There is a new breed of CRM systems busting their way into the spotlight. If you are a Coach, Consultant or a Creative Business such as a Graphic Designer or Web Designer, these platforms were designed with you in mind.

CRM vs Email Marketing.

Traditionally CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems were designed to take over the sales process from your email marketing systems. Email marketing is designed for one conversation to happen with many people at the same time – one to many. Whereas CRM systems are designed to have sales conversations one on one. Prospects become leads or opportunities who then become customers.

Typically that is where the CRM journey ends unless there is an option to resell or upsell to a customer. If your business is more project-based though, how do you then manage all the moving parts of that project? How do you gather important information from your client that can be easily stored? What if you have tasks that your client needs to do before you move ahead? What about incremental payments required throughout the project? How about changes to the scope of the project that require an additional subcontract and those coaching session appointments?

Business Management Platform

Enter the Business Management Platform. It’s a hybrid CRM that manages your leads, just like a regular CRM but also includes contracts with digital signatures, a scheduler, invoicing and payments, questionnaires and forms, client portals and so much more.

There are many of these platforms in the market place and this particular type of software seems to be growing by the day. If this sounds like the type of CRM you’d like to bring into your company, you’d need to research to find which one best fits your budget, has the features that you need and suits your level of usability. Remember – a system is only as good as a person using it.

Which Business Management Platforms do we recommend?

Here at Diligent Assistant, we are proud to work with three Business Management Platforms that seem to work well for the majority of our clients. These are Honeybook, Dubsado and 17Hats.

All three systems check the box for affordability, setting you back between $35 ad $45USD per month, paid monthly. There are additional discounts for annual sign-ups and we have some affiliate links that will give you even more discounts. Just click on the links above (For Dubsado use code: diligent)

In our opinion, Honeybook and 17Hats are much more aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. However, Dubsado is the cheaper of the three when paying monthly. It also has the ability to create an invoice and receive payment at the time of booking an appointment. A game-changer for those who like their consultations or their coaching sessions paid in advance.

You still need other supporting systems

None of the CRM’s available currently do everything you need to run a successful service-based business, Coaching or Consulting Practice. These platforms do not replace Social Media platforms, Email Marketing Platforms or Bookkeeping Platforms. Although they all have the ability to manage invoicing and expenses, they do not give the kind of analysis and reports that a bookkeeping system does to keep track of your financials.

They all have the ability to manage tasks in a basic Trello type set up, but they are not a full project management system. Client collaboration is only done through the portal or through email.

Big Wins

The big winner on all three of these platforms has to be the ability to showcase your brand and professionalism in every aspect

If you write proposals or contracts on a regular basis, having these set up as templates with all of your branding front and centre not only makes you look like a complete professional, but also save you a mountain of time.

You can easily handle scheduling appointments, one of the biggest time wasters with the back and forth emails with these platforms. They allow you to add your scheduler link to email signatures, documents and even your website. Clients who tell you they misplaced your email or form or appointment details can find them all in client portals. This means you can hold your clients accountable and spend less time resending items.

If you work with a VA or OBM, you can have them join you on your chosen platform to help manage your clients. Invoicing clients can be done directly from the system, with payment plans to boot! You can also track your time if that is a client requirement.

Lead capture means you can embed a lead capture form on your website and when someone fills out your form, their details go directly to your CRM. You can ask as many questions as you want on the lead capture form. It will help you understand who are your ideal clients. Then have a workflow start to automate some of your lead capture processes.

It’s not easy but it’s worth it

Setting up these systems is complicated, but only in a sense of knowing what you want to get out of it. Overall, they are easy to navigate, but can seem daunting to start with. Like anything that feels like hard work, it’s worth it in the end. You have to stick to it and practice to get the most from the platforms. However, if that feels too much like hard work for you, we can build your platforms for you.

So what are you waiting for? If you feel overwhelmed, have trouble keeping track of where your clients are at and spend way too much time onboarding, you need a Business Management Platform. Let’s talk about that some more!

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This blog contains affiliate links. I only partner with websites and platforms that I use on a daily basis and provide real value to my business and my team. Diligent Assistant does not make money from platforms we have not rigorously tested.