CRM for Consultants
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CRM for Consultants: A Complete Guide

Consulting firms are professional services firms with industry-specific experts who offer professional advice, guidance, and actionable solutions and strategies to help businesses experiencing internal issues solve complex problems and improve efficiency. There are consultants in every industry, such as Finance, healthcare, advertising, technology, architecture, etc.

Irrespective of the industry and company a consulting firm serves, the core of every consulting firm is its clients. Therefore, they exist to help their clients. Hence for these firms, it is not just about acquiring clients but continuously delighting them and satisfying their needs to retain them and build and maintain strong customer relationships.

The key to customer retention is managing a large customer base, streamlining the sales process, and maintaining a clear view of all the deals in the pipeline, which is where CRM tools come in. Instead of using Excel spreadsheets and documents to find and track your leads, CRM software gives you a comprehensive view of your sales pipeline and leads, reducing the number of leads you could miss out on.

Imagine losing hundreds or thousands of dollars because of poor customer management. More reasons why CRM systems are crucial to the success of consulting firms. In the guide, you will learn what a CRM is, why you need one, what to look out for in the tool, and how to use it better manage your customer relationships and create better sales systems.

Table of Content

  • What is a CRM Software?
  • Why Do You Need A CRM Tool For Your Consulting Firms?
  • Common Benefits of CRM Tool
  • Common Sales Activities To Streamline With a CRM
  • 6 Best CRM Software For Consulting Firms
  • How to Evaluate & Choose a CRM Platform

What is a CRM Software?

best crm for consultants
Creatio

CRM stands for customer relationship management software. It is an advanced tool that many B2B and even B2C companies use to optimize their workflows, manage their opportunities in the pipeline and streamline their sales process for better performance. The overall goal of using CRM tools is to manage daily tasks and customer interactions and set the company up for future growth.

Most CRM tools have been specially designed for marketers, salespeople, and customer support teams. This is why most of them have marketing features like email marketing automation and email marketing templates, sales features for lead management, real-time data tracking, workflow automation, and customer support features like chatbots, live chat, and ticketing across various channels.

For this guide, Consulting CRM software is a consulting business tool to identify leads and manage interactions with existing and potential clients. Consultants use this CRM tool to interact directly with clients and work in sales, marketing, and customer service teams. In addition, consulting firms use it to streamline their customer communication and hasten the team’s responses to clients.

CRM software is an incredible investment for every consulting firm passionate about improving customer service and building and maintaining successful customer relationships. We will share more on this in the paragraphs below.

Why Do You Need A CRM Tool For Your Consulting Firms?

crm software for consultants
Active Campaign

Consulting firms generally deal with a large client base depending on the different areas or specialties of services they render. According to a study by IBISWorld, the consulting industry is projected to experience a growth of 1.9% and global revenues of $706 billion in 2024.

This growth implies that consulting firms will likely deal with more clients and opportunities this year. Aside from the expected growth rate in consulting firms’ clients, there could be complexities in the sales process or customer relationships. When they don’t have a proper client management system, consultants will likely miss out on opportunities or clients, costing them richly.

As a result, success-driven consultants must be able to keep track of all their clients and the services they provide them. You must also know your client’s expectations, needs, goals, and interests to help you solve their pain points and build strong customer relationships. An essential factor to consider when building solid relationships with clients is communicating effectively and continuously solving their needs, which can be challenging without the right CRM tool.

Using the right CRM software, you will always be on track to build a lasting relationship with them and manage an even larger customer base. Notably, customer relationship management software can help a consulting business achieve the following tasks:

  1. Automate repetitive tasks in the sales process.
  2. Assign leads to specific sales reps for different tasks.
  3. Provide support teams with past interactions and customer data to enhance customer service.
  4. Create personalized email templates and save them for future use.
  5. Create sales and capacity forecasting for every month.
  6. Provide advanced metrics, analytics, and reporting to see which strategies and campaigns are working and which aren’t.
  7. Finally, define the different stages and clients in the sales pipeline to review the process comprehensively.

Common Benefits of CRM Tool

Below are the common features and benefits of a CRM system for consultants.

1. Automated sales processes

A sales process is a set of repeatable steps salespeople take to move a prospective buyer from the first interaction to the closing stage. As such, a consulting firm, like every other business, must be able to track and manage the activities of the sales process. If you are not already using a CRM tool and are unsure why you need one for your sales process, consider asking yourself the following questions.

  • How long is our sales cycle?
  • What happens when you add a new lead?
  • What’s our follow-up process?
  • What are the individual stages in our sales pipeline?
  • What are the common objectives/questions that our prospects have?

Do you have an answer to these questions? Are they definitive or just guesswork? Depending on your answer, you can get CRM software to automate all your day-to-day sales activities and give you a better overview and control of your sales process.

2. Build a Structured Pipeline

A sales pipeline visually represents the sales prospects and where they are in the purchasing process. It also gives sales reps an overview of the sales rep account and how close they are to hit their sales quota. Every organization, including consulting firms, need structured sales pipeline management to help them monitor their progress with prospects in the pipeline.

Defining and tracking all the steps in your sales pipeline without CRM software can be challenging. Consulting CRM software can help consultants build a structured sales pipeline with the following stages:

  • Newly generated lead
  • Discovery call
  • Proposal or solution development
  • Pitch
  • Negotiation
  • Contract
  • Won or lost deal

A CRM tool can help you define all stages of the process and help you main a high-level view of where your prospects are in the pipeline.

3. Email marketing automation

Email marketing is crucial to customer relationship management. It is a practice that consulting firms and even independent consultants use to nurture mutually beneficial relationships with their clients.

Depending on the size of your customer base, you will likely send them the same emails repeatedly to achieve your goals. Instead of doing the repetitive tasks of sending these emails and writing the email copy from scratch, you can easily use CRM software to create and personalize these email templates and automate sending emails.

4. Keep up on the sales activities

A common challenge with businesses with a large customer base, like consulting firms, is keeping up with the different sales tasks and activities, such as finding leads and nurturing them to sales. CRM software can help you gain an overview of your sales process and help you automate your repetitive sales tasks.

Also, to avoid them forgetting essential tasks, you can set reminders to take care of all your tasks and customer interactions. Significantly, these CRM tools can help you manage follow-ups with clients and prospects and effectively keep up on all essential tasks that need to be done over a week, month, and quarter period.

5. Reporting and forecasting

Managing different activities, opportunities, and results can be challenging without CRM software. However, a good CRM tool with built-in reporting and forecasting functionality allows you to create high-level dashboards and in-depth reports on how well your sales reps and the pipeline is doing.

Aside from managing clients, CRM software can also give you a revenue forecast to understand the sales opportunities and potential revenue segmented and expected by all their consultants and reps. The forecasting tool can also give executives a high-level view of the financial health of their consulting business. It also helps to communicate the progress and results with them to determine how you can share your budget.

Common Sales Activities To Streamline With a CRM

what is a crm software
Anodius

Here are the popular sales activities that consultants can automate using an advanced CRM platform and how these activities can help a consulting business grow.

1. Map the sales process

Every organization has a sales process peculiar to its business type and clients. Most of these firms use a sales pipeline to visualize all the stages of the sales process, track the progress of their sales reps, and monitor how the prospects are moving from one stage to another on the pipeline.

Instead of manually tracking all these and burning out all your consultants, CRM software can help you visualize all these stages and track the progress of each prospect in the pipeline. However, before using CRM software for this, you must importantly define all the stages by asking yourself the following questions such as:

  • What happens when a lead is added to the pipeline?
  • What’s the first step to converting a lead into an opportunity?
  • What does the discovery and solution process look like?
  • How do we communicate with prospects throughout the process?
  • What does the negotiation process look like?
  • How long does the sales cycle last?

Answering all the above questions can help you understand the individual stages of the sales process. Once all this is defined, you can manage leads in your sales pipeline.

2. Email outreach and follow-up

A CRM tool can help you automate various areas of your email outreach processes. Since you would need to send the same emails to your client list, a CRM tool can help you automate your email sending and create email templates such that you won’t need to write emails from scratch every time you need to send emails to your clients and prospects. CRM tools can help consulting firms manage their email sequence;

  1. The first touch-point: This is the first email you send to your new prospects after adding them to your list. Instead of manually doing these tasks, you can use a CRM tool to email new clients and include calls to action to book an appointment or request a demo.
  2. Sending information: New prospects will need more information to understand the business betters and help them hasten their purchase decision. You can also use a CRM tool to create and send email templates to send the correct information to clients at the right time, including images and attachments that help visualize the business offerings.
  3. Follow-up: Have you been sending emails to your leads without getting a response? This is where follow-up comes in. You can use a CRM tool to set email reminders and email follow-up templates to re-engage leads without writing or forgetting to send the emails.
  4. FAQs: When you send this large number of emails to your prospects, you are expected to get inquiries and questions from them. Considering the likelihood of getting the same questions from these leads, you can use CRM software to create FAQ documents with clear answers to all their questions. Then they can also create email templates for each of these questions.

3. Nurture existing clients

As important as it is to find and manage new leads, it is equally essential for these businesses to manage and nurture their existing clients to present the best opportunities for new businesses. As you research and interact with your current clients, you can identify new problems or challenges they face to help determine how your business can solve their pain points once you identify these opportunities and record them in your CRM platform.

You can develop upselling and cross-selling opportunities to increase your business revenue. To help you manage and nurture your new and existing clients without burnout or missing out on opportunities, you should use a CRM tool to carry out the following tasks:

  • Automate your drip campaigns and newsletters.
  • Schedule appointments.
  • Set reminders.
  • Share web forms.
  • Automate follow-ups.
  • Streamline the sales process.

4. Manage cold calling

Cold calling is a B2B sales technique that salespeople use to contact or call individuals with no prior interest in the product or service. Cold calling can be challenging and less productive without the right strategy and a CRM tool, demotivating sales reps to continue cold-calling leads for potential sales.

When you understand the problems or challenges leads have, you can talk to them and introduce products that appeal to them and motivate them to consider them. CRM tools can streamline much of the cold-calling process to make it more efficient to get better results. Most CRM platforms can help you in the following ways:

  1. Click-to-call: A CRM tool can have call features to call prospects and leads over VoIP with the click of a button, without manually dialing the numbers.
  2. No hardware phone systems: A CRM tool with cod calling features can help you set up your cold calling without issues.
  3. Record calls: These tools make it possible to record calls and listen to them later to help build better training materials and guidance for new consultants. It can also help you create transcripts for future reference.

5. Lead qualification

A CRM Tool that can help you qualify leads for future sales purposes. As new leads enter your pipeline, you can use CRM tools to fill in the gaps, such as company size, industry, and years in business. In addition, some CRM tools can help companies to track information from LinkedIn profiles and technology in websites that can be useful in qualifying clients.

A CRM tool can help gain valuable data to guide the leads to the next stage of your sales process and send email templates to ask for more information. This information lets you determine whether a lead fits your firm well.

6 Best CRM Software For Consulting Firms

Below are the six best consulting CRM software consultants should use in 2024.

1. Sloovi

Sloovi Outreach is a comprehensive outreach and CRM tool designed for businesses who looking to optimize their sales and marketing processes. With its suite of features, Sloovi Outreach streamlines all aspects of outreach campaigns, from lead management, pipeline management, email management, and customer relationship management.

Through its advanced lead management capabilities, Sloovi Outreach enables users to connect with potential customers and prospects based on specific criteria such as industry, job title, company size, and more. The tool also provides detailed analytics and reporting features, allowing businesses to track the success of their outreach campaigns and refine their sales strategies accordingly.

With Sloovi Outreach, businesses can easily manage and organize customer data, track leads, and build strong relationships with clients and prospects. Its starter plan starts from $19 per month per user.

2. Zoho CRM

why do you need a crm tool for your consulting firms

Zoho CRM is a highly-efficient CRM platform that enables consulting firms to get a 360-degree view of the leads, accounts, and customer details. In addition, it allows consultants to streamline all business communication under a single ecosystem and gives them control over the CRM with its customization features.

You can also personalize your customer’s journey to keep the clients engaged throughout the sales funnel, enabling you to segment your customers for effective email campaigns effectively. Zoho also comes with Telephony integrations that can increase your customer engagement rate by 10X.

It provides a 15-day risk-free trial to test all its features available. After this, you can choose a monthly payment plan from $12.

3. Salesmate

common benefits of crm tool

Salesmate CRM allows consultants to get more leads to build successful customer relationships. It gives them relevant knowledge and insights to understand their clients better to close more deals. Consulting businesses can also create workflows for automating lead generation and alerts based on client interaction with your email to generate trigger and follow-up tasks on your calendar.

Salesmate also helps consultants automate manual tasks and activities to improve productivity, giving you more time to focus on your core business. Like Zoho, Salesmate offers users a 15-day free trial and a monthly payment plan starting at $12.

4. Pipedrive CRM

common sales activities to streamline with a crm

Pipedrive CRM helps consultants build successful customer relationships. It is an excellent tool for small consulting firms to drive sales performance and optimize their business processes for pre-sales, sales, and after-sales activities. Pipedrive also allows you to create working pipelines for your business.

Significantly, it can also help you visually create sales process stages with its “drag n’ drop” builder. Like Salesmate, Pipedrive also allows you to automate manual tasks to improve productivity. It provides users a 14-day free trial with a monthly payment plan starting at $12.5.

5. Capsule CRM

6 best crm software for consulting firms

Capsule CRM for professional services allows consultants to build and prioritize customer relationships and has the required tool for client engagement. In addition, you can use this tool to bring your communication, whole team, and information into one place, allowing you to send emails, file notes, and even make calls from your dashboard.

Capsule CRM allows integration with various apps like Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Sage, and others for productivity and insights into your business performance. It gives users a 30-day free trial with a monthly payment plan starting at $18.

6. Accelo

how to evaluate and choose a crm platform

Accelo is a CRM solution that doubles as a project management tool. It allows consultants to systemize their sales process and automate quotes, proposals, notifications, follow-ups, and other relevant sales activities. This tool also handles task management, allowing you to create, manage, track, and complete tasks effortlessly without leaving the platform.

Importantly Accelo allows users to manage and retain their customers efficiently and has an intelligent reporting platform that can help you extract reports and insights from your sales activities. It gives a 14-day free trial with a monthly pricing plan starting at $24 for the plus plan.

How to Evaluate & Choose a CRM Platform

Follow these steps to determine the best CRM platform for your consulting firm.

  1. Define your requirements: What do you need? What is your business goal? Don’t be quick to choose a CRM feature for its low price and features. Instead, opt for a tool that helps you do your tasks more effectively to achieve your business goals.
  2. What’s your budget: How much is your budget? Determine the general cost of getting your desired CRM solution and the amount you need to invest in a CRM platform.
  3. Set up a meeting with different CRM vendors: Meet with them to ask them essential questions about the tool and understand how the tools work to settle for the best one for your business.
  4. Evaluate and decide: After assessing the tools, determine which works best to help you achieve your goals more efficiently and make a decision.

Conclusion

CRM tools are advanced business communication software enabling professionals to work more efficiently and build successful customer relationships. Consultants, like other professionals, also need to work with good CRM software to streamline the sales process, create a more efficient communication channel and skyrocket their sales and business development efforts.