will most likely get value from:

Quick wins (1-2 weeks)

These are steps you can implement as you launch that give quick, positive returns on your time and monetary investments:
  1. Appointments: set up your online appointment booker and save time negotiating when your contacts book time with you. Automatically send appointment confirmation emails.
  2. Contacts in one place: bring all your contacts together in one place from different services and sources using data imports or contact syncing.
  3. Workflows: set up your sales workflows and begin recording and moving leads through your sales process.
  4. Web forms: create and apply contact forms to your website to capture web enquiries into your CRM.
  5. Notes: record better electronic notes on contact records following meetings / discussions.
  6. Email: begin recording email discussions with your contacts in the CRM. Send emails from the contact record, and forward emails into the CRM from your inbox.
  7. Email marketing: begin sending regular email marketing broadcasts - a newsletter or update - to engage your subscribers.

Some preparation required (1-2 months)

These improvements need a little thought, and some focus time to put yourself in your prospect's shoes and write some copy for them. The value of doing so is replacing your need to do everything manually time and again:
  1. Get paid: create your first online payment form to get paid for a product or a service using credit / debit cards or direct debits.
  2. Do automated follow-ups: automate a sequence of emails that go to contacts who've reached an important stage in your sales pipeline, e.g. those who attend a meeting but don't immediately buy.
  3. Lead magnet: create your first simple lead magnet that visitors to your website can opt-in for. Include sending the lead magnet as part of an auto-responder series.

Process / culture change initiatives (3-6 months)

The final group of activities involve the opportunity to change your processes and business practices more fundamentally:
  1. Packages: create packages of services and begin presenting the packages using partially automated proposals following sales meetings.
  2. Follow-up: automate more follow-ups that continue to nurture long-term those leads who don't take an action to meet with you, or those prospects who do not immediately buy following a sales meeting. Address common FAQs with those emails and build trust by sharing stories of success and case studies.
  3. Profit review: conduct an analysis of which services bring most profits. Restructure any unprofitable services and work out ways to do even better with your most profitable offerings.
With planning, thought and execution, it's possible to achieve big things systemisation-wise in your business. It's important to not set unrealistic expectations of what you can achieve in the time you have to implement when you're not serving existing clients, but at the same time, keep setting time aside to work on things consistently and diligently.

Where to learn more about CRM

As you’ll have learned from this overview, when building your own awareness and understanding of CRM, it’s important to consider any solution in the context of how you run processes in your own business. Perhaps even consider how, using CRM, you could improve certain processes that have less structure now than they might have in the future with the right solution. These are all part of the steps to better systemising your business, so that you can grow it without so much direct hands-on involvement on your part.

Watch a CRM demo

In terms of immediate next steps, there are three ways you can go from here:
  1. Watch a demo to get a feel for what a CRM can do: why not watch a demo of our own product, Connectably, and if it meets your needs, sign up for a free-tier account?
  2. If you’re a Xero accounting software user and want to see a summary of what’s possible for you, review our honest comparison of the four most relevant Xero-integrated CRM software products that are on the Xero App Marketplace.
  3. If you want to cast the net wider, and discover other names out there on the CRM landscape - some good, some comprehensive, some less so - then read Zapier’s guide to CRMs with Awesome Marketing Automation Features.
The purpose of this article was to open your eyes to consider more of the things you should consider as opportunities to improve in your business through CRM, but also to present some of the potential mistakes business owners like you can make when choosing one that meets your business’ systemisation needs. As you will no doubt have seen, the answer to the question 'What is CRM?' today is dramatically different to what was achievable even five years ago. Instead of selecting a CRM that was made for the market back then, and how business consumers bought before, bear in mind the differences that exist now and how our expectations as business buyers and consumers have changed.
If we can help you, we’d love to. Please either watch the Connectably demo here, or if you have further questions, then don’t hesitate to ask them here. If we cannot help, then we hope that you find value in the areas we’ve helped you to see are important when considering ‘What is CRM?’ for your specific service business.

Key take away #9

"Consider any CRM solution in the context of how you run processes in your business now, or would like them to run in the future."

Do more than 'just' CRM

Most small businesses feel befuddled by software and it kills momentum.
Connectably is small business management software that helps you sign up and manage clients in one place. 
When you clean up your processes you get more time for your clients and your business grows.

Save time

Manage email marketing, sales and client workflows in one place

Grow simply

Think about your business in a more scalable, sustainable way

Get support

Implement quickly with excellent support and training provided

Save money

Replace multiple software subscriptions with just one

About Connectably small business management software

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Connectably Stripe Small Business Management Software and CRM - Stripe Verified Partner
Connectably Small Business Management Software and CRM - Good Business Charter Member
Connectably Xero Small Business Management Software and CRM - Xero Connected App Partner