Base CRM by Future Simple | A David Creation

Posted by | February 07, 2012 | Small Business Solutions | 29 Comments

Update: November 2018: Base has joined with Zendesk Support. Their new name is Zendesk Sell. Their pricing structure has changed as well. It spans from $19, $49, $99 and $199 per user. I use the words Base CRM in the article below, written in 2012.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Base CRM (formally Pipejump) for over a year now. The thing that attracted me to Base CRM originally was the design and User Interface (UI). It was a very simple UI. It should be, as it was developed by a company called, Future Simple. So far they seem to make simple, easy to use web and mobile apps. So what makes Base CRM special or worth checking out? I won’t go over all the details, just the key features I liked:

  • iPhone & Android Native Apps: This is where Base CRM Shines more than most other Customer Relationship Management programs on the web. They have not promoted their product much until the Native Apps were released (at the same time too). I think this was a very smart business idea. Many people, including myself, have worked with one CRM after the other, hoping and praying for a good mobile solution to be released. Small business people are on the move, not always in front of a desk. Most software companies will release a web app version before a native app, when their customers want a native app. (If you don’t know the difference, comment in this post or email me. I’ll explain.) The Base iPhone App works very well in my testing. Once again, it doesn’t have a lot of features, but it has just enough: Contact Information, Task and the ability to create and monitor deals on the go. The contact area works similar to the iPhone contacts too. What more do you need? I’d love to see the calendar feature, but that is not a must at this point. The design and UI of Base CRMs mobile apps are very slick. In fact, I like it better than Salesforce (the leader in Cloud CRMs). The reason why most other CRM developers do not have native Apps is because the expense and updates. First it is very expensive to create an App: as high as $50,000 sometimes. Then getting updates pushed can take awhile: Google or Apple has to approve them. That is the main reason most developers steer away from them. The consumers (you and me) have gotten addicted to the easy of native apps, so we like them better than going to a browser.
  • Integrates well with Google Apps for Business. If you don’t really know what that means, read my post about Google Apps vs Gmail. You can forward the emails you want quickly and easily into Base. You can also create Notes, Task, View Existing Notes, Customer Details all within Gmail. See Screenshot.
  • Export Task/Events to Google Calendar with One Click: Base keeps everything very simple, including naming things. For example, Task can mean either an event or to do. Instead of having two many buttons and options, Base makes it simple to create a task. When completed, you have an option to send to iCal or Google’s Calendar. See Screenshot.
  • Custom Fields & Customer Information: Again, no information overload with the Contact Management area. It starts out with the very basic information, and you can then add custom fields, which in my test, worked great! You can easily look up customers and contacts using their easy to find search section and dig deeper using Tags. I actually like how simple the UI is for the Contact Management area. Many small business owners are overwhelmed with too much information. It is also one of the reasons I still evaluate CRMs…looking for simple solutions for that one audience and more advanced programs for those who want more! This CRM is easy to learn and do what most small businesses need (at least starting out).
  • Deals and Reporting: This is where Base seems to spend a lot of time in developing a good user interface with the design and reporting. Once you start filling in your deals, Base begins creating a custom database for good reporting. (note for the old Act! users reading this: Deals are Opportunities). You can quickly look at where all your best leads are coming from, how many you’ve closed, lost and what still needs to be done to close out a deal.
  • Support: Very quick response and help when I needed it. They listen to me too!
  • Importing from Other CRMs: They make it easy. I tried it and had no issues. They’ve also offered to help import existing deals (and have them postdated)
  • Price: The price is free for anyone to start using Base. So how do they make their money? Well, they give you a certain amount of free DEALS. Once you reach that amount, I think it is $150, then you go to a paid account, which starts at $29.99 a month. This could still be a very affordable option for many small businesses. Lets say you are a remodeler who does 50 bids a year. It would take you 3 years before you’d reach the paid version. If you are a paint company that does 20 bids a week, it would take you a couple months before you hit the paid version of $29.99 a month. Where it can get a little pricey for the small companies is when you hit 1000 deals. Base charges $99.99 for from 1,001 to 10,000 deals. If you have a larger sales staff 5 estimators, $99.99 a month is nothing.

The Bottom line about Base, so far in my early testings of it’s abilities: I like it. I’ve suggested a number of features to the company, and I hope they will implement them. For example, their Task Times only give you 1 hour options. I’d rather make task with 15 min increments. Seems like an easy update, and they’ve already said it is in the works. Integration with Google Documents, a File storage (Dropbox, Egnyte, Box.net) would also be nice. They are working on a Quote system (to send estimates and invoices similar to Freshbooks. It is already released, but improvements are underway). Base CRM is your simple and easy to use CRM. I think by not having too many features, it will make some of you very happy and have less frustrations. I’d like to see Google Apps have more plugins and keep the CRM simple.

Let me know if you’ve tried Base and what you think about it.

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About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.

29 Comments

  • I have a number of clients that I have on Base CRM. The aspects of Base CRM have proven most important to them are the solid integration with Google apps and the smooth iPhone apps. All in all, those clients have been very satisfied with their experiences.

    From my perspective, I love the UI. Typical small/medium sized businesses – not the tech savvy ones always used by companies in their examples – can get overwhelmed by CRM tools. Base CRM’s UI really goes a long way toward minimizing this “tech shock” while still affording power and flexibility.

    Although it’s not my #1 choice for CRM, I like it too and feel it has some good potential. An good read, nice post!

    Regards,

    Alan

  • David says:

    Alan: You are dead on about the UI being the strong point for Base CRM. There is not a lot of “fat” in this CRM. Small businesses just need to start using a CRM. When they start with Salesforce, Zoho, etc. they get overwhelmed. The UI and Native Apps make this one a very good choice.

    What is one of your favorites on the market right now? Thanks for stopping by and the comment.

  • While it’s targeting a different type of business user than a product like Base CRM, I really like where Sugar CRM is at and is going. But, just like some of the big guys out there, it can be overwhelming.

  • David says:

    Yes. Sugar CRM is a nice program. I don’t remember it being real G Apps friendly when I last looked at it. Does it work well with Windows 365?

  • Randy says:

    Great review. Our main experience has been with Salesforce. Their pricing is less than you thought, and they are aggressive in trying to keep you once they have you. (albeit, always professional)

    You may want to check out Nimble if you haven’t come across it before. http://www.nimble.com/

    Just came across your blog today. Nice work.

  • David says:

    Randy, thanks for commenting on this post. I’ve looked into Nimble. It lacked the native app for smartphones. Besides that it looked great. It really comes down to funding. It is very expensive to develop apps. Base took a back seat and focused hard ok the tools that people wanted most: simplified: contact management, detailed deals and integrated into a smartphone.

    Tell me more about Salesforce? I know they’ve lowered their prices. Or so it seems. The really good version still seems like it is $65 a user per month. My experience is that is a waste of many when only 25% or less of small business employee will actually utilize a CRM. Sounds funny, but most of my clients are the owners who do a fair amount of selling. Most don’t enter their sales into a CRM. They get busy and forget. Only their other sales people do it faithfully. So no fault to Salesforce it is just a steep price to get the features only a few employees will use. If they allowed customizing: $15 a month and $65 a month plans…more would switch to Salesforce. You agree? Why do you like it and what made you search for other blogs in CRMs?

    Also, Salesforce pricing and services are very confusing. They have all these different prices and products that most can’t figure out: Salesforce Chatter, Sales, Service, Force etc. I have several clients that use and like it. It is still probably the best on the market. Yet, not everyone needs the best.

  • Randy says:

    I agree with everything you just stated David. I think the majority of CRM solutions, especially the well know ones, are most appropriate for dedicated sales people and teams in larger companies. Once a company has settled on a sales methodology (eg. Miller Heiman) then employees will probably be required to use some type of company purchased CRM. It makes sense for the software companies to focus on them as a lot of SMB customers don’t have the commitment/time to get entrenched in the software. Cash flow in small businesses isn’t always the most consistent and that may have some negative effect also.

    There is an opportunity for CRMs focused on SMBs. I think that once you get vested in a certain application, inertia tends to keep you there. It is an interesting space to watch.

    For what its worth, I came across your blog in a Google search for reviews on Setster. My internet enhanced ADD led me through your various articles and then to comment on this one. BTW, thanks for the piece on youcanbook.me; experimenting with it now and we will probably end up using it.

  • David says:

    @Randy

    Thanks, Randy. Let me know how you like YouCanBook.me

    I’m sure Setster and the others will get better, but YouCanBook.me is pretty darn cool and easy to use. It just works! Take care.

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  • Damiano says:

    Hi all

    great review I am making research about state of art on social crm, and your article was very useful.

    Make me think if there is a social Crm that already is able to integrate both social signal, analytics statics and phone calling answer machine automatic alert. Do you think is there any crm that supply all of this.

    Regards

    damiano

  • David says:

    Good question, Damiano.

    Salesforce and Zoho tend to be the two powerhouses of CRMs for small-medium size businesses. I am pretty sure both of those have what you are looking for. Base CRM is pretty simple and easy to use and is not, yet anyways, a real social CRM program. Batchbook CRM does a good job of integrating the social elements. Have you looked into their program?

  • Colleen says:

    David, can you tell me the difference between a web app and a native app and why there is a preference of one over the other? Thanks.

  • David says:

    Colleen. What a great question. A “web app” is typically running off a web browser and is not downloaded to your computer or mobile device. A “native app” is a program that you download. So if you have an iPhone, you’d use the App Store to download “native apps” meaning they “live” on your device. The “web apps” live on the web. There are pros and cons to both. The main con to a native app, especially for an Apple device, is that updates cannot happen quickly. A developer must make any changes and resubmit it to Apple to approve. The pros of a native app is that many times you can access that application more quickly and even have offline access to data. This is the case with BASE CRM. If my Internet is down, I can still look up information. The pros to a web app is that the developer can make changes to their program anytime, night or day. They typically use a programming language called HTML 5 among others, making updates quick and easy.

    Hope this helps.

  • Jeremy says:

    David, I have found your content and recommendations very helpful. We are looking into Base CRM and I was wondering how you manage and log client meetings since it appears that you are using Base for your business.

  • Colleen says:

    David – What would you like to see for the future of Base CRM? Do you think that there are any other ways that customers/small businesses can benefit more from the native app and/or how do you think it will evolve to accommodate new types of small businesses?

  • David says:

    Jeremy, Sorry for the delayed response. I was on vacation…and did not get notified of your comment til I logged in today.

    So how do I manage and log client meetings. I use Basecamp and Google Drive for most collaboration and projects. However, within Base CRM, I use the NOTE section often to write up summaries of the meeting I’ve had with a client via phone or in person. Then that time stamps the note. I then create a Task within base to remind me to pull out the action items from the notes. Make sense?

    Base keeps getting better. It is a beautiful program. Yes, it is the CRM I personally use and will continue to use moving forward. Let me know how I can help.

  • David says:

    What would I like to see for the future of Base CRM? Good question. Well, I don’t want them to stop making changes. I want them to keep up the good work of making this CRM the best. They have the funding right now to make it better, and they are actively doing this! A few things I’d like to see: continued improvement for User Interface (UI), Custom Branding, Complete integration with Google Calendar and Contacts (ok now…but needs improvement), A calendar feature within the Mobile Apps (pulled directly from Google), Dropbox integration for quick access of files. Make it more focused on a service business dealing with homeowners, not just B2B. Goal setting. Those are a few things. But they are really doing a great job pulling out new features quickly! The mobile access (on/offline is incredible).

  • […] To learn more about the details of what this simple CRM can do, read my previous reviews on Base 1 Post Here and 2. Post […]

  • Jack says:

    @David The number one thing that would make Base a powerhouse is Exchange integration. Whether they develop the framework or team up with a developer like Yoxel (who developed the Exchange Synchronization tool for Highrise HQ). This alone would put Base in a position to become the leader since many companies are still using Exchange and with Microsoft rolling out 365 it is very inexpensive you run a fully Exchange managed e-mail platform.

  • David says:

    Jack, you may be right. I wonder what their plans are for those two platforms. I’ll have to ask them. If I find anything out, I’ll post a blog update. I’ve written 2 more Base blogs the past few months, and I am still very impressed with their development of this simple CRM. They are miles ahead of most of the competition because of the beautiful mobile apps. No one even comes close.

    Are you finding people to like 365? I am seeing folks move away from 365 (too clunky) and go to Google Apps? Also, how would an integration with Exchange work? Or what would be the benefit of it? Google Apps works with Outlook on the paid version…folks could basically just use Google Apps as their exchange server. Almost all my clients have cut Exchange and are using G Apps for their organization. No complaints.

  • Jack says:

    I think medium to mid size companies are going to continue to love using Outlook and the options and features that come along with it. Google really one-upped Microsoft when they integrated ActiveSync in order to provide enterprise-style syncing amongst devices. While GMail can be used with Outlook I don’t think it is as seamless of an experience as a true hosted Exchange solution.

    At the end of the day Google Apps is awesome – hands down. Unfortunately, tasks notes etc still don’t sync. I almost made the switch to Google Apps Premier but I personally prefer Outlook Web Access much more than GMail and also require syncing tasks. I really need a CRM solution though and I am not sure what direction I am going to go. I have tried Highrise, Plaxo and Base. So far Base takes the cake but syncing is a deal breaker right now.

  • David says:

    Jack, when you say Task don’t sync on Base, are you saying it doesn’t sync to Outlook. It syncs to Google Calendar just fine. I use it everyday. Love it. It syncs to the Google…and on my phone. I use G Apps as an exchange server with the iPhone and iPad products too. Not seeing a major downside to Base yet. What did you want it to do?

  • Jack says:

    I meant tasks and notes do not sync from Outlook to Google Apps when using Google as a “mail server.” I just wanted the ability to sync Base with an exchange hosted mail solution.

  • Aris says:

    Have been using Base for a few months now, although it is powerful in its simplicity, it is still pretty rou around the edges. Don’t dare upgrade the mobile app without syncing or you’ll lose your latest data. Syncing is hit or miss, you will almost certainly see differences and bits and pieces from previous updates among your devices. Certain deals sync / get updated, some don’t. This is leaving a bitter taste and forces us to look around for alternatives, nothing in a similar positioning so far though. Customer service seems to be getting a little reluctant as well. I loved the direction they were taking but Base seems to go south lately…

  • David says:

    Thanks for posting about your experience with BASE. I’ve asked Base support to respond to your comment too.

    Also, I think you are right, there isn’t a good alternative. I have a friend who is on Salesforce and is ready to switch because the mobile stinks.

    I’ve not experienced all the issues you discussed about the mobile. So I’m curious to see was Base has to say about it.

    They are working quickly to update and make it better. They are 10x faster than every CRM I have tried. So I’d sit right and see what fixes they have in store.

  • Jason says:

    I’ve been playing around with Base, but the only thing prohibiting me from going full tilt with it (and becoming so addicted that I would want to upgrade to paid) is skus/products. Currently when you enter Sales all you are entering is a dollar amount, which is not very helpful or scalable. Do you know of anything in the works? Also, a google maps integration would be great, to glance at where your customers/prospects are at on the map and plan your sales activity accordingly.

  • David says:

    @Jason

    Jason,

    I have not heard about any updates coming soon regarding SKU/Products. That would be a nice feature though. It appears to be a “light” CRM geared more for the small, almost service businesses. I guess one way around that is to create Custom Fields with dropdown menus/multi-choice. You can create a field and place URLS (links) in them as well. Maybe you can do that…and have it linked to certain product specific URLS? Just a thought. I have a laundry list of changes and featured I’d like to see as well. However, there are CRMs out there that do this sort of thing already, and I don’t think Base is in any hurry to please everyone on their new features. Zoho CRM and Salesforce do what you want already.

    Hope this helps. Oh and as for Google Maps, nope…have not seen that either.

  • […] which builds your brand in a positive way.  It makes you stand above the others. David Chism, of A David Creation has done a great job addressing many of the concerns and issues contractors have with technology […]

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