How to Get Started with Customer Relations Management

Sarah is freaking out.  She is convinced her business is in meltdown.  After good progress, she is struggling to keep track of prospects and customers. Does she need customer relations management?  It is important track customers, the stage they are at and potential for future sales.

Sarah has heard of CRM services and thinks she should sign up for one of them so she does not have a lot of remedial work if she delays.

Keeping Track

Keep track of your customers.  Once you have clarity about the goals of your business and find success at marketing and sales, CRM becomes more important, especially if you plan to expand your business.

May I make a suggestion?  During the early days of your business, keep a paper tracking system.  You won’t have many clients, so it should be manageable.  As soon as it becomes hard to keep up, that shows you are ready for automation.

This way you work out a system that works on paper and test it.  Of course, when you automate, things change but you have more chance of being on top of the new system, if familiar with the elements you need to record.


FEBE stands for Front End Back End.  You need to design both.  An early paper system helps you see what you need.

Sometimes, people see the need for FE but not so much for BE.  At the early stages of your business, with no clients and few contacts, you naturally design the FE to record the contacts and clients you need.  Broadly, your focus is on marketing.  How do I find my market and get them into the front end of my business?

The BE is your records of prospects and customers.  You need to record where they are in your sales funnel and what they have already purchased from you.  For current clients, you need to record where they are in your coaching programme too. 

Remember, new clients are more expensive than old.  Once they are on your list, some may be tempted to buy from you more than once.  This depends on what you sell, of course, but once you find them and they know like and trust you, the costs of marketing new products and services to them are lower than seeking new customers.

CRM services help you manage all this.

Email Services

Email services, eg MailChimp or Aweber, manage your email lists.  More expensive CRM services cover this too.  You may not need anything more than an email list.

It is worth building a list from the earliest days of your business.  Email services are an efficient way to look after your lists and help you stay legal.  They offer three main services:

  1. Broadcast emails – go out to your whole list or segments of your list (there are several ways to segment them).  Send broadcasts immediately or schedule them.
  2. Automated sequences of emails go out once someone signs up to your list.  These could be one or 2 brief greeting emails or a longer sequence, you can advertise as a lead magnet.
  3. Systems that publish blog posts on a regular schedule. 

Customer Relations Management Services

CRM services such as Infusionsoft and Kojabi, build on basic email services.  They are more expensive than email services, significantly more complex and may take a lot of time to learn how to use them.  Survey the market to find out what’s on offer. 

If you think you need one, take an early look ro see what they offer.  Find out which services are a good fit with your paper systems.  It is possible you’ll have difficulty implementing the CRM service even if the fit is good.  These are all issues to consider.

These applications depend on a sound email marketing strategy.  Take capacity seriously.  It’s not only current capacity that matters but whether you want to increase it in the future.  We’ll look at this next time.

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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Using Email to Build Capacity - Market Together Blog - April 8, 2019 Reply

[…] Can you do what you need to do with a basic email service or do you need something more advanced?  Customer Relations Management Services may be costly, so spend time working out what you can do with what you already have.  However, the […]

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