Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are designed to make interacting with new and existing customers easier. They can help you maintain and improve customer relationships, resolve customer problems, and maintain a record of all customer interactions.
Although CRM tools are mostly about improving customer relationships, modern CRM platforms will often include additional functionality for managing other parts of a business. This can include sales, marketing, content management, social media, customer service, telephony, and time tracking tools, just to name a few.
The diversity of CRM tools can make it difficult to choose the right product, particularly if you are a designer or run a design agency. To make your decision easier, this guide will share some tips for choosing the right CRM for your design business. We’ll also list the 5 best CRMs for designers and design agencies.
Before choosing a CRM, it’s important to spend some time thinking about the functionality that your business needs.
If your design business is in a growth phase and is receiving a lot of sales leads, you may need a CRM with strong lead tracking functionality. If your business is already well established and has a stable roster of clients, perhaps you need stronger customer service tools. New businesses might benefit from using a CRM with powerful marketing tools.
In almost all cases, designers and design agencies will benefit from choosing a CRM that includes:
Client Database Tools – A database that stores client contact information, including their email addresses, phone numbers, along with details of client interactions. It must also be capable of storing custom fields for information like website URLs, domain name registrar details, passwords, domain renewal dates, and so on.
Help Desk and FAQ Functionality – Designers and design agencies often provide support to clients. Having this type of functionality available makes it easier for a design business to track and assign customer support requests.
Marketing Tools – Some CRMs come with tools to create, manage, and track the success of marketing campaigns. They often provide integration with other advertising, marketing, and analytics platforms.
Sales Pipeline Tools – A sales pipeline is a snapshot of where a prospect is in the sales process. It helps you keep track of your leads as you learn about their project, discuss the potential of working together, prepare quotes and so on. It makes the sales process much easier to manage and can dramatically improve conversion rates.
Internal Communications Tools and Task Assignments – These tools are particularly useful for fostering productivity within larger design teams. Some CRMs will also include time tracking functionality, which makes it easier to accurately bill clients.
The following products have excellent usability, functionality, and extensibility, which makes them ideal for designers and design agencies.
PipeDrive is a powerful CRM which is perfect for designers and design agencies interested in acquiring more clients.
It uses an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to track the status of sales prospects and their position along the sales pipeline. This feature reduces the amount of time spent on administrative sales tasks and improves the productivity of both the design and sales teams. Some of the other useful features included in PipeDrive are:
PipeDrive has automated tools for tracking calls, emails, and in-person client contacts. The email sync, email open notifications, call logging, call recording, and group email features will ensure that every piece of important information is recorded in the CRM. The activity calendar and scheduler make it easy to assign tasks and notify others of your availability.
The team at PipeDrive has done an excellent job at creating workflow automation tools. Users can automate virtually any repetitive task in the sales process by setting triggers and desired actions. The AI-powered sales mentor monitors your activity and suggests when an automation would be appropriate. It’s a great productivity booster.
PipeDrive has apps for both iOS and Google Android devices. These apps can sync with a variety of tools including Google Calendar, iCloud, and Outlook to ensure all calendars, messages, and tasks are up to date. An Apps marketplace has integrations for over 150 other services, including Dropbox, Xero, Trello, PandaDoc, and Klenty.
If you like to track the progress of your business, you will enjoy the customisable reports and interactive dashboards provided by PipeDrive. They will help you understand which marketing approaches are most effective, how many leads are being converted each month and much more.
PipeDrive is a powerful CRM with a focus on sales. It’s pipeline management, sales reporting, customisations, communications tracking, and contact management are all excellent. The main downside of this platform is that it is limited in terms of project management. This limitation can be overcome by using a third party project management app like Trello.
OnePage CRM is a cloud-based sales automation CRM that has been specifically created for designers and design agencies. Although it is a powerful application, its excellent usability makes it simple for the average user to accomplish virtually any task.
OnePage CRM is a comprehensive platform which can handle a wide variety of tasks. It’s extensibility also lets you improve certain aspects of its functionality, so you can modify it to meet your agency’s requirements. It is available as an online app or a native mobile app available for Android and iOS devices. Some of the best features of OnePage CRM include:
An “action stream” is a type of todo list which involves a series of specific actions for clients. These streams make it easier to assign tasks and easily understand which task needs to be completed next. It’s a fantastic tool for boosting productivity.
OnePage CRM uses a graphical interface for sale pipeline management. It is a drag-and-drop interface, so users can move prospects along the pipeline very easily. Tasks like adding contact details and notes are also easy to achieve using this interface.
The lead clipper feature allows users to capture a lead from sources like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Gmail with a single click. As you see someone who would benefit from your design services, you can turn them into a sales prospect and they will immediately added to your contact list.
Power, yet simple to use, OnePage CRM has become a popular choice amongst design agencies interested in increasing their sales. The only downsides may be a lack of invoicing and project management features.
Nimble is a browser and mobile-based CRM developed by Jon V Ferrara, who was a part of the team which created the popular Goldmine CRM. Nimble is a modern CRM with excellent social media tools, which are particularly useful for designers who use social media marketing.
The strongest feature of Nimble is its automated contact management tools. It allows the app to automatically populate customer profiles and contact histories from the data found in emails, contact lists, and social media activity.
This feature makes it simple to develop thorough client profiles, which is useful for sales, customer support, and project management. It can also unify contact data from several sources including Gmail, Mailchimp, Office 365 Calendar, Quickdesk, LinkedIn and more. Some of the other great features found in Nimble include:
Nimble allows users to create sophisticated dashboards that contain a huge amount of information in an easy to understand format. It can be customised to show the sales pipeline, calendar appointments, design tasks, social media signals, pending projects, and much more.
Many actions can be undertaken directly via the dashboard, including assigning tasks to co-workers, updating a task’s status, adding notes, or creating brand new deals. The business signals widget is particularly useful as it can help you discover many new opportunities for customer engagement.
One of the best reasons to use a CRM is that you can record all of the contacts between your business and current or prospective clients. Nimble is particularly good at this task as it automatically scans several data sources for updates. This means you will always be aware of the latest client discussions and any new tasks that need to be completed.
Nimble has some great tools for assigning tasks and creating todo lists. Each task or list item can be associated with a project, contact, or company and given a completion date.
Nimble uses the same type of visual approach to sales pipeline management as PipeDrive. You can customise the steps in your pipeline and pull prospects through it step by step.
Nimble excels when it comes to social media integration, contact management and prospect identification. It’s main downside is that it doesn’t offer much in terms of marketing automation tools.
CRM Runner is a sophisticated cloud-based service management system and CRM. Although it is primarily targeted at eCommerce, wholesale, and retail businesses, it can also work well for design agencies with several employees.
It has a slightly different feature set compared to the other products included in this list. In addition to having the standard types of features included in a CRM, it has excellent employee management, quoting and invoicing tools. Some of the key features of CRM Runner include:
CRM Runner allows managers to assign tasks, send alerts, and rank users based on recent performance. Designers and salespeople can be assigned to new projects and will immediately be notified by the app.
CRM Runner has a well designed dashboard system which is highly customisable and contains several innovative features. It is also highly extensible with numerous third party app integrations available.
CRM Runner is particularly strong when it comes to invoicing. Tracking time spent on a project and invoicing clients becomes simple, which is useful for design firms which struggle with this aspect of doing business. The clock-in/clock-out system also makes it simple for staff to track time, even if working remotely. Payment integration speeds up payments from clients, using platforms like Stripe and PayPal.
A very powerful CRM which is ideal for businesses with several employees. In addition to managing the sales pipeline and client contacts, it helps businesses manage staff and take payments. A fantastic all-round solution.
ZenDesk is one of the world’s leading cloud-based help desk and CRM solutions. Initially developed as a standalone help desk, the company has expanded the capabilities of the app significantly, making it a comprehensive platform ideal for designers and design agencies.
The focus of ZenDesk CRM remains on customer support. Their software makes it easy to provide support to clients on any channel, including social media, websites, phone, email, and text SMS. It provides powerful workflows which make it simple for support team members to provide world class services to clients. Some of the best features of ZenDesk include:
The live chat feature lets you take sales enquiries and customer support enquiries via your website or mobile applications. Your business can be much more responsive to requests for assistance, which leads to more conversions and improves customer satisfaction.
ZenDesk works with many other applications, including Salesforce and Google Analytics. The incredible extensibility of the platform means you can alter the platform to meet the specific requirements of your design business.
ZenDesk makes it easy to develop a large knowledge base, which benefits clients and educates prospects about your product. This feature also helps your business develop successful content marketing campaigns.
ZenDesk is a very strong CRM with a focus on customer support. Although it is weaker on a marketing and sales front, its extensibility means you can supplement the core application as necessary.
As you can see, designers and design agencies have many potential CRM solutions to choose from. The key to finding the right product is to reflect upon the needs of your business and test several products out before committing to a solution.
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