Customer relationship management (CRM) software is an essential technology for managing all information and activity involving your current customers and potential clients. If your CRM is not contributing to increased sales and revenue, improved client relationships and reduced operational costs, it’s time for you to evaluate some different options.
There are a myriad of CRMs out there. However, the most widely used solution may not necessarily be the best for your architecture business. Each business and industry has unique needs, and it’s important to be clear on what those are before deciding on a solution.
Architecture CRM software is designed specifically for the unique workflow and client relationship needs of architectural firms or can be adapted for firms that manage projects and serve clients in the same way. CRMs that work for architects cater to the nuances of the industry’s approach to project management, client engagement and business development.
A CRM isn’t just for managing customer data; it should serve as an integrated ecosystem linking key information about client history, documents, projects, invoices and more. Some CRMs also provide advanced metrics and forecasting features to help you glean valuable insights about your firm’s performance and growth.
Your industry is dynamic, and using technology that can handle both ongoing relationships and long-term, complex projects is crucial. The right CRM platform adapts to your needs by providing the following.
Architects juggle numerous projects simultaneously, each with a unique set of requirements and client expectations. A CRM system centralizes all project details, enabling you to manage multifaceted projects with greater precision while staying focused on your clients.
From initial contact to project completion and follow-up, a CRM enables architects to track the entire lifecycle of each relationship. You can collect detailed contact information and use the platform for lead management, then stay in the same digital space as you observe your sales pipeline, send quotes and move into project management.
Architecture is innately collaborative. You must have seamless interaction between your architects, engineers, contractors and clients to be successful. A CRM solution facilitates this unity by giving you visibility and collaboration tools.
As there are so many CRMs on the market, it can be tough to determine which will work for your industry and, more importantly, for your particular business. Let’s zoom in on the specific features that make the above three outcomes possible.
The core function of a CRM is to house customer data. It should give you the ability to segment contacts based on various criteria, track all interactions and maintain a history of client relationships. Moreover, your client records should be accessible across the entire client journey, not just in the sales and onboarding phases.
TIP: Seek a solution with extensive filters and convenient custom fields.
To identify and nurture potential clients, you’ll want the ability to track leads as they progress through the sales pipeline. Especially if you don’t have a dedicated sales team, it can be helpful to set up notifications or automate follow-up tasks and generate data about conversion rates to help you optimize marketing campaigns.
TIP: Find a platform with templates and checklists to streamline your sales process.
Your CRM should also act as project management software, offering robust tools for managing project milestones, resources and deliverables. Having project data and history visible under a client record makes the system much more useful and efficient and smooths out the handoff from sales to projects without risking any details being lost from quotes or proposals. Having that holistic view makes it easier to stay knowledgeable about each individual client.
TIP: Look for a CRM tool that lets you convert quotes to projects in one click.
It’s important that you can easily manage all tasks associated with a client project and track all of the activity and communication associated with each task. Assigning, tracking and updating tasks in one place, as well as tracking time your team spends on each kind of task,
TIP: Choose a CRM that offers easy visibility into overdue tasks.
Automations are another way to ensure tasks are completed and processes are followed. You might not have a laundry list of automations that you need within a CRM, but it’s worth talking to experts at different platforms to see what each is capable of. An example of this might be the system’s ability to qualify new leads and automatically start qualified leads into the appropriate sales process.
TIP: Ask about whether you can automate quoting when you attend a demo.
Robust CRMs provide insights into your business operations, project performance and client engagement. These are essential for making informed decisions and improving your internal processes as well as client satisfaction.
TIP: Review the types of dashboards and custom reports in each CRM you consider.
Ideally, you’ll find software that has a combination of helpful native integrations and an open API for building custom integrations. At a minimum, your CRM should seamlessly connect with your accounting software and marketing tools. In architecture, it can also be helpful to integrate with design or document management platforms.
TIP: Choose a CRM with features beyond contact management so you need fewer tools.
Since you likely work on-site frequently, a mobile app is a must. You should be able to update client information and tasks and communicate with both your team and clients on the go.
TIP: Find out if there are any limitations in the mobile version of each CRM platform.
Additional features such as retainer management and billing can be a huge plus, greatly increasing your efficiency and reducing administrative work. Tracking the work associated with recurring contracts, generating invoices and managing payments are some of the most error-prone tasks in a service firm.
TIP: Seek a true retainer management solution, not just a platform that supports recurring tasks.
When you adopt a powerful CRM, you unlock deep potential for cost savings, revenue generation and overall profitability in addition to the more obvious benefits of improving client communications and internal visibility.
A CRM enables more personalized and effective client interactions, which are key to client retention in the highly competitive architectural sector. By providing insights into your clients’ preferences and history, a good CRM will help you tailor proposals and communications. Happy clients are more likely to engage in repeat business and provide referrals.
By automating repetitive tasks and centralizing client and project information, a CRM system drastically reduces administrative overhead. This streamlining translates into significant cost savings, as it minimizes the time your team spends on non-billable tasks like data entry, report generation and task coordination. Efficient project management supported by a CRM can also help you avoid costly project delays and miscommunications.
The analytics capabilities of a CRM can equip you with a wealth of data that you can leverage for strategic decision-making. You’ll be able to clearly visualize the relationship between project outcomes, client feedback and financial performance and identify areas for improvement. The data-driven approach allows you to fine-tune your services and operations, and therefore, create sustainable revenue growth.
Integrating financial management and project tracking within your CRM can give you a better view of project budgets and expenses. You can use this information to proactively manage resources and costs so your projects stay profitable. By closely monitoring financial metrics, you can identify trends and make quick adjustments that improve your profit margins.
With lead management and marketing automation integrations, a CRM system helps you find and nurture leads more effectively. The result? A higher conversion rate! And the ability to track marketing ROI using your CRM sales data gives you a better sense of the most effective business development strategies going forward.
In the architecture industry, compliance and documentation can be time-consuming. A CRM provides a layer of security via an organized way to store and manage critical documents. This reduces your risk and ensures that vital information is easily accessible at all times.
A CRM is not just a tool for current operations; it’s an investment in the future. Its scalability supports your business growth because it can accommodate an increasing number of clients and projects without the need for significant additional resources.
With this understanding of what to look for and what you could achieve using a CRM tool, we’ll explore a few of the top architecture CRMs and their key features and benefits.
Accelo is a complete cloud-based client work management platform built for architects and other service professionals. The platform focuses on boosting productivity and profitability by improving visibility, establishing processes and automating tasks. Accelo goes beyond client relationship management — the platform manages all aspects of client work, from sales, quoting and billing to project management, client requests and retainer management.
Accelo offers five pricing plans that scale with your business, from a self-serve plan for managing client information, tasks and communication all the way to the Elite tier, which includes all quote-to-cash features, premium support and more.
See how Accelo can generate results for your architecture firm: Book a demo.
HubSpot CRM is a pipeline management tool that provides real-time visibility into your firm’s sales pipeline. Their free option offers additional tools to assist sales, marketing, customer service, operations and business owners to nurture existing client relationships.
Along with its free version, HubSpot offers three paid tiers for its CRM Suite for different-sized businesses:
Keap combines CRM, sales and marketing automation, contact management and eCommerce capabilities with the primary focus of helping small businesses manage client relationships. Its set of tools offers a wide range of features beyond the typical CRM, including appointment setting and landing page and email templates.
Keap has three pricing tiers:
monday.com is a versatile work management system that helps teams with workflow management and team collaboration. It’s designed to suit a variety of business needs, from project planning to document editing.
monday.com’s pricing plans are as follows:
➡ Which is right for your firm: Accelo or monday.com?
Pipedrive is a CRM with additional sales-focused features, including lead segmentation and a customizable pipeline. Custom sales stages and activity reminders support smooth workflows and uninterrupted conversations with leads. Additional features include document management and email marketing.
Pipedrive offers five pricing plans:
Project-SalesAchiever® CRM is used by architects along with construction companies, general contractors and engineers looking to better manage client relationships and win more business. The system advises businesses in architecture and construction industries on sales and marketing initiatives ranging from specification sales and marketing to managing and understanding project lead data.
ProjectSales-Achiever is free for Microsoft Power BI users. Otherwise, it’s priced by custom quote and starts at $49 per month.
Salesforce is a web-based CRM solution that helps companies manage their customers, partners and employees. The platform has multiple pricing levels and features that can scale with your business, making it a great choice for rapidly growing consulting firms who need a solution that can expand to meet their needs.
Salesforce pricing is based on the specific applications you want. Plans for its Sales Cloud application are as follows:
Unanet CRM offers a comprehensive cloud-based CRM built specifically for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). The platform supports business development and marketers to grow revenue and increase profits with better client management. It facilitates collecting, tracking and reporting on valuable client data for exceptional CRM and proposal automation.
As there are several variations of Unanet, pricing depends on the specific set of features you’re looking for and the types of users you need.
Zendesk Sell is a dynamic CRM platform known for its intuitive interface and sales automation features. It gives architecture firms an overview of client portfolios and project pipelines. The customization options and integrations make it an adaptable choice.
Zendesk Sell has four pricing tiers:
Choosing the best platform is ultimately about figuring out what’s best for managing your client relationships. Your needs might not be cookie-cutter. After doing some research, you might realize that you need an integrated CRM that offers end-to-end features for client work.
Your best bet is to explore different platforms that are used by those within your industry, including those above, and do research on peer review sites like G2.
Once you have your shortlist, see the systems for yourself. Sign up for free trials where possible and give your team and leadership ample opportunities to try out each platform. Book demos for the CRM solutions that seem like the best fit for your business.
Gain clarity on your needs and the platform features you could benefit from the most by setting up an Accelo demo.