4 Advantages of CRM for Independent Contractors

By Angela Tague, Contributor, on January 9, 2017

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You likely spend a good part of your day calling on potential clients. Whether you sell insurance as an independent agent, or you’re trying to generate donations for your start-up, nonprofit agency, you constantly meet new people. As you make initial contact, follow up, educate about your services and products and finally turn them into a customer or donor, how do you keep track of this process? A spreadsheet? A checklist? A notebook?

Learn about the advantages of CRM, or customer relationship management, platforms if your business venture requires reaching out to multiple people, sifting through inbound leads and keeping track of where you are in the selling process with each. A great business tool is golden, especially one that helps you wow your customers.

My personal favorite is Salesforce, a multilevel organizational system that grows with your business and can be customized specifically for your industry. It’s conveniently available as desktop and mobile apps, too, so you can conduct business anywhere.

1. Keep Your Contacts Organized

If you rely on your email contact list or accounting software customer database, it’s time to take your business to the next level. In Salesforce, I can review my contacts based on a series of parameters I determine when I first enter them into the system. Later, I can sort and generate lists based on one or more of these initial parameters.

Here are a few examples of parameters, based on the nonprofit agency example mentioned earlier:

  • Met at a lifestyle fair
  • Met at a farmer’s market booth
  • Friend of a friend
  • Previous donor
  • Attended fall fundraiser
  • Signed up on website for more info
  • Facebook fan
  • Called the office for info

Being able to keep your contacts organized by how you met or learned about them helps you specifically target how you should reach out to them again. For example, a Facebook lead might prefer a Messenger note or an email.

2. Set Reminders to Follow Up

As your business grows, it can quickly become overwhelming to remember everyone you need to check in with and everything you need to do off the top of your head. Did I call that donor and personally thank them? Did I mail a follow-up brochure to the lady who stopped by last week? Did I send that invoice?

With Salesforce, you can set automatic reminders to trigger specific tasks. For example, you might want to make a reminder to personally call each new contact one week after they’re entered into the CRM. The purpose of the call is to welcome them and see if they have any questions you can address. If they donated, purchased or conducted business with you, thank them. They’ll definitely remember the personal outreach.

You can also set up reminders to send out happy birthday emails based on their birth date, quarterly emails asking for ongoing donations or even a seasonal email reminding them of your service. Imagine sending out a special regarding your lawn care services at the very end of winter, so you can get a jump on the competition in spring.

3. Schedule Targeted Email Blasts

Sometimes, setting up reminders and emails goes hand in hand. Although a reminder might simply be to make a phone call or send an invoice in the mail, it might also relate to emailing. In Salesforce, you can create multiple email lists, so you can personalize your message for the exact type of person you’re communicating with. If they’ve never been a customer, your language will be different than if they’re a regular who uses your service or product monthly.

I know I get annoyed when I receive an email from a business begging me to try their service or product, and I’m already a customer. It makes me feel like just another name on their list. Shouldn’t they know I already invested in this product?

4. Generate Call Lists Based on the Buyer Journey

One of the coolest features of Salesforce is generating reports based on the various parameters and processes you’ve attached to each contact. This goes a step beyond customized email lists, and you can enhance them with third-party software plugins from another CRM provider, such as HubSpot.

Imagine creating a list of leads or customers who haven’t bought in the last month, have been contacted in the last month by email, have visited a product description page on your website for more than 10 seconds and opened your last email. Those people sound like they just need a personal interaction to take the next step, right? Focus your energy on reaching out to them with a personal call or handwritten postcard to ensure they feel valued.

The advantages of CRM platforms go on and on. Overall, they take your organization of leads and clients to the next level, so you can synthesize the data you’ve collected and use it to your advantage. After all, we want our days to be more productive and our customers to feel valued. CRM platforms can make this happen!

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