crm for accountants

Small business basics

We’ve reviewed the top CRM software for accountants in 2021

Find out which accounting CRM software is the most suitable for your firm.

August 10 · 8 min read

Client relationships are more important than ever in the accounting space. Whether you’re selling an accounting product or your services and expertise as a certified public accountant (CPA), success depends on your ability to develop and nurture winning customer relationships.

The reason behind this is simple — client demands and expectations have evolved. Today’s consumer isn’t swayed by mere words and branded ad messaging. They want to work with people they trust; professionals who understand the uniqueness of their situations and can provide tailored solutions. Remember, as an accountant, people are giving you access to sensitive financial information. And so that working relationship must start from a place of trust and confidence in your services.

What does this have to do with accounting CRM software?

Many accounting firms have ramped up marketing programs to revolve around client relationships — more aggressive content marketing, prominent social media presence, increased direct mail and email marketing — strategies that result in an extensive database of prospects’ names and email addresses.

Getting these details is one thing, but knowing what to do with them is another. If these names and email addresses remain untouched on a spreadsheet, then there was no point in acquiring them. This is where customer relationship management (CRM) software can be beneficial. CRM tools essentially help business owners take client information and use them to build lasting relationships.

Accounting CRM software is used to:

  • Centralize document management — CRM software brings together all your leads, referrals, clients, and partners. It provides a user-friendly platform where you can upload all the necessary files and documents about your accounting firm. A centralized online repository means you can easily find the documents you need at any time and from any place.
  • Make your marketing campaigns more effective — A professional CRM platform makes it easier to automate email marketing campaigns, create automatic responses, and track performance over a given period.
  • Ensure quicker follow-ups with leads and referrals — With a CRM tool, accountants can easily set up tasks and activities for every lead that comes their way. This allows them to nurture leads into paying clients by capturing every stage of the customer journey and addressing their pain points directly.
  • Streamline workflows — CRM systems enable workflow automation, from onboarding to contact management, even to the sales process and subsequent lead management. You’ll be able to keep your pipeline under control while also improving workflows across other departments at your accounting firm.
  • Identify profit centers — CRM software solutions help make it easier to identify clients and leads with the highest profit potentials. This is great because you can use that information to create targeted marketing campaigns at prospects that are most likely to convert and bring in higher profits.
  • Ensure that your current client base is happy — It is generally easier to retain existing customers than to chase after new clients. With all the crucial client information stored on your CRM platform, it becomes easier to practice proper client management and ensure that your current client base is happy with your services.

What are the standout elements in a good accounting CRM software?

The online marketplace is overloaded with different kinds of CRM solutions designed to meet different needs. In the same vein, CPAs and bookkeepers have definite requirements for CRM systems that can cater to their specific needs. With that in mind, here are the main features to look for:

Automation

It’s the automation age, and so the number one thing accounting firms would want in a CRM platform is the ability to automate as many client interactions and workflows as possible. The idea is to hand off as many repetitive tasks as possible to the CRM system so you can focus your time on the more important aspects of running your small business.

Here are some examples of what a good CRM tool can automate:

  • Email marketing
  • Newsletters and sales emails
  • Content marketing
  • Reminders about the upcoming tax season
  • Holiday messages
  • Follow-ups with existing clients and prospects
  • SMS text messages
  • Document storage and retrievals
  • Contact management
  • Appointment bookings and scheduling

Centralized contact list and client history

Jumping from one platform to the next in search of important client information is a huge waste of time. The smart play is to have everything securely stored in a centralized location that is accessible to everyone on your team. The CRM should also be able to keep a clear history of correspondences for each client.

Client lifecycle tracking

A good CRM software should be able to track the lifecycle of your clients. This is important because it helps business owners better understand how much effort it would take to convert a prospect into a lifelong client. In this way, it helps improve sales pipeline management. You should be able to see the lifecycle data of any of your clients at any given time on your CRM platform.

Team collaboration and delegation

Most CRM systems offer task management tools to streamline how tasks are assigned to team members and add notes and track correspondences regarding client work. Some CRM software solutions also provide team collaboration features, such as document sharing, email marketing templates, and any other functionalities that can improve business processes.

Streamlined client onboarding

Good accounting CRM solutions can help streamline the client onboarding process. They can reduce the administrative load by automating manual repetitive tasks like data entry and contact information updating during client onboarding. Many of these systems also feature built-in self-serve portals so the new clients can go in and upload any new information or make their own changes as needed.

Related: A step-by-step guide to the client onboarding process

Integrations with other practice management software solutions

CRM software that can integrate with your existing bookkeeping or accounting software is definitely a great choice. The ability to get your tools to seamlessly communicate with each other means your data is clean and always in sync. This way, the accountants, bookkeepers, marketers, and other individuals at your firm don’t have to juggle through multiple systems just to get their work done.

Reporting and analytics

Whether it’s tracking sales pipeline data like email opens and clicks or measuring key performance indicators like how long it takes your team to respond to client inquiries, reporting and analytics are important in any CRM tool. By gaining insight into things that matter, you’ll be able to identify ways to improve how your firm can improve the customer experience and improve working relationships across the board.

Our top picks for best CRM solutions for accounting firms

Before getting started, you should note that this is not a definitive list. There are likely several other CRM systems that boast advanced features and functionalities. However, they just don’t meet the primary evaluating factor, which is that the system must address the specific needs of accountants and bookkeepers. With that considered, let’s dive in.

Zoho CRM

This robust CRM system is part of Zoho’s extensive suite of business tools. It is packed with essential features for accounting firms, such as the ability to create product inventories, generate quotes, and manage subscriptions.

However, the standout feature of the Zoho CRM lies in its ability to integrate with the Zoho Finance Suite, meaning users can get the best of Zoho Books, Zoho Expense, and Zoho Subscriptions on a single app. These integrations help automate various business processes, including invoicing, payments processing, tax computations, and financial reports generation.

If you’re using these other Zoho products, you can integrate your Zoho CRM system with other popular accounting software, including Xero and QuickBooks.

The pricing is great, too, with a free plan available for up to three users. However, note that this free plan comes with only a handful of features and functionalities. For users that want the full experience, the paid plan starts at $14 per user per month.

What we like

  • Customizable dashboard with an intuitive interface
  • Ability to integrate seamlessly with other Zoho Business Tool, as well other third-party apps
  • Simple reporting and analytics
  • Can automate invoicing by generating auto-populated invoices, which can be exported in PDF format.
  • Affordable pricing

What could be changed or improved

  • Only users on the Enterprise support plan enjoy 24/7 support
  • Only three users are allowed on the free plan, which already has limited capabilities
  • Limited storage capacity

Hubspot CRM

This widely popular CRM solution hardly needs an introduction. HubSpot CRM is basically a household name among small business owners, especially since the platform is forever free to use unlimited users.

Of course, there are advanced project management tools and features that can further streamline business operations. However, these are only available on the platform’s paid plans. In the free plan, users can only perform basic administrative tasks along with limited access to databases and reports.

Still, HubSpot CRM is a great tool. Even on the free plan, users can easily integrate the system with all of HubSpot’s business management tools, so they can manage everything on a single platform. It also integrates with popular accounting software like QuickBooks Online, Sage Accounting, and Xero. Certain payment platforms such as Stripe and PayPal can also integrate with HubSpot CRM.

In terms of helping to actually manage client relationships, HubSpot offers CPQ (configure, price, quote) features to automate processes and ensure accurate information. Storing and updating contact information is simple enough. Integrated with the marketing tool, the CRM can help track the performance of various marketing campaigns and the overall health of their sales pipelines.

What we like

  • It’s free to use with unlimited users
  • Seamless integrations with third-party apps
  • Free invoice template generator included
  • Wide array of marketing automation features
  • Advanced sales tools that can recognize multiple currencies

What could be changed or improved

  • Inflexible pricing scheme with professional paid plans starting at $450 per month
  • Limited features and functionalities in the free plan mean that at some point, the user must upgrade and go for the paid plan
  • Some integrations may require recurring fees

Freshworks CRM

This powerful CRM software solution is popular for its extensive integration capability with accounting, billing, and payments apps. This allows users to centralize all their customer information and other relevant data on a single interface.

Freshworks CRM also offers various tools to automate workflows and repetitive tasks, such as manual data entry, records updating, and email marketing. That being said, the free plan only offers basic features like contact management and emails.

Users can purchase add-on CPQ features to generate customized documents, such as contracts, onboarding documents, quotes, and invoices. They can also send these documents directly to clients from the system and have the activity logs updated automatically.

Freshworks CRM is a great platform for automating complex business processes, such as email triggers, marketing campaign tracking, instant notifications, and more. It also features robust collaboration tools, including instant messaging, team inboxes, and seamless document sharing.

What we like

  • Wide integration capability
  • Simple automation tools
  • User-friendly interface
  • Sales forecasting and revenue opportunity prediction
  • Auto conversion feature supporting over 150 currencies
  • Free plan supports unlimited users

What could be changed or improved

  • Severely limited functionalities on the free plan
  • Limited file storage
  • Somewhat pricey add-ons

Bitrix24

This comprehensive CRM solution is packed with useful tools for accounting firms. It integrates easily with accounting software so users can quickly sync financial data and other important pieces of information.

What makes Bitrix24 stand out, however, is that it offers many helpful features that are not usually found in other CRM systems. This includes the ability to host an online store so users can easily manage important financial transactions like payments processing and stock inventory monitoring.

The platform also offers automation tools for sales management, email marketing, and data tracking. Users can utilize the analytics reports for visualizing trends in the market and forecast revenues over the short term.

For all its great features, however, Bitrix24 does present a learning curve with its rather complex dashboard. This means it might not be ideal for novice CRM users.

What we like

  • Easy to integrate with accounting software and other third-party apps
  • Online store hosting feature for eCommerce clients
  • Extensive contact management system
  • Users can create invoices, purchase orders, and quotes directly from the system
  • Unlimited users supported on the free plan
  • Wide array of features and tools — sales automation, project management, marketing, and more.

What could be changed or improved

  • Limited number of users on paid plans
  • Limited online storage capacity
  • Complex user interface

FibreCRM

FibreCRM software is created specifically for the accounting industry. This open-source platform is designed to streamline how you run your accounting firm. This means everything from a personalized client onboarding experience to the automation of just about every day-to-day administrative task. This allows you and your team to do more with your time.

FibreCRM’s core USP captures the entire client journey — proposals and engagement letters, KYC (Know Your Customer) processes, AML compliance checks, client onboarding, lifecycle tracking — it’s a truly comprehensive approach. Client information management is streamlined, and team members can access the data they need without going through hoops.

Pricing is the main potential drawback here, especially among small accounting practices. FibreCRM is primarily intended for medium-sized or larger accounting firms. So if your practice falls outside of this bracket, the cost might be prohibitive.

What we like

  • Made solely for accounting firms
  • Simple user interface
  • Integrates with accounting software like Sage, Xero
  • Integrates with IRIS and CCH databases
  • State of the art cybersecurity features

What could be changed or improved

  • Not a great fit for startups and small accounting firms
  • Some integrations cost additional money
  • Limited customer support

Capsule CRM

This no-frills CRM software solution is simple, easy to use, and packed with several helpful features for accountants and bookkeepers. Capsule CRM integrates easily with third-party apps like QuickBooks, Xero, Outlook, and more.

Information flow is also well organized. The dashboard features an intuitive interface that displays all the important client information, including invoice status, payment due dates, and outstanding amounts. This platform also boasts excellent reporting capabilities that allow users to gain visibility into the performance of lead generation efforts and the current state of the sales pipeline.

Capsule CRM’s free plan comes with a number of useful features, though only available to two users. Additionally, because it was designed with small businesses in mind, users might need to do a lot of third-party integrations if they want to get the most from the system.

What we like

  • Simple and intuitive interface
  • Free plan is packed with features
  • Seamless integrations to over 1,000 apps
  • Users can easily track pertinent information
  • Advanced security system
  • Simple task management and team collaboration tools

What could be changed or improved

  • Only two users are allowed on the free plan
  • Limited customer support
  • Requires many third-party app integrations

Wrapping up

The accounting industry is undergoing dramatic changes, spurred on by the global fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost everything in the profession is being shaken up. Through it all, it is the strength of your client relationships that can determine whether your accounting practice stays afloat and remains profitable.

That’s why investing in a quality CRM system is critical. Not only do these software solutions automate everyday business processes, but they also help streamline client interactions and improve marketing strategies.

Not ready for a full-blown CRM solution? Try B12’s built-in business management tools

B12 is an all-in-one solutions platform designed to help small businesses perform better. In addition to our AI-powered websites, we offer a number of built-in management tools like invoicing and billing software, contact management, and online booking and scheduling systems. We also offer marketing services like SEO, copywriting, blogging, and more.

Sign up on B12 today to get started, and let us work with you to position your accounting firm for greater success.

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