Is your firm ready for a CRM solution?

Posted by Stacie Rogers, Salesforce.com CRM Administrator for Trust Company of America on September 10, 2013

Are you struggling to grow your firm? Losing current clients? Are prospective clients choosing to go with another firm? Is onboarding new clients or keeping up regular communication with your clients a chore?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be ready to implement a CRM system. CRM is an acronym for “Customer Relationship Management.” A CRM can help you manage almost every aspect of your business. It serves as a central repository of notes about every client meeting or phone call, helps you manage and automate client communications, and standardizes and manages the workflow for new client prospecting and onboarding. It can even help you track and report on key firm metrics that can help your firm grow.

A CRM Is Your Back-Up Brain

The longer you work with a client, the more you learn about them. Do you rely on your memory to recall conversations with your clients? As your firm grows, how will you keep all the details straight? Are you going to remember that Mr. Smith’s son is studying abroad in Europe next semester? Even small talk during a meeting can be documented in a CRM and used to foster a better relationship with your client in the future. The next time you talk to Mr. Smith, pull up your call notes and ask if his son is still in Europe. While it may seem trivial, clients appreciate this personal touch.

Create a Firm-wide Memory

Have you ever lost a staff member and all their knowledge about your firm or your clients left with them? Keeping detailed, centralized notes about your firm’s interactions with every client in a CRM can help a new employee quickly step in and get up to speed on your clients. As an added bonus, date stamped contact notes over the history of a client relationship can act as a compliance tool to help lower your liability exposure and meet regulatory requirements.

Turn Your Client Prospecting Tasks into an Automated Workflow

Have you really looked at all the tasks you complete to sign a new client? Does it look something like this?

  1. Mail your firm brochure and a financial profile/planning questionnaire
  2. Put the prospect on your mailing list for newsletters, emails, and firm events
  3. Call to schedule an initial meeting to go through the questionnaire and remind the prospect to bring all their financial information to the meeting
  4. Call the day before to remind the prospect about the meeting
  5. Conduct the meeting with the prospect
  6. Begin the new client process (forms, account opening) or follow-up with the prospect to close the deal
  7. Follow up for the account paperwork or continue to follow-up to close the deal
  8. Send a thank you note for the client’s business or a letter asking the prospect to contact you when they are ready to make a decision
  9. Add the client to your birthday card mailing schedule or specific customer/prospect groups for ongoing targeted communication or marketing
  10. Follow up with the prospect in 6 months to remind them again of your services or follow up with the client for their next portfolio review. 

It’s tough to remember where in the process you are with each prospect. A CRM can schedule and automate all of these tasks for you and you never miss a touch point with a prospect.

And if you don’t already have a structured prospecting process, creating a defined strategy and automating its execution can increase your productivity and efficiency exponentially. This can give you even more time to market your services, bring in new clients, and grow your business. 

Tips for Selecting a CRM 

There are many CRM solutions on the market that are appropriate for small businesses, and solutions tailored for advisors. Assess your needs by asking:

  • Is it web-based or is it an installed package on your server or PC? (Web-based solutions allow you to access your data from anywhere, typically from any device)
  • How complicated is it? Do you need training, or dedicated resources to manage the CRM?
  • Does the solution integrate with any of your other business tools/software?
  • Price – is it a one-time fee, annual fee, monthly fee, or per user fee? Do they charge for upgrades, is ongoing support included, is training or implementation included?
  • Do they offer a free trial?
  • Is the CRM scalable (i.e., will it grow with you?)
  • Bonus tip: Don’t be “wowed” by the dashboards! CRM providers are very proud of their dashboards, so make sure the underlying functionality meets your needs first.

Some CRM Providers to Get You Started 

Here are a few CRM providers to help get you started in determining a system that may be right for you:

Just like all business technology, CRMs range from simple to complex, from inexpensive to outrageous. But if you’re looking to grow your business, increase your efficiencies, and provide better client service, a CRM can be a great tool to help you reach your goals. 

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