Small business owners handle a lot.
Not only do they have to make sure things get done in the day-to-day operations of their business, but they’ve also got to make sure there’s actually business there to do.
In other words: they’re also the ones with the ultimate responsibility of getting more customers in the door and buying their services.
In fact, 47% (almost half!) of small business owners handle all of their marketing efforts by themselves.
And most of the time, unfortunately, the marketing and sales cycle looks like this:
- Go on a short-term marketing blitz to generate a lot of leads.
- Talk to the leads.
- Find out which leads are ready to buy and put together a sales pitch for them.
- Deliver the sales pitch.
- Cross your fingers to close the deal.
- Close the deal.
- Deliver the work.
It works, yes, but it’s far from ideal.
Ideally, the leads would be a lot steadier and you’d be able to do something with the leads you got from the marketing blitz that weren’t quite ready to buy yet.
But since systems take a ton of work to put into place and most small business owners aren’t refined marketers, it doesn’t happen.
Fortunately, there is a system that most small business owners do use that can really help alleviate the burden of such heavy marketing cycles.
It’s a CRM (or customer relationship management tool), and although they’re pretty commonplace and underrated, most of them are actually way more robust than we give them credit for.
So in this post, I’ll walk you through 13 hacks you can use to make something of the leads you capture that aren’t ready to purchase right away.
You’ll be able to keep them in your system, continue marketing them, and turn them into customers when they’re ready… without having to go through another expensive marketing and ad blitz just to get more contact information.
And the best part is, once most of these “hacks” are set up, they keep working for you on repeat, keeping your marketing and sales efforts way more sustainable, and making your business more successful.
Note: You’ll notice a lot of the screenshots below are from Nimble. That’s only because I use Nimble in my personal business and have access to take those screenshots, not because BuildFire is in any way trying to push you towards Nimble. Also, neither I nor BuildFire have any vested interest in pushing you towards one CRM or another. It’s all your decision.
1. Set Reminders to Get in Touch
This “hack” is primarily for all of those leads you’ve gathered in your marketing blitz that would be an ideal customer… but weren’t ready to buy.
It’s not so much a “hack” as it is a habit that you do on a regular basis, but since almost every CRM has the capability to remind you of it, I’m counting it.
The idea is to take the leads you’ve gathered via your marketing and advertising campaigns, put them into your CRM, and set a notification on each one to make sure you’ll stay in touch at least once every 30 days.
The getting in touch message doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be, if you ask me), “Hey, so, you ready to buy yet?!”
Instead, it should be in line with any sort of conversation you’ve already had with them… or about the lead magnet they downloaded that turned them into a lead in the first place.
Rather than seeing how quickly you can turn them from a lead into a customer, this strategy is more about getting them comfortable with you, showing them that you care, and building up their loyalty towards you (and your brand) as someone who genuinely cares in the business world.
You can ask them how they are, how a strategy you discussed is working for them, send them a link to something you think they’ll find interesting, or, if you feel comfortable, introduce them to someone you think they should know.
Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid, made this a core part of his Book Yourself Solid strategy simply because it works so well for gaining customers and generating word of mouth.
“The focus is on sincerely and freely giving and sharing, and by doing so, building an deepening mutually beneficial relationships with others,” he says in his book.
To set this up in your CRM, go to each individual contact and set a reminder to come up 30 days after your last touch with a contact.
Next to a contact’s name in Nimble, there’s a drop-down selection for how often you want to stay in touch with that person.
Some CRMs may have this functionality with lists, so if you have all of your prospective leads on one list, you can set the monthly reminder for everyone on that list at once.
2. Make Notes on Every Single Interaction
If you’re running a business where you juggle lots of potential clients at once, this hack will save you a lot of embarrassing moments and help you come across as someone who remembers and cares about even the tiniest details.
Usually, a CRM will have a section for custom notes on each contact that don’t fit in with standard data fields like job title, industry, or location.
If a lead sends an email to collect more information on your services, make a note of it and the information you share with them. If they tell you what their current focus areas are now instead of the one you solve for, make a note if it. If they tell you anything about their personal life, write that down too.
Ditto for any hobbies or outside interests they mention.
This will help you immensely with the hack above when you need something to talk to them about at the one-month mark. Instead of searching for ideas for what to talk about and sounding awkward, you’ll know exactly what to say.
Plus, when you use the information you collect in a conversation with the lead, it’ll really up the loyalty and trust factor… helping you convert those leads into customers at percentage rates you would have never dreamed of before.
For example, let’s say you’re a marketing consultant with a boutique marketing agency focused on social media.
If a lead signs up for one of your lead magnets but isn’t ready for one of your services yet, you’d still have them in your CRM.
When you talk to them on the phone and find out they’re not ready to purchase one of your service packages yet, you make a note of that.
And when they tell you the reason they’re not ready to buy yet is because they’re more focused on email marketing right now, you make a note of that too.
The next time you get in touch with them, you could send them a link to an awesome resource that really helped you improve your email marketing… and that’s it. No sales.
The next time, you could ask them how their email strategy is going, and based on their response, either give them any relevant advice from your experience, or maybe make an introduction to someone who could help them out more.
They’re still not ready to convert into a paying customer, so instead of putting them through an uncomfortable conversation and making them say “no” to you again, you can make the experience enjoyable.
Not only do they not feel uncomfortable talking to you, but they actually benefit from it as well.
So when they get their email strategy down and the time comes to work on their social strategy, you’re the agency they’re coming to for help—no one else.
For example, you can see that I’ve added three notes here outside of what happened between me and this contact via email. This helps me remember what’s happened between us when I need to get in touch with her, and makes our conversations more productive.
3. Save a Collection of Email Scripts Within Your CRM
Most CRMs have a heavy email focus.
And since most B2B conversations happen via email, this is a wonderful thing for you to take advantage of in your small business.
Instead of writing a message out from scratch every single time you get in touch with someone or respond to a query, you can pick out one of your templates, fill in the blanks, and respond without spending half an hour crafting a message.
Aside from email responses no longer taking up half of your day, this hack also helps you keep in touch with more people in less time.
Because if you think about it, most of the emails you send out fall into 80% or 90% of the exact same categories, every single time.
For my business, these are most of my responses:
- Sorry, I don’t have any more availability this month.
- You can view my prices on my “Hire Me” page.
- Let’s schedule a call.
- I’m sorry, it doesn’t sound like a good fit.
- No, I don’t work for free.
- Here’s the pitch ideas you requested.
- Your invoice is overdue.
- Here’s your outline/first draft.
And I’ll admit, most of these emails don’t take that much time to write from scratch.
But it’s a lot faster if all I have to do is open the email in my CRM inbox and choose the option to reply with one of my pre-set templates.
For the most part, all I have to do is insert the name of the person in the salutation line, and I can hit the send button.
A few others take a little more thought and writing, but the intros and conclusions of those emails are always the same, so why not save myself some time writing them out?
In most CRMs, adding an email template is super easy. (I know, I know. Shame on me for giving advice I haven’t followed yet.)
But look, it was so simple to do that five minutes after taking the above screenshot, I’ve already got a template saved. All I have to do now (instead of typing this out by hand every time) is insert the person’s name and the work they got in touch with me about. Easy.
Each CRM is different in how they have template responses set up, but most will have a tutorial video showing you how to use that functionality. (And once you figure it out once, you’ll be good to go for any and all templates you want to create in the future.)
4. Have Conversational Scripts for Your Sales Reps
Just like email responses are anywhere from 80% to 90% the same every single time, so are the queries salespeople deal with.
And just like email templates, CRMs are the perfect place to save conversation templates for new salespeople to follow to make sure the conversations they have are productive and land leads into the right stage of the funnel.
These scripts more or less work exactly like those funny decision-making sales charts we see across the internet.
Sales scripts are kind of like these decision charts. Except a little more serious and they all end up with you making money. (Source)
Except, of course, you use them to guide a conversation with a customer to decide on best course of action for them… even if that course of action is nothing more than sending over a free lead magnet and making a note to get back in touch a week later.
It follows an “if this then that” logic pattern.
And since being monotone and only reading from a script is a huge no-no, that’s not what I’m advising here.
I’m not advising a word-for-word script, but I am advising to have a sort of flow setup that takes you from one stage to the next so you know how to intelligently listen and guide the conversation so it’s as beneficial as possible for the potential customer.
“A lot of sales reps have strong fluctuation in terms of results they deliver,” said Steli Efti on Close.io. “Some days are amazing, and some days suck, and it’s very much dependent on the state of the individual sales rep. By having a script, you basically create a safety net for shitty days that prevents shitty performance.”
5. Integrate Your CRM With Your Email Provider
So excuse me for sounding blatantly obvious here… but if someone signs up to receive your lead magnet, they are in fact a lead, and should be treated as such.
Like I said, it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people just collect email IDs for their newsletter list but then never actually do anything to turn those leads into customers.
Well, okay, they might blast out an email newsletter every other week and just cross their fingers that those leads will eventually buy from them… but I’m not about to advise a finger-crossing strategy. Because finger-crossing is based on happenstance good luck, whereas a to-do list strategy is based on making your own good luck.
So let’s focus on the to-do items.
Integrating your CRM with your email provider so that new leads get instantly added into your CRM into a “New Leads” list is absolutely a hack that you need to employ if you’re wanting to make the most of your lead-gathering efforts.
As soon as they sign up, you can start getting in touch with them to figure out which point they’re at in your sales funnel and decide which information to send them next.
Because once those leads are in your CRM, you can start nurturing them and priming them for the sale with whatever method you prefer… whether it’s giving them a call the next day, feeding them an email drip campaign, or collecting more information from them so you can know how to stay in touch with topics that are interesting to them.
For example, Zoho CRM integrates with a handful of different email providers: MailChimp, ConstantContact, Contactology, and GetResponse.
6. Choose a CRM that Does More Than Just Email
The first CRM I ever used only tracked interactions that happened within my inbox.
Conversations on Twitter or LinkedIn didn’t matter, phone calls didn’t count, and there wasn’t any way to manually log an in-person meeting.
Long story short: it was really frustrating. Especially because I was paying for it and it was costing me more time than it was saving me.
Yes, I run my business online and do a lot of interactions via email.
But I also use Skype. And my phone. And (gasp!) sometimes I even meet people over lunch.
And heaven forbid I ever start a conversation via social media or in a Slack channel.
Yes, free and budget CRMs are easy on the wallet, but it’s almost always worth it to spend a little bit of money to get a tool that will track interactions elsewhere and let you manually insert anything that doesn’t happen via an internet connection.
Personally, I only pay $15 per month for Nimble, which is pretty heavy in tracking social interactions… which is important for me.
I’ve connected all of my social accounts to Nimble, so it knows who in my contacts I follow and who follows me. But the cool part is, even if I’m not connected with someone on a particular network, I can still see what’s publicly available in their feeds and/or get to those profiles to make those connections.
7. Email Drips… Automate Your Lead Nurturing
Email drips, also called autoresponders, are one of the coolest features available in higher-functioning CRMs.
(Tip: If you have a cheap CRM like I do, you can usually set this up in your email provider.)
It’s a funnel put into overdrive and set on repeat to run itself every time a new lead comes onto your email list and enters your funnel.
Let me explain it like this:
Let’s say you have a business that teaches productivity to people.
If someone signs up for your free ebook called “5 Ways to Cut House Cleaning Time in Half,” you can keep sending them emails even after you’ve delivered the ebook to them.
After your first email delivering the goods, you can give them time to read your ebook—maybe a day or two.
After that, you can deliver a second email with a case study showing how one reader who used one of the tactics to slash the time she spent cleaning her apartment and used her extra hour and a half every single weekend to finally finish the gorgeous painting project she started months ago.
A day later, you can send an email with some advice you use for yourself to stay on track with your cleaning productivity.
And on the third day, you can send out another call to action for another download or inexpensive purchase that gets your prospect to the next step in your funnel. Maybe this time it’s a tutorial video on using the Pomodoro Technique to blast through an entire weekend’s to-do list in only three hours.
And the best part?
You’ve already written all of these emails beforehand, saved them into your CRM in a sequence, and given them the green light to send out automatically.
Read: You do nothing and your leads get nurtured into sales-ready prospects.
You know, those same leads that you’d just write off and forget about otherwise.
How freaking awesome is that?!?
And honestly, setting up an email drip doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Every CRM and email provider will vary slightly so I won’t be able to give you a screenshot-by-screenshot tutorial, but the process is pretty much like this:
- Identify the end goal of your email drip. Is it to download another lead magnet? Sign up for a webinar? Make an inexpensive purchase?
- Identify where your prospects are at when they start receiving the email drip, and what they need to get to do the action that’s the end goal of it. (Like buying something from you.)
- Outline your emails and write them.
- Create the autoresponder sequence for the appropriate list within your email provider, making sure to space out each email by at least 24 hours.
It doesn’t matter how you have to set it up depending on your tool set, just do it.
Especially since 73% of leads are not ready to buy when they first give you their email address (Marketing Sherpa study), you’ve got to get creative so you don’t waste those leads.
If they’re handing over their contact info—even if they don’t want to buy yet—they have proven that they are in fact interested, and if we want to turn more of our leads into sales, we really need to start taking advantage of that.
8. Set Notifications & Timers to Respond ASAP
When a lead gets in touch with a question, the faster you respond, the better.
“According to a Lead Response Management study, the magic number here is five minutes,” said Jon Miller on Marketo. “ A five-minute lead response means you’re four times more likely to qualify that lead than a 10 minute response, and a staggering 21 times more likely to convert than after 30-minute wait.”
So basically, the faster you answer someone’s burning question, the more likely they are to buy from you and not your competition.
And no, we’re not talking about phoning it in with one of those annoying, meaningless messages that reminds the customer of how important and busy you are.
There’s nothing more annoying than wanting to know an answer and seeing some shitty automated text that reads:
“Thank you for your query. All of our customer service representatives are busy at the moment. Your ticket will be answered in the order it was received.”
Instead, respond with a real answer—or at least with the intent to help the lead uncover a real answer—the instant the query comes in.
Just like your lead magnet delivery happens instantly when someone signs up for it via your site form, so should a happy customer service rep (you know, if your business has one of them) ready to provide an answer.
The CRM hack that comes into play here is going into your CRM settings and allowing desktop or push notifications to come through on your devices every single time you get an email from an existing lead or a new site query comes in via email or chat box.
With notifications popping in front of you in a way you can’t ignore, your chances of answering your leads in five minutes 0r less (and therefore gaining the advantage of converting them into a paying customer) increases greatly.
Not all CRMs will have this feature, but if yours does have an option to run push notifications to your desktop or your phone, you should absolutely enable that permission.
9. Stay on Top of Social
Inside of all of us exists a little, small child just wanting to be recognized for doing good so he or she can feel special and appreciated for a moment.
The thing is, most of the time as adults, people don’t acknowledge our accomplishments… no matter how major they are.
We don’t ask for the acknowledgement because we don’t want to seem desperate and like we’re always fishing for compliments, but at the same time, it feels really good when people throw us a bone and give us a shout out.
And when you can create that feeling for other people, believe me, they will remember you.
Which is why it’s so, so important for you to take your relationship with your clients out of the inbox from time to time and give them a shout out in front of their peers. That kind of shout out we’re all desperate for that tells us we’re doing a good job and validates our efforts.
You can comment on their blog post, upvote their article on Inbound, or share their post on LinkedIn Pulse.
Even something a simple as a virtual pat on the back via a 10-second tweet goes a long way.
By nature, our mental and emotional barriers are lower on social media, so anytime someone interacts with us there in a meaningful way, we notice them.
For most of us, a public accolade on Twitter is way more effective (and less creepy or off-putting) than someone we’ve never met jumping directly into our inbox with it.
Because imagine for a second if two people you’ve never met or heard of read and really liked a blog post you published.
Person one tweets the article, says it was awesome, and tags you in the tweet.
Person two digs to uncover your email address and sends the same message to your inbox.
Yes, person two made more of an effort—but you’re also way more suspicious of person two and what kind of ulterior motive they might have behind starting a conversation with you in such an intimate setting.
And there’s nothing wrong with you, that kind of suspicion is just natural.
But, by using your CRM to link to your social accounts and the accounts of everyone in your list of leads, you can make more of these effective, low-barrier touches that make your leads feel noticed and special before you ever go in for the kill of starting a conversation about suggesting some of your resources to them… or even sales.
And another reason why this is so effective?
(Especially on LinkedIn, in my opinion?)
Is because no one takes the time to pretend like they care about the things you share online by liking your LinkedIn Pulse posts or commenting on your work anniversaries or profile updates.
You see that other people post there, so you know others are seeing your stuff too.
So when you do that for people, not only do they know that you noticed, but they know that you cared enough to make them feel noticed, which goes a long way with the principle of reciprocity.
When I log into my CRM, for example, I see all the different engagement opportunities I have on social media from people who have mentioned me. Since they gave me a shoutout, I can return the favor, follow them, or start a conversation based on what they’ve said.
Then, when I click through on a contact, I can see their stream of social media posts, where I can see what kind of stuff they’ve been accomplishing and sharing, which gives me great material to give them a shout out if that’s what I want to do.
As you can see, my CRM makes this incredibly easy for me, and I’d encourage you to look for a CRM that does the same. It’ll super-charge your person-to-person networking better than any solely email-based CRM could.
10. Group Your Leads by Time Zone
Unless your business is hyper-local, you’re working with people in different time zones than you.
And it’s quite likely that you’re dealing with people in many different time zones.
In the US alone, we’ve got four time zones in the lower 48 states, and six total.
Not to mention if your business is international and you’re dealing back and forth between Europe and Asia as well.
“It probably doesn’t make sense to hit prospects from the West Coast at 8 a.m. EST,” said Craig Ferrara on Quota Factory. “The executives we call may get to work early, but 5 a.m. PST may be a bit of a stretch.”
And one way to hack your CRM to make sure you’re getting in touch with people at times that actually make sense for them is to batch leads together based on their time zone.
So, like in Craig’s example, if you do go into work on the east coast at 8 a.m., you’re probably using the first hour or two of your day to reach out to leads in Europe, then talking to people on the east coast after their morning meetings and morning rush of to-do items are finished, and then moving westward as your day progresses so you day finishes with talking to prospects on the west coast during their afternoon.
Of course, yes, it’s possible to just click into every single contact, see what city they’re in, and do mental math to make sure it’s a good time to call them.
But that kind of effort and mental energy builds up and really eats away at your efficiency.
Plus, if you’re like me, if it’s not a good time, you’d probably just end up sending an email instead of calling—and though email is convenient, it does take away that nice, personal touch of a friendly human’s voice that can really help turn a cold prospect into a warm lead.
In my business, I’m a little less concerned about time zones, but I do want to know who else is in the same physical location as I am so I know who’s available to network with in person. I’ve tagged the people in my city with a tag labeled “Asheville,” and the entire list of them is just one click away.
11. Have Your Leads Schedule Appointments Instantly
Some CRMs, like Agile CRM, are actually built around appointment-setting features so you can send a link to interested leads to they can instantly pick a time that you’re available that fits with their calendar too.
This ensures that the meeting gets set, and that the intent isn’t lost in the back-and-forth of deciding which times work and won’t work for both of you… and ultimately either not having the meeting or not having it until a point until three weeks out.
“You want to check calendars and schedule appointments immediately to keep momentum going with customers,” explained Claritysoft. “You don’t want to wait to get back to the office to schedule the next meeting and risk losing the deal to a competitor.”
This screenshot on the Agile CRM website shows how a CRM structured around setting up meetings works. Leads choose their time slots, and the best day and time period that works for them. They finalize the booking by providing their contact details so you don’t have to email back and forth about that, either.
And even if appointment scheduling isn’t a function of the CRM you use, you can still “hack” your CRM with this tactic by using a third-party scheduler like Calendly.
So instead of sending out a message with a link to your CRM’s availability calendar, you’d send out the link of your Calendly calendar for people to follow and schedule an appointment with you on.
The best part of these calendars that automatically schedule time slots for you, if you ask me, is that they work for you 24/7 and don’t suck any of your time that you’d rather be spending polishing off your email inbox or ditching your desk to start your weekend 30 minutes earlier.
Plus, and admittedly a little more importantly, they make sure you don’t lose out on any appointments that should be set—meaning you don’t miss out on appointments that could eventually mean thousands of dollars (or more) in new deals for your company.
12. Standardize Job Titles
If you’re doing a good job of marketing to your target audience, chances are a lot of your leads will have more or less the same job within their respective companies.
But the thing is, no one company uses the exact same naming standards as the next company.
One person might list herself as “Director, Marketing” while another guy lists himself as “Director of Marketing” or “Marketing Director.”
Some companies will use “HR” and others will spell out “Human Resources.” Others will just say “Hiring” or “Talent.”
It seems minuscule, and while it is relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things, standardizing the job titles you use to label people within your own CRM presents an opportunity to hack your own information for personalized, targeted automation and nurturing that really goes above and beyond.
Normally, most of us use the email lists people opt in to for themselves to decide which resources, email funnels, and sales pitches to put them through.
And while that works, there’s another level of sophistication you can take things to by targeting certain email sequences towards certain profile data points—like someone’s job title.
And job title is a great one, because it pretty much tells you exactly what their day-to-day responsibilities and stresses are like, and what their major concerns are.
So when your CRM pulls profile data from LinkedIn, it pulls the data exactly how it’s written.
It doesn’t try to be smart about predicting which category it should go into, rearranging words to match your order of preference, or even fixing typos.
So when you enter a new contact—or a new set of contacts—into your CRM, take the time to make sure the job title of each person matches one of your standardized titles.
This way, every single time you want to send out a targeted offer or communication based on job title, you don’t have to manually search through your contacts crossing your fingers that you’ll get everyone.
Instead, you can type in ONE search term and KNOW you’ve got every single person you need in that list of results.
It’s a time-saver and it helps you provide more targeted communication to more people… turning more leads into sales.
For example, I haven’t employed this hack in my CRM, but I should. When I want to look for people who are self-employed and have their own business, this is what I have to search:
- Entrepreneur = 10
- Business Owner = 0
- Solopreneur = 1
- Self-Employed = 3
- Owner = 5
- Founder = 20
I have to do six searches… and I may or may not be leaving people out depending on how they label themselves.
But imagine if I had my own internal naming standards so I could do one search to uncover all 39 people instead of haphazardly guessing and hoping no one’s left out?
13. Set Up Trigger-Based Alerts to Get in Touch
It happens more often than not that someone signs up for your lead magnet and doesn’t turn into a paying customer within a month.
In fact, according to statistics, the vast majority of your leads won’t become customers within the time span of the first funnel you put them through.
But just because they don’t buy right away… or within the first year… doesn’t mean you have to give up on them.
Not at all.
In fact, once you’ve got them in your CRM and have them pixeled on your site, you can track their activity.
You might not want to set a trigger every single time the read a new blog post… that would be just a little creepy.
But you could set a trigger to get in touch with them if they sign up to receive a new lead magnet.
Or after they attend a webinar you host.
This way, you can keep tabs on how their business is evolving and continue to offer them advice, resources, and support until they’re ready to start buying from you.
But these trigger-based notifications don’t have to be just for leads and yet-to-be customers.
You can use them on your current customers too to increase loyalty and decrease your churn rate.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve got a customer whose plan will be up for renewal in two months.
This is the perfect opportunity to set a trigger to get in touch with him and show him the before and after of his data from when he started working with you to now. Or to show him new ways to use your product to maximize his results even further.
Or to just make him feel heard, appreciated, and understood in general.
Other amazing triggers to use with this strategy include:
- A free trial is about to end
- Someone hasn’t logged in for a few days
- Someone reaches a goal or an important milestone
- They publish something on LinkedIn Pulse
- They sign up for one of your other lead magnets
My CRM doesn’t have this functionality, so I can’t show you how to set these up with a screenshot.
But basically, it’s an automation feature that you can set up in your CRM’s backend as a workflow.
The first action item in the workflow is the reader taking that specific action: downloading a lead magnet, signing up for a free trial, or even clicking a specific link in one of your email campaigns.
Once that action is taken, you tell your CRM what you want it to do next: send out the next email as a part of a sequence, send a notification to your dashboard to call them, or send them a link to schedule a demo with you.
In this video, Social Sinergy shows how to setup a trigger-based automated workflow inside of their CRM interface. (Most CRMs will more or less follow along this same model.)
Suggested CRM Tools
In this post, I’ve used a lot of screenshots from Nimble because that’s the CRM I use.
But this is not a post to promote Nimble. Believe me, I fully realize that with B2B CRMs, one size does not fit all.
Nimble fits me in ways that something like InfusionSoft never could. But then again, there’s InfusionSoft users who could never imagine using anything else… especially something as simplistic as Nimble.
So let me introduce a few of the most popular CRMs to you with their most prominent features so you can start to make this decision for yourself. (Especially if it’s a decision you haven’t already made… choose one!)
The reason I use Nimble is because it’s socially-centered, integrates well with email, and is only $15 per month.
I don’t have a lot of robust needs for a CRM… mostly just something that tracks my interactions and my calendar, lets me log anything that happens in person, and reminds me to get in touch with people I haven’t talked to in a while.
I’m not yet interested in using my CRM to track on-site behavior, implement triggers, or changing an autoresponder sequence based on the links someone clicked on, so it’s perfect for me.
I don’t think you can get much more budget-friendly with a CRM than $15 per user per month, so if you’re willing to sacrifice some functionality (or just don’t need it yet), this could be the perfect CRM for you.
SalesForce, even though they’re huge and are known for serving enterprise-level clients, has a set of solutions aimed at helping the special needs of small businesses too.
The software within the platform helps you find more leads, turn more of those leads into customers by winning deals, and keep those customers around so they continue to buy from you after their first purchase.
Given the name, it is much more sales and deal-centric than other solutions.
It’s much more robust than budget options, and their customers love that it makes it easier for their customers to come to them and do business with them by taking care of things like paperwork and distributors.
SugarCRM is more focused towards businesses with teams of people (even if they’re small teams) than it is solopreneur businesses and small mom-and-pop shops.
The core of the software is automation of your marketing funnels, trigger-based responses, and even your sales. (So depending on what you’re selling, you may not even have to get on the phone to close the deal.)
But beyond the machine-driven automation, it is still very relationship-focused, giving sales representatives the data points they need to make every relationship they start with a lead incredibly valuable.
InfustionSoft is known for how insanely robust it is. I think you could easily rely on it to take care of all the hacks we’ve talked about in this article and then some.
And once you get it up and running, it can be one of the most powerful lead-converting (automated!) engines you’ve ever imagined.
So it’s totally worth it for that.
The only drawbacks though, especially for smaller businesses who are still in or who’ve just exited the bootstrapping stage, is $200 per month starter price and the fact that you’ll probably need some help setting it up properly.
I take back what I said about $15 per month being the most affordable option.
HubSpot’s got a CRM for small businesses that’s free. As in, $0 per month for as long as you want to use it. (Which is about $180/year more affordable than Nimble.)
It automates tedious things like data entry, tracks interactions with your customers on your site, in email, and on social, and it’s designed to be focused around your sales pipeline, so you’re constantly moving leads forward towards the ultimate goal.
There’s an option to pay a fee for HubSpot Sales features if you want to focus more on selling, but even if not, the tool is still free for as many users and contacts that you want.
Start With One Tactic & Get Moving
It’d be silly of me to think you would read this article, drop everything, and start hacking away at your CRM until every single little piece of advice I’ve given in this article was taken care of.
I know you’re busier than that, and I know not all of these tactics are equally suited to every business model.
But of the 13 tactics we went over that will help you turn more of your leads into sales, I’m sure at least one of them really resonated with you as a good idea…. Which is the one you should put on your to-do list to start implementing ASAP.
There’s no such thing as a perfectly-run business or a perfectly-run sales funnel, but there is such a thing as taking what you’ve got and making it better… even if it’s already pretty good.