Written by Beth Hildreth on December 12, 2012
Categories: Blog Posts

This is a guest post by Sarah Khogyani, Communications & Social Media Manager at AffinityLive

If clients are the lifeblood of your business, then you’ll know that your relationship with them is one of the most important aspects of your work. From the first conversation to the final payment, you and your client are a part of a beautiful and mutually beneficial relationship.

A part of this relationship cycle includes the logistics behind time billing, projects, approvals and invoicing– however, most CRM’s will only manage the very tip of the iceberg. To uncover the rest, many service companies have been turning to fully integrated CRM, project management and billing systems.

According to SPI Research, companies with an integrated CRM and PM system receive 23% more revenue than those without either. This is because the client life cycle doesn’t stop when you close. In fact, it continues on to include tasks, projects, campaigns, invoicing and more.

What is CRM?

Customer Relationship Management is a business model that manages clients, customer interactions and sales prospects. It is typically focused on closing deals and driving revenue. The software will usually include a suite of features that handle:

Contact management
Most CRM’s are likely to include a client database, complete with all relevant details.

Knowledge management
Knowledge management can come in the form of an activity stream, where you can view all recent interactions, or even just a list of notes attached to a client. Transparency about your company’s relationship with certain clients can prevent you from double-selling or overwhelming them with emails.

Email integration
Most of the time, CRM systems will integrate with your email account. That way, all of your client data is pushed to the platform.

Sales Pipeline
A visual representation of the list of companies you are currently engaged with.

Lead relationship distribution
A way of assigning salespeople to prospective clients.

Business process automation, the future of workflow

From the insights we’ve gathered serving thousands of clients across the globe, many business professionals will spread themselves thin over a number of different platforms. When data gets distributed across Basecamp, Salesforce, Zendesk and Excel spreadsheets, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the different systems, their support network and separate communities.

The good news is that many web-based software companies have made it possible for the entire client life cycle to be automated. From prospect to payment and everything in between, a digital platform has become the best way to organize and leverage your team. Not only have these web-based solutions streamlined workflow, but they have also made it possible for employees to work remotely.

To read more business management insights and tips, check out the AffinityLive blog.