If you’re an IT business consultant, your job requires not only many technical skills – it also requires a lot of business tools as well.
While the IT part of your job is heavily based on your training and background, the consulting portion relies on your ability to communicate effectively with your clients and potential clients. With this sort of work, many tools or software can be used to help you manage your relationships and communication.
Let’s look at six different types of tools you must have to get your IT consulting company in tip-top shape and increase the effectiveness of the consulting portion of your work!
1. A CRM
A customer relationship management (CRM) program does exactly what the name suggests: it helps you manage your customer relationships.
But there’s a catch: CRM software comes in all shapes, sizes, and – most importantly – price tags. And while you need a great CRM program, you don’t need the same CRM that a massive firm of a thousand employees might use. If you choose one of those providers, you’ll wind up paying thousands of dollars only to use a single-digit percentage of the software’s functionality.
Instead, there are great CRM services that are made specifically for small businesses. These programs will offer the same benefits for your firm but at a significantly reduced price tag, including easy management of your leads and deals, integration with your email, and statistics about your customer outreach.
2. Video Communication
Chances are you at least dabbled in video communication programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this time, Zoom became a household name in communicating safely and effectively for family, friends, students, and probably even your business.
If you’re not using a video system like Zoom or Google Meetings, be sure to check out what they offer: face-to-face meetings that are easy to schedule, enables you to share screens, and can be recorded for later viewing.
In addition to these programs, GotoWebinar is a great way to create seminars to present and engage your audience or share your expertise.
3. Email Marketing
Some business consultants are hesitant to embrace email marketing because they don’t want to spam customers and push them away, but that fear is based on a misperception of email marketing’s usage.
Do a lot of companies send out daily sales information or a dizzying volume of newsletters? Yes. Does this mean your firm has to? No. Not at all.
Instead, embrace email marketing as not only a way to provide customers and potential customers with valuable information, but more importantly, as a way to offer occasionally, friendly reminders that you and your firm can help them.
Simply seeing your name appear in their inbox every so often will keep you and your firm relevant in their minds, and they’ll be much more likely to reach out when they need IT consultation.
Instead of sending them information about their business, consider sending relevant knowledge or advice that would help their company grow.
4. A Time-Tracking App
Regardless of whether you charge hourly rates or a monthly retainer, a time-tracking app will help you visualize how much time you spend on any of your IT projects, especially in relation to your revenue. Doing this will also show you which jobs are the best return on investment for your time.
If you do charge hourly, a good time-tracking app will also help you invoice each customer straight from the app’s interface, reducing the amount of work that falls on your shoulders.
When searching for the right time tracking app, be sure the app you choose enables that type of invoicing, along with offering a mobile application and a report-generating feature.
5. Brand Reputation Manager
In this day and age, a good portion of new customers can be won or lost simply because of online reviews. When someone is in need of an IT consultant like yourself, they’ll probably Google “best IT consultants in state/city” and click on the top result… or maybe the top two results, if they’re the patient type.
For that reason alone, it’s crucial to have a great reputation online, and a brand monitoring app can help with that.
These apps typically have the same types of basic functions: they help you monitor keywords or the name of your business for mentions across social media and the internet. When you do this, you can properly thank the people behind positive recommendations and quickly reach out to anybody who is unhappy with your service for whatever reason and work toward solving the problem.
When you’re looking for a brand reputation manager, make sure whichever app you decide to use will monitor not only your mentions, but the mentions of your competitors. In addition, it should be able to analyze your firm’s overall popularity online.
6. Project Management App
Finally, a great firm needs a great project management app to help streamline your workflow.
When you’re first starting out, chances are you can handle the scheduling of all your work and clients. But as your firm grows and you take on more clients and more complex projects, keeping your priorities – and deadlines – straight can be a major headache.
Thankfully, a good project management app enables collaboration with your team or your clients in real-time, better helping you give all your clients and projects the attention they deserve.
Regardless of which provider you ultimately choose, make is capable of exporting the project data to excel so you can send visual updates to clients, and you also want software that customizes the structure of your projects based on its characteristics. More control over the details and customization of your projects will lead to more fluidity in managing them!