When it comes to a CRM, every agency has its own unique needs. Whether you’re shopping for a new software solution or getting set up for the first time, the purchase of a CRM is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Before we dive into some questions, you should ask before shopping around for a CRM and the top CRMs for agencies, let’s lay some groundwork.
What is CRM Software?
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a combination of processes and practices aimed at managing customer interactions throughout the buyer’s journey. The goal is to engage customers at all touchpoints to build better relationships that drive retention, loyalty, and sales growth.
It can be difficult to handle all of this manually, particularly when your business scales. This is the reason why 65% of businesses invest in CRM technology within the first five years of launch.
CRM software automates repetitive CRM tasks and streamlines processes, giving sales and marketing teams more time to handle critical tasks. It centralizes customer contacts, gathers customer data from a variety of sources, and offers actionable insights to boost relationships between the customer and your agency.
Some of the key CRM features include:
- Contact management
- Lead management
- Interaction tracking
- Email integrations
- Workflow automation
- Pipeline management
- Sales forecasting
- Reporting and analytics
Here are a few questions to answer before you start test-driving different CRMs:
- What’s the most important functionality you need? For example, are you looking for something to help you streamline your sales process or a tool to help organize your multichannel marketing campaigns?
- Are you looking for a CRM for your own agency to use on behalf of your clients, or both? The more users involved in your CRM, the more expensive (generally) it’ll be.
- Which processes would, if automated, save you the most time and money? Different CRMs have different options for automation — for example, triggered email drip campaigns or automatic lead scoring. Which do you need, and which can you live without?
- What kind of user interface (UI) do you prefer? Not all UIs are created equal. Some use spreadsheet-style interfaces with unique “views” that help you sort and filter records. Others mirror social media networks with centralized newsfeeds or dashboards that all users see when logged in.
- Do you really need something new? If you’re using an Excel spreadsheet to track client relationships, the answer is probably “yes.” But if your current CRM is missing a couple of features you wish you had, consider if you really need them. No CRM is perfect, and switching to a new solution can be time-consuming and expensive.
Get input from your colleagues and other stakeholders. Ask your sales and marketing team what’s most important to them in a CRM. And once you have your list of “must-haves” and your budget in mind, it’s time to demo the best CRM software for agencies on the market.
Benefits of CRM Software for Agencies
From what we’ve already discussed, the benefits a CRM offers are apparent. However, we really want to examine what a solid tool can offer your agency, so here are some core benefits that come with using a CRM:
1. Better Contact Management
If you want to build comprehensive customer profiles to spur advanced personalization for your agency, CRM software is the way to go. First of all, it centralizes customer contacts, making them easily accessible for sales, marketing, and support teams.
More than that, it breaks data silos in your agency, improving functions of various departments and ensuring customer interactions from all departments are recorded in a single repository. For example, the sales team can easily find the deal, continue from where the marketing team left off, and progress without a struggle.
2. Better Sales Forecasting
CRM software updates customer profiles as new information about them comes in, helping to build comprehensive profiles. Each bit of customer detail, from needs to locale, is at your sales team’s disposal. Using historical data helps sales reps determine which customers can be profitable.
Moreover, CRM tools with predictive analysis provide insights for better sales forecasting. Unfortunately, it seems not many agencies are aware of these benefits since only less than a third use CRM for sales forecasting.
3. Increased Customer Satisfaction
Your agency clients expect personalized emails since they often vary in industry, services needed, or interests. With a CRM, it’s easy to use personalization to your advantage. It allows you to segment clients based on different aspects, such as services, deal sizes, and more.
Segmentation drives better personalization, which in turn leads to higher customer satisfaction and retention. Statistics show that when you prioritize personalization, you convince 90% of customers to spend more on your services and products.
4. Consistent Revenue Growth
68% of today’s businesses are increasingly using customer experience as a competitive advantage. Lisa Masiello makes it easy to understand the force behind this trend. She posits, “Happy customers are your biggest advocates and can easily become your best-performing sales team.” A CRM helps you keep track of your customers and get to know them better. When you know them better, you’re able to keep them happy by offering them tailored services and care. And when you keep customers happy, they are more likely to become repeat buyers and even woo others to partner with your agency.
Losing a client could be extremely detrimental, even leading to some agencies closing their doors. This is why retainer business is crucial for agency success, and a CRM can help you establish a healthy retainer machine.
Ready to get on board with a CRM? Let’s take a look at some of the best CRMs out there for agencies.
Image courtesy of Insightly
Insightly features exactly the level of functionality a small business or mid-sized agency would need. It has built-in project management tools, an excellent user interface (UI), integration capabilities with third-party apps like MailChimp, and many customization opportunities. Users like Insightly because of all of the functionality offered in the free plan.
Pricing: Free plan, Plus – $29/month, Professional – $49/month, and Enterprise – $99/month
Image courtesy of GetApp
Podio is a CRM that also provides project management, workflow management, social intranet, and product planning tools. With all of its added benefits, Podio is a great solution for agencies that want to manage both creative projects and sales activities in one place.
Pricing: Free plan, Basic – $7.20, Plus – $11.20, Premium – $19.20
Image courtesy of Nimble
Nimble focuses on each customer’s individuality, pulling insights from social media and other channels to give you the most accurate, updated profile information. With several email marketing tools built in, this CRM is especially useful for firms that provide email marketing (or rely on it for their own marketing strategies).
Pricing: Nimble Business – $25/user/month, billed monthly or $19 per user per month, billed annually
BenchmarkONE is a CRM and marketing automation platform built specifically for the needs of SMBs and agencies. With customizable lead scoring capabilities and a suite of email marketing automation and tracking tools, BenchmarkONE makes it simple to manage opportunities and grow sales. Customers choose BenchmarkONE because of the ease of setup (Ranked #1 by G2 Crowd), intuitiveness, and live-dedicated customer support.
Pricing: Free Plan offered, Lite and Pro plans start at $0/month for 250 contacts. Price based on number of contacts. Unlimited users. Qualifying agencies can access partner pricing and discounts.
While EngageBay may not be as well-known as some of the bigger players in the marketing automation and CRM space, it offers a comprehensive set of features that can benefit small to mid-sized businesses at a fraction of the cost.
EngageBay is an all-in-one platform that combines sales, marketing, and customer service tools into a single interface. This means teams can work together more seamlessly and ensure that no customer falls through the cracks.
One of EngageBay’s standout features is its intuitive contact management system. It allows you to easily add and update information about leads and customers, track their behavior across multiple channels, and create targeted campaigns based on their interests and preferences.
EngageBay also offers a range of automation tools, including email marketing, social media scheduling, and workflow automation, that can save your team time and effort while ensuring that your marketing and sales efforts are effective.
Pricing: Starts at just $12.74 per month.
Image courtesy of Pipedrive
Pipedrive is a sales CRM that’s focused on prompting salespeople to take action with leads and customers. It integrates with several third-party email providers and other tools, like Outlook, Gmail, Google Maps, Trello, and Zapier. It’s ideal for agencies with long or complex sales cycles, as it’s primarily a pre-sale tool.
Pricing: Free trial, Essential – $12.50/user/month, billed annually, Advanced – $24.90/user/month, billed annually, Professional – $49.90/user/month, billed annually, Enterprise – $99/user/month, billed annually
Image courtesy of Salesforce
If you need a CRM with all of the bells and whistles, the industry-leading Salesforce CRM may be the one for you. Though some users find the UI and the numerous capabilities overwhelming, Salesforce is a powerful tool once you’ve taken the time to learn how to use it.
Pricing: Essentials – $28.33 per user per month, Sale Professionals – $84.97/user/month, Enterprise – $169.94/user/month, Unlimited – $339.88/user/month
Image courtesy of Software Advice
Sage CRM is a multipurpose solution that connects your sales and marketing activities to other departments, like accounting, service delivery, and customer service. With lead scoring, email marketing, and territory management capabilities, it’s a great solution for bigger agencies with complex or dispersed sales teams.
Pricing: Starts at $45/month/user
Image courtesy of GetApp
Apptivo CRM is known for its “do it all” functionality – from lead and opportunity management to document storage and email marketing. Manage your customer relationships from pre-sale to sale and beyond.
Pricing: Lite – $8 per user per month, billed annually, Premium – $12 per user per month, billed annually, Ultimate – $20 per user per month, billed annually, Enterprise is quote-based
Image courtesy of HubSpot
HubSpot’s CRM is free, which might appeal to you if you’re a boutique agency or testing the waters of a CRM for the first time. It’s easy to use, and while it doesn’t have as many advanced features (like a mobile app or proposal tools), it’s a great solution for keeping your customer information organized.
Spiro is a reliable CRM software for small and medium-sized agencies. It’s a powerful tool that lets you automatically create contacts and organize and prioritize opportunities. It distinguishes itself with a solid functionality to pinpoint anomalies in your sales pipeline and recommend sales steps to convert more sales.
We hope this guide helps you as you consider a CRM for your growing agency. And if you’d like to learn more about what BenchmarkONE’s agency-focused software can do for you, you can sign up for a free plan here.
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