Any of these sound familiar?
- It feels like you’re always inches away from blowing a deadline
- Responding to client emails and remembering to follow up with clients sometimes slips through the cracks
- Client info is just in too many places – Excel? Google Sheets? Actual PAPER?! – and it takes forever to find what you need
- Hiring a virtual assistant to organize things is a luxury you can’t afford
- It’s hard to keep track of every communication channel you use (Emails, phone calls and in-person meetings galore)
If you answered “all of them,” you’re not alone. And they all boil down to one overall challenge – being organized.
Inefficiency costs companies anywhere from 20% to 30% of their revenue every year, according to research firm IDC. A lot of those inefficiencies can come from being disorganized with your client information.
When you address the challenges of tracking clients information, you can:
- Avoid contacting clients too often (but still follow-up on schedule)
- Minimize the margin for error with client info in a single place
- Quickly identify the great clients (those you love to work with) and the bad ones (those you should avoid working with)
- Keep your own head on straight
You need organization. But how do you organize client information? The answer lies in the problems. Consider the pain points that need solving to discover what fixes you need to keep track of clients information.
- How to keep track of clients information
- How to get the info you need from clients
- Knowing when and how to follow up
- How to invoice clients (and get them to pay you)
This post will go over how to keep track of clients’ information by addressing how to solve the most common challenges.
1. How to keep track of clients information
You have X number of clients. Each of them has basic info like…
- Phone number
Annndd then there’s everything else. What about all of their financial info, or their progress to date with your business?
The biggest challenge of staying organized is getting all client info stored in one place. Who has the time to keep track of a growing customer base in their heads or on paper? A paper trail is just another place to lose more client info.
And that challenge is solved with…. *drum roll*
What is it?
A customer relationship management tool (CRM tool) keeps track of all your leads (new, warm, hot, and cold) as well as current customers. It’s the best way to keep track of contacts.
After creating individual contacts, a customizable CRM lets you create pipelines that show customer progress through:
- First contact
- Demo scheduling
- Closed sale and continued progress
Need proof? Check it out.
What you’re looking at: Multiple client deals, your communication with them, and their progress with your business…all in one dashboard view.
This pipeline shows the following types of funnel phases (and what goes in them) that keep clients info organized as you interact with them:
*NOTE – phases can be named as whatever aligns best with your sales strategy.
- Initial contact – Was it a phone call or an email (and what should come next)?
- Proposal – Send your first thoughts on what works best for their business
- Follow up – Stay in regular contact after initial contact to answer questions and offer more thoughts
- Financial info – The deal worth and notes about how much budget they have to be a customer
- Notes – Keep track of all your communication history for future reference (which is especially helpful if you have multiple team members helping you. Speaking of…)
- Collaboration – Give other people on the team access to see the progress on a lead
This type of flow for keeping track of clients helps you keep them from “slipping through the cracks.”
An actual 5-star review of the ActiveCampaign CRM.
Now you just have to do a few things:
- Decide if your client base is worth getting a CRM for
- Do your research about different CRM options
- How to get a CRM up and running at your business
Small business owners may also want to look at CRM providers (like ActiveCampaign) that cater to the small business model. Some CRMs may offer more features than you may use in your business. So, you should consider both your budget and expected needs when choosing a CRM.
Get more in-depth information on choosing the right CRM for your business from these resources:
- How Do You Know You’re Ready for CRM?
- 3 Types of CRM Software: Which Is Right for Your Business?
- How to Approach the CRM Implementation Process: 5 Steps for a Successful CRM Rollout
2. How to get the info you need from clients
What if you need to get information from clients before you can start doing the work for them?
Your clients have the info you need to get started. But sometimes there are roadblocks like:
- Getting people to reply to you at all
- Getting people to trust you with their information
Trust is HUGE to clients. Whether they are a current client or a new lead, people always need reassurance that they can trust a business with their information.
According to a survey done by Label Insight, 94% of 2,000 surveyed consumers said that they would be more loyal to a company that is completely transparent with them.
The best way to get the info you need from clients is to be transparent about how you care for their personal information. How do you do this? A couple of ways:
- Put into writing exactly what you’re going to do with their info (don’t leave anything up to assumption)
- Use tools like custom deal fields, phone calls, and onboarding emails to convey trust and get useful info
Numbers don’t lie, and neither do clients.
What are custom deal fields?
Custom deal fields are customizable category fields that help you keep all the information relevant to a deal in one place so it’s easily accessible. This enables you and other sales team members to easily review all the deal (AKA client) info, make decisions, and take action.
You can use them to collect the client information that helps you follow up, like:
- A deal’s geographic location
- Sales enablement information, like what the client is using to solve their problem right now
- Revenue projection data like forecasted close date, or the deal’s expected revenue over time
- What problems they have that aren’t being solved
- What problems they have that are being solved but could be solved more efficiently
- What they do and don’t like about their current service provider (this could give you an idea of things to offer that they haven’t thought of)
- How they came to you in the first place
This contact view in ActiveCampaign shows all details like geographic location, where they came from, and a forecasted close date.
What if you need background info from the client, but they’re being annoying about sending it? What if they need to fill out a contract or form you sent over?
Sara Stein, an ActiveCampaign client and owner of the bookkeeping business Miss Efficiency uses her automated onboarding email sequence to get business and tax info from her clients
Sara Stein, owner of Miss Efficiency.
Sara works with small businesses and their accountants. Without the right tax documents and business info, Sarah’s job becomes much, much harder.
You can read her full customer story, but here are the main points about how her onboarding email sequence helps her keep track of her clients.
Her full onboarding email sequence – which includes everything from a first welcome email all the way to physical mail and a follow-up feedback request email – accomplishes two major things:
- Tells the client what they need to know from her
Asks the client for what she needs from them (including a checklist, to make sure nothing gets missed)
Sara Stein’s complete automated onboarding email sequence.
Make it as easy as possible for clients to get you the information you need. Tell them exactly what to send over (and, if necessary, where to find it within their systems). Automate the process.
3. Knowing when and how to follow up
Once you have clients, how do you stay in touch with them? How do you keep up to date on projects?
Show of hands, who’s heard one of these
- Just checking in to see where this project is at
- When do you think you’ll be able to have this for me?
- How come I never heard back from you?
- Per my last email…
“What’s the best method of follow-up? And how do I keep track of follow-ups?”
Too much contact and you’ll come off spammy and clingy. Not enough and you could lose them. You need to set expectations early so clients know what their relationship with you looks like.
This takes planning. And planning takes organization.
Lack of organization means inconsistent follow-up procedures. After that, you’ll see clients start to fall through the cracks.
The last thing you need is to forget to make a follow-up call, send a check-in email, or miss a booked appointment and lose a client.
When you keep in touch with clients, you want to actually connect with them. That means you need to send emails and schedule calls at times when people will answer them.
To nail down your timing, consider:
- How often a person is willing to hear from you before they label you “high maintenance”
- What tools (like predictive sending) can help you communicate successfully
So what do you need? A scheduling system and automated CRM.
You can use the automated CRM to keep track of what stage a project is in, then use that information to follow up with the client accordingly.
After a demo or other stage is done, you can follow up accordingly.
Now you need something to help with the actual scheduling. You need a system that tells you when to follow up so that you don’t lose track of all the prospects and clients you need to follow up with.
In the same way that you can integrate automation into CRM to send emails, you can use a CRM with automation to manage the volume and the timing of follow-up phone calls and appointments by setting reminders for yourself as well a