By Jennifer Vernon, Consultant

Avalanche’s Chief Sherpa (aka President + CEO Amy Holloway) recently posted the following question to LinkedIn:

The post generated more than 4,800 views and a dozen or more responses from economic development professionals across the nation and Canada. Here’s a quick rundown of several CRM tools mentioned by our LinkedIn followers:

Salesforce – Many see Salesforce as the go-to CRM tool, but we also hear from EDOs that it’s expensive and overly complicated. To get the most out of Salesforce, it needs to be customized for your organization’s specific needs. Levementum was recommended by one of our LinkedIn followers as a Salesforce developer.

Many of our LinkedIn followers use a customized Microsoft Dynamics product. Cloud Nine was one mentioned by name and was built specifically for economic development.

Executive Pulse is another CRM tool built specifically for economic development.

Insightly is used across a range of industries such as manufacturing, consulting, health & wellness, media and others. This CRM software is compatible for both Google and Office 365 users.

ProsperWorks is built on the G Suite platform and is used across a range of industries. It claims to seamlessly integrate with the G Suite platform, eliminate painful data entry, and automate time-consuming tasks.

Hubspot claims to be a free CRM tool and was recommended by one LinkedIn user for smaller EDOs. To maximize effectiveness, you would need to hire a developer to customize this product to your needs.

While there is no silver bullet for managing customer relationships, here are a few takeaways to consider when evaluating a new CRM tool for your organization.

  • Honesty – These tools are only as good as the time and information you are willing to put into populating them, but also your ability to extract and act upon the intelligence gathered from them.  An honest evaluation of your organization’s capabilities and capacities is a good place to start.
  • Integrated – If you are going to invest in a CRM tool, it needs to be compatible with your existing platforms. Take an inventory of the tools you currently use in your EDO and make sure they work seamlessly with the CRM tool under consideration.
  • User-Friendly – If it takes 6 steps to enter a new contact into the database, that’s 5 steps too many. Look for a tool that is easy to update (especially from the road) and that automates as many tasks as possible.
  • Accountability – These systems only work if everyone is actively keeping them up-to-date. This gets even more challenging when multiple organizations share the same CRM system. Put accountability measures in place to ensure team members make contact management a priority.

Has your EDO found the silver bullet? We would love to hear more of your thoughts on effective and efficient CRM tools!

Reference in this post to any specific product or service provider is for the information and convenience of our readers, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Avalanche Consulting.