Monday, 23 December 2013

Seasons Greetings!... And a Preview of What's to Come in Early 2014...

As we close out 2013 we wanted to thank you for your support and also give you a quick preview of some upcoming exciting new developments in early 2014.

2013 was a productive year for Insightly and we introduced many new features including:
Insightly University and our Online Knowledgebase
Insightly Reports
Insightly Android App
Insightly app for Outlook 2013/Office 365
Integration with social media channels
Web-to-contact functionality
Integration with Evernote 

Thank you for all your suggestions and devotion to make Insightly a great product!  We have more than 400,000 users across the globe and we are appreciative and humbled by the support we receive from each of you!

So what's cooking for the upcoming year?  In 2014 we aim to be even more productive, and here are some of the upcoming improvements that you'll see in the first quarter: 

Single User Pricing
Many users have asked for a single user license so we will be introducing very affordable single user pricing -- starting at $9/user/month with a 20 percent (20%) discount for an annual commitment.  Rest assured, if you are a paying customer you will be grandfathered in under your existing plan and pricing.  Over the next four to six weeks we will send out more emails to our users with detailed pricing information so that all of our users are prepared for the upcoming change.   We will also post this information here on our blog so feel free to subscribe for updates.


New User Interface 
Back in our September newsletter, we offered a sneak peek at our upcoming new user interface.  Even as you read this, our engineers are still working hard on this project and the new UI will be in production soon!





 14 Day Trial for Paid Plans
We will offer a trial period for our paid plans.  You will be able to try out all of the features in our paid plans at no charge and there will be no user limits on the plan during the trial period.


Instructor-Led Training
We will be offering an Instructor-Led Training (ILT) course for Insightly users.  This one day course will include hands-on product experience, user exercises and best practices.


Quickbooks Online Integration
QuickBooks is coming!  Look for an Insightly integration with QuickBooks Online in late Q1 2014.

Note: Insightly Support will be closed on Christmas and New Year's Day.

Again, thanks for your support and have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

#WINsightly -- Upgrade to a paid account and win an Insightly T Shirt

Don't have anything to wear to your holiday parties?  Expand your wardrobe with an Insightly T Shirt!  Between Saturday Dec 14, 2013 through Friday Jan 31, 2014 when you upgrade from a Gratis (free) Insightly account to a paid Insightly account (i.e. Starter, Advanced, Pro,  Large) you will be entered in a drawing to win an Insightly T Shirt.  Each Monday we will draw the names from the previous week's customer upgrades and send out 3 T Shirts to the lucky winners.  If you win, don't forget to share a picture with your Insightly T Shirt on social media with the #WINsightly.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Software Advice: 2013 Top CRM Buyer Trends

Earlier this month Software Advice, an analyst and software recommendation site, published the 2013 CRM BuyerView Study.  The audience included more than 5000 respondents primarily from small businesses with 20-100 employees.  The entire report is here and notable highlights include:
  • Of companies who indicated a deployment model preference, 96% requested a cloud-based solution
  • Seventy five percent of integrated suite buyers requested sales force automation
  • Seventy six percent of best-of-breed buyers requested sales force automation
  • Nearly 90% of buyers requested contact management, note-taking capabilities and/or reporting and analytics
In many ways, the results suggest that the needs of small businesses mirror the needs of large businesses and enterprise organizations - everyone wants to gain efficiency through automation and get a good grasp on business economics through CRM analytics and reporting.  For those of you in small businesses that are still managing key customer and business information through email or a spreadsheet, hopefully these survey results will give you the the knowledge and incentive you need to try a CRM.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Guest Post: 6 Strategies for Boosting Customer Service at Your Small Business

When it comes to significantly improving profits at an established small business, your options are limited. Short of an all-out social media marketing blitz, you only have a handful of choices: Offer a product or service that no other company can provide, which is tough to do in today's super-competitive marketplace, or give extreme discounts in the hopes that they can ignite business. Another option - and one that's often overlooked - is simply to improve your level of customer service. Beef up your profits more than you might expect by reading these helpful tips.

1. Focus More on Training
How often do you conduct training modules or seminars at your small business? If you're like most, probably not very often. Whether you have a highly tenured staff or a bunch of newbies, it's never a bad idea to offer training and support. Be sure to make these sessions fun, exciting, and engaging and your results can be quite significant. And don't just give your employees a packet of materials to read. Try unconventional training methods like role-playing to add a little pizzazz to your sessions.

2. Get Feedback From Your Clients
If one of your reps does a poor job of handling a customer, you may lose that customer for life. To avoid this, make a comment card available, or a sign pointing to your Facebook fan page or Twitter handle, and get some feedback from your patrons. You could even ask for your customers' email addresses and send out surveys via MailChimp, a contact management and email tracking website. Your customers are a goldmine of information - be sure you're getting the most out of them.

3. Conduct a Customer Service Meeting
So you've got your training modules taken care of, but have you ever had a staff meeting devoted strictly to customer service? If you decide to do so, make sure you leave everything else out - sales goals, contest results, and staffing changes - and focus strictly on improving customer service.  Ask your employees for five ideas and make it more of a roundtable discussion than a traditional meeting and you're sure to get some good results.

4. Genuinely Greet Your Customers
If you don't require your team to greet all customers entering your business, start doing that now. Just make sure they're genuine. Ask yourself what's worse, not being greeted at all when entering a business or hearing a bunch of half-hearted hellos from a staff that sounds like they just don't care?

5. Inquire About Ancillary Customer Needs
Does your business sell personal computers? If so, make it a requirement that your staff ask about computer mouses, mousepads, keyboards, and software whenever a purchase is made. If you sell digital cameras, then a memory card and carrying case should be added on to the purchase whenever possible. It's these little extras that can ensure a customer is completely taken care of (they may simply forget they need something until you remind them) and it's also a great strategy for increasing sales.

6. Walk the Walk Yourself
If you come up with a grand and aggressive customer service initiative, make sure you participate in its execution. Greet all customers wholeheartedly and ask about other products after you complete a sale. If you're going to make wholesale changes, it's important that you set the example for everyone.

While you may think you have the automatic buy-in of your managers when it comes to customer service, that may not necessarily be the case. Observe them in action and ask your staff members for occasional feedback on a manager, just be tactful in your approach. Customer service is an important way for a business to improve its bottom line and overall health, so start strengthening yours today.

What ways can you think of to improve customer service?

About the Author:  Ron Martin runs a small business from home in California and writes about topics including social media marketing, analytics, customer service, and finance.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The New and Improved Google Apps Marketplace

Great news for Google Apps users and admins!  In case you missed it, Google recently updated the Google Apps Marketplace.  The Google Apps Marketplace is a great resource to access best in class applications that extend the value of Google Apps.  One of the objectives of the updated marketplace is to make it even easier for Google Apps admins to access and administer these 3rd party apps via the admin console.  In addition to seeing 3rd party apps in the console, admins can also see product reviews so they can quickly choose the best applications for their users.  Insightly, along with twenty other 3rd party applications -- including applications from Cloud Alliance members -- is now available directly from the Google Apps Admin console.



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

5 Things that Make Project Management Difficult – Part 2



In Part 1, we reviewed three key areas or items where project management can be difficult…basically five common pet peeves of project managers that we’ve heard from our user base. In Part 2, we’ll cover two more and leave the forum open for your input and thoughts as well.

Poor Management Within
This is a broad issue that many project managers may have to face. Project managers can easily be frustrated when either the client or their direct boss is not giving them the attention or the support that they need. Each case may be different, but typically it’s not the specific fault of the individual, but an issue at the organization level. Maybe the client contact wasn’t properly prepared to take on the role, or maybe the project manager’s boss has too many other responsibilities to give full attention. Whatever the specific issue, the main thing is to try and resolve the issue. A system that contains both customer and project data can help project managers review the big picture (i.e. which customer projects take priority) as well as prioritize specific milestones and project tasks.  So sit down with either your customer contact or your boss and use the data at hand to help you address any organizational issues that may arise on your projects.

A Bad-fit Customer
Sometimes things just don’t work out. A solution that looked like a good fit for the project client just isn’t anymore. Selling the project to the wrong customer doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and in the end it doesn’t get you a happy, referenceable customer, but it can leave you with a bad reputation. A project manager trying to force a solution certainly puts everyone in an uncomfortable position and it can be very frustrating trying to lead this type of project. If you constantly have to manage ‘poor fit’ projects then you might want to consider sitting down with the sales team or account managers. Use the data in your CRM to identify common threads among these bad projects that your sales team can use to identify a bad-fit customer and avoid these situations in the future.

Summary
If you’re a project manager, these are just five issues of what might be a longer list of frustrating items. If you have more that you’d like to share, please comment and start a discussion. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Friday, 8 November 2013

5 Things that can Make Project Management Difficult – Part 1

The job of the project manager is not an easy one. Sometimes it’s not even straightforward or logical. It can be rewarding - just maybe not a position for the faint of heart.  So what we’ll cover in this two part series are five things that drive project managers crazy or make project management difficult at times. For some, these may just be pet peeves, but we’re betting that they are more widespread and may help you as you navigate your customer projects. 

The Disengaged Customer
We do everything we can to manage our customers well. Full-featured online customer relationship management (CRM) systems can be used to manage all of our contact information, project milestones, project documents and specific tasks. Once you have a live, active customer, that customer management doesn’t stop – in fact, it’s just the beginning. The value of a fully integrated and nicely collaborative online CRM and project management system is that all project members can manage the customer to make sure that the customer always stays engaged. 

Clearly your customer is interested in working with you, but your project may not be his or her top priority. Your customer has a day job – their own work and responsibilities that they are expected to perform at their own company for their  own boss. Your project is likely add-on work to what they already do. So, sometimes customers can suddenly get pulled away. That can be a huge frustration when we need key information or help making an important decision for the project that affects both sides. To avoid this, try keeping the project sponsor assigned to some ongoing tasks and make them accountable for the weekly reporting of the status for their assigned tasks. It doesn’t always work, but it helps in most cases. And, as customer contacts are added or changed – be sure to help maintain that information in the CRM system as well.

The Revolving Project Team Lineup
Sometimes critical project team members at your customer get pulled away to other projects and there’s nothing you can do about it. This can hurt the project, and sometimes the replacement may not be of the same caliber as the original project contact from your customer. So you may be left to pick up the pieces, onboard the new project team member as quickly as possible, and keep the new project team contact satisfied and convinced that the project is still valuable to their company. There’s no faster way to transition to a new project contact than having all the historical data at your fingertips in your CRM system. If it’s appropriate, give the new project contact at your customer access to your  CRM system so they can see the history first hand. If giving the customer access to your online CRM is not appropriate, at least export the schedule/milestones so they can get a high level overview of the project status.  

The Revolving Project Milestones
You customer agreed to the project and the milestones. Now project “feature creep” is happening and your customer is constantly changing the scope of the project. Unfortunately, we can’t give a resolution to this issue because there’s a different answer for every unique situation.  However, having all project documentation in one place  -- so that it’s easy to access -- should help you tremendously when you negotiate with your customer. 

So those are three of our five items for discussion.  In Part 2, we’ll finish up with the final two.  Keep in mind it’s certainly not an all-inclusive list, so feel free to offer your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Sending out sales proposals or quotes? Connect Insightly to Quote Roller!

If you're not familiar, Quote Roller helps you design and deliver elegant sales quotes to your prospects and clients. The Insightly integration makes this process even more efficient by allowing you to sync Insightly contacts and organizations to Quote Roller.  Make a great impression on your customers by creating polished, professional quotes in minutes!

If you are not a Quote Roller customer, click here to set up an accountQuote Roller is offering one month free to new accounts when you enter promo code: INSIGHTLYQR.  

If you are already a Quote Roller customer, log in to the application and set up the Insightly integration from the Settings > Integrations page.  For integration details, please see our online knowledgebase

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Downtime

Yesterday for about 5 hours between 3am and 8am PST the Insightly web app was only intermittently available to some customers. During that time our Android and iPhone apps on phones and tablets were always available, as was our web based mobile app, Gmail gadget, Outlook app, and our API.

Now that we've fully restored functionality of the web app, I'd like to share some of the technical details with you. The issue was one that surfaced only under our peak load of thousands of concurrent users, and was not evident during testing or in our quality assurance environment. A database connection was not being closed in the correct way in one critical place in our code, and at scale this caused connection resources within the system to reach their maximum.

We will audit our change process and increase the automation to prevent this mistake from happening in the future. We're also putting in place further system checks and simulated loads to uncover occurrences of this type, and we're re-evaluating our deployment process to move to more of a staged rollout so we can pick up and rectify any such issues much more rapidly.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to apologize sincerely. I know just how critical our service is to our customers and we will do everything we can to learn from this event and use it to drive improvements across the business. As with any customer impacting operational issue, we will spend a lot of time over the coming days and weeks improving our understanding of the details of this event and determining how to make changes to improve our services and processes.

Thanks,
Anthony Smith
CEO.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Upcoming Webinars: October 10 & October 24

Insightly Overview Webinar
The Insightly webinar will reveal why Insightly is the CRM of choice for 350,000 users!  Attendees will see a product demo and learn how Insightly can:
Organize and grow sales
Take internal collaboration and organization to the next level 
Turn users into productivity ninjas


Thursday, Oct 10, 2013
11am PT / 1pm CT / 2pm ET
Approx Duration: 45 mins
Register
Note:  This is an overview webinar, not an Insightly training webinar 


BizLaunch:  Increase Sales, Productivity and Profits With a CRM for Your Small Business
Later this month our partner BizLaunch will review the value of a CRM for small businesses.  BizLaunch was founded in 2003 by Andrew Patricio who has over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience. During this time he has started seven businesses, and has authored two books on small business topics. As an internationally recognized small business expert, Andrew has traveled throughout Canada, Russia, Latvia, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Korea, Holland, Namibia, Belgium, USA, Barbados and South Africa to train small business owners.


Thursday, Oct 24, 2013
10am PT / 12pm CT / 1pm ET
Approx Duration: 60 mins
Register

Monday, 16 September 2013

5 Steps to Better Project Management

Many of us are either new to project management or our organization is relatively new to a structured PM approach.  That’s ok – especially for smaller organizations.  The key is to set up a good process and build on it through successful project deployments and understand what works best for your organization and for your customers.  You can build a project management methodology, but be open to tweaking it along the way – especially for newer and/or smaller organization as you learn what works best for the size projects you manage.

That said, there are things you can do right now….today….that will make you a better project manager and make your overall project management practice stronger and more successful.  The list can be very long – probably as long as you like it to be – this post is meant to be something you can do quickly and easily. 

Use a good customer management tool
Many great cloud-based options abound for managing your customers.  It can be so easy to lose track of current clients, potential clients and those clients who want you to call them back next quarter when they have more money to spend.  You need a good customer relationship management (CRM) tool.  Download a few trial offers and see which one works best for your organization.

Use a good project management tool
Just like the CRM tool, there are many cloud-based and very affordable (sometimes free) project management tools.  Nobody is stuck with just using Microsoft Project anymore.  It’s large, it’s bulky, and it’s very expensive.  Search and try a few out…there are literally hundreds available now.  You can use a combination of a CRM and a separate project management application, or you can evaluate CRM applications that include project management functionality.

Collect templates and planning documents
A good methodology starts with reusable project management templates and plan documents.  You need to plan – you need those requirements documents and communication plans and statements of work.  But you also need templates, pipelines and stages so that you can easily repeat project successes.  Likewise, project schedule templates are great to have because they are difficult to create from scratch and once you have several good ones to choose from you can tailor them to get started on any type of project fairly quickly and be confident that you’re capturing the right tasks and including the key deliverables. 

Meet with your customer regularly
We should all be scheduling weekly status meetings on our projects with our project sponsors and teams.  However, you should also be reaching out regularly to your customer just to ensure that they feel all the bases are being covered.  Don’t be afraid to ask them how you’re doing…how they feel about the project.  Better to find out early about a concern than to let it fester into something that they end up calling your CEO about later in the project.  One way you solve the problem, the other way the problem gets solved for you and that’s bad.  Look for applications that let you create tasks or automatic reminders to stay in touch with your customers.

Treat your team professionally
You probably have at your disposal a solid group of very skilled project resources.  Treat them as such and they will follow you into battle.  Treat them with respect and be sure to acknowledge their successes along the way…publicly.  They won’t soon forget the recognition you give them for jobs well done.  Project managers don’t often get the praises they probably deserve for individual project successes, but that should never stop you from treating your team the way you would want to be treated and recognized.  It will pay off dividends throughout the engagement and when these same resources end up on your teams later on other projects.  Using a project management application can help you identify your star players and also help your entire team use the same repeatable processes for better overall efficiency.


Summary
This is just a short list of five things the project manager can do to make things better for them, their teams, their customers and the organizations they work in.  The list could go on and on.  Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences – especially in small to medium size…or startup type…business environments.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Love Insightly? Love Evernote? Now you can love them together!


If you're not familiar, Evernote is a handy application that is used by millions of people to record notes, photos, voice memos, and other important information about clients and projects.   Many of our customers have asked for the ability to connect Evernote items to Insightly records, and we have introduced a simple, elegant solution that fits right into your existing Insightly workflow.  

How does it work?  Just select the Notes tab and then click Add New Evernote to find and link your Evernotes to Insightly.  You can link your Evernote items directly to a contact, organization, opportunity, or project -- learn more here.

Simply add an Evernote from the Notes tab

All of your Insightly notes and your Evernotes are saved on the Notes tab

Insightly's Evernote integration is available to customers on all plan levels. If you already have an Evernote account, check it out and let us know what you think!  If you don't have an Evernote account, click here to get one.


Monday, 26 August 2013

The Cost of Disorganization

Most organizations focus their efforts on either generating revenues, or cutting expenses.  What frequently gets lost in the mix is the cost of disorganization.  Check out our recent infograph, that highlights the most popular offenders, and the estimated costs to an average small business.  Do you see any of the offenders in your business?  While most think of a CRM as a tool to improve sales, CRMs can also improve internal productivity, tracking, collaboration, and customer communication.


For better clarity, click on the infograph, place your cursor on the image, then click the magnifying glass




Monday, 19 August 2013

CRM Comparison: The Right Solution at the Right Price

If you aren’t already clear about the importance of customer relationships, consider the following statistics:

●    More than 85% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience.
●    Almost 90% of customers who leave to seek out a competitor do so after a poor customer experience.
●    Half of customers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they choose to leave that brand.


A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system used to be regarded as an enterprise-level solution reserved for companies with an IT department, money to spend and enough human resources to implement a complex system. These days, small businesses are turning the CRM market on its head. With technology changes bringing more seamless integration, helpful automation, and better low-cost options, small business owners are rapidly embracing CRMs for their affordability and usefulness in retaining (and expanding) their customer base. In fact, 84% of high-performing small and medium sized businesses cite being proactive with customers as their top reason for using a CRM.

That said, finding the right CRM solution can be tricky. With a host of features and pricing structures out there, how can a small business determine which CRM is best for them? Here are some tips for making the best CRM match for your small business.

Conduct an Audit
The truth is, no single “best” CRM exists. However, with research, you can find the CRM that’s best for you.  A CRM may be ranked well for its mobile application, but if everyone in your company works in-house, that CRM may not be a great fit. The best way to determine your CRM needs is to conduct an audit of your current workflow and approach to customer relationships. Interview your employees about their biggest challenges and top priorities. This will not only help you better identify company needs, but also build a foundation for later buy-in—a critical component of implementation.

Prioritize Top Features

After you have conducted your audit, make a priority list of mission-critical features your company needs to effectively handle customer relationships, workflow, and metrics. Some of the priority features you may wish to consider include:
●    Search capability and speed
●    Workflow automation
●    Email and calendar integration
●    Pipeline/opportunity management
●    Project management
●    Notification and follow systems
●    Social media integration
●    Task management and alerts

Do Your Research
Once you have your priority features or needs identified, do your research. You may run across important features you never considered but really want. Don't be afraid to stop and evaluate how these features play into your priority list. It's well worth taking the time to reconsider if it means setting up a system with full employee buy-in and a positive impact on your bottom line.

Explore Your Top Choices
Plenty of resources for comparing CRMs are just a keyword search away. One of the best resources for comparing CRMs, GetApp.com, offers a robust set of one-to-one comparisons of applications by category. The comparisons are very thorough and include customer rankings. Insightly has ranked very well amidst a handful of top-rated tools for small businesses—specifically, free CRM software. In fact, PCMag.com, another great resource, gave Insightly a rating of “Excellent” and designated it their Editor’s Choice. Take the time to compare the pros and cons of each tool carefully; the best solution for you may or may not be the one with the highest ranking. It all depends on your specific needs.  Also, your top choice may not offer all the features you want -- maybe the CRM that you want only offers 8 out of the 10 features you require.  In this case, contact the vendor to check if those features maybe added in the near future.  Leading CRM vendors are continually updating and improving applications.  In addition, take advantage of any free trials or free accounts so that you can 'play' with the product before you roll it out in your company. 

Involve Your Employees
Once you have identified your top contenders, you may want to involve a team of employees in making the final choice. Bringing them into the selection process  will increase their buy-in and the likelihood of effective implementation, so be sure to pay attention to their feedback, questions and concerns.  Once you have narrowed your choices of CRMs, think about an internal 'bake off' with your employees.  This can bring different perspectives to your decision and the employees involved in the testing can help get other employees on board with the new CRM.

Making an investment in improved customer relationships is essential to the health and growth of your business. With thorough research and comprehensive employee engagement throughout the CRM selection process, you’ll be well-equipped to find the right solution—at the right price—for you.

Friday, 16 August 2013

New Insightly Updates: API Access Available to Free Accounts and Web to Contact

Application Programming Interface
Our REST API is now available to free accounts. Our API is pretty conventional and you can pick it up pretty quickly if you have experience with REST APIs. We provide you with technical details and other resources to make your job easier. The API allows you automate data retrieval and modification in Insightly. We support JSON and XML based requests, and most of the data stored in Insightly can be accessed and updated via the API.  You can learn more here.
 
Web to Contact
This has been a popular request for some time so we are excited to deliver it to our users!  The Web to Contact feature allows you to easily create an HTML form for your website which will collect information from your prospects. It’s ingenious and simple -- select the fields you wish to capture in Insightly and we create the HTML code for your website on the fly. Once you paste the HTML code on your website a form is created.  When a visitor submits their information, Insightly will create a contact with the data they have entered and tag it with the ‘Web Contact’ tag.  If you choose to, Insightly can also send email notifications and limit the visibility of the new contacts to selected users.  You can access Web to Contact from the Systems Settings menu (gear icon in the top right hand corner).

Choose the fields you want to capture and Insightly generates the HTML code


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Mobile Client Relationship Management

The digital marketplace never sleeps, and neither should your customer relationship management (CRM) solution. While some CRMs don’t offer the greatest mobile functionality, others place a premium on it. Decide on the features and level of access that work best for you to find the right small business CRM solution for your mobile and real-time needs.

Access to Your CRM
No one ever truly leaves work behind anymore. We’re always connected. When it comes to tracking the most important relationships to your business, the value of instant access cannot be overstated. With customer interactions occurring all the time, you must be able to access your valuable CRM on an iPad, tablet or smartphone at any time. Reliable, fast mobile access is even more important for solutions that combine project management with CRM.

Mobile CRM access is a powerful benefit for sales teams. Imagine: a customer comes into your business or gives a call, and your associate can ask their name, pull out a smartphone, and have all that customer’s information in front of them with a few taps. In an instant, your rep can offer advice, upsells, cross-sells, and even add tasks to projects that involve the client based on this specific set of personalized information.

Mobile Productivity
CRM plus project management in the palm of your hand means you can stay on top of call logging, update contact details on the fly, and track project progression no matter where you are. The ability to sync data with other apps and software helps further flesh out your multi-channel view of your clients. It also keeps everyone in the company in the proverbial loop. Ideally, when accessing customer data, you’ll want more than just a purchase history. Call history, emails, appointments, and notes from any of these communications are all helpful pieces of the customer’s history. Well-crafted CRM apps and mobile sites ensure all members of your team can take advantage of this information immediately.

Small Businesses
For entrepreneurs and small businesses, Insightly’s free plan can get you started on managing all your customer data without a big price tag or contractual obligation. You can maintain an email list of farmer’s market customers, letting them know when you’ll be in the area and what in-season items they’ll find at your booth. Artists and craft businesses can similarly track sales and customer interactions with a few swipes whenever they’re needed.  Non-profits can track donors and fund raising events.  Real estate agents can continue to provide a personal touch when they are on the road.  The possibilities are endless.

Mobile payment apps are gaining popularity with small businesses and customers alike. The ability to process credit and debit card payments, no matter where you are, opens up many more sales possibilities. Using a CRM app, you can incorporate information from your mobile payment app at the time of payment, instead of waiting until later. Not only is this faster than waiting until you’re back in the office or at home, but you can add helpful notes in your CRM while they’re still fresh. Adding even a quick note about the conversation with a client (such as “Customer mentioned their blog at whateverblog-dot-net.”) at the point of sale may be beneficial information to include in the client’s profile and share with your team.

Instant access to the most important information about your clients is clearly a benefit to your sales staff, and your company as a whole. Building real relationships with your clients means tracking not only their contact information and sales, but their needs and interests, and then seeking to meet them as effectively as possible. Mobile CRM is not just convenient; it’s necessary to create the most beneficial, fully-formed picture of your customers’ behavior in order to provide them with the products and services that best fit their needs.

Monday, 5 August 2013

HealthInsurancePlus.com Interviewed in August Issue of Healthcare Global

Healthcare Global speaks to Morgan Hege at HealthInsurancePlus.com about the benefits the company has gained since adopting cloud technology.  The article focuses on the benefits and competitive advantage that cloud technology can bring to the healthcare industry which is notoriously slow to innovate. The advantage of adopting technology at this time is key as two simultaneous events occur in the industry. First, options for healthcare consumers are evolving, and that creates both opportunity and challenge in the marketplace. Second, cloud-based technologies – once anathema for companies in highly regulated markets – now offer both the functionality and the security reassurances the industry needs.


HealthInsurancePlus.com gives advice to individuals, families and small businesses to help them select affordable health insurance plans in California.  In the article, Morgan Hege reveals how they started with an enterprise solution that was intended to improve productivity.  However in practice, it didn't work as it was cumbersome and not suited to their business which relies on collaboration between field agents and inside agents and customer service representatives that staff the office.   This was the impetus for HealthInsurancePlus.com to switch to a cloud-based CRM. 

Check out the HealthInsurancePlus.com case study to learn more about their experience with Insightly.

Are you seeing an adoption of cloud technology in your industry, or is your industry slow to innovate?

Monday, 29 July 2013

BtoBOnline: 59% of SMBs to increase tech budgets this year

Recently, this report published in B2B.com caught our eye.  The study was conducted by technology provider Cbeyond and included 711 executives from businesses with less than 250 employees.  Of the respondents, 59 percent plan to increase their tech budgets this year.  When asked which tech services were critical to running their businesses, respondents cited network access (95 percent); desktop/laptop management (92 percent); mobile services (93 percent); and applications (83 percent).

We found this interesting because the data mirrors our customer comments on two points:

1) Business applications that deliver measurable productivity are one of the lynchpins to supporting and growing a business, and are an 'easy-to-justify' investment; and

2) Mobile access is quickly becoming the de facto standard for collaborating with co-workers and customers.

Is your company planning to increase the tech budget this year?  Where might you allocate the extra funds?




As technology becomes indispensable for small and midsize businesses, 59% of those companies plan to increase their tech budgets this year, according to a new report from technology provider Cbeyond Inc.
Thirty-one percent of respondents planned to keep technology budgets flat, while 11% planned decreases, the study found.
The report, “Summer 2013 Cbeyond Business Leader Snapshot,” was based on an online survey of 711 senior executives at businesses with fewer than 250 employees conducted in May by market research company StrateSci.
- See more at: http://www.btobonline.com/article/20130723/MANAGEMENT/307199995/59-percent-of-SMBs-to-increase-tech-budgets-this-year/#sthash.YWRTAfcX.dpuf
As technology becomes indispensable for small and midsize businesses, 59% of those companies plan to increase their tech budgets this year, according to a new report from technology provider Cbeyond Inc.
Thirty-one percent of respondents planned to keep technology budgets flat, while 11% planned decreases, the study found.
The report, “Summer 2013 Cbeyond Business Leader Snapshot,” was based on an online survey of 711 senior executives at businesses with fewer than 250 employees conducted in May by market research company StrateSci.
- See more at: http://www.btobonline.com/article/20130723/MANAGEMENT/307199995/59-percent-of-SMBs-to-increase-tech-budgets-this-year/#sthash.YWRTAfcX.dpuf

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Customizing Your CRM

Have you found yourself wondering why your customer relationship management (CRM) tracking methods don’t really provide you the answers you need about your clients? Are you unable to access the data whenever and wherever you need it? With the right settings and customizations, you’ll get more useful results from your CRM.

Mobile Customization
Not all CRM services treat mobile as a top priority. Not every business needs mobile apps and constant access to their data, but for most, it’s pretty important. In fact, CRM apps may see as much a 500 percent growth by 2014. Nobody wants to be tethered to a cubicle to get work done. Now that excellent options are available to help you break out, why wouldn’t you take advantage of their expanded features? App stores already contain around 200 CRM apps, along with third-party apps developed to work with the CRM software of your choice.

Even if you don’t foresee a need for apps right now, when comparing CRM features, make sure the mobile access is available. It’s a feature you almost certainly will end up using. If you haven’t chosen a mobile-friendly, customized CRM yet, then you might want to consider options with optimized websites as well. You and your important users will be able to access a mobile optimized site across platforms, instead of worrying about operating systems or compatibility issues.

Security Customization
You know your CRM solution should provide 128 bit SSL encryption to keep your information secure on the web.  What about security within your user network?  If you use a quality CRM solution, you should be able to set permissions for nearly all the items in your account. Whether by work teams or by individual, take care to choose permissions so the right people can see the right data. Not only will this keep users from accessing information you may not want them to have, but it also limits the possibility of mistakes.

To keep your email permission settings easy to manage, consider grouping contacts by their interest in your company. This way you can apply permissions to entire groups. You may also group them and apply appropriate permissions based on their project involvement or specific relationship characteristics. Whatever method you choose, make sure it will be manageable for you whether you have two, 20, or 2,000 clients to avoid the need to restructure permissions in the future. You don’t want to find out your method isn’t working by sending the wrong mail to the wrong client.

Custom Relationship Tracking
Knowing how a client came to you or whether they’ve made a purchase from you is not the only important customer relationship data you must track. When it comes to CRM contact information, the more you know, the stronger your ties. Personal information, like whether one contact is related to another or affiliated with a client company, can create opportunities you otherwise may not have known were there. The whole point of highly customizable relationship tracking is to give context to your contacts; otherwise, you’d still be using a Rolodex®.

CRMs with project management integration can further expand the context of your client base by integrating project involvement with your contact list. If you can look at previous projects with which a contact was involved, and see their interactions within projects, you have a much clearer picture than you do with just a name and a handful of data.

Integration with mailing services you already use, like MailChimp, is another means of fleshing out your contact list within CRM software. Insightly synchronizes contact lists with MailChimp—plus, you can use filtering options to target specific contacts for certain MailChimp lists. You can also import your subscribers to Insightly.

Integration with services you already use and the ability to customize your CRM will give you better context for all of your customers, make your communications more effective, and make your contact list into an even more valuable part of your small business toolkit.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Back to the Future -- Social Media is Back in Insightly!

As you may or may not know, LinkedIn removed our API access a few months ago and we were quite peeved.  We have been feverishly working on an alternative solution and we are pleased to announce that social media is back in Insightly even better than before!  With our new integration you can simply put in a contact's email address and we'll detect virtually every social media profile related to the email address.  You can see Twitter content and your contact's public LinkedIn profile displayed right in Insightly.  Also, with a single click you can explore your contact's public profile information on Facebook, Google+, FourSquare, Picasa, Klout and virtually any social channel where the contact has participated.  Check it out, and as always, and let us know what you think.


Monday, 15 July 2013

What a CRM Solution Can Do For You

Your business is growing—FAST. Maybe a little too fast. Your pipeline is full. Your customer base is growing. You’re selling like crazy! That’s all well and good, but your old methods for keeping track of all that activity (spreadsheets, email flags and, admit it: post-its) just aren’t cutting it anymore.

Every small business owner has a tipping point. You need a way to capture all that commotion in one place, before you risk dropping the ball on a major sale. Sound familiar? It’s time to look into CRM solutions.

CRM 101
“CRM” stands for Customer Relationship Management. A great CRM system will help your team shine by providing an all-in-one central interface to manage your current and future customer relationships. But don’t be fooled by the name: many CRM solutions offer so much more to ensure the success of your business. It’s important to do your homework before deciding on the right CRM system for your company.

At a basic level, most CRM solutions offer reservoirs for customer contact information, including name, title, company, email address, physical location, website and more. After the contact information is entered, all interaction with that potential or current customer is tracked, usually through email and calendar integration. The objective is to find a CRM solution that easily integrates with methods you already use to manage your customer relationships, such as Google Calendar or Outlook. With integration, half the work is done automatically.

From there, it’s a matter of training yourself and your staff to be careful to enter notes on customer interactions to ensure your team is always on the same page regarding a particular customer’s status. When your staff is up-to-speed, your customers stay happy, and your business will soar.

Insightly 101
While you have many options for CRM solutions, Insightly just might be the right choice for your small business. Sure, you get the usual features that allow for simplification of your customer relationship management, but our web-based CRM solution also offers fast searching, customized fields and filters, file sharing, easy linking between contacts, businesses, opportunities and projects, MailChimp integration, and integrated project management.

The thought of project management usually induces a yawn or a wince. But project management doesn’t have to be boring or painful. Project management can be easy and helpful, and many successful CEOs have implemented project-based workplaces.

Imagine it…
Because Insightly offers CRM-integrated project management, you get customer tracking through every stage in the relationship: from lead to opportunity, from “sale complete” to that initial kickoff meeting, from one multi-phase project to the next—and everything in between. It’s integrated with your CRM, so it’s all in one place and ready to go when you need it. Plus, just like the CRM component of Insightly, the project management interface integrates with your existing systems, so you get easier project automation, too.

Customers who have chosen Insightly as their CRM solution report a 20% increase in productivity and savings of more than $5,000 each month. Insightly is free for up to three users, and that includes 2,500 contacts and 200MB of storage. To get a better idea of what it can do for you, check out how Iron Horse Brewery and other companies just like yours use Insightly.

Just remember: Regardless of which one you choose, a great CRM solution should make your business and your life easier, not harder.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Chrome Business Apps for Startups

It's National Small Business Week, and while small businesses may only be highlighted during one week each year, many vendors have created applications for startups and small businesses that provide value every day of the year.  Common characteristics of these applications are: they are cloud-based, easy to use, require little training, and many are already integrated with each other.  In this vein, Google announced its Chrome for Business initiative which offers a curated list of applications from the Chrome Web Store designed to help small businesses become more efficient, more connected and more organized.  The applications are grouped by function:  Connect with People, Create Content, Get Things Done, Manage Finance.  Check it out -- you just might find that application that will change your life. 

Also, in honor of Small Business Week, Yahoo! is holding an hour long Twitter chat - Turning Browsers into Buyers.  You'll hear tips and insights to help small business owners drive sales in the online world.  The chat is tomorrow June 20, and starts at 12pm PT (3pm ET).  Follow the handle @YSmallBusiness and use the hashtag #GoSMB.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Insightly App for Outlook 2013 & Office 365!

We're pleased to announce our new Insightly app for Microsoft Outlook 2013 and Microsoft Office 365 - available right now for free in the Microsoft Office Store. Microsoft Outlook is one of the most popular email and calendaring clients on the planet, and we're very excited to be able to extend our famous email integration to both Outlook users, and to the users of Microsoft's new online Office 365 productivity suite.

So what does this mean specifically? Now, as an Outlook user you can manage all your Insightly customer interactions directly from within Outlook 2013/Office 365 -- easily connect with your customers, improve productivity and most importantly, grow your businesses. No need to switch between apps. Once you've installed the Insightly Outlook App from the Microsoft Office Store you'll see an Insightly link at the top of each email and you can:
  • Save Outlook emails into Insightly with one click (linking contacts with saved emails) 
  • Create new Insightly tasks, opportunities, projects and events from within Outlook 
  • Edit CRM contact information from within Outlook emails 
  • Link emails to Insightly projects and opportunities 
  • View the complete Insightly activity history for a contact from within an Outlook email 



For a guided tour on how to install the Insightly Outlook App and how to use it, check out our new Insightly University video on the subject.

Note:  As per the Microsoft Office Store, you need to have admin rights to install an App.  In addition, Outlook 2013 cannot run on a server running Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 or an earlier version of Exchange.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

ComputerWeekly.com - Is Google mature enough for the enterprise?

This article from ComputerWeekly.com profiles companies that are using Google Apps on an enterprise scale.  Insightly customer Grass Roots Group (GRG) has 1,400 employees globally, and uses Gmail alongside Google Docs and Google Hangouts.  GRG deployed Insightly and other apps from the Google Apps Marketplace -- "There are at least three tools we are now using that are integrated into our environment: Smartsheet provides real-time project planning; Lucid Chart is a technical diagramming generation tool and Insight.ly offers a simple CRM."  In addition, GRG comments on the ease of use of cloud tools:  "There is a central pool of licences so it is impossible to be under-licensed. There is also no need to deploy any software. They just appear in the More menu within the Google environment."