Is a CRM the dream of every freelance web designer?
Since I've been there, I know that at some point you wonder how you'll feel if you manage to get several assignments at the same time (regardless of whether they're from the same client or different clients). And then, when reality catches up with you, you realize that your motivation (alone) is not enough to handle everything well.
If some people get help from a small team, others switch to tools, especially CRMs. But you're not convinced enough by this second solution. You tell yourself that such tools are intended for small, medium and large companies, not for entrepreneurs, freelancers or micro-businesses.
In your opinion, is the use of a CRM strategic for your business?
Before continuing with this guide, I think it would be best if we could clarify what a CRM is. This will avoid misunderstandings.
The acronym CRM comes from the English Customer Relationship Manager. To answer the question I asked at the beginning of this article (whether using a CRM is strategic or not), it is a yes. However, I prefer to point out that a strategy and obligation is not the same thing at all. You can use it to grow your business, yes; but I am not forcing you to use it.
In fact, as long as you have customers, as long as you manage customers, you can benefit from using a CRM. The objective of this software is to facilitate the life of its users. It helps us not to forget certain appointments or tasks, to save time, to be more productive... and so on.
So far, it still doesn't tell me much. The concept of CRM is still quite vague.
That's okay. I'll show you how I use it.
Management of clients and potential clients
You don't need to manage a client when you only have one!
That's true. But please try to look a little further! Here are some scenarios that can happen at the beginning of your business:
In any case, project management is not easy, believe me. That's when CRMs come in handy! Thanks to them, you can make sure that each project will be delivered on time, and above all, to the right client.
What if I say a simple Excel sheet could do the trick?
That's a start, sure. But, I'll prove you wrong, plain and simple.
In a CRM, each customer is linked to a project, which is linked to an offer and finally, the offer is linked to a deadline. In short, everything is linked. A history is also available in a CRM. In case of forgetfulness or doubt, you just have to go to the contact's file and you will find all the work to be done as well as the history of completed work.
Here are some other more advanced CRM features:
I'm still puzzled that I don't have any clients yet. Or, in the event that I lose my customers, what would I do with a CRM?
If you ever lose customers, I'm sure you'll go looking for them right away. Over time, you gain prospects. A CRM can also manage your relationship with these prospects, in other words, potential customers.
Indeed, between the moment you meet a potential client and the moment he signs your offer, there can be 2 to 6 months (in my experience anyway). That's a long time, I know. So long that you might forget they exist. So, to avoid this forgetfulness, a follow-up on CRM would be ideal. You will be able to follow closely each step of your sales process (making an appointment, sending a quote... and signing a contract).
We all have our little dream...
So no one will blame you if you do your own projects in parallel with your clients' (as long as you finish your clients' projects well and do them with passion, it's OK!).
You need the right tool if you want to progress in your business. A software that will help you to follow the evolution of your project as well as those of your clients. A platform that will allow you to identify your shortcomings and the improvements to be made to your project.
Let's suppose that in the long run, you would like to have your own web design agency. This won't happen if you don't have clients and a team. So you'll have to look for clients. But how can you be sure that your project to find new clients is going well?
You have to follow up (with a CRM tool of course), and regularly check the statistics (number of calls made, number of appointments made, number of emails sent, number of negative and positive feedbacks, number of missions completed...).
We are not robots.
How would you like to get everything done (your clients' projects and your own) if you don't get help? There is a risk of forgetting things. The worst thing is that sometimes, we forget really important things: appointments, reminders of invoices or potential clients...
That's why I insert my schedule into the CRM I'm using, and more importantly, I set the notifications to come to me via email. If the CRM has a mobile app that can be installed on my smartphone, that helps even more!
Ok on my side, but on my clients' side, will they feel that the quality of my services has evolved? If not, it will be a waste of time in my opinion.
To be honest, it depends on how you use your CRM. Will you be able to take full advantage of it, and use its full potential? Or will you be satisfied with the basic features?
For the first case, I promise you that :
All the data of each of your customers and prospects are inserted in the CRM. You will also have an overview of all your exchanges. From these exchanges and information, you will know exactly what your customers and potential customers need. Better yet, if you see that the demand is very high, it would be possible to adjust your services accordingly.
A satisfied customer can quickly become loyal. This way, you will have earned a regular contract, and why not, referrals. Moreover, you know very well that keeping a customer is easier than gaining a new one (and less expensive).
When you're a freelance entrepreneur, you don't just limit yourself to making website designs for your clients. You have to think about the administration and marketing strategy of your small business. What I'm getting at is that a CRM tool is especially necessary to manage the marketing actions of your company: sending newsletters, emailing campaigns... By these same means, you will be able to convert your prospects into customers, and thus, acquire new customers.
So let's say I have my CRM now. So how do we actually do it in practice?
To give you an idea, I'll tell you what I usually do (however, once you get the hang of it, you can do it differently, create your own process):
There are so many CRM tools available that choosing one becomes difficult! Even if it is, avoid falling into the trap of choosing randomly. Take the time to analyze each proposal and compare them to your real needs.
🔗Ithink these few ideas ofno-code tools and tools for web design will guide you in your choice.
This is where I enter the data of my different customers and potential customers (those I already have available) in the CRM: name, first name, company, contact information, projects...
In case you have put a form on your website, which is linked to your CRM, you just have to wait for the next prospects to come by themselves. Once they fill in the form (request for quote, contact or appointment, free download of an ebook...), their data will be automatically inserted in the CRM.
If you have a team working with you (and I'm sure you will at some point), you should add their data to your CRM. Later, your team will thank you for introducing them to CRM tools (if they don't already know about it).
The parameters of a CRM used by a web designer will never be the same as those used by accountants. That's why you will have to adjust the parameters, that is to say: the processes (sales, work, conversion...), the currency used, the way to store data...
Regardless of the CRM software used, the data import is always done in the same way. The imported file will be in .csv format. You have to make sure that each field name corresponds to each column of the sheet. This data can come from an old CRM that you have used or from a simple Excel sheet.
There's nothing better than having an all-in-one tool to manage your business. Fortunately, CRMs usually offer some tool integrations. You'll have a single view and won't have to enter anything manually.
The statistics to be displayed on the dashboard can be different for each user, simply because it is customizable. So, depending on your needs, you can choose which data to show and which to hide. I advise you to really take your time here, because this overview is essential. It should help you to see at a glance the progress of your projects. Your decisions will also be based on what you see.
All that's left is to familiarize yourself with the tool. Wait a few weeks or months to see the results! You won't be disappointed.
Signing contracts with different clients is good. That's what I wish for all webdesigners starting out. These new collaborations show the development of your activity. You are on the right track! If you want to continue this beautiful evolution, you'll have to stop doing it alone. Either you start using a CRM tool, or you use a team (but you will always need CRM tools as your team grows).
In short, using a CRM is strategic for your business.