Looking for a Sweet Customer Relationship Management Tool? Try LinkedIn

Jeff Graham

I’m more than a little disappointed with Customer Relationship Management tools. They’re expensive, hard to use, and can cost a small fortune. I know this from personal experience because over the past month I’ve been evaluating a number of them: Salesforce, Insightly, Sugar... the list goes on. The more I looked into my options, the more I started to realize that I was already using a pretty sweet CRM tool… and it’s called LinkedIn.

Outlandish you say? I’m not so sure about that. If the whole point of a CRM tool is to manage customer relationships, or in other words, manage how customers interact with you and your business, why not consider LinkedIn as a key tool?

With that in mind, here are a bunch of reasons why LinkedIn works very, very well as a CRM tool:

  1. LinkedIn is self updating: One of the worst parts of managing a CRM tool is keeping your customer information accurate and up-to-date. LinkedIn does that automatically, and it’s a huge time saver.

  2. Your customers can contact you: Brands take note! Last month KLM announced that it would offer full customer service through LinkedIn. You can even change your flight and check your baggage details.

  3. LinkedIn is easy to use: Most people can easily find their way around the features and functionality of LinkedIn. Even if you can’t, there are lots of resources online to help you. The same can’t be said for every CRM tool.

  4. You can set notes, tags and reminders: Some of the best functionality of LinkedIn is that you can create notes, tags and reminders for different customers. Have an upcoming meeting with one of your LinkedIn contacts? Set a reminder in LinkedIn and watch what happens.

  5. It has built in lead generation: Whether it’s through InMails, Introductions or Groups, LinkedIn has a variety of ways to build solid leads.

  6. There is seamless email integration: Not everyone realizes that LinkedIn can actually integrate with your email account to give you a full correspondence history.

  7. LinkedIn lead scores for you: If someone has connected with you, or followed you, you’ve probably got a decent contact... there’s no need to assign an arbitrary level of interest to the individual.

  8. It has blogging capability: The LinkedIn publisher program now allows its members to post their ideas to seamlessly to their network. This is an excellent form of content marketing.

  9. LinkedIn is not going anywhere: I’m very bullish on the future of LinkedIn. I wouldn’t worry about it getting gobbled up by a competitor, but I would definitely worry about what might happen to some of the other CRM tools out there.

  10. LinkedIn is free: This is the best part. Instead of paying up to $300 per month for a CRM tool license, LinkedIn is free.

Obviously LinkedIn won't necessarily do everything a business needs to manage customer relationships (you will need things like a phone number and an email address), but it sure does a good job at managing key parts.

If you're in the market for a CRM tool, I'd keep an open mind, and think about the role LinkedIn can play.