As a consultant, you know clients to be the lifeblood of your work. They're the bread and butter that keeps your business afloat and growing. Unlike large B2C corporations that could possibly afford to lose or disappoint a client here and there, you need to be able to build and nurture relationships with your clients in order to succeed – and that's where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system comes in.
A CRM helps you manage customer interactions, keep track of sales opportunities and leads, organize contact information, plan marketing campaigns, and more. It's an essential tool for any consultant who wants to make sure their customers have the best experience possible.
Wondering which CRM will take your business to the next level in 2023? Let's explore the best CRM for consultants (as well as how to choose the right one for your business).
Once upon a time, the systems we used for client management were incredibly rudimentary. We relied on paper-based systems and spreadsheets to keep track of customer information and interactions, which made it difficult to manage our relationships with clients effectively or efficiently.
CRMs are designed to change that. By making use of the most advanced technology available in 2021 – such as cloud computing, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) algorithms – CRM software helps you automate processes such as lead generation, contact management, customer segmentation and more.
This automation makes it easier to manage sales pipelines and track customer data, while also providing valuable insights into how your customers are interacting with you. It also gives you the opportunity to save time for other important tasks, such as developing relationships and building trust.
Over half of businesses consider their CRM to be the most important part of their tech stack – but why, exactly, is that the case?
Moreso than other businesses, consultancies need to manage tens, hundreds, and even thousands of clients on a personable level. It's not like a B2C situation where customers use your service or products without ever needing to interact with you directly. With consultants, a personal connection is essential.
You need to be able to keep track of each client's needs, preferences, and history so that you can provide them with the best possible experience – and a CRM allows you to do just that. By using a reliable CRM system, you can store all your customer data in one place and access it quickly whenever needed.
Consultants also need to be highly organized in order to succeed. It's not enough to just manage customer relationships – you also have to keep track of schedules, appointments, tasks, projects, and more.
With a CRM system in place, you can easily organize all your data and ensure that no task or appointment slips through the cracks. The best CRMs will also provide you with automated reminders and notifications to ensure that nothing is ever forgotten.
Finally, consultants need to be able to trust the data they're working with. In order for your business decisions to be effective and reliable, you need a CRM system that is secure, reliable, and up-to-date. A high-quality CRM includes features like data encryption and real-time analytics, so you can trust that the information you're working with is accurate.
A CRM is an excellent tool to add to your stack – but that doesn't mean any CRM will do. You need to choose a system that is tailored to the specific needs of consultants. It should be secure and reliable, but also feature-rich enough to provide you with the data analysis and insights you need.
Let's briefly run through the things to look for when choosing a CRM system:
You might be thinking – how on earth can one tool cover all of these bases? Rest assured that there are tools out there with everything you need to thrive as a consultancy. Let's take a look at some of the best.
Introducing Bonsai – our very own CRM solution designed to provide comprehensive business support for consultants across various industries. We've designed an all-in-one business management tool covering invoicing, client management, project management, and more. Enjoy a highly flexible and functional tool packaged in an aesthetically pleasing design; it's a great choice for anyone who wants to focus more on their clients and less on the paperwork.
Best for: consultants, freelancers, and small businesses who need an all-in-one solution
Designed primarily to help with sales and outreach, Free Agent is a highly-rated tool that will help you manage your client relations and close deals quickly. The tool is extremely intuitive, easy to use, and comes with features such as process management, task automation, powerful integrations, reporting, workflow management, and more.
Best for: Consultants that already have payment and accounting tools set up
If you've ever tried to learn and implement a new tool, you'll know how painful it can be. That's why Less Annoying CRM was created – to be simple right out of the box. The interface is very intuitive, the automation capabilities just make sense, and only the essentials are included (although this may be a downside if you need something more powerful).
Best for: Solopreneurs and small businesses who want an easy-to-use CRM
Monday.com blew up in popularity in recent years due to its user-friendly workflow management tools. Since then, the company has launched CRM features so that you can keep track of your customer activity as well as manage your pipeline. With plenty of features designed to help generate and capture leads, as well as analyze customer data, it's a great option for consultants.
Best for: Consultants looking for a straightforward, visual CRM solution
Hubspot is one of the biggest names in the CRM industry, and for good reason. Their Sales Hub provides a comprehensive suite of tools that make it easy to manage customer relationships as well as close deals quickly. With powerful automation capabilities, an intuitive sales pipeline, contact management features, tracking tools and more – it's hard to go wrong with this scalable choice.
Best for: Mid to large consultancies
Although the baseline tool is technically free, its features are restrictive until you invest in one of the paid plans. Professional features will cost around $30,000 per year and Enterprise will cost closer to $60,000.
Salesforce is undoubtedly one of the biggest players in the business software space. The company has a lot of solutions for different types of businesses, and one of them is Sales Cloud – its CRM software dedicated to helping consultants close deals faster. If you already use other Salesforce tools, it's a great choice as it can all be integrated seamlessly.
Best for: Large consultancies
Pricing: Negotiated based on tools required
Unlike large platforms such as Hubspot and Salesforce, ClaritySoft really tries to strip things back to the basics. It is designed specifically for email marketing and tracking client interactions – so if that's something you find yourself doing a lot, this is a great option. It makes the entire sales pipeline highly transparent.
Best for: Sales-driven consultancies
When it comes to client management, no tool does it quite like Bonsai. There's a powerful simplicity to the platform; it’s an excellent choice for consultants who don't have time to learn overly complex tools. It's highly intuitive, incredibly easy to use, and provides the exact features you need – without all the bloatware.
A powerful CRM can truly take your consulting business to the next level, and thankfully there are plenty of great options out there. Whether you want something super simple or a more comprehensive solution, we hope this list has helped you narrow down your choices.
And remember – if you're looking for an all-in-one solution that covers client management, project management, and billing all in one place, our platform is the way to go. Try Bonsai for consultants free for 7 days!