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.