As the workload and demand for their services increases, small teams and freelancers will be pressed to use an efficient solution to manage their contacts, projects, communication, and workflows. After a point, it is impossible to manage everything on a spreadsheet.
That’s where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can come handy. It can help them stay organized, track client interactions, and enhance productivity. However, finding the right CRM, one that aligns with your specific requirements is not easy.
However, Notion can seamlessly plug the gap in most instances. With its intuitive interface, you can quickly create pages, databases, and boards that are unique to your business use-cases. It also offers a wide range of customization options, making it the perfect choice for streamlining workflows associated with your team and clients.
Here are the 6 powerful ways of using Notion as a lightweight CRM:
1. Organizing contacts and client information
Among the many functions it is supposed to perform, a CRM should be able to store contacts. A contact can be your client, employee, or anyone else involved in keeping your business running. Your contacts must be easily discernible so that you can identify them and put them in relevant workflows. Notion can do a phenomenal job at storing your contacts.
You can start organizing your contacts by using Notion databases. Create a new database and choose the "Table" option to pull up a spreadsheet-like layout. Next, add columns for essential contact information. Common columns to include are:
- Email address
- Phone number
You can add columns by clicking on the "+" sign at the top right corner of the table and then selecting the apt property type for each column (e.g., "Text" for Name, "Email" for Email address, “Person” to tag someone, and so on).
The above image shows the database in which employees are the contacts. You can create a similar one for your clients as well.
Implementing tags for easy categorization
Remember the importance of discerning your contacts? Notion tags can help you with that by categorizing your contacts into the type of relationship - client, prospect, employee, partner, etc., industry, or the service they avail.
You can add a tag column by selecting the "Multi-select" property type, and naming the column as "Tags" or any other suitable title. You can then assign multiple tags to all contacts in the database.
Adding and updating contacts’ information
You can add a new contact to your database by clicking on the empty row at the bottom of the table. And then, filling in the contact information in the respective columns. You can also add any additional information specific to the contact by clicking on the contact's name - to open up a dedicated page for them - and filling in the required information.
Updating contacts is equally straightforward. Just click on the cell you want to modify and edit it.
By organizing your contacts’ information, the Notion CRM allows you to have a centralized and accessible database, making it easy to manage relationships and streamline business workflows.
2. Managing projects and tasks
After your contact database is ready, your CRM should allow you to access them easily and create pertinent projects relevant to specific segments of your contacts.
Notion is popular for its project management capabilities. Its board view allows you to visualize your workflow in a kanban-style layout making it easy to update the status of your activities.
To create a Kanban board on Notion, create a new database and choose the "Board" option. Configure columns for different project stages, such as "To Do," "In Progress," "Review," and "Completed." You can add, rename, or delete columns by clicking on the "•••" (three dots) icon at the top of each column.
The below example shows the board view of a content marketing firm.
The Kanban-view allows the users to drag and drop any card across status columns.
Connecting client information to projects
After your contact list and the project view is ready, it’s time to connect them both. To do that,
create a "Relation" property in your project board and link it to your contact database. To do this, head over to the board properties menu, and click on "Add a property". Next, choose the "Relation" property type.
In the end, select your contact database from the list of databases, and name the property "Client" or any suitable title. Now, every time you add a new project or task to the board, you can easily link it to the pertinent client by selecting their name from the "Client" property dropdown.
3. Organizing communication and follow-ups
Following up with clients is a big part of any freelancer’s career. It’s an important activity for small businesses too. Often, the right number of follow-up emails does the trick in getting that client to onboard or getting them to pay their invoices. Your CRM should also help you with planning communication with clients, and also your employees - if you are a decent sized company.
Notion can help you with setting up schedules, and sticking with them. The Notion calendar view can help you keep track of important dates and deadlines. You can also set up reminders to bring pending items to your focus before it is too late.
To create a calendar view, add a new database and choose the "Calendar" option. You can customize the calendar by adding relevant properties, such as "Event Description," "Date," and "Contact." To add events or tasks, click on a date and fill it up with the necessary information. The calendar will display items in a chronological order, allowing you to visualize and manage your schedule effectively.
In fact, you can set up a weekly planner on Notion with just the calendar view!
Integrating reminders and notifications
To ensure that you stay on the top of important dates and follow-ups, set reminder notifications within your Notion calendar. To do that, click on a task and select the "Date" property. Next, click on "Add reminder" and select the date when you'd like to be notified (ex., one day before, one hour before). You'll receive a notification from Notion at the date and time you specify.
Connecting communication logs to contacts
To track communication with contacts, create a separate Notion database for each contact and add a "Relation" property as discussed in the previous section, and link it to your contact database. By doing this, you can access all communication logs pertinent to a specific contact, without mixing up information with other contacts.
4. Team collaboration and task management
Alright, by now you must have already got a feel on how Notion doubles up as a powerful lightweight CRM. But one key capability that makes it highly efficient is team collaboration.
It is super-easy to assign tasks to team members and track them on Notion. To do that, create a "Person" property in your database, and name it "Assigned to" or any suitable title. You can update that property each time you add a new task by selecting a team member from your workspace shown in the dropdown. This will help you ensure that the team members are aware of their tasks and are held accountable for it.
Here’s what your tasks may look like:
See the Next Action With “Person” property? It accepts only one of the team member’s name as the input. Notion’s database view will help you see which tasks come under any particular contact, their status and the deadline.
Collaborating using comments and mentions
Notion commenting and mentioning features facilitate seamless communication and collaboration.
To add comments or discuss tasks, click on a task or project to open its dedicated page. Then, click on the "Add a comment" field at the bottom of the page and type your comment. You can also add attachments, links, or other relevant information.
To mention a team member, type "@" followed by their name. The mentioned team member will receive a notification and can respond directly to your comment.
5. Integrating with other tools
Your CRM should be able to integrate with a host of other tools so that information from other sources flows into your central database seamlessly.
Notion can be integrated with a wide range of other tools, enhancing its functionality and streamlining your workflow. Some popular integration options include:
- Google Calendar: You can embed Google calendar in Notion to keep all your events and deadlines in one place.
- Slack: Connect Notion with Slack to receive updates and notifications, and share Notion content within your Slack channels.
- Google Drive: Embed Google Drive files, such as documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, directly into your Notion pages.
- GitHub: Link Notion to GitHub repositories to track commits, pull requests, and issues related to your projects.
- Zapier: Automate workflows between Notion and thousands of other apps using Zapier's extensive library of integrations.
How To Setup Notion as a CRM?
Setting up Notion as a CRM is a simple six-step process:
1. Create a new page
You can create a new page in Notion by clicking on the “+” button next to the preferred parent folder in the left-pane.
2. Open the templates panel
While you can create a CRM from scratch, you can save hours by importing ready-to-use templates that are available for free across all pricing plans in Notion.
To open the panel, click on the “Templates” option under the “Add new” section of your new page. This will prompt Notion to open a new view with all available templates
3. Search for “CRM”
You’ll find the Notion search bar at the top left corner of the new screen. Click on it and type “CRM” to shortlist the CRM templates.
4. Select the preferred template
There are two CRM templates available in Notion — “CRM Tracker” and “Sales CRM”. You can click on each of them and see the preview of what they look like.
Select the one that matches the best with your needs.
5. Click on the “Get template” button
After clicking on your preferred CRM from the template panel, click on the “Get template” button to import the template into the page.
6. Edit the template
With the template available in your Notion workspace, you are free to make changes to your CRM structure.
Tips and best practices for using Notion as a CRM
Organizing your Notion CRM workspace effectively
Efficiently structuring your Notion CRM workspace is paramount for unlocking its full potential. Dive into these tips to keep your workspace organized and effortlessly navigable:
- Use a consistent structure: Create a clear and consistent structure for your pages and databases, making it easier to find and manage information.
- Categorize information: Use nested pages, tags, or multi-select properties to categorize your information, such as grouping contacts by industry or project type.
- Utilize views: Create different views (e.g., table, kanban, calendar) for your databases to visualize and interact with your data in various ways.
- Use color-coding: Apply color-coding to tags, labels, or database properties to improve visual clarity and make it easier to identify items at a glance.
- Implement a naming convention: Establish a consistent naming convention for your pages, databases, and properties to ensure clarity and prevent confusion.
Using Notion templates for faster setup
Notion templates can save time and effort by providing pre-built structures and layouts for various use cases. To get started with a Notion CRM quickly, consider using templates for:
- Contact databases: Use a template with predefined properties for contact information, such as name, email, phone number, and tags.
- Project boards: Use a kanban board template to manage your projects or tasks with customizable columns and properties.
- Communication logs: Find a template that tracks communication with clients, including date, type, notes, and related contact information.
You can customize these templates to suit your specific needs, making them a valuable resource for setting up your Notion CRM efficiently.
Keeping your data secure and updated on Notion
Data security and accuracy are vital when using any CRM. Here are some tips to keep your data secure and updated in Notion:
- Regularly update information: Ensure that contact details, project status, and other relevant information are up-to-date to maintain accurate records.
- Use permissions and sharing settings: Control access to your workspace, pages, and databases by configuring the appropriate permissions and sharing settings for your team members.
- Enable two-factor authentication: Protect your Notion account by enabling two-factor authentication, which requires an additional verification step when logging in.
- Backup your data: Regularly export and back up your Notion data to ensure its availability in case of accidental deletion or data loss.
- Stay informed about security updates: Keep up-to-date with Notion's security updates and best practices by following their official blog, help center, or social media channels.
Is Notion a CRM app?
Notion is not a heavy-duty CRM (Customer Relationship Management) app, but it can double up as one for freelancers and small teams. With its extensive capabilities, such as databases, templates, and integrations with other tools, Notion can be tweaked to perform at the capacity of a CRM and perform tasks such as — organizing contacts, managing projects and tasks, tracking communication and follow-ups, and collaborating with team members.
In this guide, we have explored how freelancers can use Notion as a CRM. We covered important aspects of setting up and managing a CRM in Notion, including organizing contacts, managing projects, distributing tasks, tracking communication, collaborating with team members, integrating with tools, and more. Go ahead and create your own CRM on Notion!