How To Use G Suite As Your CRM: An Actionable Guide


Many, especially larger, companies and organizations use a CRM to store and manage their customer data from different channels—website, social media, customer support channels, and so on—in one place. A CRM helps your company manage its interactions with current and potential customers.
We’re often told that in order to really take care of our customer relationships, we need to have a CRM in place. However, an important question for G Suite users is: Do you really need a CRM when you’re already using G Suite? In this article, we’ll go through the pros and cons of making G Suite double as your CRM, and how it works in practice if you decide to use your G Suite tools as your CRM instead of implementing another system.

Why a CRM might not be the best solution for every company

Let’s go through a couple reasons why implementing a CRM for your business may or may not be the right solution. At larger companies with hundreds or even thousands of contacts, a CRM may very well be essential to manage such a large amount of contacts. However, at smaller companies using G Suite tools in their everyday workflows, opting to have a CRM might not be the optimal solution in the long run.

Implementing new tools is time-consuming

Everyone knows that making your team members change their habits and get the hang of new tools is always a difficult task. And training employees to use the new tools takes time and effort. Sometimes it’s necessary in order to improve your ways of working, and oftentimes once your team has gotten the hang of a new tool, they never want to let it go. However, it’s important to remember that once you introduce your team to a new tool and start training them, you’re essentially pressing pause on your business activities. You can’t use your tools until they’re properly integrated with your existing tools, and you’ll never make the most of using them unless your team is well-trained to do so. Don’t forget that all new tools you introduce—especially something as impactful as a CRM, which will be used by almost everyone in your company—need to be coordinated with IT, sales, and all other departments. Doing so ensures you integrate everything properly and create new processes that will run smoothly. And that’s why you’re implementing a CRM in the first place: to make things run smoothly. It’s crucial to make sure that you actually need a new tool before implementing it. And yes, if your problem cannot be solved without a new tool, it’s definitely a good idea to try it out. Even if implementing a new tool requires minimum training, it should be fully integrated to all existing habits of the users. When it comes to contact and customer management, G Suite already offers the most useful tools—and most likely, your team is already familiar with them.

CRM licenses are costly

Even the starter plans of many CRMs are expensive, and usually the price goes up each time you acquire a larger number of features. The average CRM will cost anything between $20–$50 per user per month, but more advanced licences can cost up to $150 (or more) a month per user. While you might think that the yearly cost would then automatically be anything between $240 and $1,800 per user, you need to take into account the hours that it will take to first set it up, and then all the training required for your team to learn the ropes. Many companies are only using their CRM to manage and access common contacts, including notes on them. If you already have your contacts on Google Contacts, will you be paying all that money for nothing if you get a CRM on top of it? As a G Suite user, you already have many features that you would otherwise be paying extra for. We’ll get to the how in just a minute, but especially if your company is smaller and doesn’t have such a large amount of contacts and incoming leads each month, you probably already have all the tools you need. By installing a plugin like Shared Contacts for Gmail, you can easily share the notes you take about a contact.

Relying on a CRM may end up hurting your customer experience

While CRM software often makes customer interactions more efficient, they can unfortunately take away the human touch. Many actions within a CRM system are automated, from messaging and calendar management to data entry, contact updates, and lead and opportunity updates. Ideally, your customer interactions should be a healthy combination of human communication and automated tasks. While you can usually email your customers directly from your CRM, you often still have your separate email for other, non-customer related emails, which means that you’re using two platforms simultaneously, every single day. With G Suite, just as efficiently as with a CRM, you can set up reminders to book a meeting with a customer. You can then email them or book a meeting from their Google calendar directly from your email inbox, and you can even schedule emails for another time. Basically, by ensuring that all your emails are written and sent personally by you, you create a consistent customer experience—all while only using one platform.

How to use G Suite tools to manage contacts instead of a CRM

Many companies and organizations need an easy way to access their contacts, their leads’ and contacts’ information, as well as have a common base for all contacts. An important aspect of client communication is also having your entire team collaborate and access the contacts on the same level. This is typically where a CRM steps in. But what if we told you you don’t really need a CRM to be able to organize, share, and manage your contacts? Simply put, the most important things you would get from deploying a CRM are already possible within G Suite.

Organize, manage, and share your Google contacts

Within G Suite, you can organize your contacts in different categories and address books by adding labels to them. You can choose the labels yourself and add new ones whenever needed. You can also manage all your contacts’ details in the same place, and easily add notes and other information in the contact details. Adding custom fields is also possible. Finally, you can share contacts easily with your company with a simple click, just like sharing Google Docs. Simply assign accesses and permissions to the people in your organization who need to have them, and everyone can see your contact’s information, the notes attached to it, as well as all previous interactions you’ve had with that contact. Whether you are in Gmail, Google Contacts or your phone contact app, you can always update your company's contacts if they are properly synchronized.

Directly add relevant information to your contacts

Once you have the contact added to your Google Contacts, you can add things like a company name and the person’s title, as well as their relevant phone numbers and other contact information. You can also add notes about meetings you’ve had with this contact, such as if they’ve requested a demo of your product before making a purchase decision. You can easily update this information or add to it, and all the information attached to a contact is visible to everyone you’ve shared it with in your company.

See your previous interactions with a contact at a glance


When the person is added to your Google Contacts, you can also directly see your shared meetings, any emails you’ve exchanged, and any other interactions you’ve had, directly at one clear glance. For example, if you assign the contact forward to a colleague who needs to know what has been discussed with this person previously, they can directly see every interaction without you having to brief them separately. It’s also easy to open any email, Calendar event, or other interaction with one click.

Create events and tasks through Gmail

With G Suite, you can also organize meetings—remote and in-person—and set reminders for yourself and others in your company. For example, if a prospect requests a meeting with your sales representative via email, you can book a meeting directly from that email without having to open your calendar separately. You can also create tasks and set up reminders for yourself and anyone in your organization. For instance, if a prospect wants that sales meeting and you don’t have time to book it right away, you can set up a reminder for later, or assign the task to someone else.

Example: How G Suite can be used instead of a CRM

Let’s illustrate how your G Suite tools and especially the features listed above work as a CRM with a simplified example inspired by real life. 1) A potential customer sends you an inquiry via email. Or, in another example, you could be reaching out to them. 2) You enter the relevant notes in the contact, and add the contact to the "Leads" label. Whatever comes up in your discussion regarding your customer’s needs or your services can easily be added to the contact, and the “Leads” label can be added with one simple click. 3) You make sure the “Leads” label is shared with your internal sales team. Assigning permissions is as simple as in Google Docs: just a click to make sure that the relevant people have access to this contact and its information. 4) You forward the email to your colleague in charge of sales. Along with the email, your colleague will receive the notes and all the information they need about your previous interactions with this contact. 5) Your colleague can directly see the contact details and all the notes you’ve added to the contact. They can continue the conversation directly without delay. 6) The salesperson sends an email to the contact and snoozes it with a reminder in 5 days if there’s no response. The reminder will let you know to reach out again if the customer forgets to respond. 7) The potential customer replies, for example requesting a demo of your product. Relevant notes about this can be added to the contact through your Gmail inbox. 8) After this, the customer can be moved to the "Prospects" label. 9) You can easily set up a calendar event on Hangouts with the customer. 10) Once the customer has agreed to buy, you can create a quote in Google Drive in the customer's folder from a template. You can then email this to the customer. 11) The customer accepts the quote by email. You can add a reminder again in case the customer forgets to get back to you. 12) You can then add the customer to the label "Customers." In this example, you’re moving the potential customer through the lifecycle stages by changing the label or address book the customer’s contact information is in. This way, you have all the relevant information regarding your past interactions, as well as all notes you’ve taken, directly available at all times.

Conclusion

CRMs, while useful for many companies, aren’t necessarily right for everyone. As mentioned above, many of the tasks that you would typically trust your CRM with can easily be done with the same G Suite tools your team is already using. You don’t have to learn how to use any new technologies or add new tools to your tech stack, and you don’t have to pay for costly CRM licences. By handling all customer communications in person, you ensure your brand has a consistent and personal customer experience. G Suite offers you all the features you need to handle basic customer relationships including contact sharing and management, address books, permissions and accesses, and more. Shared Contacts for Gmail is a tool that helps you make all these tools work together seamlessly, making contact management collaborative and easy. You don’t have to take care of any integrations on your own: the app runs in the background. You can try Shared Contacts for Gmail for free, with no additional commitments. Simply start your free trial, install the app, and see for yourself.

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Amanda

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