Check out the first post in our guest blog series from PieSync: How to Create a Solid SaaS Stack for Marketing Agencies
Part 1: CRMs: The foundation of a solid SaaS stack
It goes without saying that agencies thrive on client relationships, but as an agency you might be reluctant to spend money on technology for yourself, rather than your clients.
When you’re dealing with multiple accounts, and various contacts, it makes sense to put a contact management system in place.
However, there are very few software solutions on the market that will encompass all business aspects of your agency. These days, most businesses choose a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions to help them run their business. When multiple SaaS solutions are used in combination to run a business, this is known as a “SaaS stack”.
Choosing a SaaS stack isn’t always a straightforward process. There are hundreds of SaaS solutions to choose from. You could research on the internet to see what others are saying, or get recommendations from your business associates, but the problem with these is that each business is unique, so what might fit one business, doesn’t fit another at all.
If you’re not specialised in technology, then this can get confusing quickly. In my role here at PieSync, I come across many SaaS solutions every week, and I can safely say that there are some general things you should look out for when choosing your stack.
Your first port of call is to select the foundation of your SaaS stack. A SaaS stack usually rests upon one central database, with most businesses choosing a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system as this central database.
The first thing that needs to be taken into consideration when selecting a CRM is your business needs. As you begin researching various CRM options, you’re going to come across a lot of fancy bells and whistles that may sound cool, but will probably translate into a higher price tag, higher learning curve and in the end no one is using it.
Ask yourself first, what is your main objective for your CRM. Are you looking to increase sales? Be better organised? Have better communication? A system to get things done? A combination of all of the above?
Once you’ve worked out what you want from a CRM, you can then start investigating your options.
There are some criteria that should be present in your CRM solution no matter what business you’re in or the size of your business.
- Low learning curve - This point is crucial for in-house acceptance of the new technology. Be sure to choose a CRM system that suits your main objective. A good test? Get your sales team to take a look. If they’d use it, then you can be sure everyone else will too.
- Low administration - the biggest problem with most CRMs is that there is a huge amount of administration to do. As in data entry. Everyone hates the data entry work. Ensure that your chosen CRM system can automatically capture contact data from social accounts or email. These little things will increase efficiency, and lower time wasted on manual data entry in the long run.
- Access data on the go - if you’re on the road or work with remote teams, it’s important to have contacts in a CRM app that is mobile-friendly. That way you’ll have access to data when you need it, where you need it. It saves you from having to call the office to find out about a prospect or customer.
- Reliable and helpful support - most customer support is online these days - and that doesn’t have to be a big deal provided that they are responsive and supportive with onboarding and any problems that may arise in the future. If you prefer to speak to a live human being, be sure your CRM support displays a willingness to get on the phone with you when you ask, or doing things such as a screen share.
- Scaleable - will your chosen system be easily scaleable for when your business grows? Is it easy to migrate data between your systems? There are CRM solutions that cater for the solopreneur right up to Enterprise level, so investigate which is the most appropriate for you and your long-term business goals.
- Integrates with other cloud apps - choose a CRM that easily connects with other cloud apps. This is about creating an ecosystem that connects different parts of your business together to create a flow of information. A flow can look like this: a webform that talks to your CRM, your CRM then syncs this information to your email marketing so you can start a drip email campaign. This again cuts down on manual data entry or import/export.
- Data Syncing - while some CRMs have some integrations with other business cloud apps, the choice is often limited. If you want more flexibility, you can choose to use a third-party app like PieSync, to sync your data between your CRM and business cloud apps. Syncing your data across your cloud apps is the best way to ensure your contact data stays up to date across all your connected cloud apps, and you can choose to create your own SaaS stack with your favorite apps.
The key takeaway is to remember that when investigating CRM options, you have to be sure to have a clear objective in mind, and to look for solutions that help minimise work for you, not create more work. Your CRM is meant to work for you, not you for it!
My next blog post will be about what types of SaaS apps you should include in your stack, and what considerations you need to take in order for it to be rock solid.
@PieSync helps you to sync your customer data bi-directionally between your favorite cloud apps and your CRM.