We’ve talked before how the things you’ve done to get you where you are, are not the same things you need to do to take your business to the next level. One of the best things you can do is have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that helps you be most efficient, automate some of the process of responding to leads, sending quotes, contracts, and invoices, to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and free up your time to focus on all of the areas of your business that cannot be automated.
Here’s you need to consider, plus information on what I think is the best CRM: Dubsado.
Our link gets you a FREE trial of Dubsado, plus gets you 20% off your first payment! https://www.dubsado.com/?c=vickywu (and in full disclosure it gets me a small bit of a credit as well – but my primary reason for sharing is because I love their system and you get a discount with my link!)
I’ve worked with tons and tons of CRMs over the years — from the big names like Salesforce to smaller ones (some of them you may not have even heard of yet).
CRMs are designed where you can store all of your customer, and more importantly prospect, data. Most of them have some type of automated follow-up system that you can implement, called a workflow, plus the normal pieces collecting your customer contact information and connecting some type of lead capture form.
I’ve used HubSpot, I’ve used Salesforce, VTiger, SugarCRM, Agile CRM to name a few. There are so many options out there, and the one I setted on for my own business is Dubsado. If you haven’t heard of it, that could simply be because it’s not as huge as some of those others, and a lot of their marketing has so far been through word of mouth from users who love their platform and their service (like me!)
Here’s what I like most about my CRM:
I knew the primary thing I needed from a CRM wasn’t simply a way to store customer names and addresses – I can do that in Google Drive Sheet or Outlook or in a thousand different ways that doesn’t require a CRM.
I also knew I didn’t need all of the big bells and whistles that some of these other CRMs offer but that aren’t really usable on a day to day basis unless you have a huge staff that has that particular function as part of their daily job … and most of the entrepreneurs that we work with do not.
For example, HubSpot has a great feature where they can track when a prospect or customer visits your website – at least until they clear their cookies. I have other systems that can track that data, and it’s not something I currently use on a daily basis. To get the features I did need in HubSpot or some of these other big names, the cost was so prohibitive that it wasn’t feasible for a startup or small business.
Then there is also the problem that some of these systems, like VTiger or SugarCRM, you can or do host on your own website server as a self-hosted option. They can be so hard to use because of this, and you end up spending so much time keeping that system updated that you’re using a lot of your precious time acting as your own IT department rather than running your business. Even though I’m a pretty good whiz at IT, this isn’t how I wanted or needed to be spending my time.
Remember, we always talk about simplifying your marketing, not making it more complicated than it needs to be. Unless you’re to the size where you already have your own in-house IT department … you don’t need such a complicated system and it can actually be worse on your business if you try.
I also knew I needed unlimited contacts and not have to worry that if I have 500, as soon as I hit 501 it’s either cut off or I end up paying more. I also knew for my business, the golden key to what I needed from a CRM was unlimited workflows.
Workflows are the automation piece that can save your business so much time, and more importantly keep things from falling through the cracks. Especially if you’re a sole proprietor, or only have a couple of staff or contractors assisting with your business, you need a solid way to make sure that you’re following up, sending forms that are needed, sending invoices and proposals and following up on those.
Dubsado offers these unlimited workflows, which is what had me testing it. The other platforms I used, even when I was paying for them, limited me to five total workflows, each with only 3 to 5 steps, sometimes even less. Those self-hosted options you could do almost whatever you wanted – IF you knew how to set it all up and make it work.
For example, every lead form that I have on this website has at least one separate workflow attached to it. If, for instance, you wanted to request a free SEO Audit of your website, that lead form will automatically trigger a workflow. One of the things it does is automatically capture your information in the back end of my CRM. The next thing it does is send me a task reminder that I need to initiate the SEO audit for your website address that you entered, and sends me a reminder a few days later to make sure that is complete. It also sends you an automatic email to tell you when to expect your audit report, and then after I upload your report it sends another email with that link. You also receive a couple of follow-up emails with tips of things you can implement yourself, and provides you with a quick way to receive a quote if you decided you need help. All of those pieces are automated, so that I can make sure I manually run your report and make recommendations, and yet don’t forget to send you anything.
There’s places in your business where you need to have a personal touch. For the other places, they can usually be automated, and that’s one of the best things you can do to keep your time efficient so that you can focus on growing your business to the next level.
We’ve talked repeatedly how the strategies you’re using when you’re making 5 or 6 figures are not the same strategies that you will need to use to grow your company beyond that, or to a multi-million or multi-billion dollar company. There are steps you’re going to have to take in your business to enable you to move from the level you’re currently at to the next level; and having this type of automated workflow in a CRM which gives you unlimited workflows to use can be a lifesaver.
So if you believe your business is at the place where you need to start automating some of those processes, you definitely need to look into a CRM. And Dubsado may be a perfect choice for you. As mentioned, I’ve also worked with many of the major CRM platforms plus quite a few less well-known, and can talk with you about which one may be the right option for you based upon your needs. You might need the bells and whistles, or a self-hosted solution, direct tie-in with other current systems you’re using, or some of the features available on different platforms and we can provide a consultation to make a recommendation that would be best for your business.
Vicky is the CEO and Chief Creative Strategist of Vicky Wu Marketing. She draws from 30 years of experience at the CMO level, the CEO level, marketing for Fortune 500 companies and multi-million and multi-billion-dollar organizations, PLUS strategies learned helping startups and nonprofits with limited budgets … now focusing on providing SMBs with effective and efficient marketing strategies – giving them access to the same level of expertise as the really big guys with deep pockets, that they may not otherwise be able to access.