The other week we focused on automating the process of scheduling your appointments so you don’t lose clients.
Today, we’re discussing something else that costs microbusiness owners a lot of money and forces them to get stuck in their inbox.
There are so many people you need to communicate with on a regular basis:
- Potential clients (leads)
- Current/active clients
- Vendors/suppliers of goods/services that keep your business running
- Connections inside and outside of your industry
- Thought leaders, influencers or press members with whom you want to establish relationships
Organizing these contacts and keeping on top of interactions with them is imperative for building a maximally successful business.
3 Common Communication Strategy Mistakes
1. You have no communication schedule or strategy. You only interact with people when you need them. It’s hard to successfully receive support or favors when you don’t stay in touch with people.
2. You don’t record your history of interactions with contacts. As such, the e-mails your clients send might get buried under other messages or get lost altogether. You know you’ve got this problem if you’ve found yourself spending time frantically looking for a client’s feedback to your follow up or, even worse, lost contact details for an important client or notes you made about a specific project.
3. Your important information isn’t centralized. Are most of your e-mails staying in—and clogging—your inbox? Does it take forever to find what you’re looking for? Have you found yourself wasting time searching for an important detail someone included in an e-mail?
All of these problems can be easily solved with one single solution—a client relationship management system or “CRM.”
The name of this awesome tool often causes people to assume that CRMs are used only for managing clients. Unfortunately, this makes small business owners with an easily manageable number of clients to feel as though they don’t need a CRM. It looks like just another thing to manage and who has time for that?
That’s a huge misconception. A CRM system is the single tool you need to get more clients and make more money. For small businesses money is not in marketing; money is in relationships. A CRM helps you stay on top of actions you need to take to grow your network and nurture existing relationships.
So, what are your CRM options?
- If you are just starting out or want something really simple, try Highrise. This software allows you to keep track of people, conversations and tasks.
You can integrate Highrise with many other tools. For example, if you use Freshbooks for invoicing, you can easily “connect” the two applications so that the contacts you entered into Highrise automatically get transferred.
There is a solo/free plan available. Check out the fine print at the bottom of the Plans & Pricing page.
- My personal favorites are CapsuleCRM and Contactually. They are a bit more complex (with more features) and are a perfect solution for coaches, web designers, editors, photographers and many other types of small business owners and freelancers.
CapsuleCRM or Contactually have similar functionality. Both are very flexible.
With just a click, you can add contacts and forward e-mails to the appropriate people. You can easily pre-plan your outreach and get reminders when it’s time to follow up with someone, and it’s simple to keep track of your existing commitments. In addition, both systems have wonderful reporting and analytics components, so you can set goals and focus on achieving them.
Both systems have free plans to start with.
- If you feel that your business needs an even more robust system, go for SalesForce. They have a small business edition as well.
SalesForce is a VERY powerful CRM that allows you to manage your clients and deals while also providing an up-to-date picture of your customers and your pipeline.
Though some of the features of SalesForce are absolutely priceless, I find that for small business owners it’s overkill. However, if you already have a small sales team and are very much into tracking performance and analytics, this is your dream solution.
You can start with a free trial and later upgrade to a suitable plan.
No Matter What. . .
Regardless of which solution you chose, remember that clear and timely communication can spell the difference between success and failure.
Thoughtfully keeping in touch with contacts will bring in more clients and strengthen your partnerships; centralizing your information will liberate you from the shackles of your inbox; and automating some aspects of the process will save you significant amounts of time.
LEAVE ME A COMMENT
How you are managing your leads, clients and (potential) partners at the moment? Or, what’s your single takeaway from this article?