Friday, 10 October 2014

Dropbox and Box integrations in Insightly

Insightly allows you to upload and save files directly to Insightly, and we also have allowed you to link your Google Drive Docs and Files in Insightly under contacts, organizations, opportunities and projects.

Today we're debuting the ability to link your files from both Dropbox and Box into Insightly under contacts, organizations, opportunities and projects too if you use either of those services.

It's a very simple process and will be instantly familiar if you already use the Google Drive integration. First click the icon under the files tab for the service you wish to use - either Box or Dropbox, as shown below.




After you click the link, a popup from either Box or Dropbox will be shown and you can select the files you wish to link, and they will be saved to Insightly under the links tab. Dropbox allows you to search for files to link within the popup, but Box does not have this capability. Box allows you to select folders to link to as well as files, but Dropbox will only allow you to select files.


After choosing the files from Box or Dropbox, those selected files will be linked and visible under the files tab for that contact, organization, opportunity or project, as well as in the history and dashboard.


The permissions for who can see linked files remains with Dropbox or Box, so to enable other users of your Insightly to see the files after clicking the links, you will need to set the appropriate permissions in either Dropbox or Box to enable that.

If you would like more information on these two integrations, see our help article at:
http://help.insightly.com/en/how-do-i-link-to-my-dropbox-files/

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Partner Post: Happy Days -- 6 Tips to Get Your Client Base Smiling and the Numbers Climbing

 
With the onset of emerging technologies, the game may be altogether different but the need for customer loyalty remains. So how can it be accomplished these days? From social media to CRMs, the possibilities are there -- they just need capable individuals to implement them.  Experience is telling, and ours has revealed the following six essential nuggets of advice that will set you on the right road to building loyalty and numbers in one fell swoop.

CRMs
Customer relationship management software, or a CRM, is a great way to streamline your processes, track customer engagement and essentially get to know your clientele a lot better. When used properly, a business can easily analyze interactions with customers in order to better anticipate their needs before they realize they have any. Capturing the right data at the right time will go a long way toward reaching the right people and giving them exactly what they want. A smooth and seamless relationship will result in happy customers, more contacts and a better business model. It also aids in communication.

Communicate
Building a reliable and up-to-date database of customers' contact details with CRM will enable you to better communicate with your customers, which is key. Whether it's an email newsletter, a birthday card, or a friendly appointment reminder, keeping in contact will certainly increase the possibility of engagement. Dedicate time to keep the info accurate and fresh, and send out a regular e-newsletter that's informative and interesting. Remember not to get too caught up in bragging about your business. While info on sales and promotions are great, it's also good to be as educational as possible.

Reward Programs
Rewards work, period. Whether it's finding a toy inside a happy meal or getting your eighth sandwich free, the old model is tried and true and can be incorporated with today's technologies to make your customers smile and keep coming back for more. Online businesses can assign promotional rewards, too, like codes that earn 15% off after the first purchase or apps that can track visits and assign awards accordingly. Some businesses reward customers for tagging them on Instagram, reTweeting them, or "checking in" on FourSquare. Everyone loves free stuff, and customers are far more likely to keep coming back if you give them an incentive to do so.

Charitable Efforts
Everyone feels better about spending money if they know a percentage of a sale will go toward a charity. While this may not be a suitable business model for small businesses to follow all the time, perhaps you could choose a week or a month to raise awareness for something that is genuinely important to you. Maybe a loved one had cancer or has Alzheimer's, or maybe you're passionate about pets. If you look around, there's bound to be an issue that will have meaning for you and give your business more purpose. Customers will see that, identify with it and view their interactions with your company in a positive light.

Online, Social Presence
Nowadays, it's not enough to simply have a website, although every business should definitely have an up-to-date, easy-to-navigate and helpful one. But those are basics. Growing an audience and getting to know your current one is increasingly reliant on a social presence, too. Use a Facebook page to promote blog posts (that you should be writing at least two to four times a week), and use Twitter to expand your circle and promote like-minded Tweeters. Engaging with your audience on social platforms is a great way to raise your profile and make your business more personable and accessible, which results in a loyal customer base.

Transparency
While online platforms are efficient in spreading the word and putting more customers at your fingertips, it's also easy to hide behind the technology. Don't get mistaken for a nameless corporation. Instead, make it clear that real people run the show. One way to do this is through your website. The 'About Us' page should have interesting introductions to key members of staff, with photographs included. Many users love to click on the links to meet the people who are behind the operation, and the ability to associate a face or three with the business allows for a connection to be made. Don't be shy about your identity, and customers won't be shy about giving their loyal business.

And remember, while it's important to get new eyes on your business, keeping the current ones happy and loyal should also be a priority. Too many businesses fail at this, and those customers move on, telling everyone they know along the way. Keeping the customer service topnotch, both on and offline, and being a nice business to deal with, will reflect in your current and future numbers.

Diana Gomez is the Marketing Coordinator at Lyoness America, where she is instrumental in the implementation of marketing and social media strategies for USA and Canada. Lyoness is an international shopping community and loyalty rewards program, where businesses and consumers benefit with free membership and money back with every purchase. Check out Lyoness on Twitter.

Monday, 25 August 2014

More for Your Money: Strategies for Small Business Marketing

When you run a small business, it’s hard to know where to invest your marketing dollars. Which marketing strategies are the most valuable properties? Don’t roll the dice and wind up breaking the bank.  Instead, follow around the board to learn which strategies can help your small business gain the competitive edge. Take these stats and tips into account when developing your small business marketing strategy—and you’re sure to get the most bang for your buck!

Click Here for Larger Size (PDF Version)

If you've already tried some of these strategies let us know how they are working out!  If you have your own strategies/tips, let us know what the are.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Google Contact Sync Improvements

Insightly users on paid plans have the ability to sync their Insightly contacts with their Google Contacts if they have a Google account, and we heard from customers that the sync system was too complex and sometimes unreliable. We listened, and today we’re shipping a new contact sync system with some great improvements in speed, scalability, simplicity, and safety for your contact information and we wanted to let you know about these enhancements. One of the biggest improvements is you no longer have to select individual contacts to sync, and you no longer need to choose which type of sync - the Insightly contact list you have available to you is now copied into your Google contacts and kept up to date with changes automatically and in real time.

Simplicity and Control

Sync is now much easier to configure. Administrators have the ability to turn on or off contact sync for all their users under the system settings, and each user also has the ability to enable the contact sync feature if their administrator has it turned on for all users.

Real-Time Contact Sync from Insightly to Google Contacts

When you turn on contact sync, all the contacts you have access to see and change in Insightly will be automatically copied to your Google Contacts list, and tagged with the label of “Insightly-Contacts” so you can distinguish them from all the other contacts in your Google Contacts list. Any time someone updates contact information or adds a new contact to Insightly, that data will be copied over into the Google contact list in real time, and when someone deletes a contact from Insightly, that contact will also be removed from your Google contact list.

Mobile Sync Connectivity

For those users that add or update contacts on the go, Insightly has great native mobile apps available for free for both Google Android and Apple iOS phones and tablets. When you update or add a contact on your phone using either of these apps, those contacts will also be updated in your Google contact list too if you have this new Google sync turned on.

Reliable and Scalable

Lastly we have re-engineered the sync system to be more reliable and scalable. We went to great lengths to make sure that the system works and contact information gets copied over in a timely manner no matter how many contacts you manage in Insightly. We update the user interface in real time so you know how many contacts the system has left to sync up and what the current count is. We also added a re-sync button so you can choose to have Insightly resync all contacts for you immediately in the event you inadvertently remove or change the Insightly contacts in your Google contact list.

If you want to try out the new and improved contact sync feature yourself, you can turn it on under User Settings > Google Sync.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Partner Post: Content Marketing Tips for the Small Business Owner

Marketing has changed and evolved over the last decade, even for the small business owner. While advertisements might have been the best method for garnering new business in the past, content really is the present and the future for the average small business.

However, many small business owners don’t really understand the best ways to employ content on their website, blog or even their social media pages. If you know you fall into that group you’re not alone. Use these tips to help you get the most out of the content you create and post.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

Use Your Calendar
As a business owner, you already use a calendar to keep track of everything that you do, from meetings to payments to simply scheduling deliveries and pickups. However, many business owners simply don’t create a calendar when it comes to the content that they’re going to create and post.

A content calendar is something you need to employ. If you’re like many small business owners, your number one complaint about content marketing is that it takes too much time. By creating a calendar in advance, you’ll always be ahead of the curve, and adding your 'content due' dates to the Insightly calendar is a snap.

If creating content is difficult for you and you don’t want to use an outside source or writer, you need to make sure that you’re at least a handful of posts ahead at all times. That way if you miss a self-imposed deadline or get behind, you’ll still have content to post when readers and customers expect it.

Posting your content at regular intervals, whether that’s every day or once per week on Friday, is essential for loyal readership.

Consider Trending Topics
Generating ideas for your content can be difficult, especially if you work in a business that doesn’t seem to lend itself to content marketing. However, there are ways to find topics for posts, even if they aren’t directly related to your business, at least at first glance.

One of those ways is a process commonly referred to as ‘newsjacking.’ Simply put, ‘newsjacking’ is the process of finding a trending topic in the news or on social media sites and gearing it toward what your business does.

Even commenting on news topics in your area or region can help generate content and stay on the radar for people interested in your business. You may not be able to have every post directly related to your business, but you can include your company name and get people reading, which will expose them to your business and your other pieces of content on your blog or website.

Surveys are More Effective than You Think
When most of us think about consumer surveys we think about annoying phone calls that always seem to start right about the time we sit down for dinner. However, when it comes to the internet, consumer surveys aren’t as maligned and are considerably more effective than you might think.

Creating a simple survey can also help you understand how your customer base feels about a certain topic, which can help you create content in the future for other posts.

When it comes to creating effective surveys, it’s best to keep them short and sweet and ask the most important questions first. A progress bar can also help keep individuals being surveyed from starting and not finishing.

Summary
The content you create is becoming more and more important each day, and if you want to succeed and grow as a small business, you’re going to need to employ it effectively. These basic tips can help get you started, but as usual, quality content is the most important factor.

Follow these tips and give your readers and customers something they’ll appreciate and be able to use in their daily lives and you will have created a successful marketing campaign, all without spending an arm and a leg on advertisements.  Do you have any tips of your own to suggest?

About the Author:  Owen Andrew is a journalist and tech enthusiast who enjoys his morning black coffee while attempting the crossword puzzle. He has written for numerous publications, both in print and web format. As of late, he’s enjoyed researching and writing on all-things eCommerce and entrepreneurship. We hope that you enjoy this article and find it useful.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Mobile Connectivity and Small Businesses - Firm Friends?

It isn’t uncommon for small business owners and entrepreneurs to misjudge the benefits of maintaining mobile connectivity, especially when the bulk of online work is generally done on one device. The growing popularity of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement, however, means that more and more small business owners and employees are beginning to understand how mobile maintenance can boost small business. How have the two entities – mobile connectivity and small businesses – turned into such firm friends? Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has a lot to do with it.

CRM and Small Business Mobile Devices
In order to maintain their customers, small businesses have developed many strategies to enhance CRM; one of the most helpful tools so far has been cloud-based computing. Cloud-based computing allows many employees of the same business to collect information and store it in one, virtual space. This information, for example, a customer database, is then accessible by all those employees with the approved network permissions. Most modern CRM strategies are based on a similar type of database.

So where does the “mobile” connectivity part come in? It already has. Employees with mobile devices can connect to a network and input or extract data as needed instead of making endless notes and crowding around the computer to file it away later.

Mobile Connectivity, Service Industries and Website Maintenance
The benefits of mobile connectivity vary depending on the type of small business. For those in the service industry, mobile connectivity makes for better online CRM because it is possible to keep clients up to date in real time, whatever service is being provided. Customers give their trust more easily to companies who answer their queries quickly and concisely.

Small businesses are also becoming more savvy about Internet marketing, which requires regular maintenance. With various devices connected via mobile access, businesses can maintain their mobile and traditional web pages. In addition, CRM strategies are further enhanced by the ability of entrepreneurs and small business leaders to read and respond constantly to customers’ messages and share company or product information.

Mobile connectivity is all about communication and the spread of information that is crucial to daily business. The more time passes, the more mobile Internet networks resemble the office phone of the 1990s – irreplaceable.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Partner Post: Summertime Approach to Business Marketing



Marketing your business is a year round effort, and every business person, from the small company owner to the CEOs of major corporations know it. However, the way you market to your customers should be changing with the season, not staying the same all year long.

The reason you need to change your marketing efforts in the Summer is because people’s priorities shift with the weather. It might sound silly to think that people are only thinking about fun in the sun, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that it really is a priority for many people to take some time to relax or go on vacation in the summertime.

Here in the US it's summer, but no matter when summer arrives in your region, try these simple summertime marketing principles to keep your small business growing.

Keep Your Message Fun
No matter what type of business you have, there’s a way to make your product seem more fun. Perhaps you can change the colors of your marketing materials to summer ones or create new ones that use summertime elements like the beach. This will serve as a subtle attempt to relate to the customers. Your emails to your customers can explain how the product either improves Summer for the customers, or allows them to get out and enjoy the Summer. Be light-hearted and encouraging. Even if you sell office supplies, you can make your message fun by telling customers that better, more efficient office supplies means less time behind a desk and more time with their toes in the sand.

Make Mobile a Priority
More and more people are accessing websites through their smartphone or tablet, and with the high number of people traveling, mobile engagement is more important in the summer than any other time.

A Mobile Website or a mobile application is more essential than ever during this time of the year. Mobile phones are more than handy tools, they’re lifelines, so people are much more likely to be carrying one around while traveling than a laptop. However, if there’s one thing that a phone doesn’t do as good as or better than a laptop, it’s surfing the web.  Consider having a mobile site designed in order for customers to navigate your website with ease and convenience and not forever having to zoom in and click buttons with pinpoint accuracy. Customers will inevitably be more impressed and satisfied.

Have a Summer Sale
It might sound obvious to have a summer sale as a way to get people interested in your product, but a lot of people really do feel like the summer months are a time to celebrate and enjoy themselves. With vacation and travel on the menu, Summer is prime time for people to binge on shopping; it’s necessary and a perfect excuse to do so even if they’re not traveling! The simple fact that you’re having a sale to celebrate with them will be enough of an incentive to get them in your store, browsing your website or talking to you about your services.  Never underestimate the power of a sale!

Strengthen Internal Relations
Another thing to remember about summer is that it’s an ideal time to improve internal relations between people in your office because of the more relaxed atmosphere. While that might not sound like an immediate way to boost your marketing efforts, improved relations have been proven to make people work harder and care more about how the business is really doing.  Take the time to host a barbecue or take employees out for lunch. Use the enjoyable summer months to strengthen your marketing efforts from the inside out.

Run a Summer Contest
Like a sale, almost every customer likes a contest if they can get something for free. Best of all, because it’s free, you don’t have to modify your product message.   Examples of a summer contest could include a prize for the best beach photo or even a kid’s story or poem about summer. What you choose doesn’t matter too much, just make sure it applies to your client or customer base and isn’t too difficult for people to submit. You might even think about entering anyone into the contest who likes your summer contest on Facebook or who signs up for your email list thus also building a connection and potentially an enduring relationship with the customer.

If your company doesn’t sell a summer product, don’t sweat it, you can always give something summer-appropriate away like a barbecue grill, patio furniture or even a summer vacation if you have the means to do so.

For a small business, summer doesn’t change much as it’s always running, but the customers are what keeps a business afloat, and in the summer, their priorities tend to change dramatically. Children are out of school and on summer vacation, and we’ve all been there… that’s what kids live for. The customer will be changing things up during these glorious three months, so small businesses need to do so as well.

About the Author:  Owen Andrew is a journalist and tech enthusiast who enjoys his morning black coffee while attempting the crossword puzzle. He has written for numerous publications, both in print and web format. As of late, he’s enjoyed researching and writing on all-things eCommerce and entrepreneurship. We hope that you enjoy this article and find it useful.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Insightly For Python And Google App Engine

Building custom apps and integrations with Insightly is now easier than ever thanks to our Python client library. This library makes building apps around our web API super easy, as easy as:

from insightly import Insightly
i = Insightly(apikey=’your api key’)
contacts = i.getContacts(orderby=’DATE_UPDATED_UTC desc’)
for c in contacts:
 doSomethingWith(c)

The library handles all of the low level details of communicating with our API, so you can focus on your custom app or integration. You can find the Python library at github.com/insightly/python

We’ve also built a sample app based on the Python library that runs as-is on Google App Engine. The sample app demonstrates how to capture information from web forms, to convert requests for more information into Insightly Contacts and Insightly Tasks. App Engine is a easy to use yet highly scalable PaaS (platform as a service) environment. It scales automatically to handle user demand, and virtually eliminates system administration overhead. You can find the source code and docs at github.com/insightly/appenginedemo

Want to make some extra money? We’re looking to hire developers to build client libraries for other major development environments, including Java, .NET, PHP, Ruby and others. If you’re experienced in a popular development environment and already have experience working with our REST API, drop a line to brian@insight.ly to learn more.

Track Your Data Through the Funnel

Some businesses believe that the phrase “sales funnel” is just another business buzzword.  This may be because many of the businesses that use it, aren’t managing it effectively.  When this occurs, critical problems arise such as lost data, lead spamming and poor customer satisfaction.  By using an online CRM to effectively manage your sales funnel, you can turn these problems around.

Why You Need a Sales Funnel
The sales funnel was created as a way for sales and marketing to track leads and contacts through every stage from prospect to buyer.  By using the sales funnel, marketers can sift through prospects and classify them as qualified, or unqualified before passing them on to sales.  This eliminates the “cold-calling” reputation that sales agents were previously known for.  Since the agent knows the contact is already interested, they can use the information gathered on the contact record by marketing to assist them in the sale.  If the buyer isn’t interested at the time that sales calls them, the lead is passed back through the funnel or kicked out of it.  However, in order for the funnel to remain effective, it has to be managed.

Why Your Funnel Has Leaks
Sales funnels that aren’t managed effectively are counterproductive.  They can actually make a bad situation much worse, resulting in lost sales, frustrated leads and a poor brand reputation. If you’re currently experiencing these problems you may have leaks in your sales funnel.

The following items are common precursors to funnel leaks:

  • Not contacting qualified leads from marketing. (According to CRM Search, 80% of marketing generated leads generated are ignored by sales.)
  • Pursuing unqualified leads.
  • Not knowing a lead’s status.
  • Not following up with leads.
How Customer Relationship Management Can Help
What’s clear from the above section, is that most leaks affect leads/contacts.  Whether it’s calling leads that are unqualified or forgetting to follow up, leaks in the sales funnel will drive down sales and could even damage your reputation.  To keep your funnel free of leaks, you need a CRM system. A CRM system, tracks and organizes data through the sales funnel. It gives every team member the same view of the sales funnel, so any updates or notes are immediately visible.

As soon as a contact becomes qualified, the information is passed through the funnel directly to sales to contact the prospective customer. This eliminates the need to look through various systems for information, which is one of the largest precursors to sales funnel leaks.  A successful CRM also provides calendaring systems that allow agents to schedule events, tasks, and important milestones.  The Insightly CRM provides alerts and notifications of new emails and follow-ups, this way you never miss any changes with your leads.

Since web CRMs work in the cloud, you can access your sales funnel from any device with WiFi connection. If you need to update the status of a sale, you can do so from this device without having to update it again at work. All of your team members have access to your changes, allowing you to effectively, track data through the funnel.

Thinking about a CRM to manage your sales funnel?  Try Insightly's free account or sign up for a 14 day trial to test drive our premium features.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tips on How to Close a Difficult Sale

From time to time you may run into that one lead that just refuses to budge.  No matter what you say, it seems to drive them backwards instead of forward.  This is a sales agent’s worst nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to coach you through those difficult sales and to prevent pushing them further away.

Approach Each Buyer as a Unique Person
This is the hardest step for sales agents to remember.  At times, you get so caught up in “processing” that you start to look at every buyer as just another buyer.  However, when you run across that one buyer that refuses to budge from the “lead” zone, panic sets in.  If you really want to shift them through the funnel, you have to treat them as individuals.  Get to know your lead.  Do some background research on them using social data -- two great sources of this information is LinkedIn (or other social channels) and their company website.

Sell them on the Value of Your Products
Do you really know what you’re products are worth?  Not in terms of price, but in terms of usage.  If you’re not sure, think of it like this:  If you were looking for a product like the one you’re selling, why would you need it?  What problems would it solve for your business?  What problems could it possibly prevent?  Once you derive at the answer, analyze your demographic and decide if they have similar problems.  Another way to gain insight into your demographic is to ask them question.  Ask them why they’re interested in the product and what they plan to use it for.  Once you find out the answer, you have the leverage to sell them a vision of how it can solve this problem.

Ooze Energy
If you aren’t enthusiastic about your products, why would your prospects be?  In order to effectively close a sale, you need to bring some energy to the call.  However, it’s important to strike a fine balance between energy and hyperactivity.  If you come across as “too energetic” or hyper as it were, your leads will think you’re trying too hard and they won’t trust your motives.  Entrepreneur magazine says you should do thefollowing to remain high energetic and trustworthy:

  • Focus on the positive and celebrate how far you’ve come.
  • Increase your physical activity outside of the office. (If your building has a gym, use it!) Physical activity releases endorphins that make you feel relaxed and less stressed.
  • Fish for compliments
By following the above steps you’ll not only improve your energy through difficult sales, but also in future sales.  Who knows, you may also leverage a referral or two!

Are you working from a CRM system? If not, this could very well be the problem. An online CRM system streamlines all of your customer data into one centralized app, making it easier for you to access. It also makes it easier for you to keep track of your leads and to boost productivity time. All of this of course, improves customer satisfaction, which drives sales, boosts lead generation and solidifies brand loyalty.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Partner Post: Don’t Send That Proposal Yet!



If you’re using Insightly, one of that ways you’re probably using it is to track and close deals. (That’s one of the best things about Insightly’s free plan - it does everything!)

Keeping track of your contacts is a handy feature in any CRM system, but it’s a means-to-an-end. CRM is how businesses get business deals done.

But, there’s one factor that stands between most sales professionals and a “Closed Won” opportunity - your proposal. And there are four questions that most sales professionals completely neglect to ask, resulting in the non-closing of their proposals.

1. “Why this quarter?” - One of the most basic implication questions that a sales professional can ask is the “Why Now?” question. If every stakeholder on your prospective customer’s team (usually 4 to 14 different people) can’t give a good reason that the project needs to happen this quarter, then you can press “pause.”

No need to be harsh and try to kill the deal. You can simply say, “It looks like we’re good on scoping for now. Since it does not look like the project is urgent, shall we schedule a final scoping meeting 12 weeks from now?”

Do not write this proposal.

2. “Which delivery date is best for your team - X,Y, or Z?” - The real goal of this question is not to find out the proposal delivery date. It’s to acquire information on any hidden decision-makers. This method comes from Alan Weiss’s Million Dollar Consulting Proposals.

By using a set proposal window (usually 48 or 72 hours), and offering the prospect a choice of dates to deliver it on, the prospect will often say something like, “Oh, gee, next Wednesday won’t work because my boss’s boss Randy is out on vacation.”

If you’ve never met with Randy before, then he’s the real economic decision-maker, and you’ve got some serious homework to do, before writing that proposal.

3. “Our decision-making team is me, my manager Bob and his manager Jennifer. Who’s on your decision-making team?” If the prospective customer does not want to tell you who is on their decision-making team, that’s a red flag. Don’t write that proposal.

Generally the prospective customer will give you an answer that includes one or two people that you have not heard of yet. Thank them profusely - they may have just saved a deal that you nearly lost. Then, track down those people that you have not met, and interview them about the project to gather feedback BEFORE writing that proposal.

4. “Our proposals come in a special format so your team can suggest changes and rev it with us if changes need to be made. Who on the team should be authorized to see the proposal and add comments to it?” - If you don’t know who will be reading and editing the proposal, then you’re missing information on the economic-decision-makers on your deal. Always learn this information before sending a proposal.

Once you're ready to send the deal to your prospect for signature.  What's the best way to do it?  Well Insightly is now integrated with the PandaDoc!  If you're an Insightly user, you can now have all of your Insightly contacts auto-synced (every 30 minutes) with PandaDoc.  For example, if you want to know:

- when each customer or prospective customer looks at your proposal
- how long they look at it for AND
- who has not looked at it

then give the Insightly/PandaDoc integration a try. It’s free to use, and you can even get more documents by telling a friend.  Speaking of winning proposals from PandaDoc … Why not get 3 free documents to start with (you can even get 3 more with a tweet). No credit card is required, and you’ll be up and running in minutes.

About the Author: Adam Metz is the author of Amazon #1 internet-marketing best-seller The Social Customer, and the VP of Business Development at PandaDoc. He’s a veteran sales executive who’s carried a million-plus sales quota for a Fortune 500 company (CDW) and run a sales channel for a Google Apps eco-system startup, UberConference.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Partner Post: Bootstrapping Your Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a big industry these days – and for good reason. With each task you automate, the more human capital you can allocate to value-added activities. The problem is that these systems often come with big price tags. For many small businesses, the value proposition of implementing a marketing automation system simply doesn’t add up.

The good news is that Insightly users can reap many of the benefits that a marketing automation system provides by combining a few (budget-friendly) third party tools. In this article, I'll offer my tips for doing so and show you how to automate more aspects of your sales and marketing activities.

What is Marketing Automation?
At a high level marketing automation streamlines customer outreach and customer response by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions.  Here's an example:  when someone self-identifies by filling out a form on your website, you most likely receive an email notification with his or her contact details. What happens next? If you’re like most business owners, you probably flag it in your inbox or forward it to your sales manager for follow up. Hours or perhaps even days go by before the prospect gets a phone call or follow up email from your organization, simply because your team is too busy. By then, the prospect has already contacted two or three of your competitors and long forgotten about your company.

Define Your Goals
I’ve been involved with several marketing automation launches. Unfortunately, many clients get excited and try to do too much at once instead of laying out a realistic timeline of priorities. When bootstrapping your marketing automation, you need to be particularly aware of your goals before moving forward. You’ll be piecing together several different third-party software applications, so it’s crucial you start with the end in mind.

Always remember that you won’t be completely automated overnight. It may take weeks, months, or even years of tweaking and building new campaigns (and even then you’ll still come up with more ideas).

Here are a few short-term goals that may make sense as a starting point for your automation:

•    Send nurture emails to new leads who meet certain criteria
•    Automatically tag certain leads based on pre-defined criteria
•    Automatically send new web leads to Insightly

Develop an Implementation Plan
So reviewing the example above, when someone completes a form on your website, make sure you have a place other than your inbox to capture the information.  You can use Insightly's web to contact capability to have that lead automatically captured in your online CRM.  Then you can you start your marketing automation process by fully exploring Insightly’s out-of-the-box integration with MailChimp (for paid Insightly users). As pointed out in this MailChimp video, with the click of a button you can instantly add Insightly contacts to any MailChimp list. This opens up many different doors for your organization, particularly with regard to lead nurturing. As you may know, MailChimp’s auto responder feature is quite useful for configuring effective drip email campaigns. Sending opt-in contacts to an autoresponder list can be a great way to get started with marketing automation.

Once you’ve implemented your first MailChimp campaign, you may also want to explore additional third party integrations. I am particularly fond of Zapier, which is an amazing service that simplifies the connectivity of various web applications. In fact, at last count you can connect over 250 web apps to achieve your goals. Want to automatically set appointments on your sales rep’s Google Calendar for new Insightly leads? Or how about automatically sending sales call notes from Google Drive to contact records in Insightly? No problem. With a free Zapier account, you can literally automate virtually every aspect of your sales and marketing – to and from Insightly.

One important note here – although Zapier is relatively intuitive to use, it may be wise to hire a consultant to help you successfully implement these integrations. Here are some additional free resources to help you with that process.

Bringing It All Together
Marketing automation is all about helping your organization win more business with less effort. Insightly offers your business a great opportunity to do exactly that. Start simple, stay focused, and in no time you’ll be on your way to becoming a highly automated company.

About the Author:  Matt Keener is a marketing professional, specializing in marketing strategy and efficient, cost effective outsourcing best practices. 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Knockout Stats for Small Businesses!

If you’re a small business owner and haven’t yet considered using an online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to help you build a loyal customer base now is the time.  According to a recent report from Software Advice, with so many free options available there's no reason to not use a small business CRM to manage your business.  A shocking 73% of small businesses have no process for re-engaging leads after an initial sale and this can definitely impact your business.  With the explosive growth in social media, capturing and organizing customer interaction data is essential to thriving in today’s online marketplace. The statistics below tell the tale of the tape, and if companies wait too long to adapt to the social nature of customer interactions, they aren’t going to last long in the ring.

Click here for higher resolution, then place your cursor on the
image and click the magnifying glass
How can Insightly help?  Check out our easy social integration which requires no integration setup or special connection.  When you enter an email address, Twitter ID, or LinkedIn address for a contact, Insightly will use it to find and display public social media profiles for that contact on virtually any social channel where the contact has participated --  Facebook, Google+, FourSquare, Picasa, Klout and more.

Sign up for a free Insightly account or try a 14 day trial of our premium plan.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Insightly is now a Google Apps Premier Technology Partner


As you may know, Insightly has been rated the number one CRM on the Google Apps Marketplace for some time, so we are delighted to be named one of the first Premier Partners to join the recently launched Google Apps Technology Partner Program.  This new program recognizes partners for their success and offers them additional support to help bring the products they build to more people.  While this program is good news for Insightly, it is great news for our Insightly for Google Apps customers as it ensures that we can continue to offer cutting edge technology to this segment of our customer base.

Partner Post: How Shoeboxed and Insightly Can Help Grow Your Small Business


Congratulations!  You've finally decided to take the plunge, quit your soul-sucking 9 to 5 and start your own small business.

Whether your new business has been operating for one day or one year, you’ve probably noticed that along with the freedom, passion and excitement of self-employment comes a lot of challenges, many of which can be downright confusing.

Many small business owners start off by wearing a variety of different hats - not only are you the CEO, you’re also the marketing manager, CRM director, accountant, sales rep… the list goes on and on.

So how are you supposed to juggle things like tracking expenses and filing paperwork when you’re swamped with the day to day tasks of running a new business?

That’s where Shoeboxed comes in. Most small business owners aren’t born accountants - if they were, they’d be doing that instead of running a pet grooming company, or growing their life coaching business.

That’s why you should use Shoeboxed as your own virtual bookkeeper. Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning service that helps your small business go paperless, get organized, and enjoy flawless bookkeeping - even if (especially if!) math was your worst subject in school.

With Shoeboxed, you can instantly declutter your workspace using their nifty Magic Envelope. Simply toss all of your receipts, bank statements, business cards and expense reports into the prepaid envelope, toss the envelope in the mail, and watch as your account is magically populated with digitized data in a matter of days.

You can also scan documents right from your office, or while you’re on-the-go by using the Shoeboxed Receipt & Mileage Tracker for iPhone and Android. Or maybe you have a bunch of eReceipts in your email inbox. If that’s the case, forward them to your Shoeboxed email address at the same time you send them to your Insightly email address. Then you’ll have the receipt saved in your Shoeboxed account, as well as associated with your customer record in Insightly! This is a great option for busy small business owners who are constantly traveling or working outside the office. 

Once the bulk of your clutter is cleared, maintain your newfound organization by snapping a photo of each receipt the second you get it. The totals - including expense category, amount, date and payment - will be automatically stored inside your Shoeboxed account.

Shoeboxed is especially handy come tax time, when you can get an instant snapshot of your spending by logging in to your account. Generate reports based on common tax write-offs, or create your own categories.

If you need to find a specific receipt, it’s easy to filter by date, keyword or amount. In just a couple clicks, you can then generate a report and share it with your tax professional.

New small business owners have enough to worry about without the headache of tracking every dollar spent and payment received. The time saved by using Shoeboxed not only allows you to focus on growing your customer base, it also gives you an overall financial snapshot of your business and shows you exactly where you could be saving more money.

Shoeboxed also scans and organizes your business cards into your secure online account, and from there you can send your contacts to dozens of programs (including Insightly!).

Use Shoeboxed to go paperless, get organized, increase your productivity and keep your finances updated in real time - all of which will let you get back to running your business. Which is why you started this thing in the first place, right?

Special Offer: Insightly users can sign up for any Shoeboxed Premium Plan and receive 30 days free, with an extra 10% off your first 6 months! Sign up here.

Questions? You can reach the Shoeboxed team at help@team.shoeboxed.com or on Twitter @Shoeboxed.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Insightly Scheduled Downtime Sat. 7th June

Insightly Scheduled Downtime this Sat. 7th June

Insightly will be down for scheduled maintenance for a maximum period of 30 minutes between 4PM PDT and 4:30PM PDT this Sat. 7th June 2014.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Get More Organized with Insightly Tags!


Are you (or is someone you know) a labeler? Label maker lovers like to categorize all their small things in bins neatly labeled “Markers” or “Legos” or “Stamps” so they can easily find everything later. Think of Insightly CRM Tags as the modern version of stick-on labels. When used creatively, they are efficient and wonderful organizational tools that can help you sort your data and find it when you need it.

Tags can be used to filter and sort data in many ways. Unlike “categories,” multiple tags can be associated with opportunities, contacts, projects, organizations and/or emails. You can create filters to sort your contacts’ demographic information and give you access to groups and associations in new and outside-the-box ways.

Get the basics on Insightly CRM tags, and get ready to think creatively on how you can use tags to gain insight into your data.

1.Tag by Demographic Information
Try thinking of new angles to sort your customers and contact information. You can tag them with any information you have—age, gender, neighborhood, city, state, or zip code. Assess what you need to know when it comes to your customers and start tagging!

2.Tag by Association
Perhaps your contacts belong to different professional groups. Opportunities can be found within specific groups, be it Toastmasters or your local Chamber of Commerce. Knowing what groups your customers belong to can help you schedule events that don’t conflict with your local Junior League’s monthly meeting, or target a special offer to customers who are members of AARP. Whatever the association, tagging can be a powerful tool to quickly narrow down targeted mailings and give your real estate agency, non-profit, or small business the tools you need to contact the right customers at the right time.

3. Tag by Industry
Sorting data by industry relevance can be very helpful as well. Identifying customers in similar industries helps you find commonalities and can help you build a campaign that will appeal to their specific trade.

Sorting your project by the industry or tool needed for success can also be helpful. Perhaps you have several upcoming projects that will need a mailing house, or at least two of your projects will require some public relations or IT expertise. Find the data in one quick filter by attaching a tag to the necessary industry or job.

4. Tag by Common Interests
By tagging all your contacts who participated in a community golf-outing you co-sponsored, you can quickly find them again for your next golf event.

Common interests can be important when you are marketing to a specific religious group (remember to send out Rosh Hashanah cards, or schedule events that don’t conflict with important dates).

Looking for other commonalities—pet owners, gardening buffs, car-fanatics or foodies, can be a great boon to your targeted marketing efforts. In today’s world, customers want to be remembered and feel special. When you know what your customers are most interested in, you can order promotional items they’ll want to keep. Tagging their records with information on their interests can help create a marketing plan that will really get their attention.

5. Tag by Priority
Adding a priority tags can be one more way to make sure you can quickly sort and find your “hot” leads. Get creative—if you think it would be helpful. Tags can always be edited and undone. There’s no wrong way. If you find that a tag is not as useful as projected, delete it and try something different. Flexibility is one of the best things about Insightly!

6. Tag Projects in New Ways
It can be helpful to sort projects in numerous ways. We’ve discussed sorting them by the job or industry; what about sorting your projects by the division, location or area they will take place?

You may also want to look at “long term” or “ongoing” projects as opposed to one-time tasks. This can offer valuable planning assistance when you are assigning projects, projecting and scheduling for the upcoming year.

7. Tag the Red Flags
While it can be risky to tag customers with red flag warnings that are slanderous or mean (not to mention unprofessional), making notes can help avoid disastrous PR reoccurrences. For example—customers who hate to be called during dinner can be tagged as such. This helps avoid upsetting a customer.

There may also be reasons to indicate that someone should speak with you before they make contact with a specific client or customer. Perhaps you can offer them some (insight) on a sensitive topic or give some history on the customer disposition. Tag them with a code, initials or a word to indicate that employees should consult with you before talking to the customer.

8. Filter Your Tags
Using filters can help narrow down your tags and find customers that fit multiple criteria. Find customers that live in the same neighborhood, moved in the last year, and are over the age of 60 by smart use of filters. When you tag customers with the right data, the possibilities are endless.

9. Add Tags to a Filter Set
To quickly add tags to a filtered group, you can simply select all of the contacts, projects or data under that “tag” by clicking at the top to select all. From there you can add an additional tag to this group, deselect some members to tag, or “play” with your data in ways that make it more efficient. This is a great way to quickly add tags to like groups, rather than individually opening and tagging each one.

Once you’ve mastered the art of tagging, don’t be afraid to test new ways to manage your data. You may come up with new marketing techniques and plans that you never thought of! Visit Insightly U for more in-depth assistance with tags and get the most out of your customer data.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Impress Your Customers by Staying Connected



Customer relationships are at the core of marketing. When you nurture relationships with your customers, you endear them to your brand or business. By leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) solution, you can stay connected with your customers for the long haul.

Keep Customer Data Organized and Accessible
The key to effectively connecting with your customers is to know important details about each one and keep all that knowledge in one place. For small businesses on a budget, it can be hard to tell whether a CRM will be worth the initial investment so try a free plan  or a 14 day trial of our premium plan as a way to get started without financial risk.

CRMs exist to make sense of your contact data. For example, Insightly CRM features custom fields, filters, and tags, so you can include all the information you want to and make it easy to search. You can even upload customer files and link between contacts and any other items. This gives you much more information to work with than a spreadsheet or an address book. Analyzing data to find customer likes, dislikes, spending habits and patterns helps you decide your next steps.

Try Customer Segmenting with Behavior or Category Tags
By creating "smart" tags or grouping customers by their behavior or some other common similarity, you can create email campaigns that not only target each customer based on their interests, but on the likelihood they will act on your pitch.

Rather than blast customers with email advertisements that will make them unsubscribe from your list, use behavioral segmentation to send them offers they want to act on. This isn’t just for mailers though. Use behavioral tags to inform all contact with customers. For example, you can contact customers who actively engage via your Instagram to advertise a flash sale just for Instagram followers.

Listen to Customers
We all know that customers don’t want to be sold to. They don’t want you to talk at them. If you want to communicate with your clients, you have to listen to them. Of course, great customer service is the first line in listening and responding to your clients’ needs. You can even listen even before they reach out to you.

By looking at the contact profile you’ve created, including purchase history, interactions with your company via social media, and how frequently they engage with your brand, you can gauge how often each customer wants to hear from you. If you’re initiating contact too often, customers may unsubscribe or unfollow. You can adjust your behavior to cater to their pattern of preference. For example, if you find customers tend to unsubscribe six weeks after a purchase, don’t send an email during the sixth week.

Have a Public Conversation
If your social media outlets are on autopilot, you’re missing out big time. It’s easy for SMBs to send out one post to several different social media accounts and think that’s enough. If you cannot manage live interaction with your customers over numerous networks, consider cutting down to one or two social media accounts or hiring someone to represent your brand for you. Effective social media means constant, meaningful interaction.

Having a dialogue with your customers over public channels shows individual customers they are valued, and your other followers see that you value each customer as well. In addition, you get more data about customers the more you interact, which, when paired with an intuitive small business CRM, provides you with information for future marketing efforts.

When you collect and maintain holistic contact profiles, tagged or grouped in a useful, searchable manner, you can put your customer data to good use and directly engage with your customers in meaningful ways.

Monday, 19 May 2014

6 Best Practice Tips to Ensure Successful Project Management

Have you ever thought about this?  Is a project a project is a project is a project?  Meaning…underneath…are all projects basically the same? Yes, in detail, every project is different…though some are very similar.  But from a project management perspective, setting up a repeatable set of processes can help you become more organized, more efficient and help you scale your business.

With the goal of creating the best chance of project success, below are some suggestions of best practices that should be applied to every project.

Know your Customer 
Before starting any new project, every project manager should know everything they can about their customer.  Yes, they will undoubtedly learn more and more throughout the engagement.  But just like you might prepare for a job interview by investigating the organization you are interviewing with, prepare for the project by knowing your client, their business, where they’ve been and where they’re going, and know as much as you can about the management team of the organization.  Going into the project engagement with key information and history on the client organization will help you understand their needs early on, will help you document key customer info – probably for inclusion in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, and will give you instant credibility with the new project client.  Trust me, they will be impressed that you’ve done your homework.

Compile Early Project Information
Get what you can from whoever initiated the project or closed the deal or whatever.  An account manager, the project sponsor (or both), your manager, the owner of the company...  whoever might have meaningful information, requirements, estimates, mockups, etc.  You need that critical information to start the real planning on the project and putting together a useful project schedule.  If you find that this material is scattered in different places, you may want to locate in a centralized place (like your CRM).

Team
If it's a big project, acquire the team you need, or at least know the needed skill sets required for the project to be a success.  If you need to outsource these skill sets make sure you give yourself enough time to find them and engage them.  Now, if the project is small…like maybe a data transition and you have the knowledge and capability to do it all yourself, this may be a one-person team.  Otherwise, you’ll need to gather resources based on the skill sets you need or document those skill sets well and hand them off to whoever is the project resource gatekeeper.

Plan and Conduct the Kickoff Session
Sometimes this has to happen before you’ve assembled a team and sometimes after and sometimes it may just be you and the project sponsor.  However, this meeting is critical to set proper expectations, finalize milestones, understand assumptions and plan for more planning and plan for the when and how the work will happen on the project.  This session – no matter how big or how small the gathering and the project – is all about setting proper expectations and milestones for the engagement.

Weekly Meetings
Conduct weekly meetings and disseminate project status.  It doesn't matter how formal you make your status meeting – it can be a one-on-one call with the project sponsor that last for five minutes if that’s all it takes, but it must happen every week like clockwork.  If communication falters, that’s when the project can start to come unglued and project customer satisfaction can begin to decline.  Don’t skip the regular meetings and status reporting, even if there isn’t much to report.  Of course, on larger projects this status meeting and reporting process will be more formal, but it still needs to happen…every week.

Over Communicate. 
Effective and efficient communication is job one for the project manager no matter how big or small or detailed the project is.  It’s not just about the status meetings and status reporting either – it’s about all project details, task management issue management, risk management and anything relevant to the project that needs to be efficiently disseminated to the project team members…and customer…in a timely fashion.  And that must start with the project manager.

Summary
In general, the basic steps and practices that need to be included in order to achieve success are generally the same from project to project.  You may scale based on the size of the project, but every step mentioned above should happen on every engagement.  How about you?  Do you agree?  Are there any steps that might be missing? 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Insightly Scheduled Downtime Sat. 17th May

Insightly Scheduled Downtime this Sat. 17th May

Insightly will be down for scheduled maintenance for a maximum period of five hours between 4PM PST and 9PM PST this Sat. 17th May 2014.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Evernote for Business Integration

Insightly has had Evernote integration for quite some time, and we've just added an integration with the newest Evernote product - Evernote Business. Evernote Business allows you to share and collaborate on Evernote notes with other members of your organization or team. This new integration is available to all Insightly users.

Linking your Evernote account to Insightly

If you have not yet enabled Evernote integration and you have an Evernote account, you can link Insightly to your Evernote account through the Profile menu in the top right, then choose the 'User Settings' option. Then click the 'Connect to Evernote' link towards the bottom of the Settings page, as shown below in red.


Adding Evernote Business Notes to Insightly

Once you have connected your Evernote account to Insightly, you can link existing notes from Evernote to Insightly contacts, organizations, opportunities and projects and share those notes with other Insightly users. Click on the Evernote button under the Notes tab to link an Evernote note in Insightly, as shown below.


In the notebook dropdown in the modal window that appears, you can now choose between Evernote for Business notebooks (if you have an Evernote for Business account), or personal Evernote notebooks when linking notes. All Business Notebooks that you have permission to see will be listed under the 'Business Notebooks' section (as shown below).


From the modal window, choose the notes you wish to link by clicking on the checkbox to the left of their names, and click the 'Add Evernote' button to link them to the Insightly record. The summary of each linked Evernote note will be shown in Insightly (as shown below).


Clicking on an individual note will show you the full contents of that Evernote right inside Insightly, and you can choose to view that note in Evernote itself from an option under the Actions menu.


This new integration is very handy for those of you who have an Evernote Business account and share notes with other members of your team.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Partner Post: Cow Tipping, CRM, and Why This Matters to You



Have you ever heard the term “cow tipping”?  I have…and I always assumed it was real and doable.  One night about 33 years ago – in the dead summer and the black of the night – I went out with some friends and cow tipping was on our list of things to do that night.  We ended up in a pitch-black field, in southern Iowa (prime cow country) at 2am looking for some cows.  When I found one…basically by bumping into him (and it felt like running into a 1,000 pound brick wall) because I couldn’t see him…I pretty much decided that this wasn’t for me.  I took off rather quickly…as did everyone else I was with that night.

Recently, I took a little poll of my Facebook friends from Iowa to see if anyone, anywhere, had ever actually tipped a cow.  All had heard of it, only one other had tried it, and none succeeded.  Wikipedia deems it nearly impossible and basically calls it an urban legend.  I wish I had known that back in 1981, but oh well…

Where am I going with this in terms of CRM, projects and why this should matter to you?  Well, much like some of us – in our youth – thought we could actually tip a cow over, many of us think we can manage our clients and contacts for projects and business initiatives using paper, a spreadsheet or maybe just our email inbox folders.  In reality, we can’t.  At least not effectively.  I’ve tried to both as a project manager and as an independent consultant.  We can save contact info that way, but we can’t do anything smart with it.  I can find email address…eventually.  What we can’t tell from much of that – at least not without relying on a lot of memory and potential human error – is what we should be doing with that contact info in order to effectively run our businesses and maximize our revenue.  That client that didn’t need your product or help now but wanted you to contact them again in two months.  Are you able to remember to do that or are you going to lose that potential business because you can vaguely remember you were supposed to contact someone but you have no clue who it was.  I had that happen to me the other day – and it took me two hours of searching to figure out who that potential client was.  This is an all to frequent scenario for many of us and we risk losing projects, profits and extended opportunities as a result.

What we need is an effective, easy to use, and reasonably priced customer relationship management (CRM) system that can manage our current clients, past clients, and potential clients that we need to get back in touch with so that we have enough cash on hand to take vacations and go out and do stupid things like trying to tip 1,000 pound cattle in the darkness of the night.  There are many options available – check them out on some of the CRM comparison sites available and find the one that best suits your needs, business and industry.  I highly recommend starting with Insightly CRM.  It’s easy to use, fast to learn, low cost, and comes with great online support.  You can sign up for a free account or a 14 day trial of the premium/paid plan.


About the author:  Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer & IT/PM consultant and author with over 27 years of development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Partner Blog Post: How to Effectively Administrate Your CRM

Just because you’re a small business owner, it doesn’t mean you have small goals. In fact, many small businesses have colossal goals. All large companies started out small, so why is your business any different?

A CRM makes it easier for small business owners to achieve big goals. However, as any business owner will tell you, your CRM doesn’t magically build itself. Even if you have picked a CRM that is easy to use, getting the maximum value from your CRM takes a combination of skill sets. There's big-picture planning, content writing, technical inputs, list management, and data analysis - to name a few. You can either do it all yourself (and hope for the best), delegate internally, or hire people to make up for your busy schedule and/or lack of know-how.

In this article, I'll offer tips for breaking up your CRM admin into digestible chunks - and how to staff up without breaking the bank.

Why Do You Use a CRM in the First Place?
Stop and think about why you implemented your CRM in the first place. You likely were hoping to achieve one or more of the following:

•    Close More Deals – Improve your tracking processes and increase the probability of closing more business.
•    Improve Customer Relations – What does CRM stand for in the first place?
•    Increase Efficiency, Decrease Oversights – Using spreadsheets, email or notes to track deals is inefficient and prone to errors.
•    Achieve More Goals – The name of the game is to close more deals with less effort. CRMs are designed precisely for that.

Everything you do with your CRM should align with these goals. However, if you’re a one-person shop, you may not have the time or know-how accomplish everything in your CRM. Sure, many CRMs targeted towards small businesses are intuitive and easy to use, but, intuitive still doesn’t add more hours to your already busy schedule.

What Skills Are Necessary to Maximize Value from Your CRM?
Many CRMs offer a free package to start with and then offer premium plans for a fee.  This is great because you can upgrade to more features when your revenue stream justifies the expense. But even if you’re on the free plan, there could be a ton of advanced functionality you may be missing out on simply because you’re too busy to set it up (for example, opportunities, customizing your pipelines, and tags). How much business are you losing because of this?

Let’s imagine for a moment that you did have more time to dedicate. Here are the skills you’d probably need to have on-staff (or in your head):
•    General overall architect – Someone who can see the big picture and help determine the ideal structure or layout for your CRM.
•    Callers - Who will be making outbound calls? Only You?  Sales reps?  Managers?  Customer Service reps?
•    Assistants – Who will follow up - set follow up tasks, follow up events and in general make sure nothing slips through the cracks?
•    Technical resources – Data mapping and importing, pipeline configuration, and report customization are just a few of the more advanced or technical aspects of using a CRM.  (Depending on capabilities, the general architect may also be able to help here.)
•    Copywriters – If you're sending mass emails out from your CRM, are your current sales emails converting? If not, perhaps it may be time to either rework the content internally, or bring in an expert to tweak the verbage.

You might be saying to yourself, “Sure, I’d love to extract even more value from my CRM. But I don’t have the time, and we certainly don’t have the budget to hire someone to manage this for us.”

How to Staff Up Quickly (Without Breaking the Bank)
In a nutshell, here’s a framework for staffing up with outsourced CRM experts who are both affordable and experienced.

1.    Assess your needs – 20 minutes – Download this free outsourcing guide to assess your company’s needs.
2.    Sign up for a free outsourcing account with oDesk or Elance – 10 minutes
3.    Post a job for free – 15 minutes
4.    Drill down and find a specialist or two – 30 minutes
5.    Interview the applicant(s) – 1 to 2 hours – Most virtual interviews are done via Skype, Google Hangouts, or phone.
6.    Set an hourly max or budget and make the hire – 10 minutes

Now, of course when making any hiring decisions, there are a lot of factors you need to take into consideration. If you do decide to outsource a portion of your CRM administration, you may find these free outsourcing resources useful.

Get More from Your CRM

You use a CRM because you desire to achieve more goals for your business. Isn’t it time you thought about building scalability from your CRM? If so, outsourcing some or all of your CRM administration may be a wise decision for your business.

About the Author:  Matt Keener is a marketing professional, specializing in marketing strategy and efficient, cost effective outsourcing best practices.

Monday, 5 May 2014

15 Great Ways to Nurture Your Pipeline

 Sometimes making sales isn’t about the major efforts you make; the little things often create just as big an impact. Here, we look at 15 ways you can build your relationships and close more sales.

1. Offer a Free, No-Strings-Attached Consultation
People are often suspicious about those free consultations, but make it clear in your marketing copy that your aim is to help prospects. If they decide to work with you, great. Otherwise, they’re armed with free information they didn’t otherwise have. And be true to this! Don’t use this ploy to lure in unsuspecting prospects, or they’ll run away.

2. Share Your Contact’s Content on Social
If you’re connected to your contacts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et cetera (and you should be), make a point of sharing their content or responding to their updates. Everyone likes a little attention on social media.

3. Answer the Phone with a Smile
People have come to expect recorded operators or mechanical customer service voices. Delight them by answering the phone with joy. You’d be surprised how positively people respond to a pleasant voice.

4. Send More Targeted Emails
These days, technology helps us do more than send a blanket email to everyone. Now you can send a customized email with links to products each subscriber cares about. And with our integration with MailChimp, you can ensure each lead gets the most targeted email.

5. Wish Them Happy Birthday

Whether it’s on their Facebook wall, via email, on the phone, or in person, a simple birthday wish can go a long way. Consider sending a special discount or free offer via email for that special day.

6. Buy Them Coffee
Set up a coffee date — again, no strings attached — so that you can pick the brain of your prospect and see what makes their business tick. You’re not trying to sell, but the information you glean can help you not only better market to that lead, but also target your sales efforts to all leads.

7. Comment on Their Content
If a contact has a blog, read it and comment on it. Show that you’re paying attention. Consider writing a roundup post on your own blog and feature some of your favorite prospects’ posts.

8. Get Smarter
It may seem a strange way to nurture your pipeline, but the more you know, the better service you can be to potential customers. Stay sharp on your industry by attending conferences and reading books, blogs, and magazines. That way, you can catch even the biggest curveball a contact throws you.

9. Always Call a Contact by Name
We don’t always say the name of the person we’re speaking to, but when we do, they pay attention. Sprinkle your contact’s name into the conversation, and see if he doesn’t perk up.

10. Stay in Touch, Even if You Never Make the Sale
Let’s say you nurture a sale until you’re sure you’ll close it...only you don’t. That’s no reason to drop the contact completely. You may not know the reasons why she didn’t buy (maybe she got sick or busy), but if you create an opportunity and then check in a few times a year, you might win that sale down the road.

11. Be a Connector
If you have two contacts who you think would benefit from working together, connect them. Or share a great blog post with a contact. There’s nothing but altruism in this effort, but people will appreciate the fact that you’re thinking of them.

12. Create Other Ways to Work Together
You could invite a contact to be interviewed on your podcast or blog, or attend your conference or webinar. Buying from you shouldn’t be the only way they can get to know both you and your brand.

13. Invite Them to Your Office
If it’s not necessary for clients to visit your office, invite potentials anyway. Give them the tour and introduce them to everyone. Your goal here is to show them the behind-the-scenes and make them feel a connection to your brand.

14. Take Notes on the Small Stuff
If, during a call, a contact mentions he’s headed to Aruba for vacation, or that his son just won his Little League tournament, make sure you pay attention and maybe create a calendar entry to remind yourself. After that vacation, send a quick email asking how it went. Or send a note of congratulations on that game. When you pay attention to the details, prospects take notice.

15. Never Stop Trying
You don’t have to be pushy to build a relationship with a prospect. Just continue paying attention and finding new ways to connect.

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