What is a CRM? And Why Does Your Business Need One?

What is a CRM and why do I need one? In this blog we go through what they do, how they work, who they impact, and why you should care about having a good one.

3 minute read

If you’re wondering what CRM stands for, you’re not alone. While this acronym is frequently brought up in both product- and project-based businesses, many still don’t understand what it stands for, and how important it is for the success of their firm.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management 

The earliest adopters of CRM software systems were businesses selling products. They operate in a world of high-volume conversations, pitches, and attempts to win over most of their prospective TAM, or Total Available Market. CRM changed the game for product-based organizations, eliminating cumbersome databases and guiding customers on an intentional journey toward purchase. 

AEC firms tend to sell projects rather than products. Still, the value of a strong CRM solution cannot be overstated. With one source of truth for contact information, lead and opportunity pipeline management, historical project records, and marketing efforts, using a CRM just makes sense.

What exactly do CRMs do?

Housing Customer Data

A CRM is a software system businesses use to document the existence of customers and prospects, and a centralized place to house anything and everything associated with them. Inside your CRM, you’ll find accounts and all associated contacts with their respective telephone numbers, email addresses, notes, and conversations.

Tracking Communication

Most CRMs automatically log every email between companies, showing who sent what and when with complete transparency. At a minimum, CRMs allow users to log their own notes related to an account, contacts, and sales pipeline. 

Providing Visibility 

CRMs provide an easy-to-read overview of what deals are in the works, closed, and forecasted. The ability to quantify or dig into activities is vital for executives and leaders. That is the driver of major business decisions and what feeds information back to owners, boards, or investors. 

What happens when there is no CRM, or one that isn’t an optimal fit?

Every business with ambitions to stay alive must have an aggregate view of performance. Without a CRM, the following are common:

Spreadsheet Chaos

Those without a CRM live within an endless array of emails, spreadsheets, and attachments. There may be a poor soul tasked with consolidating this data frequently.

Costly Errors

The more people contributing data, the higher the odds of it being vastly inaccurate and extremely subjective in format and content.

Missed Opportunities 

Without a CRM, the reality is you’re likely missing out on projects and profits. Your sales team is probably burnt out and getting to the table too late. 

Slow Growth

Information gained through years of relationships and transactions is the lifeblood of a company. Documenting clients, contacts, data, and history is vital for growth. 

Redefining the “C” in CRM:

At Unanet, the first letter of the CRM acronym is flexible. The official definition is Customer Relationship Management…but do you think of your projects as customers? 

Do you invest in customer support lines, a venue for customers to make returns, or submit trouble tickets? For AEC firms, the answer is obviously not. This is why Unanet has redefined the C for AEC Firms as “Client Relationship Management.” “Company Relationship Management” is also a good fit. 

When you consider how AEC firms manage not just clients, but partners, suppliers, and prospects, a CRM truly allows a firm to have a fantastic grasp on all relationships that matter.

Investing in Relationships 

What if you could automate a process to reward your subcontractors with a gift or a shout-out for receiving the highest average customer satisfaction score from your most recent client?  What if you could do that without lifting a finger? Relationships drive your business.

Today, you may be competing head-to-head with a firm, and tomorrow teaming with them to win a big project. The relationships you manage with architects, engineers, general contractors, sub-contractors and clients are equally important. One squeaky wheel can derail an entire project.

Learn More About Unanet CRM by Cosential 

Interested in learning more about how Unanet can help your firm stay on top of your personnel records? Request a demonstration today, or reach out to our sales team at 703-429-1236 with any questions you may have.