Trello is a collaboration tool with a user-friendly interface that allows users to arrange tasks by priority and by grouped lists. However, it can function as customer relationship management (CRM) software with a few simple customizations. It can also then be integrated with other business productivity tools for a more complete sales management process, making Trello a low-cost alternative for those with simple sales pipelines to more traditional CRMs.
You can skip the steps presented here by using the CRMble Power-Up. Power-Ups are third-party tools that work with Trello and provide additional functionality. The CRMble Power-Up, for example, automatically provides boards with premade lists (sales stages), and the cards (leads) come with preconfigured contact information fields built in.
You can activate CRMble by clicking on the Show Menu button, then clicking on Add Power-Up and searching for CRMble in the resulting pop-up window. However, it’s important to note the free Trello version only includes one Power-Up, and many Power-Ups require a separate subscription. If you think your sales team will use multiple Power-Ups, consider the Business Class plan for $10 per user, per month on an annual basis, which offers unlimited Power-Ups.
If you would prefer to minimize this charge or want a more customized contact and lead management system, follow these five steps to use Trello as a CRM:
1. Determine Your Business’ Sales Process
To customize Trello in a way that manages your organization’s sales process, you need to determine what that process looks like. This is known as your sales pipeline. Write down the major milestones or task groupings. Depending on the industry, you may have a few or many steps in the process (or pipeline) to discover a prospective customer and turn that customer into a paying one.
Below are some typical steps or stages in the sales pipeline:
- Lead generation: Acquiring a potential buyer from an online advertising campaign or a purchased lead list
- Initial impression: Happens during the initial touch base with a prospect, first call, or in an email introduction to set up a meeting
- Next impression: Following up with multiple points of contact to generate a meeting or demo
- Prospect meeting: Call or meeting with a prospect to determine their needs and fit for your product or service
- Product demonstration: A meeting or call to show how a product works, commonly used for software or tech sales
- Generate business proposal or quote: Creating and sending a document of cost estimates and terms after the prospect has generated further interest
- Quote follow-up: Following up multiple times on your quotes and proposals
- Negotiation: In some industries, it’s typical for a potential customer or client to negotiate terms, conditions, and prices
- Closed-won: This is the stage in which a lead or prospect has agreed to sign on to a service or purchase a product
- Client or customer onboarding: These are the steps involved in bringing on a new customer
- Cross-sell current customers: In many industries, it’s common to sell current clients additional products or services on a frequent basis
- Closed-lost: After reviewing options, the client determines the product or service is not suited for them for the time being
- Follow-up on lost business: Following up on business previously lost after a period of time, or if there are significant changes to your offering that could provide value to a former prospective client
2. Design Your Sales Pipeline Board in Trello
The next step is to visualize your sales process on Trello. Start by creating a Trello board, which will serve as your sales pipeline.
From the dashboard, click the top right “plus” button to create a new board. You’ll be asked to name the board—we recommend naming it with the specific product or service you are selling, such as “Commercial Property & Casualty Insurance Sales Pipeline” or “Project Management Software Sales Pipeline.” Keep in mind that you may have to create multiple boards if your business sells a wide range of services or products with differing processes.
Once you’ve finished creating a board, the next thing to do is to add lists. You will need to create a list for each of the various stages of your sales pipeline outlined in step one. Be sure to arrange them in chronological order. To add a list, click the “Add a list” option on the board and name it for whichever stage in the sales pipeline you want to add.
Once you’ve created your steps in the sales pipeline, you’re ready to add cards. Trello cards can also be set up to include fields for storing information about things such as your contacts, leads, prospects, and potential customers. When naming a card, we recommend keeping it consistent and focusing on the organization’s name and the relevant contact information for that organization.
Because all leads don’t start in the same stage, you can add cards anywhere in the sales pipeline. For example, suppose a potential customer is inbound—they contacted your sales representative first. In that case, they will start further down the pipeline than if your sales team contacted them through introduction calls or emails.
Start creating cards by clicking on the “Add a card” button under the list (or pipeline stage) where it should fall under. Then, fill in the information.
Here are some ways on how you can organize information within a card:
- Card title: Company name
- Description: Contact information (phone, email address), lead source (where the lead came from), and other relevant details like due dates, attachments, labels, and checklists
- Comments: Notes of previous conversations or messages you want to relay to team members involved
3. Add Team Members & Set Permissions
Customize Your Trello board further by adding team members and using internal features. Inviting team members to a board is easy—go to the board and select “Invite” from the menu. Then, choose an existing team member or enter their email address. Assign access restrictions by adding team members as administrators, observers, or regular members. You can also customize who can comment on various cards and who can invite other members.
Now that your board (pipeline) is created, your lists (stages) are set, some cards (leads) are in place, and your team has access to the board, the next step is to customize it according to your preferences. Change the background color and add pictures or board descriptions by going to your board and selecting “Menu.”
4. Integrate Third-party Applications (Optional Step)
Trello’s many third-party integrations and “Power-Ups” allow you to work more efficiently as a team as all your tools are accessible in one place. Below are just a few (out of hundreds) of the integration and Power-Up options to enhance your Trello CRM experience.
Enabling calendar Power-Ups allows your team to view sales deadlines (assuming you added deadlines to each card) on a calendar format. You can do this by clicking the “Calendar” button at the top right of your board. You also can integrate your Trello calendar with other platforms, such as Google Calendar and Outlook.
Since you’re using Trello as a CRM and not traditional project management, use the Custom Fields Power-Up for each of your cards. Go to the board menu and select “Custom Fields” from the Power-Ups directory. Hit “Enable,” and you’re all set to customize various fields within each card (lead).
One excellent way to use this is if you want to add “quoted price” data or information associated with servicing the client (assuming they become one), such as “number of employees” or “previous vendors.” Custom field options include checkboxes, dates, drop-down menus, numbers, and text.
Consider integrating Trello with Google Drive if your sales process involves many files or documents, such as quote proposals, contracts, and asset information. This allows you to attach files from Google Drive to your cards (leads), centralizing all information in one place.
To integrate Google Drive with Trello, follow these three easy steps:
- Go to the board menu and search “Google Drive” in a vacant Power-Up slot.
- Click “Add” to enable the integration.
- Once enabled, each team member needs to allow access to their Google Drive.
Trello offers hundreds of third-party integrations and Power-Ups. Below are some other options for specific needs useful for varying sales processes:
- Lead importing: Lead importing allows users to move contacts automatically from one platform into the Trello board as a card. Platforms that integrate with Trello include Zapier, Google Forms, JotForm, Typeform, and Gmail Contacts.
- Team communication: The ability to communicate within a team can accelerate the sales process. Communication tools linked to a CRM keep everything more centralized. For example, Trello’s Slack integration allows teams to communicate via messaging and send Trello cards (leads) to each other.
- Social media: Trello integrates with Twitter and allows profile information and tweets to be attached to Trello cards.
5. Manage Your Sales Process
Once your CRM board is set up (complete with lists, cards, customizations, team members, and the integrations you need), you’re ready to manage your sales process. Cards can be added manually or automatically and are moved through the sales pipeline using drag-and-drop functionality.
There may be situations where a lead needs to be moved to a different pipeline. This could occur if a potential client was disinterested in one service but expressed interest in another offered by your business. Or, if a lead is “business won” and is ready to engage with the onboarding process. Using Trello, you can easily move a card to another board.
Moving a card to another board is done by selecting the context menu on the top right of a card and clicking the “Move” button. Then, you have the option to move the card to another list (stage in the current pipeline) or a new board altogether.
Other features included on Trello boards are the Resource Lists. You can add files to a list to easily drag and drop onto cards or to team members. This is an excellent spot to store templates for email drafts, generic contracts, marketing materials, or pricing estimates for sales purposes.
Pros & Cons of Trello as a CRM
Using Trello as a CRM is an efficient way of combining project management with a customer relationship management system. It’s easy to use and relatively inexpensive compared to going with a paid option. Before deciding on your choice, consider the pros and cons of using Trello as a CRM.
|Easy drag-and-drop features||No built-in feature for advanced sales analytics|
|Relatively inexpensive to subscribe||Board customization is limited to just background color or image and description|
|Integration and Power-Ups are easy to implement through simple enablement buttons in the board menu||Social media integrations are limited to just Twitter|
Top Alternatives to Using Trello as a CRM
If your team wants to utilize the drag-and-drop features offered by using Trello as a CRM, but also needs functionality not offered by Trello, below are some viable alternatives.
Small businesses wanting a highly visual pipeline and built-in reporting and analytics features
Businesses that want integration capabilities with multiple social media channels, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter
Businesses needing a free CRM that is simple to use with built-in chat and email marketing features
Starting Price (per User, per Month)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many boards (sales pipelines) can I create on Trello?
Trello allows an unlimited number of boards with the Business Class plan. The free plan is limited to 10 boards.
Is there a mobile version of Trello?
Yes, Trello offers a mobile application for iOS and Android users to manage your CRM while on the go.
What’s the maximum number of cards I can add to my board?
Whether you’re using the free version or paid Business Class plan, both offer an unlimited number of cards.
While Trello is a terrific project management tool, much of its positive attributes are applicable to using it as a CRM system. Through drag-and-drop features, board customizations, Power-Ups within the platform, and third-party integrations, Trello offers functionality that other advanced CRM systems provide without breaking the bank.