A good customer relationship management (CRM) platform is vital for any company keen on improving sales. The technology makes it easy for employees across different departments to access the same customer data, all while optimizing interactions with anyone interested in your business.
But not all CRMs are created equal. Most sales teams spring for off-the-shelf software, which is plenty reliable, but can be expensive. Implementation can cost thousands for smaller companies, and hundreds of thousands for bigger ones. You also may be paying for features you don’t need.
Instead, you may want a CRM with a more customizable interface, flush with tools tailored to the unique needs of your company. Conventional wisdom says you need to write code for this, which can take years to develop.
But there’s another option: building a CRM without any coding. With the right app-building tool, it’s quick, easy, and affordable. We’ll show you exactly how to do it here.
Step 1: Determine the CRM Features You Want (and Need)
The biggest perk of custom-building a CRM: you can control exactly how it works. And its functions should vary according to your business strategy.
At minimum, you should be building a CRM that manages your contacts. The platform should be an exhaustive database cataloging who your customers are, how to get in touch with them, and which of your business solutions they’re under contract for.
Other core features often include tools to generate and nurture leads, task management trackers, calendars with reminder functions, and a messaging framework for chatting and file sharing.
Step 2: Corral Your Data
Before building a CRM, you need to gather the customer data that belongs inside of it. For starters, it’s best to build out a spreadsheet. You can start with a basic contact list, with separate columns for names, employers, job titles, email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, LinkedIn profiles, etc. It’s also probably worth adding an internal company directory.
You can also add separate sheets to track newer leads and gauge whether they’re qualified for your business, noting whether (and how) you’ve interacted with them.
If you’re confused about how to get started on this spreadsheet, or could use some inspiration on how to format it, there are dozens of CRM spreadsheet templates available online. Most of them are free and compatible with Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
And if you want a CRM spreadsheet template that’s app-ready, consider using Glide’s Simple CRM template, which comes with an already-organized Google Sheets document you can easily edit. More on this later.
Keep in mind that the data you gather at this stage doesn’t need to be exhaustive. It’s just a starting point, and most CRM platforms will let you add in functions after you build the software, and then sync accordingly.
Step 3: Choose An App-Building Tool
A spreadsheet is a great building block for an effective CRM. But it’s inadequate on its own. Building your CRM as an actual app makes customer data easier to edit, personalize, and distribute across an entire company.
You can develop such an app with custom code, which has its perks (namely that it’s fully customizable and limitlessly portable). Or you can use software that transforms spreadsheets of any existing data you have into an easy-to-use app. Then, you can share that app across your business — no coding required.
There are several no-code app-builders available. While you may be able to build the software for free, keep in mind that most builders charge monthly for hosting. Because of that, look for platforms that can accommodate the amount of users you need. You should also make sure the software is investing in your app’s security while providing reliable IT support.
Step 4: Customize the Experience
Provided you have an app-builder up to the task, this is the fun part.
When building a CRM, the best DIY platforms have customizable interfaces with drag-and-drop capabilities that let you easily control the app’s look and feel.
With Glide, for instance, you can add rich visual components that invigorate stale spreadsheet data. It lets you upload photos for contacts, or choose from a laundry list of app themes and typographies that incorporate some of your company’s branding.
That said, it’s understandable if you’re a little wary of translating a spreadsheet into a functional CRM from scratch. So you may consider using an app-builder that comes with pre-configured CRM templates that you can copy and edit as needed.
Glide has several CRM solutions to choose from, like its Simple CRM template you can copy for free. Then, all you need to do is click the “edit sheet” icon to change all the customer and company details. You can easily drag and drop images and even assign customers to internal team members. Any changes you make — whether in content or design — will update in the app automatically.
Glide even has an Advanced CRM template, which you can pay for online, that uses spreadsheet data to further track leads, mapping out where your contacts are in their respective customer journeys.
Step 5: Launch!
Once you’ve integrated enough customer data, you can publish your app. And plenty of no-code app builders can go live almost instantly and sync with your data as you change it. They’re also easy to share with other users.
With Glide, you can send a link by email or share a QR code with your employees, or anyone really. Once they’ve downloaded the app, it can appear right on their phone’s home screen.
You can also define roles and limit access within the app — meaning different departments only see what they need to. If you want to design the app by committee, Glide even lets you add collaborators to build out the interface with you.
Keep in mind that the more users you have, the more you’ll have to pay (likely per month) for hosting. Regardless, it’s usually a much more affordable option than developing the code yourself, while being more customizable than off-the-shelf software.
If you decide to go with Glide, the platform has an exhaustive library that can walk you through everything from organizing your spreadsheets to building an employee directory from scratch.
You can also rest easy knowing that if your servers go down, Glide will get them back up and running as soon as possible, and manage any needed security updates.
While sales teams need a good CRM, they don’t need to choose between price, convenience, and customization. Glide gives you all three. Get started with the Simple CRM template and launch a ready-to-use app in minutes you can easily share with your employees. Learn more about all its features here.