Relationship Building

The 9 Features Every CRM for Consultants Must Have

Last Updated:
October 11, 2023

In the fast-paced consulting world, business development, client needs, strategy formulation, and delivery can seem overwhelming. Enter a CRM system tailored for consultants, and the maze suddenly makes sense.

Yet, the importance isn’t just about automating processes, managing deals, and keeping up-to-date records of conversations; it’s also about harnessing the power of a consulting firm’s most valuable asset: its relationship networks.

As any seasoned consultant will attest, understanding and nurturing client relationships are paramount. It’s not just about data; it’s about deriving insights from that data to cultivate more profound, meaningful relationships that can result in more business and a high-quality customer experience.

To effectively stand out from the competition and punch above its weight, your consulting businesses needs a centralized location to track and manage current and potential clients and empower your business development teams with the tools they need to find and close more opportunities.

Let’s dive deep into the unique requirements and key features of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform for consulting firms.

1. Comprehensive Client Profiling and Relationship Intelligence, Understanding Beyond the Surface:

A consulting CRM solution should be more than contact management software, allowing you to manually capture interactions and contact information.

Firms that provide consulting services are fostering and building long-term relationships, and their CRM should facilitate relationship building and not just manage a linear sales process. Most generic or sales-focused CRMs are designed for sales teams focused on lead generation, moving prospects down a sales pipeline, and other sales activities; this is not the case for consulting teams who are trying to leverage their relationship networks to generate high-quality referrals and build relationships with other service providers, including law firms, subject matter experts, etc.

The most common names in the cloud-based CRM space, including Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, Microsoft, Zoho, etc., are all good CRMs; however, they have not been designed with the specific needs of relationship-driven teams such as consulting. For example, they still rely on manual processes that will slow your team down and take them away from other high-value activities. Even though most of these platforms are customizable, they require considerable customization to fit the workflows of a consulting firm.

Business Development teams at consulting companies are busy and should not spend hours manually entering data into their CRM platform each week. Consulting CRM software accelerates business development by streamlining business processes such as automating data entry, especially the high volumes of data that come with sourcing new business. The right CRM for consultants allows consulting teams to accelerate their workflows by focusing on high-value tasks instead of having to spend time manually logging contact information into their CRM tools or Excel spreadsheets.

The best CRMs for consultants let users dig deeper into their relationships, capturing the nuances of previous interactions, preferences, challenges faced, and more.

CRM providers that integrate relationship intelligence technology offer insights into the team member’s relationships. Which client prefers face-to-face meetings? Who responded positively to the last webinar? Who just published an article, etc.

By analyzing patterns, interactions, and online behavior, the CRM provides a roadmap for nurturing these relationships further. Furthermore, relationship intelligence can help business development teams at consulting firms find warm introductions by giving insight into the team’s collective network, allowing you to discover who on your team might be connected to a prospect.

2. Process Automation, Smart Work Over Hard Work:

One of the most compelling reasons consulting firms require a CRM system that automates processes, such as pipeline and task management, is the sheer volume and complexity of data and interactions they handle.

Manually managing these processes not only consumes an excessive amount of time but also opens the door to human errors. Process and workflow Automation streamlines these critical areas, ensuring that consultants can swiftly move prospects through the pipeline while monitoring ongoing tasks, milestones, and deliverables. This streamlined approach ensures that opportunities aren’t missed, and every client interaction is timely, relevant, and strategic.

CRM systems with process automation features are pivotal in maximizing a consulting firm’s ROI. Automation in tasks and pipeline management translates to quicker response times, more accurate forecasting, and a clearer vision of resource allocation. This means consulting firms can more adeptly prioritize leads, balance workloads, and ensure every project stays on track without unnecessary administrative overhead.

The result? Enhanced client satisfaction, bolstered reputation in the industry, and a tangible competitive advantage in an already crowded marketplace.

3. Mobile Access: Be Always On The World is Your Office:

In today’s hyper-connected and rapidly evolving professional landscape, consultants often work beyond traditional offices. Being tethered to a fixed location can deter the dynamic nature of their role, making mobile accessibility for Consulting CRMs not just a convenience but a necessity.

Whether attending client meetings, seminars, or facilitating workshops, consultants need their crucial data and insights on the go. A CRM with mobile functionality or a mobile app ensures that vital client and project information is always at their fingertips, eradicating the inconvenience of being dependent on a laptop.

This serves multiple purposes. Real-time data synchronization becomes possible, allowing consultants to immediately input new findings or modify existing data after meetings, ensuring the CRM always mirrors the latest client interactions.

Moreover, mobile platforms have become indispensable tools for enhanced client interactions. Consultants can engage in better, more informed, personalized discussions by providing instant access to client details, past communications, and pertinent project updates, resulting in stronger client relationships and higher satisfaction levels.

Additionally, the collaborative power of mobile CRMs cannot be overstated. Teams can engage, share insights, and strategize in real-time, irrespective of geographical location. And while speed and accessibility are important, security remains at the forefront.

With the proper safeguards, a robust mobile CRM ensures that sensitive client data remains protected. In essence, as consulting continually adapts to the demands of the modern world, mobile-accessible CRM platforms provide agility, real-time collaboration, and a competitive edge in an ever-demanding marketplace.

4. In-depth Analytics and Reporting Data-Driven Success:

Given the importance of data-driven decision-making in the consulting world, the analytics component of a CRM system plays a crucial role. It is the backbone that helps consultants delve deep into data, identify patterns, and accelerate their business development process.

When consultants access a robust analytics section within their CRM, they can better forecast trends, understand client business needs, and anticipate challenges.

With the vast amount of information that consultants manage daily, having a dedicated analytics section ensures that data is not only stored but is also transformed into actionable insights. It provides a consolidated view of all client interactions, project KPIs, marketing campaign metrics, and historical data, enabling consultants to derive meaningful conclusions and enhance their business development and project management processes.

Additionally, the analytics section offers tools for visual data representation, such as dashboards, which allow consultants to grasp and communicate complex data sets quickly. A robust analytics engine in a CRM system is a crucial feature that empowers consultants to bolster their recommendations with concrete data, enhancing their credibility and the trust of their clients.

5. Email Marketing Module, Communicate What Matters

In consulting, maintaining engagement and nurturing client relationships is paramount. Clients and potential leads should learn about the consultant’s expertise, insights, and the distinctive value they offer. Herein lies the importance of a marketing campaign module integrated into a consulting CRM.

First and foremost, a marketing campaign or mass email module facilitates regular client communication and communication with potential leads. While personal meetings and calls play a pivotal role, the scalability of email campaigns ensures an expansive and consistent touchpoint.

By sending targeted and personalized emails designed from scratch or using email templates, consultants can share industry insights, present case studies, relay success stories, and update recipients about their evolving services. This proactive communication strategy reinforces their position as thought leaders in their respective domains, builds trust, and strengthens client bonds.

Moreover, having the email campaign tool within the CRM instead of signing up for another marketing automation tool guarantees that these outreaches are rooted in data. The rich database of the CRM allows consultants to finely segment their audience, curating content based on past interactions, specific project undertakings, or other segments.

This precision ensures the conveyed content resonates with its recipient, amplifying engagement possibilities. With the CRM’s analytical capabilities, consultants can access crucial metrics—like engagement rates and recipient behavior—to refine and hone their future communication strategies.

In sum, a marketing campaign module in a CRM system amplifies a consultant’s engagement, fortifying their brand presence and esteem in the professional arena.

6. Automation: Efficiency at its Best Smart Work over Hard Work:

Routine tasks, if done manually, can take up a significant chunk of your time. This is where automation comes in. The benefits of automation are more than just saving time.

One of the most evident advantages is the sheer efficiency it brings to the table. Consultants often juggle many tasks—client interactions, intricate data analyses, drafting detailed reports, and maintaining timely follow-ups. Automation streamlines these responsibilities. For instance, with automatic reminders and notifications, the risk of overlooking crucial meetings diminishes, ensuring consistent client touchpoints. Moreover, the labor-intensive task of data entry becomes easier, giving consultants more time to engage in high-value, strategic activities and further improving the user experience.

Consistency is also bolstered by automation. Regular client updates, timely follow-ups, and standardized communication processes facilitated by an automated CRM workflow ensure that clients always experience a uniform and high-quality interaction, building trust and confidence in the consultancy’s services.

The reduced susceptibility to errors further complements this consistent approach. No matter how meticulous, manual processes always bear the risk of oversights—something that automation reduces.

Lastly, as consulting firms evolve and expand, operational complexity follows. Automation ensures that CRMs can seamlessly scale with this growth, accommodating escalating data volumes and intensifying client interactions without imposing additional manual burdens.

7. Collaborative Tools: Fostering Team Synergy Many Minds, One Mission:

Consulting is a collaborative enterprise. Every project undertaken often requires input from multiple experts, various skill sets, and a combination of diverse perspectives to deliver comprehensive solutions to clients. Within this context, it’s evident that consulting CRMs need to prioritize robust collaboration functionality. Here’s why and how:

Shared Relationship Insights: A CRM equipped for collaboration offers transparency into client interactions. When prior engagements with a client are logged into the CRM, this information becomes a rich resource for the entire team, fostering informed and tailored client approaches.

Consolidated Operations for Efficiency: Fragmentation is the enemy of collaboration. Consulting firms sidestep operational inefficiencies by integrating contact management, opportunity tracking, and data analytics within a single CRM platform. This unified system ensures consistent data access and replaces the need to juggle multiple tools, paving the way for synchronized team efforts.

Centralized Data Boosts Teamwork: A centralized data system in a CRM means everyone works from the same knowledge base. Such shared access ensures that strategies and decisions are informed by consistent data, enhancing team alignment.

8. Scalability: Ready for Tomorrow Growing With You:

An independent consultant or small consultancy today can become a global firm tomorrow. And as your business scales, so do your CRM needs.

As consulting businesses expand, they grapple with increasingly diverse client needs and escalating data volumes. A fixed CRM might cater to initial requirements, but it’s bound to plateau in efficacy as client interactions multiply, project complexities surge, and data accumulates.

Moreover, the CRM must adapt as consulting teams grow and specialize, providing customized functionalities for varying roles. More than accommodating additional data or users, scalability also pertains to future-proofing.

A scalable CRM integrates seamlessly with emerging technologies, ensuring the firm remains on the industry’s cutting edge. This adaptability enhances operational fluidity and offers a cost-effective solution for growth, negating the need for frequent system overhauls. A scalable CRM isn’t just a tool; it’s a strategic asset ensuring consulting firms are consistently primed for expansion and excellence.

9. Data Security: Your Trust Armor Protecting Your Most Valuable Asset:

Consulting hinges on trust. As businesses open their vaults of sensitive information, from financial data to strategic plans, they trust consultants to safeguard this intel. A Consulting CRM, as the primary repository of such data, plays a pivotal role in upholding this trust.

A breach tarnishes a firm’s reputation and jeopardizes client relationships built painstakingly over the years. Beyond trust, consulting firms often traverse sectors bound by stringent data protection regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA. A CRM fortified with robust security ensures compliance, shielding firms from potential legal ramifications and financial penalties.

Moreover, the intellectual property interwoven in consulting projects demands rigorous protection. A CRM’s security framework ensures these invaluable assets remain impervious to unauthorized access or theft. In an age where cyber threats loom large, ensuring data security in a CRM isn’t just about preventing breaches; it’s about safeguarding a consulting firm’s reputation and operational continuity and ensuring enduring client relationships.

10. Document Storage and Sharing: The Backbone of Seamless Collaboration and Knowledge Transfer

In consulting, the right information at the right moment can be pivotal. A Consulting CRM with integrated document storage and sharing capabilities ensures that essential reports and insights are always at consultants’ fingertips, eliminating costly delays or oversights.

Modern consulting often spans multidisciplinary teams across various locations. A CRM’s efficient document sharing ensures cohesive solutions, with everyone aligned irrespective of geography.

Moreover, these documents aren’t mere data; they represent the consultancy’s unique expertise and strategies. Secure storage and controlled sharing within a CRM streamline operations and protect these intellectual assets.

The Value Proposition of a CRM for Consultants

In consulting, relationships and efficiency are crucial. As we delve deeper into the offerings of a CRM system for consultants, the recurring theme is unmistakable — delivering value on multiple fronts. But what does this value look like in concrete terms?

Centralized Knowledge Hub: Streamlined operations stand out as a primary advantage. A CRM consolidates client interactions, lead management, project timelines, or financial transactions into one unified platform. This ensures that consultants have a holistic view without the chaos of juggling multiple tools or wading through a swamp of emails. This centralization enhances efficiency and fosters consistency in client interactions, setting the stage for a smoother consulting process.

Data-Driven Processes: In the modern age, making decisions based on gut feelings alone doesn’t cut it. A CRM equipped with powerful analytics transforms raw data into actionable insights. For consultants, this translates into crafting strategies that hit the mark and fostering client interactions that are both meaningful and impactful.

Deepening Client Bonds: While a CRM’s fundamental purpose is to manage relationships, its true potential lies in enhancing them. Offering a 360-degree view of clients — encompassing their needs, preferences, past interactions, and feedback — gives business consultants a roadmap to tailor their offerings. This personalized approach ensures that solutions are delivered and finely tuned to resonate with the client’s unique challenges and aspirations.

Reclaiming Time and Focus: Perhaps one of the most tangible benefits is the gift of time. Through a combination of automation, seamless integration, and a suite of features, CRMs empower consultants to bypass mundane, repetitive tasks. This liberation from administrative drudgery means consultants can channel their energy and expertise into their true calling: crafting solutions, strategizing for success, and delivering unparalleled value to their clients.

In sum, a CRM for consultants is more than just a tool—it’s a game-changer. Centralizing information, enabling data-driven decisions, enhancing client relationships, and reclaiming precious time set consultants on a trajectory for sustained success and growth.

4Degres is a relationship intelligence CRM designed for relationship-driven industries, such as consulting. Founded by former management consultants, we understand the consulting workflow and incorporate all the features in this article into our product.

In our experience, having a relationship-focused CRM enables to source more deals, provide better client experience and allow consultants to spend more time on client work instead of dealing with admin work.

By working with consulting firms and other deal-driven firms, our customer support team understands the unique processes and intricacies faced by consulting teams and can provide the highest level of support, ensuring your consulting firm gets the most value. To learn how 4Degrees can help your consulting firm click here to schedule a demo or request pricing.

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