Why Economic Development teams should use a CRM for government
Not every Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is built equally. By using a CRM for government, you’re using a tool that was built to serve the unique needs of the government. Government departments, especially Economic Development departments, are different from a sales team, who are the typical users for the largest CRMs on the market today.
For example, government teams work on projects that can span multiple years, talking to your “customers” (businesses, community members) is a responsibility for most team members, rather than a siloed sales team, and there are usually many external partners involved. With all these unique traits, it’s important to find tools that not only serve your city’s goals but also your community.
Finding the right tools for your department
Having access to accurate data is crucial to meeting your department’s goals. Instead of having important information live in email threads or the brains of long-time staff, the right CRM for government can keep this information under one roof. Using a CRM built for economic development, like Bludot, allows you to create profiles for each business to contain information such as industry/NAICS code, business revenue, minority- and veteran-owned, contact information, number of employees and address. Knowing the right information helps you create stronger business relationships, too.
“One of the primary uses for the Bludot CRM is using it as a retainer of information over the years. It’s great that users can see background information on a specific business so that everyone is in the loop." Marie Suvansin, Economic Development Manager City of Concord, CA Office of Economic Development
To maintain this flow of information, it’s important to track communications with each business. General CRMs allow you to track some communications, but can be mostly focused around sales pipelines. However, a CRM for government will allow you to track specific economic development interactions, such as business visits/walks, emails, as well as creating and logging surveys and their responses.
You can also use these CRMs to collect grant applications, business license applications or other development-specific forms. It’s a great way to gather feedback from the community and identify where additional support is needed. With the data at your fingertips, it’s easy to download reports and graphics to share with press, community members, or your chamber of commerce.
"I love that the reporting features are so easy. If I just want to target certain industries or if somebody wants to know how many manufacturers we have in the city, I can quickly run the numbers. Say I get some information about a job fair and I know that HR people are wanting to attend, I can use Bludot and just blast out the information that I've received. It’s so effective because it's so simple." Stephanie Scalos, Business Retention & Expansion Coordinator City of Clearwater, FL Economic Development
As an Economic Development department, you’re often collaborating outside of your own team. General CRMs have limited users, require users to be on the same domain or don’t allow guest permissions. A CRM for government should allow you unlimited users, so anyone can be added to the platform. That way, a Fire Chief, Public Works/Non-Emergency City Services and even your Chamber of Commerce can view specific levels of business data. This allows for streamlined collaboration—so other partners can access important data quickly—which is crucial when communicating about time sensitive issues like road closures, pipe explosions or other community interferences.
“There was a shopping center where the lights were constantly blinking and it was an issue, like a strobe light effect. Residents had called several different departments in the city and we were just starting to roll out Bludot. So, when I came to work, I was able to look in the Bludot system to see who the property manager was, contact them, and all of the email information went right into the Bludot system. Then I got a call from our code enforcement department, “Oh thank you so much. I see who I was supposed to contact for this problem but I see that you already took care of it because the notes are already in Bludot.” So that was really good.” Shelley Burcham, Economic Development Administrator City of Lathrop, CA
In government, certain projects can take years to complete. This requires very intentional succession planning to ensure smooth transitions between employees, departments and businesses. Having all of the information in one place makes succession planning much easier by storing historical data in a place that is easy for new employees to access.
Additionally, temporary employees such as summer interns, can easily be added to the platform, so they can assist in data collection. When searching for a CRM for government, it’s crucial to find the right tools that work with—not against—government technology policies.
“Coming from a previous city and now being in Concord, I’ve seen that one challenge that cities face is how to do succession planning when people come and go as to making sure that information is passed along accordingly.” Robert Carrera, Former Economic Development Specialist City of Concord, CA Office of Economic Development
A CRM for government that works with your community
In many cases, the government uses the data they collect to build stronger community relationships. Bludot and other platforms specifically built for economic development recognize this and build tools that allow for information to be cross-referenced between internal and external tools. For example, the Bludot CRM collects internal data that also can be used in Bludot Open—the public facing business directory. Not only does this business directory maintain updated contact and location information, but businesses can update their own information, add job postings and news and events—all information that flows back to the government’s database. It makes collecting and sharing this crucial information even easier.
Implementing a CRM for government into your workflow can make a huge difference in the way a city operates—however, you want to make sure you’re using the right one before beginning a department overhaul. Consider using a CRM built specifically for government use, so you can spend more time supporting your city and less time on the phone with IT.
Schedule a call with Bludot today to learn more about finding the right CRM for your government.