What’s CRM? How to use this easy tool in your landscape business

Dave Marciniak Marketing, Technology

How do you keep track of your customers?

Do you keep an accessible list of:

  • their addresses and contact info?

  • how they learned about you?

  • where they are in the sales cycle?

  • and what interactions they’ve had with you?

That’s what a CRM can do for you.

CRM for landscape businesses

Simply put, Customer relationship management (CRM) is an approach to managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers (source: Wikipedia).

For several years I used a three ring binder with custom worksheets for all of this, moving individual sheets around as the lead moved through the process. Now that I use a software CRM tool, the process is 10 times easier, and to track, and I can access the information from anywhere with an internet connection.

Common tasks a CRM can do for you

First and foremost a CRM can become your address book/contact list. Every bit of information you can get about your client or prospect goes in there: address, phone numbers, email, company, social media handles, etc. Storing all of this data is a useful function, but if this is all you do with your CRM you’re definitely not using it’s full potential.

The real value of a CRM comes with tracking the lead all the way through the sales cycle. Here’s how the process works:

  1. When you get a new lead, any information you have (name, address, phone, email) gets entered into your CRM.

  2. As the lead progresses through the sales cycle, you can create tasks and reminders of upcoming actions. Let’s say you book a meeting or a phone call, you’ll want to track that. You can set follow up reminders to call a prospect back, or send them something you promised.

  3. It is very helpful to make notes and document anything you want to remember about this lead or contact, for use in future conversations.

  4. When you finally send the proposal, you will add this as well. The dollar amount of that proposal can be attached to the lead so you know what the value of your sales pipeline is, and how much potential revenue you have coming in.

  5. If you close the deal, you can mark the lead as won, lost, cancelled, or whatever other categories you decide are the stages in your sales process.

  6. If for some reason the sale doesn’t close, you can also set a reminder to pop up for follow up several weeks or months down the road. “Kids are on summer break, no time to decide? Great, we’ll follow up in September.”

A CRM makes it easy to know what opportunities or potential sales  you have out there at various points in the sales cycle. It also makes it hard to “lose” a lead if you’re logging into your dashboard every day.

Integrations

integrations

CRMs become incredibly powerful when they integrate across your marketing tools. At Describeit we use Hubspot for CRM, which has a ton of integrations built into it. You can also use a different CRM that has native integrations with some tools and uses third party programs like Zapier for others. Here are some common integrations:

  • Email – many CRM platforms allow you to email your clients with your company email directly from your CRM dashboard.This is useful because it allows you to track and log all communications with the client.

  • Email marketing – how your prospect interacts with your newsletters can give you clues to how likely they are to buy. Many CRMs pull data from your email marketing provider (MailChimp, Constant Contact) and file what that contact has opened or clicked on right in their contact listing.

  • Accounting – Bookkeeping and accounting aren’t part of a CRM tool but many CRMs can be set up so that as soon as a contact is created, it’s shared with Quickbooks (or your software of choice). That way you’re not duplicating your efforts across platforms. As an example, the very basic CRM tool we have within Describeit will push those contacts to Quickbooks (if you’ve enabled QB integration).

What if there are no direct integrations listed within the CRM you want to use? Earlier I mentioned Zapier. Zapier is a third party program that helps different programs “talk” to one another and share data. What I did when deciding on a CRM provider was I looked to see what it syncs with on its own, then went to Zapier to see what it could be made to sync with. This allows you to create a custom toolset at a really reasonable cost.

There are too many CRM options to list them all and it seems like new ones are constantly popping up. If you’re ready to take the plunge just do a Google search and start searching. The best advice I got when I went looking was, “switching CRMs is a hassle, go with the one that fits your business 3-5 years from now so you don’t outgrow it too fast.”

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