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One of the most valuable tools to my business is hands down, Trello. I use this amazing piece of software to manage practically every area of my business in one way or another, but today I’m talking about how I use Trello as my Client Relationship Management (or CRM) tool.

Now, let me preface this article by saying my CRM is pretty basic. You won’t find any fancy-pants sales funnels or any other bells and whistles found on the “proper” CRM software. It’s super simple and does just what I want it to do without overcomplicating things (which is something I’m quite familiar with).

My CRM consists of just two boards in Trello – one for Leads and one for Projects. Yep, that’s it.

Internally, my clients only ever have one card, which they never see as it’s purely for my reference. Client-facing, they have a whole board but more on that later. Within these cards, I have set up custom fields using a Trello power-up to record their contact information and the date of the first contact.

I use different coloured labels on each card on this board to gauge at a glance which service they were interested in and what is required of me moving forward (Follow Up, Audit, etc). I also implement a checklist on each card and set myself due date reminders of where I’m up to with this lead and what the next step is (for example, follow up via email after 3 days).

Any corresponding with that lead via email is also added to the comments of their card automatically through a filter I set up in Gmail. Nifty, huh?

Depending on where the lead is in my process, I’ll simply move their card to the appropriate list on the appropriate board. This makes it super simple to keep on top of where I’m at with that person and what I need to do next.

The Leads Board

This is the very beginning of the journey with a potential new client. My Leads board houses lists for each stage of my enquiry process and cards for anyone that has shown an interest in working with me. These lists include New Leads, Call Booked, Send Quote and Pending.

New leads are added to my New Leads list in one of two ways. One is manual, by me creating a new card and adding their details, usually from a business card, email or online chat. The other is automatic when they complete an enquiry form on my website. With the latter, their contact information is automatically populated on the card using Zapier.

When a new lead lands on this list via either method, I personally reach out to them via email within 24 hours to see if they’d like to book a chat with me through my online scheduler so we can discuss their requirements further. I could automate this step too but I chose not to as I want to be able to respond to any questions they have added to the comments of their enquiry form.

If they decide to proceed with making the booking (yay!), I move their card to the next list, Call Booked. This is where that card stays until after the call has concluded. I then follow them up via email to recap our conversation and send through any information they requested during the call.

At this point, I set myself a reminder in the checklist on their card to follow up on them after three days. If no response, I’ll follow up once more after seven days and if still no word, I’ll mark that card as archived. I never delete a lead’s card, I only ever archive them as you never know when they may crop back up in the future!

If they have responded and would like to proceed with a quote for my services (double yay!), I shift them across to the Send Quote list and get to work with prepping the proposal to with their business.

Once the quote has been sent via email, a copy is automatically sent to their card as an attachment or link and they are then moved to the Pending list until I hear back from them as to whether they’d like to proceed or not.

Again, this is when I set follow-up reminders in the checklist on their card for three and seven days after the quote has been sent.

If they decide they’d love to work with me and they accept the quote (triple yay!), their card is done with this board and they’re moved across to the Projects board for onboarding!

The Projects Board

This board is the central station for the cards for all the projects I have on the go. The lists on this board include Onboarding, In Progress (Ad Hoc), In Progress (Ongoing) and Pending.

A lead that has accepted my quote is moved to the Onboarding list on this board and the process begins! A copy of the onboarding workflow for their project is added to a new checklist on their card so I don’t miss a step.

Part of my onboarding process is creating a ‘Client Portal’ for client-facing information and tasks relative to their project and working with me. This is when I use Trello for its actual purpose – Project Management! I have Client Portal template boards for all of my services in Trello so this is made super simple – just copy the board and rename it.

I won’t go into great detail on the ins and outs of my Client Portals as that would be an entire article by itself. If you don’t want to miss that one, be sure to subscribe to my blog!

Once I have all I need to be able to commence work on the project, that card is then moved to the appropriate list – depending on whether it’s an In Progress (Ad Hoc) project or an In Progress (Ongoing) one.

If I’m mid-project and awaiting information from the client to be able to proceed, I move their card to the Pending list until I have what I need and then I move the card back to the list it came from. Once the project is done, it goes to the Completed list for a month or so before I officially archive it (again, never deleted, only archived).

The beauty of using Trello as a CRM in this way is everything I need to know about the client and their project is all in one place, from the beginning to the end of the project.

When I first started using it, I never thought of using Trello for client management but it turns out it does quite a good job at it! Trello also integrates nicely with so many of the other tools I use within my business, such as Airtable, Google Calendar, Gmail and more.

Anyway, I could talk Trello for days! I’d love to know, do you use Trello in your business? If so, how do you use it in your business? Let me know in the comments below.