What is a CRM & How to Use It to Streamline Your Business

Category: CRM

February 2, 2022

What is a CRM?

CRM stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. It’s software that stores client (and potential client) information all in one place. However, it does much more than that.

A CRM that’s properly set-up can be used to onboard clients, assign clients to a specific project, auto-generate proposals, contracts, invoices, and even allows clients to pay before starting a project.

Once a project is underway, a CRM can help you track the progress of a project from beginning to end. If clients need to upload files for their project – they are given access through a client portal where everything they upload is sitting in the CRM waiting for you. 

Forget using a shared Google Drive folder – the client portal can be customized with your branding and is the hub for each project. 

How to use a CRM to streamline your business

To streamline your business, you first have to think about the process you go through with each client. What comes first? What’s second?

Let’s say you’re a real estate agent. If a potential client finds your website, they may decide to fill out your short inquiry form to get started.

That form is linked to your CRM and once they submit the form, an automation is set in motion to send them an email thanking them for their interest. 

Included in this email is a button they click, which brings them to a customized digital brochure that welcomes them, tells them what you specialize in, and may even have them fill out a brief questionnaire. That ‘brochure’ could even have a scheduling link where they can schedule a call with you to get started working with you. 

Think about how this one simple automation has saved you time – because it’s all on autopilot. You receive a notification that you have a new inquiry, and another notification when they submit their questionnaire and schedule a call. Your pipeline of clients is building without your direct involvement. This frees up tremendous amounts of time.

Going back to the realtor example, once you speak with them on the phone and they are ready to hire you as their realtor, a contract can be sent to them that auto-populates the client’s name, address, and any other details directly into the contract. 

What used to take loads of time is complete with a push of a button. The client can then review their contract and sign it digitally. 

What are some features of a CRM?

Here are some of the common features of a good CRM:

  1. Custom Forms & Contracts: a CRM will allow you to create forms that can be embedded on your website or sent by text to potential clients. Contracts can be pre-created with areas that are automatically filled in with client information (name, address, project type, etc).
  2. Proposals, Invoicing, Payments: you can also create custom proposal templates that are ready to send out with the bare minimum of editing. Invoicing clients and accepting payments is another great feature that allows you to track a project all in one play – your CRM.
  3. Automations: this is HUGE! Once you map out our entire process, you can create automations inside your CRM so that certain actions are triggered when a client does something – like fill out a form, submit a questionnaire, pay an invoice. This makes sure your clients aren’t slipping through the cracks because you forgot to do something.
  4. Scheduling: this is also a big one. Good CRMs have a scheduler built in where clients can book a phone or video call with you. You set up your availability ahead of time, and they can pick a time that works best for them. No more back and forth emails trying to set an appointment. And your scheduler integrates with your Google calendar, so you never have to worry about being double booked again.
  5. Pre-written emails: just like with proposals & contracts, if you send the same email message to clients at different stages of their project, you can write them ahead of time and set them to go out based on an automation, or by manually clicking a single button. Imagine how much time you’ll save!
  6. Client Portal: here is where your professional image will get a real boost. With a good CRM, you’ll get a client portal where clients can log in to their customized dashboard. Here, they’ll be able to communicate with you, upload & download files, check the progress of their project, pay their invoice, and so much more. 

Which CRM should I use?

Having tried several CRMs, the one that really stands out to me is HoneyBook.

Here’s why:

  1. Easy to use: HoneyBook has put a lot of time into creating an amazing user experience with their dashboard and mobile app. You can visualize where each of your clients are in the lifecycle of the project. 
  2. Accept payments: HoneyBook does the credit card processing for you, so you don’t have to sign up for Stripe and set up an integration. They charge a standard fee for all credit card transactions, and an even smaller fee if your clients want to pay by ACH bank transfer. Your money lands in your bank account fast.
  3. Financial tracking: With HoneyBook, you can track your payments, expenses, profit & loss, view reports to see how your business is doing. Everything is available right inside your CRM dashboard. 
  4. HB Mobile App: This is one of my favorite features of HoneyBook – their app is really awesome at managing your business on the go. You can add clients on the fly, check on the status of your projects, and even text a potential client you just met with your inquiry form so they can jump right in and get started working with you. 
  5. The price: Many CRMs are expensive and complicated to use. HoneyBook is just the opposite – they make it easy to use their tool and it’s very reasonably priced. As of this writing, it’s just $9/month until you bill $10K worth of work, then the price jumps up to $39/month. Unlimited clients, unlimited projects – this is a great value for all you get.


If you’re still on the fence about using a CRM, or trying out HoneyBook, you can try it for free for seven days, at which point, if you want to sign up for a paid plan, I have a special offer for my readers.

By using my link, you’ll get 20% off for your first year. What started off as a good deal just got even better.

Get 20% Off HoneyBook

If you know you need a CRM but are short on time to set it all up, reach out. I help clients build and customize their HoneyBook CRM to fit their exact business process. I’d love to help you too!