A few years ago, I decided to ramp up my efforts to connect with my clients by sending a thank you gift after completing a major project. I tried various ways of keeping track of who had received a gift so that, you know, I didn’t send one a week later because I couldn’t remember if I had sent it or not. But no matter what I tried, I couldn’t find a solution that made it easy to track my client interactions. The number of clients I was juggling at one time was also increasing steadily to the point where I was lying awake at night running through a mental list of every project and where the project was in the pipeline and what tasks I needed to accomplish the next day.
What is CRM?
As I stated above, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. There are a number of ways to accomplish relationship management with customers, but a tool made for that purpose is going to be the most thorough way of tracking customers from leads to opportunities to projects to maintenance. Think of a CRM tool as a friend who helps you sleep better at night. As I mentioned, I would lay awake at night trying to remember where projects were in the process, if I had sent a thank you note to a client, what to-do tasks did I have to complete, and if I had followed up with a new lead. I also found it difficult to manage all the notes associated with a client from meetings to phone calls to logins for critical websites. A good CRM tool will take care of all this and so much more.
Every business is different so I’m going to stick with service based businesses like my web development business, D3 Website Solutions, and how a CRM helps me management my clients.
Top 6 Reasons I Chose Insightly
Don’t feel like reading? Here’s a handy list and then continue to read for details
- Tracking potential clients from leads > opportunities > project and beyond
- Activity Sets
- App integration: TimeCamp, Evernote, Google Apps & Quickbooks
- Email Templates
- Track important dates such as website birthdays
Terminology in a CRM tool can be a bit tricky at first. Insightly uses the terms: leads, opportunities and projects.
A lead is someone who is referred to you or contacts you to learn more about your services. You can attach some important information to a lead such as their name, business name, email and phone and I also like to create a note that reminds me who referred that person to me. I then can create a task to follow up with that lead via email or phone.
Once I contact a lead and they indicate that they want me to send them an estimate, I move the lead into an opportunity. Insighly makes this easy by giving me the option to create an opportunity from a lead and will copy over all details. An opportunity has more information associated with it and allows me to keep track of the bid amount, conversations, events and I can even attach a Quickbooks estimate to the opportunity (I’ll talk more about integration a little later).
Once a client accepts my bid, I then can copy all opportunity data into a project. The nice part about this is that I can track which opportunities became projects and which did not and the reason why. A project allows me to set up pipelines that help me keep track of where a project is from if the deposit invoice was paid to when the website goes live and if the final invoice has been paid. All notes, events, tasks, etc follow the client from lead to opportunity to project eliminating the need to double-entry everything. I also love that I can track a project through Insightly so that I don’t have one software that handles projects and another that handles clients and again have the double-entry problem.
I LOVE activity sets. You know those tasks you do over and over again for each project you work on? That’s a perfect candidate for an activity set. Insightly makes it easy to create an activity set and to label them so they are easy to add to any project or client. For example, I have a set of tasks I complete before going live with any site and I used to have the nagging feeling I was forgetting something important every time I made a website live. But now, I don’t worry about it because my activity set of 10 tasks allows me to see what I’ve done and what I have yet to do and ensures nothing gets left out. Activity sets will blow your mind.
Here’s a handy tutorial by Insightly on activity sets: What are Activity Sets
It took me a bit to figure out pipelines, but I really have learned to love pipelines. It gives a great visual of where a project is in the pipeline. Each project I complete uses the same pipeline so it’s easy to create a pipeline and reuse it for every project. So my pipeline typically looks like this:
Deposit Invoice Sent > Deposit Invoice Paid > Design > Content > Development > Training Videos > Website Live > Final Invoice Sent > Final Invoice Paid
You can see how with every project, I know exactly what I’m doing and can associate an activity set with each pipeline state which is fantastic. Get to know pipelines, you’ll love them.
Here’s a handy tutorial by Insightly on pipelines: What are Pipelines
I use Quickbooks for billing, TimeCamp for keeping track of my time, Evernote for important notes about each client and Google Apps for calendar and email and Insightly connects with all of these. Insightly makes it so easy to see the invoices for each client, notes associated in Evernote with each client, the amount of time I spent on a project and allows me to send events to my calendar, copy over contacts from Google and so much more!
So chances are you have some standard emails you send out quite frequently. I do and I know that I waste time retyping those emails every time I need to send them. I have set up email templates so that all I have to do is select the client from a list and then click send. It’s so easy and saves SO.MUCH.TIME!
Here’s a handy tutorial by Insightly on how to use email templates: How to set up Email Templates
Track Important Client Dates
Lastly, Insightly lets me keep track of important dates for all my clients. I always put in the Website Birthday so I remember to thank the client every year for being an awesome client. You can track unlimited number of dates and set it to remind you. Such an easy way to remember important dates so you can follow up with your clients appropriately.
How to Get Started with Insightly
I know that when I signed up to use Insightly, I quickly got overwhelmed by the number of clients I had to import. While you can import your clients from Quickbooks into Insightly, I found it easier just to transfer the ones who were active projects. Every time I have a new task or project associated with a client, I put them in Insightly. That means that not all my clients are in Insightly, but I’m okay with that. It was less overwhelming than trying to import and figure out how to organize all my clients past and present.
Also, I recommend setting aside a few days to get comfortable with Insightly. Take time to look at their awesome tutorials and figure out how to use Insightly for your business. Did I mention they have great apps for your phone and tablet? Take advantage of those too and figure out how to use them so you can track clients on the go. Take time to set up email templates, pipelines, activity sets, etc and you will save SO MUCH TIME later. I promise!
So go out and take a look at Insightly. It’s free to get started. There are paid plans available as well. Use this link to get $10 off Insightly now! I have the Basic plan for $12/month and it’s perfect for my needs!