Perhaps ‘CRM’ is actually the wrong word here. But whether you call it a CRM, Investor CRM, or even an excel spreadsheet, the point is, you need to track investors and your progress with them as part of a concerted effort to improve relationships and gain trust. So what CRM tools are most useful to you in this endeavour? We’ll explain and provide some examples below.
What is a CRM?
Firstly, what are we talking about when we say ‘CRM’? This is an acronym for a customer-relationship-management tool. While not every public company has customers, we all have investors. There are a few investor relations tools out there that dub themsleves an “investor relations CRM” but few seem to have made the leap to web applications. Since we don’t typically use desktop software, this article is going to focus on web-based CRM platforms.
The Big Players
The gold standard in customer acquisition and management. But you’ll notice from the name, that this isn’t strictly-speaking an investor relations tool. Salesforce is what it sounds like, a sales tool. If you’re working at a public company who sells stuff to people (crude oil, children’s books or intellectual property), your organization almost certainly is using Salesforce in some capacity.
The advantage of tapping into this existing infrastructure is that your sales and marketing departments can help share the burden of cost. A few new user accounts won’t be all that expensive, and if they have a good relationship with their account manager at Salesforce, you might get those for free. If not, you’re looking at spending around $125 / user / month. That’s not horrible, especially considering the number of uses Salesforce has. You get email functions, autoresponders, document storage, and best of all, everything is stored for you in the cloud.
We would recommend Salesforce if you’re very data focused. It’s perhaps a good tool for MLPs and anyone who has a big retail investor base and doesn’t know most of their major shareholders by their first name. If you need a robust product and great customer support, this is where you should go.
Price point: $125 / user / month
Of all the products they offer, we think Ipreo’s BD Advanced is the ticket. It’s probably the best integrated with other services as well. In fact, it’s plugged directly into the Salesforce system. They released this in early 2014 and it seems to have gotten better since then.
Built on the back of the BigDough system, their CRM is probably the best on the market. But you do have to pay for it. With all the bells and whistles you’re looking at spending upwards of $1000 / month. Is it worth it? That’s really going to depend on your purposes. If you’re genuinely looking to increase your analyst coverage, hit roadshows and win deals, then the prospecting tools that Ipreo offers can’t be beaten right now.
We highly recommend BP Advanced in preference to anything else provided by the big guys. Ipreo is the sort of tool you can share between multiple team members quite easily and collaborate on strategy when reaching individual investors or analysts. We also dig the focus on roadshows. That’s great.
Price Point: varies depending on setup
The Alternatives to Ipreo
It should be pretty clear that we think Ipreo is the standout in this particular group of tools. But if you’re on a budget and need to focus your cash in other areas there are some much cheaper web applications which serve a lot of the same purposes if you know how to use them.
I included this specifically for the document authorship and sharing as well as the mobile app. Business Card readers are still coming to the IR world. I’ve passed out more business cards than I care to remember in the past two years, but then what do you do with all the cards you’ve collected a roadshows and marekting events? Evernote has the answer.
The Evernote mobile app lets your quickly snap a photo of the card and upload it straight into any CRM you like. It works with Salesforce, Sugar CRM and more. Even if you’re using Ipreo, this is worth having as a backup for digitizing your contacts as quickly as possible. I’ve even tried with a partner of ours, setting up an auto-responder so that while you’re talking to the person, you snap a photo of their card and before you’ve gone your separate ways, an email is in their inbox thanking them for stopping to say hi. Spooky, maybe, but a highly effective social engagement strategy.
Price Point: $5 / month / user
A more robust Ipreo alternative is Contactually, predominantly because of its social media integration. You can link your Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter accounts right into the platform and download all your contacts in an instant (or however long their servers require on that particular day). This is what makes Contactually the #1 choice we recommend to investor relations firms when they’re prospecting.
Contactually is a great tool for managing relationships and monitoring how often you have touchpoints with someone. One key thing we like about it is the reminders: for example, if you haven’t touched base with a small investment fund in 5 weeks, you’ll get a notification telling you to reach out to them. At this point, you can batch a message from your list of templates.
It’s an excellent way to track your interactions across all these social networks as well. Not only do you see emails and LinkedIn messages, but also tweets. If someone hasn’t read your last email but has tweeted at you, you’ll hear about that too as part of their catch-all inbox for every individual contact. We really can’t say enough good things about Contactually as an investor relations CRM – that’s not what it was built for, but it can serve the purpose.
One last thing on this: you can also set up personal reminders such as birthdays and anniversaries. So when one of your friends is turning 40, you’ll know in advance and be told to act. Let’s see Ipreo do that.
Price Point: $40 / user / month
The Hubspot CRM isn’t technically available yet. But we have access to an advanced Beta and the product is spectacular. It’s plugged right into your marketing channels. It’s integrated with your social media monitoring tools. You get a range of self-help and training tools with your membership. Again, it’s not an Investor CRM per se, but you can definitely use it with acquisition goals in mind.
We’ve employed the prospecting tools pretty effectively. In fact, we consider the IP tracking and analysis of Hubspot to be more effective than the prospecting in Ipreo because you can identify subscribers who have downloaded specific content on your website. That’s pretty damn handy.
The only thing I would caution with Hubspot is that it takes some driving. If you’re strapped for time with retail shareholders as it is and struggling to make it through the day, Hubspot is a little bit too much for the average IRO. If, however, you’re working in small- or micro-cap and you’re looking to really build brand awareness, this could be the tool for you.
Price Point: $800 / month – up to 5 users