14 Best Accounting CRM Software Options for Your Firm

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As a firm owner focused on growing your business, you want to develop new relationships with potential clients while also providing excellent service for your existing clients. That can be challenging, especially if finding the time to work on your business competes with the time required to work in your business. 

The best firms understand that nurturing client relationships and being responsive to their communication is the key difference between getting and retaining clients or letting them slip through the cracks to one of your competitors. Successful growth will require you to streamline your processes, delegate more tasks to your team, and help them get rid of administrative inefficiencies so they can prioritize their time around billable work.

That’s why accounting CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software can be especially helpful for your firm. A CRM tool will allow you to keep track of potential clients and make sure that your existing clients are happy. The outcome will be reduced stress along with improved team collaboration, efficiency, transparency, and accountability—setting your firm up for continued growth and success.

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What is Accounting CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is software that manages your firm’s client information as well as interactions with clients and potential clients. The purpose of accounting CRM is simple: improve client relationships to grow your firm. Accounting CRM software helps firms stay connected to clients, streamline processes, and improve profitability.

CRM software can be used to manage relationships across the entire client lifecycle, spanning marketing, sales, project work, support, and client service interactions.

CRM vs CMS: What’s the difference?

CRM software is often focused on the sales cycle for clients, which is apparent in common CRM features, such as sales pipeline reporting, email marketing, auto phone dialers for prospect calls, and deep integrations with marketing and lead platforms.

On the other hand, client management software (CMS) can go by many titles, such as client contact software or customer management software. In the accounting industry, you’ll sometimes even see CRM used interchangeably with CMS. However, the singular goal of client management software is to provide a centralized source of record where you can manage and track your client work. Rather than a focus on sales pipeline management, you’ll see things like team collaboration, project management, and due date tracking software as core features of a CMS.

Do you need a CRM?

Perhaps you’ve already given more attention to marketing, sales, and business development tactics, and your firm has a growing list of potential clients and new project work. If so, then your team is likely starting to feel the growing pains of clunky client onboarding, client information spread out in a dozen different tools and browser tabs, and an ever-expanding list of administrative tasks.

According to Becky Livingston at Firm of the Future, “You know you need a CRM when your list of contacts has outgrown your Rolodex…Another indication is when you begin to forget important information about your clients, or you notice your communication with them has dwindled.”

To be more specific, if you find yourself sharing email passwords to general inboxes (like info@), putting client information in a spreadsheet so the team can access it, or spending a lot more time on internal back-and-forth before you can respond to a client, you might be ready for a centralized tool like a CRM.

That being said, it’s worth understanding common hurdles firms have when looking for the right CRM software. As you look for solutions, if CRM (or CMS) software is too pricey and complicated, you might join the growing list of firms that have found a simple shared inbox that solves most of their client communication problems. 

Common CRM Hurdles for Accounting Firms

According to a 2017 report from The Ackert Advisory, 62% of accounting firms have some kind of CRM software, but less than 5% use it regularly (every two weeks). The two biggest challenges to firms using their CRM regularly are ongoing data entry and lack of team accountability.

Before you decide to implement a CRM tool for your firm, consider the following hurdles and whether you’ll be able to overcome them:

1. Team buy-in

Change is hard. Adding a new tool to your team’s operations is no small feat, so you’ll need to be prepared to lead by example, help troubleshoot, request their feedback, and repeat your vision until all team members actually buy-in to the benefits of a “new way of doing things.”

2. Cost

Depending on the size of your team and the number of clients you serve, a CRM tool can cost several thousand dollars per year. Before dropping that kind of financial investment, you’ll want to make sure you’re actually going to use what you’re paying for. Evaluate plenty of tools, and read through accounting forums to find out what features are worth it, and which ones go unused.

3. Ease of use and required training

Similar to your team buy-in, you’ll also want to consider how easy the tool is to use on a day-to-day basis. Does everyone have to go through onboarding training or read 5 hours of help documentation before they know how to use the tool? Beyond just the money you spend on the tool itself, you’ll want to evaluate what kind of time investment it will take to get your entire client list and everyone up and running in a new system.

Accounting CRM Features

1. Centralized contact list and client history

The number one feature of a CRM is that it needs to store all of your client information and makes that information accessible to everyone on your team. As you continue to use the CRM, it should also offer a clear history for each client, so anyone on your team can easily look back at past work and conversations and pick up where things left off.

2. Team collaboration and delegation

Most CRM tools offer a way for your team to add notes and assign tasks so that the tool becomes and remains your source of truth on all client work. Some tools also provide additional collaboration features like document sharing, email templates, and more.

3. Sales pipeline

A core feature of CRM tools is having some way to track the lifecycle of your clients, so you can better understand the effort required to convert someone from being a potential client to a lifelong client. You should be able to see where any of your clients are in that lifecycle at any given time.

4. Automated workflows

Perhaps one of the best features of a CRM is the ability to set up and run customized, automated workflows. Turning repetitive manual tasks into automatic work your software does for you should offer huge time savings for your team. Automated workflows create an efficient way to prompt your team and your clients to take important actions at exactly the right time to keep work moving smoothly.

5. Email marketing & drip campaigns

Sophisticated CRM software will connect with your email client or email marketing software, triggering behavior-based emails that encourage your clients to take the next step in their lifecycle. Internally, you can set up email campaigns to remind accountants about upcoming deadlines or check on the progress of a file that hasn’t been marked complete yet. Externally, you can send deadline information to your clients, along with follow-ups (because one email is never enough!) and appointment requests.

6. Streamlined client onboarding and management

If you purchase a CRM tool specifically built for accounting firms, they may offer the ability to set up and organize your client onboarding process. If you can put the time and effort customizing your client onboarding process via your CRM, this will reduce the administrative load for your team. With additional features like self-service client portals, document signing and sharing, and scheduled reminders, you can also manage a lot of your client administrative tasks without a lot of extra burden on your team.

7. Integrations with other software

While it’s not an absolutely critical feature, keep your eyes out for CRM software that can integrate with many of your other accounting tools, like QuickBooks, or even your calendar for meeting scheduling. Getting all of your tools to communicate with each other will keep your data clean and in sync, without lifting a finger.

8. Reporting and analytics

Data reporting is another key feature of CRM tools. Whether it’s tracking email opens and clicks, your team’s average email response times, or other useful sales pipeline data, it’s important to be able to measure key performance indicators. By measuring what matters, you’ll be able to identify ways to improve the way your firm delivers client service. 

The 14 Best Accounting CRM Software

  1. Accelo
  2. MethodCRM
  3. ABLE
  4. Bitrix24
  5. 1CRM
  6. Workbooks
  7. Nimble
  8. Capsule
  9. Insightly
  10. Keap
  11. HubSpot CRM
  12. Zendesk Sell
  13. Close.io
  14. Liscio

1. Accelo

They say: “Accelo integrates your staff, clients, work, and billing in a central system so that everyone on your team has real-time access to client information. Accelo offers seven CRM features that they consider are accounting firm “must-haves”: centralized client information, automation, comprehensive billing and invoicing, adaptive staff scheduling, direct sync with your email clients, email and status update triggers, and integrations with over 20 tools, including QuickBooks, JIRA, and more. 

Starting price: $39 / user / month (required: minimum of 3 users)

Free trial: 14 days

2. MethodCRM

Method touts itself as the #1 rated CRM by QuickBooks ProAdvisors and sports features such as two-way sync with QuickBooks (Desktop and Online), client portals for invoices and payments, conversation tracking, automated workflows, and simplified client onboarding. 

Starting price: $28 / user / month
Free trial: 30 days

3. ABLE

ABLE is a CRM, Marketing, and Business Development platform designed for accounting firms. Built around a dashboard that allows you to identify your top 12 clients, 10 currently active referral sources, and 14 of your most coveted prospects, ABLE wants to help your firm achieve sustainable, profitable growth. ABLE’s features also include a sales pipeline, client surveys, and marketing best practices. 

Starting price: $6,500 for 14 months; includes 10 users + 2 admins (requires a $1,995 basic setup fee)
Free trial: No

4. Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is available as a cloud-hosted or self-hosted CRM software. It has a free version that comes with unlimited client records, quotes, invoices, tasks, documents scheduling, and time tracking, but with a limit of 5GB of storage. If you want email marketing included, or additional storage and features, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.

Starting price: Free

5. 1CRM

1CRM aims to be your “all-in-one” solution, with daily task management, marketing automation, order management, sales, customer service, and project management. For accounting firms, 1CRM offers invoicing, billing & payments, and scheduled reports.

Starting price: $15 / user / month 

Free trial: 30 days

6. Workbooks

Workbooks CRM provides a 360-degree view of your prospects and clients, tracking and analyzing interactions and transactions you have had. It also has assignments, personalized email campaigns, and automation. Plus, you’ll get access to their CRM Success for Accounting program to help you implement the software with your team. The program covers contact management, campaign & lead management, business development & pipeline reporting, and implementation approach.

Starting price: $30 / user / month (billed annually)

Free trial: 30 days

7. Nimble

Nimble is an all-in-one tool where you’ll be able to easily locate your contact information and team’s interaction history, add notes, and update deal statuses. This tool enables you to unify your contacts, communications, social media connections, and calendar appointments with more than 160 apps.

Starting price: $25 / user / month

Free trial: 14 days

8. Capsule

Use Capsule to store everything you know about your clients in one central place. Easily manage your sales opportunities in a clear and simple sales pipeline which reminds you to keep in touch with your prospects to stay top of mind. You can connect to accounting apps like QuickBooks or Xero, assign clients to team members, and use the task manager to stay on top of deadlines.

Starting price: $18 / user / month

Free trial: 30 days

9. Insightly

Insightly is a fully-featured CRM software platform that will allow you to manage client relationships, send and track emails, set up lead routing, build custom workflow automation, track milestones, manage processes, and integrate with external systems to ensure on-time delivery and happy customers.

Starting price: $29 / user / month

Free trial: 14 days

10. Keap

See details all at-a-glance: contact info, phone number, email, social media, addresses, and even birthdays. Pull up any shared files, documents, images, contracts, and proposals instantly. Easily refer to a history of all meetings, payment, quotes, conversations, and emails.

Starting price: $30 / user / month (first user is $79/mo)

Free trial: 14 days

11. HubSpot CRM

With detailed reports on sales activity, productivity, and individual performance, you’ll never be in the dark about how your team is tracking toward quotas, and you’ll have all the data you need to coach your team to success. Best of all, enjoy unlimited users, data, and up to 1,000,000 contacts with no time limit or expiration date — whether you’re a team of 1 or 1,000.

Starting price: Free (Advanced plans start at $50/mo for 2 users)

Free trial: No

12. Zendesk Sell

Make calls, send emails, schedule meetings, and view deal history all from one place—without logging everything by hand. Whether you want to track campaigns through Mailchimp or view the status of contracts in Pandadoc, all the information you need is added to Sell. You can even build your own apps using the Zendesk Apps framework. With Sell, you get drag-and-drop dashboards, as well as 30+ out-of-the-box reports for visualizing, understanding and interacting with your data.

Starting price: $25 / user / month

Free trial: 14 days

13. Close.io

Get full context on every deal with communication, tasks, and reminders in one central sales hub. Close will import past emails from G Suite, and it integrates with a number of tools, including Asana, Mailchimp, Zoom, DocuSign, and PandaDoc. 

Starting price: $35 / user / month

Free trial: 14 days

14. Liscio

Liscio calls itself your “all-in-one digital front office,” with real-time messaging, client-facing task management, electronic signature, and file management in a single place. Liscio also boasts a mobile app that gives your firm and your clients the freedom to connect and work together from anywhere, anytime.

Starting price: $50 / month

Free trial: No

When CRM is overkill, accounting firms use Outpost

Outpost isn’t a complicated CRM or a confusing Client Management Software—and it won’t break your budget. It’s a simple shared inbox that your team will love because it looks and feels just like regular email, designed for collaboration. Outpost takes the pain out of managing client email so your whole firm can see everything in one place, respond to emails quickly, focus on billable work, and provide excellent service. 

You can start a free 14-day trial of Outpost, or request a demo from one of our email experts.

Get all these features, for only $14.95 / user / month:

  • Unlimited mailboxes
  • Centralized contact list across mailboxes
  • Assignments
  • Private, internal notes
  • Saved template responses
  • Collision alerts
  • Tags
  • Rules
  • Real-time analytics
  • Mobile app

Start your Outpost account for free today »

Posted in Email, Productivity

Jonathan Michael

Jonathan Michael

Jonathan is the Engagement Marketing Manager for Palo Alto Software, and has spent the last 9 years developing and implementing digital marketing strategies. During that time, he has learned that empathy and authenticity are strengths by which companies can effectively engage with individuals at every point throughout the customer journey.