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  • Sarah Mae Dickinson

Tools of the Trade: Finding Your Perfect CRM

I fought organization hard in my twenties. Like, hard. I thought it would make me boring, cookie cutter, just like everyone else, etc. I mean… who wants to be like everyone else? Certainly, not me!

Fast forward years later after starting my own business, I realized I had too much going on. As a business owner, there is so much to do, so many hats to wear and I just felt overwhelmed. I knew that increasing my personal organization was the only way I was going to be able to grow my profits and keep myself sane. So, I went back to the drawing board and thought about what I could do to change what was happening.

I didn’t have enough money or time to hire and train someone to help. Mainly, I needed a tool that would help me organize my contacts and standardize my sales process. I also knew I needed a place to better track my profit.

That sound familiar to anyone else?

Fortunately, my years in sales gave me insight as to what tool I needed. I got myself a CRM to keep me on track and focused on my goals and the results were swift and astounding.

I came to realize what I didn’t know in my twenties (among other things) was that organization doesn’t make you boring and cookie cutter, but the act of organizing and checking the box for other peoples profit was boring and cookie cutter. Once I started organizing for me and my business, I was all about it!

The problem? There are a thousand CRMs out there! I mean it. A thousand. It can be overwhelming to decide..

So, how do you choose the right one?

Don’t worry. That’s why we’re here. I want to make sure you have some guidelines to help you pick the right CRM for you and your business.

First, we need to define what we’re talking about. A CRM is defined as a Client Relationship Management tool. It is designed to digitally organize your client portfolio, help you streamline sales and create a process out of what you are doing on a daily basis.

General tips for what you need to look for in a CRM:

1. Integration for email, accounting, lead gen and marketing software

2. Workflow capability (we will talk about this in the next blog post)

How to choose the right CRM for you:

The most important step to finding your perfect CRM is to decide what type of business you have and what kind of CRM you will need as a result. I break down your options in three ways: General CRM, Retail Based Business CRM, or Service Based Business CRM.

General: I call them that for a reason. General CRM options are just that. They are blanket options that will solve many of your problems, but are most likely not specific to your industry in anyway.

The upside here? General CRMs are a really good place to start if you know nothing about organizing your business. If you just want to get your clients into a digital space where you can track their emails better and know the basics about your number of sales each month - this may be the way to go.

There are a ton of General big name CRMs. Most notably, SalesForce or Hubspot. Both are great options, but I suggest starting with Hubspot.

Hubspot has a free version (of which I used for the first 2 years of my business) and gives some basic things that every entrepreneur needs. It has a wonderful “academy” that teaches you about the product and can get you started in the world of CRM without being overwhelming.

You can find out more about Hubspot pricing and Services here:

Retail: A lot of people in the retail community don’t think you need a CRM. They think because you (most likely) have software that already tracks your orders that you are solving the problem. Wrong. I think those folks are missing out on a lot of opportunity.

A Retail Based CRM will give you a digital platform where you can review a client at a snapshot: every purchase they have made, what emails they opened, which discounts or sales they specifically purchased from, etc. In short, this gives you a full picture of each client and allows you to better pivot your business based on your core clients. This means you can see easily what marketing is working, if you need to change your product portfolio or if your target demographic is different than you thought. See the power in that?

I suggest starting here with Brightpearl:

Service: There are thousands of service-based businesses in this country. There are also a lot of different specialties in the world of service based.

On the CRM side, I see new options popping up everyday to serve those needs from construction to wedding planning and everything in between. I suggest starting your search by typing “your specialty +CRM” into Google and see what comes up! Because, this field is growing and changing so rapidly I want you to know if there is something new that specifically fits your niche.

If you don’t see anything that works for your market, I suggest Honeybook. It’s the CRM I use for my business. Using this tool, I was able to quickly template every email, create a better sales process and connect my leads directly from Facebook advertising to show up in my CRM.

As a special gift to you, here is your code for 50% off your first year of Honeybook:

Quick tip: regardless of which Service-Based CRM you choose, make sure it is one that integrates proposals, contracts and payment into the system. This will allow you to systematize your process, go after more leads and grow much faster.

Where do we go from here:

Grab some coffee, tea or wine and breathe a sigh of relief. Finding your perfect CRM requires a bit of trial and error. But don’t worry, most companies offer a free week. So, play the field! Try a couple and see what you like before choosing.

The most important thing is that we find something that works for you. You want to grow so get a tool that will help you do that.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to me at

I’m always. Here to help.

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