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The CRM Conundrum

With predictive analytics and big data being the buzz of the day, it is surprising how many AEC firms have not implemented a customer relationship management (CRM) system into their business development, marketing and sales strategies. The question is not whether you should use a CRM. If you care about being competitive and in touch with your customer data, it should be a no brainer. Accordingly, many firms have invested in some type of CRM system. However, if you are not sure what CRM is and why you should use one, perhaps this will shed some light on the subject. 

 

 

A CRM system in its basic form allows your team to enter data about your clients and prospects into one database.  This allows anyone with access to your CRM to utilize this data to make better-informed decisions and manage client relationships more effectively. With a CRM everyone on the team can know exactly where the relationship stands with every client, what the last communication was and who communicated with the client, whether there are any issues which need to be addressed, etc…. This can be a unique challenge within the AEC industry because many people in the firm can play a role in marketing and business development. Accordingly, it is not just your sales team who can contribute to and benefit from the data contained in your firm’s CRM system. Engineers, Designers, Technicians, administrative staff, and anyone else who may interact with a client or prospect can enter information allowing others to quickly review that data and come up to speed on the relationship with the client or prospect. Simply put, a CRM system allows you to know who, when, what, and where when it comes to the communication between your firm and your clients.

 

 

What should you look for when choosing a CRM? There is no one size fits all CRM system. It really depends on your firm’s needs and your staff’s willingness to use technology, and there are many options. What many people don’t realize is that the first thing you should investigate is if you already have a CRM system you simply are not using. You may already have at least some level of CRM capabilities built into project management or accounting software that you already own. There may also be an add-on module available to your project management or accounting software which has sufficient features to may make your choice easier. Otherwise there are many options ranging from standalone solutions to cloud based solutions. All of these options have varying benefits. If you do nothing else - select a few technologically proficient people and get them started by using a CRM on a trial run. They will be able to analyze the benefits, and help you determine if the software meets your needs and is worthy of firm-wide use. Many solutions offer free trials allowing you to test them and see if they are a good fit.

 

 

As the relationships with your customers become more complex with social media, web site interactions, etc. the importance and use of your CRM will continue to grow. As predictive analytics become a greater part of business intelligence, the CRM system of today will become the basis for your predictive analytics of tomorrow. 

 

 

 

 

Having trouble knowing which CRM system to use? Make sure you join us on July 9 as we weigh the pros and cons of some of the common A/E/C CRM options.  A few of our fellow SMPS members will give you an overview of the CRM system they use and why they chose it, followed by Q&A from the moderator and more from the audience. More information can be found on the events page on SMPSIndiana.org.

 

 

 

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