How Pipedrive CRM, Asana Project Management and, Airtable Databases fit into Small Business Systems

This video is about how your CRM, Project Management system and Operational database fit into your business. For this example I’m using Pipedrive, Asana and Airtable, but the principles will fit any similar system.

Small Business Systems


Hi there, welcome back to the channel. If you’re new here my name is Chris Wray and and i’m a technology consultant and today we’re going to be talking about how Pipedrive, Asana, Airtable  Zapier and other systems fit into a small business.

Last week i had quite a few conversations with clients many of them concentrating on one aspect of their business system, something along the lines of updating their CRM however when I review a client project I always ask about how each particular piece of the system is joined together, how they’re connected and how they pass the data between one system and another.

Then how all of these systems or the individual components fit in to the overall business process. What surprised me is that not every client understood how the components fitted together and often there were either overlaps between the components or there were gaps within the system. This might be okay in a few circumstances but some of the clients who really start to feel the pain particularly when there’s a change to their business or particularly where businesses start to grow and this was the case in one client in particular.

So today i’m going to take you through how I consider how all of the components should fit together and how they then contribute to the overall needs of a small or medium-sized business. So let’s take a look at a typical business.

This is how we see a typical business and how all of the flows are in place so starting on the left here is a typical flow from lead generation, generally something from connected to the internet or their sales and marketing function through their CRM. Quite often there’s an email client connected to their system and then this moves into operations and here i’m kind of talking about operations where it’s not e-commerce or it’s not something on a shelf in a box and that you just take it off the shelf. I’m thinking more about customised products so particularly something in the construction industry. I dealt with a couple of clients recently who do bathroom fittings or installations for shelving and racking within warehouses so each of those items needs to be put together.

There’s a piece of operation before it’s delivered and then if you imagine this is where the project is managed or whether the product is customised and then once that’s delivered generally there’s a connection to the finance system. This may also connect at the beginning so you may need to invoice the client before you start the work as well as when you’ve completed so you’ll need a connection to your finance system and then for some businesses that’s not the end of their relationship with the client.

There is a maintenance period or an aftercare period. Some way for the customer to come back to them potentially buying spare parts or service or whatever that may be beyond the original purchase. Let’s look at how some of the systems that that we implement would support this particular type of business. Here we see lead generation. This could come from something like Google Ads or Facebook Lead Ads or something along those lines.

That lead is then fed into the CRM system, I tend to use Pipedrive. I don’t tend to get hung up about the fact that clients could use Hubspot or Zoho or other CRM systems that kind of serve the same purpose. some of the CRM systems have their own inbuilt email client system similar to Mailchimp or Convertkit and essentially you’re sending emails out to your client base probably in a marketing function in order to get them a product in order to get them into the hands of the sales

From there we pass into operations and so we need to pass the data about this client and what they’ve purchased into the operational piece of the business and I’ve seen some interesting things happen where clients have actually put it back into another pipeline within their CRM which is a bit unusual. Really i would be thinking of something like asana in terms of managing a project or air table if there are customisations to a particular product so we need to measure up before delivering. There are some potential safety checks or electrical diagrams or whatever that function may be but you need to store that data about the client and the product and that’s probably not in your CRM system that is in a system that’s specific to the operations team.

Then from there once that delivery is made we would pass it into the finance system and some of the more more popular systems that I do connect to are things like Quickbooks or Xero there is Sage in the uk as well which is somewhat less configurable. You may need to invoice and then connect to the financial aspects of your business now that’s not to say that your finance system isn’t connected to your CRM at the point of sale before you do some of this operations work but I’m just kind of taking a typical business here and then beyond that you may also need to pass this information with regard to your customer into your customer support or after sales team particularly where there’s an ongoing subscription or ongoing license, something that renews beyond the installation of the system.

A maintenance contract or a support contract or a service contract and this would potentially link to something like Zendesk, where customers can can log questions or support queries or phone calls in order to kind of follow up on their previous purchase.

So what are some of the issues that I often see?

Well if you think about it here, a lot of what I’ve put in here these little orange stars are Zapier. Zapier is a mechanism that connects some of these systems together it can perform some some logic it can parse or strip some of the data out between these functions and generally what what I do is connect the systems first ensure that it all works from a manual or automated single push process. Then once that’s all in place then I can implement Zapier to do it automatically so a lead
would be would be generated here and then would automatically be put into the CRM system and then potentially automatically contact a salesperson in order for them to follow up on an activity or action.

So what are the issues that i see when implementing this with clients? Well primarily they they have one of these components missing so last week for example I was talking to a client and they didn’t have an operational system actually they had a little bit of a hybrid system it wasn’t Hubspot or Pipedrive it was an older legacy system where it did some of their operations and also had the ability to invoice clients.
They were kind of in a situation where they wanted to replace their CRM but actually it was covering some of the operational and the financial systems with it so we do see tend to see some of the legacy systems that tried to do everything so we do see a lot of overlap as well as some of the components are actually just missing. I did have a client before that who took their CRM system and had one pipeline for prospects and then once the deal was won they put those same prospects through another pipeline and that isn’t really what what CRM is involved in and they did have their own issues as a consequence of that.

The other area, and I see this so often is they don’t have the connections in place so the phrase cut and paste or we use a spreadsheet for that is essentially they would export the data from one of these systems and then import it into the other and in some cases that’s perfectly fine but it takes time and it has to be done manually and there are no notifications as a consequence of it. It is not really a solution that would enable you to scale your business and then the third thing is really somewhat some of the systems that we see today they try and do one or more of these functions, but they don’t do two functions and so you have a bit of CRM or you have all of CRM and a little bit of operations, but you don’t have all of the operations piece so you have a gap within the function. So my personal preference is buy a system that does what it does
well and doesn’t try to be a one-stop solution because rarely do they do all of those functions really well or at scale and admittedly there’s additional cost in this but if you are going to scale your business or you are in it for the long term I suggest picking the system that does the function that you need.

One of the other issues is not using automation so the client may have all of these in place but someone has to individually take an email out of the lead generation system and then manually put the information into the CRM. There’s no automated follow-up their sales team aren’t notified, you cannot use mobile devices on the road and so on and so forth so that’s generally the last layer I put in is putting in all of the overlap in terms of automation.

So that’s a brief overview of how I implement some of these systems with clients about a holistic view from end to end in terms of how I think about the client systems and particularly how those systems support the client’s business and how each one connects to each other and some of the issues that I see as I implement some of the new components into this or automate some of their existing systems so if you have any questions or comments just put them in the comments below.

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