Head in the clouds Manage small business CRM activities with Salesforce Contact Manager Edition

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

salesforce_logoIn Ollie 180, we commented that most CRM software is geared towards the enterprise.   Small businesses were either paying for too much or left to their own devices.   Perhaps, we spoke too soon.

Salesforce just rolled out Contact Manager Edition, a lite beer version of their popular CRM cloud application.  Contact Manager is designed with the small guy in mind, giving him the essential tools for collecting, managing, and capitalizing on leads.  Here’s the highlights:

  • Contact & Account management
  • Email Integration (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc)
  • Standard & customized reporting
  • Google Apps integration

What’s great about this feature set is it works with a small outfit’s existing CRM practices.   The majority of your contact and lead information is probably stashed in your email; automatic email integration means that data can be stored in the cloud and accessible by any team member.  If you’re using Google Docs to manage a sales pipeline or Calendar for your appointments (btw – highly recommended this), you have the added bonus of tying these into your CRM software.

Salesforce Contact Manager will run you $9/month for 1-2 user licenses, and there’s a 14-day free trial.   We think Contact Manager is a good choice on its own merits, but the fact that you can upgrade your package as your company and CRM needs grow is a real selling point.  Salesforce is an established player with a robust platform, not to mention, a whole suite of on-demand applications through their AppExchange program (e.g. Adwords, Facebook, Vertical Response, and Hoovers mash-ups).

Cloud computing refers to a style of computing where users access common software or applications from the web. Software is installed on a network server, so there's no hardware or maintenance required for the individual computers that use the cloud.

Force.com is Salesforce's open development platform. To date, over 100,000 applications have been developed to complement Salesforce functionality. Several companies have found that opening their technology to the public allows for innovation and new product development at no cost to them.

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  Ollie 180 Manage your sales pipeline quickly and efficiently with browser-based PipeJump

Posted by maggie.hunsucker August 6, 2009 at 11:43 am

Pipejump logo

When it comes to sales pipelines, things are pretty black and white.  You’re either paying for an expensive CRM software or going old-school with the Excel spreadsheet.   There really isn’t much in between for the small-to-medium size business.

If you’re looking for a simple, hassle-free way to manage your deals, try PipeJump.  PipeJump is designed with the small guy in mind.  Leads are managed in an uncomplicated 4-step process:  Incoming, Qualified, Quote, and Closure.  For new leads, simply add the pertinent details (name, contact, scope, etc), and as the deal progresses, drag it to the next level.  You can also add notes and set follow-up reminders.

Pipejump screen

PipeJump is an online application, so everything is visible/accessible by your staff.  At any time, you can pull reports to see all your deals, including sales/deals by client and owner.   You can also see where most of your deals are coming from and the reasons you are losing out.   PipeJump displays this information in easily-digestible charts and graphs.

pipejump screen 2

Let’s be honest, small companies and freelancers don’t have the time or manpower to meticulously update a database or spreadsheet.   Without an omniscient view of your business development activities and the potential revenue coming through the door, you’re operating in the dark.

Here’s a dead simple and pretty cheap way to manage your sales pipeline.  PipeJump packages start at $24/month for a lone license and up to $59/month for 10 users and unlimited deals.   There are no contracts, and all packages come with a 30-day, no-strings-attached free trial.

PipeJump was created by Polish development house and Ruby on Rails lovers, Applicake. They're also responsible for Vzaar, an Ebay video product.

PipeJump has published an ebook of Daily Sales Tips for qualified deals, which you can download for free on their site. These tips are compiled from daily tweets (@DailySalesTips), but it's nice to have them all in the PDF format.

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  Pipeline in your pocket Access your CRM on the go with the Salesforce Mobile iPhone App

Posted by maggie.hunsucker March 24, 2009 at 1:46 pm

picture-2Salesforce and its AppExchange program has yielded popular mashups with Google Adwords, which gives Adwords users the ability to create and track campaigns from within Salesforce, and Facebook, which lets you import Facebook profiles into your contact lists (Faceconnector is an idea we previously covered when it was called Faceforce).

Of course, it didn’t take long for the popular CRM service to find its way to another application network.  Now you can access your Salesforce account directly from your iPhone with Salesforce Mobile.  This app gives Salesforce users the ability to take all of their customer data with them in the field, which is where you want your sales and marketing professionals to be.  Not tethered to a desk.

With Salesforce Mobile, you can view and edit your Accounts, Opportunities, and Leads from your iPhone.  Of course, you can manage sales pipelines, contact information, account activities, etc.   If you have an employee out of the office, he/she can:

  • Respond to leads and customer requests immediately
  • Log sales activities like calls and meetings while out in the field
  • Access up-to-date account records before stepping into a meeting

Salesforce Mobile is a free download, but you will need a Salesforce Mobile license or an Unlimited Edition account to use, assuming you are a member of Salesforce.  You can sign up for a free 30-day trial to demo both the product and the iPhone app.   With mobile access and its own app store full of big name partnerships, Salesforce makes a pretty good pitch to be your CRM software of choice.

The reason AppExchange is such a robust offering is because Salesforce opted to open up their API and let other products and developers work to make their platform better. It has over 400 apps on tap, including mashups with Hoovers and Vertical Response. Developerforce.com provides interested parties with access to the API, guides, tutorials, webinars, and more.

With the explosion of internet-enabled smartphones and mobile applications, it will interesting to see how our business processes evolve over the next few years and what products emerge to meet our needs. Salesforce Mobile works because of its immediate simplicity. It's not reinventing the wheel; it's providing a mobile extension of a widely popular and intuitive platform.

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  Touchy-feely Enhance your business relationships with the Stay in Touch iPhone app

Posted by maggie.hunsucker March 11, 2009 at 7:05 am

stay-in-touch-logo

If you’re in sales, you probably use some kind of CRM tool to manage your sales pipeline and contact list.  However, what’s often missing is the R part – relationship. What about all of those contacts and potential buyers that you just want to stay in touch with, so that you and your brand are in mind when your buyer is in “the zone”?

You can use the Stay in Touch app for iPod Touch or iPhone to do just that – stay in touch.  This little app goes a long way in helping you maintain your business relationships.    It clones the look and feel of the iPhone’s existing contact list and imports all your information.   However, when you click (technically, touch) a contact’s name, you have the option of setting a reminder – weekly, fortnightly (i.e. biweekly), monthly, 3 months, 6 months, etc – which will come up randomly and prompt you to followup with a contact.   And because it’s an iPhone, you can either call or email that contact directly from your device.

stay-in-touch-screen-1 stay-in-touch-screen-2

The genius behind the Stay in Touch app is it isn’t designed to be a calendar or appointment system.   It’s a general reminder that pops up from time to time, suggesting a customer or contact followup.   You can just as easily ignore it, but obviously, the idea here is to follow through with as many as you can, maintaining an on-going dialogue with all the people in your network – not just the ones your happen to remember.

There is a lot of variety and scope in the iTunes App store, and just as the commercial states, "there's an app for that". While it's certainly not an easy road (we can attest after developing the Mission Zero app), developers can download the iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit) for free and try their hand at developing their own app.

Few deals close overnight. In fact, most successful business relationships are built over time. Platforms like Salesforce and Highrise are designed around this fact, cataloging conversations, correspondences, and "opportunities" throughout your relationship with a potential buyer.

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  Cloud your judgment Create your own cloud-based widgets with youcalc

Posted by maggie.hunsucker March 5, 2009 at 3:46 pm

youcalc_logo

What if you could take the the most relevant information from across your enterprise (the company, not the ship) and create one dashboard with all of your key metrics?

That’s the idea behind youcalc, an analytics application that connects your existing on-demand systems, giving you a single screen for your sales pipeline, revenue forecasting, and even, your web analytics.   Youcalc works with Highrise, Salesforce, Google Adwords, and more.  There is no complex setup; choose your apps from the youcalc library, plug in your account information, and choose how and where you want your dashboard to appear.   You can utilize your Salesforce account, view from a web browser, or embed a widget in iGoogle or an external website.

The benefit, besides consolidation and access, is that a company can take all of its data into account and make more informed decisions about marketing investments and manpower.   You can compare actual sales vs. quotas, revenue forecasts vs. previous year sales, weigh certain metrics, set benchmarks for team members, and even drill down and track individual sales efforts (e.g. number of sales calls, deals closed).   Youcalc intermingles your data in easy-to-interpret charts and graphs, highlighting areas of concern and possible solutions.

Youcalc charges a monthly user fee of $19.95, but you can test-drive the product for free for 30 days or try their free account, which gives you access to all the free apps in the youcalc library and grants you one user license.


Youcalc members can modify existing apps or create new ones all together. The service claims you don't have to be a developer to create a custom app (zero code, drag and drop), but we recommend a certain level of technical expertise before diving in, if not the help of a professional.

If you want to know where your sales are coming from (and how to improve your return on marketing investment), you need to keep a sharp eye on every dollar. If you need to know more about ROMI, be sure to check out the ROMI specialists at Marketing NPV. They've a ton of great information available for your perusal.

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