If you’re a marketing consultant like me, you have probably helped countless clients implement (or at least optimize) their CRM systems. In fact, you’re likely a strong advocate for the value of a well-structured CRM.

But have you ever stopped to consider if a CRM can improve your own business?

If your clients are realizing value, then it stands to reason that you could, too. In this series, I’ll share my tips for doing exactly that.

Visualize a Successful Outcome

Let’s start by examining the reasons why you haven’t already implemented a CRM system. Perhaps you’re too busy with client work. Perhaps you’re simply uncertain if the long-term value will outweigh the short-term investment of your time. Understandably, marketers tend to gravitate toward activities that generate the greatest impact for the fewest inputs. Therefore, if you are considering the adoption of a CRM, you’ll want to get buy-in (from yourself) before proceeding.

Before doing any setup or technical work, visualize some successful outcomes. In my experience, a CRM can be especially helpful for consultants who wish to:

  • Track word-of-mouth referral relationships
  • Streamline the production and profitability of services
  • Store and organize new service ideas, which would otherwise be forgotten
  • Hold themselves accountable to quarterly or annual revenue projections
  • Identify upsell, cross-sell, and affiliate commission opportunities with existing clients
  • Build scalability for long-term growth

So, how can you structure your CRM to achieve these goals? Let’s start by identifying your pipelines and stages.

Identify Your Pipelines & Stages

Stop and think about the process you follow to win new business. Pull out a notebook and storyboard the flow from start to finish.

Whether you realize it or not, some of your business opportunities could likely be grouped together based on your prospecting approach. For example, I track the following pipelines:

  • Hourly Engagements
  • Fixed-Price Projects
  • Commission (Affiliate)
  • Other

Insightly makes it easy for me to build logical pipelines for my business. Although similar, I differentiate between “hourly” and “fixed-price” pipelines, because the stages are slightly different. If a new prospect requests a marketing plan, for example, this type of service is often provided on a fixed-price basis. It therefore makes sense to collect a deposit before officially marking the opportunity as won. By building deposit collection into my pipeline for fixed-price jobs, I reduce the likelihood of oversight.

Categorize Your Opportunities

In addition to pipelines, it also makes sense to categorize your opportunities. If you serve a wide variety of clients, you might use this field to indicate industry or niche. However, in my own business, I find it beneficial to specify the type of service. This may include:

  • Consulting (Ongoing)
  • Marketing Plan
  • Blog Article
  • Passive Income
  • Other Services

Configuration is simple with Insightly. With a few clicks, you can create categories that meet your needs. The software is also quite flexible, allowing you to edit existing categories or add new ones in the future.

Building a Solid Foundation for Future Growth

With a tailored pipeline and categorization structure in place, you’re now on track to a CRM that adds value to your business. However, this can only be true if you commit to using the system. Before you move on to your next idea, set a weekly calendar reminder to start using your CRM. Get into the habit of making time each week for grooming your pipeline.

Also, stay tuned for the next post, in which I’ll offer marketers more tips for CRM success. I plan to share a few suggestions for optimizing contact and opportunity records to close more deals.

At Insightly, we offer a CRM used by small and mid-sized businesses from a huge variety of verticals. Learn about all of Insightly’s features and plans on our pricing page or sign up for a free trial.



Matt Keener


Matt Keener is a marketing consultant and President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC. Matt specializes in content marketing and strategic planning, having helped numerous Saas (software as a service) companies and other small businesses worldwide. Read more of Matt’s work, check out his book, or connect with him on Linkedin.