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 2017.
Narrowing Down My CRM Recommendations
As I write my final 2014 blog post, I wanted to bring my readers up to date on one of my favorite Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs of 2014, Base CRM and why it is a strong choice if you are considering a switch in 2015. I get a bit of emails and comments from others around the world telling me that THIS CRM is better than THAT CRM or that I should try THIS CRM too. I have been using CRM software for 15 years now and have tried and tested several dozen of them to see how they work for a contracting business. The big players in the market: Zoho and Salesforce (or ImproveIt 360: owned by Salesforce) are still great programs. I normally recommend one of these programs for companies who really want a lot of custom features. You will pay through the nose but you will probably get what you want. ImproveIt 360, for example has marketed heavily to the contracting market. My only real beef with this program is that it has not kept up with the mobile devices (it is behind the times as of 2014). I know this post will get dated and CRM programs I am not endorsing will get better. I’m just trying to keep it simple for my readers and suggest a very good product that I use myself.
So with all the CRMs available in 2014, I have really narrowed down my focus to Future Simple’s Base CRM. I still have many clients using another great CRM called Pipeline Deals. It is a very simple and easy to use CRM with no bugs: it just works. Yet even Pipeline Deals has not been able to keep up with the plethora of updates and features that Base has produced in 2014 for the desktop and mobile devices. It is because of this, I continue to use Base for my own team on a daily basis.
Key New Highlights for Base CRM in 2014
Below are the bullet points of features released in 2014 by Base CRM’s development team making this CRM a hot item going into 2015. I can now use Base almost exclusively on an iPad or iPhone. For example, an email I send has my custom HTML signature sent along with it, so it looks as though I’m sending emails from my desktop computer.
- Reporting Center on all devices: When I am on my iPhone and want to see how much I’ve sold and/or lost this week or this month, I just have to click “Dashboard” to quickly see a sales update.
- Communications (Emails, Text & Calls): Users can now send and receive email exclusively from any device running Base. One can even send and receive text messages if you use Base’s phone service too.
- Email Templates: You can send customized emails from all devices now. I love this new feature! I also like that you can insert TAGS. So you can make your emails really personal. For example, if you get a new lead, you can send a “canned” response back to the prospect and make it very personal! It just saves your staff a lot of time and allows for consistency with your team.
- Stronger Integration with Xero & Quote Roller: Xero is a slick and easy to use cloud-based accounting that very well could replace Quickbooks Online. It integrates with Base, which is a nice feature to have! Also a program called Quote Roller. Painters, builders and other trades can create attractive looking proposals within Quote Roller. Connecting Quote Roller with your Base account allows the contact information to sync between Base and Quote Roller. Also when you are in the DEALS tab of Base, you can click on your Quote Roller tab which will take you to the proposal.
- Lead Sources on Mobile: New leads can now be sourced properly even on a mobile device. Before it was only on the desktop version. Once you determine the source of a lead it then allows you to run more custom reports.
- Customers, Past Customers, Non-Prospects & Accounts: Base has made it easier to determine your current and past customers. You can even see how much revenue you’ve received from your clients with the “Accounts” section. I do not always like running reports. I sometimes just like to look at a persons contact information. Now I can see, at a glance, everything I need to know about a client: past and current deals, how much was lost and won, etc.
- Smarter Classifications for Prospects & Customers: Read more here
- Email Tracking: I can now receive a notification when someone reads my email and I can also see how many times they open an email I sent through Base!
- Global Email Visibility & Multiple Collaborators on Deals
- Email Anyone from within Base: I still use Google Apps for Work for almost all my emailing. Yet I am turning to Base more and more to do a lot of my Deal-related emails. One day I might use Base exclusively! It syncs beautifully with Google now. When I send an email within Base, I see it in my Google Sent folder too. Technically, you and your team can use Base 100% for emails now (you don’t have to leave the Apps).
- Product Catalog: This is not a feature I expect will be real beneficial to the contracting market just yet. However, it is a new an slick update. It might make pricing a job a bit easier using the product price list in Base. Read more here
- Email Signatures & Attachments: When sending emails within Base, you can customize them with your company logo and social media icons/links.
- Notifications: If you are using iOS or Android devices, Base can now push notifications between the desktop version and the mobile devices. This is just another reason why you can basically use Base CRM for your entire sales cycle and company calendar.
- Calendar: The calendar within Base works with Google Calendar. There are still some updates that I’d like to see in this area, but all in all, it works well. For example, there is no way to schedule appointments within Base for other members of the team. The workaround is to have a group sales calendar for appointments.
- Personalize Appointments with Your Company Branding: When sending appointment invitations within Base, the emails sent to your business contacts are send your company branded invitation.
- Scoring: This is not a feature I use often or have seen others use in the construction world. However, it is pretty nifty! You can basically setup different scoring numbers for certain types of leads and sales. For instance, if you a hot prospect for you might be a property management firm, you’d check off “Property Management” for this prospects Score and it would apple a number that you’ve previously set for that industry. Maybe a property manager is worth 75 points while a pizza shop owner is worth 20 points. Hopefully this makes sense. Scoring can help sales managers know what their sales teams are pursuing and if they are spending enough time going after higher ticket prospects and sales.
- Custom Lead Capturing Forms: I can easily create my own forms within Base and it automatically updates on my website. I love this feature! The only thing that did not get done in 2014 which I hope will happen soon is the forms work ok on mobile devices but are not responsive just yet. What I mean is that they need a few more tweaks to make them perfect for all devices.
The items I mentioned in this blog are all new in 2014. Base was very good in 2013, but it really stepped up its updates this past year and made it an incredible CRM. I have been hearing very positive feedback to a few of the painters and contractors I know using Base in recent months. All of them are really enjoying the new features.
If you have a question about Base CRM, let me know. Their support team is very responsive as well. They have quite a bit more updates planned for 2015, so stay tuned. What I like about updates over time instead of all at once is that users can learn the new features and adapt quickly. The mobile apps and desktop of Base CRM is really pretty simple to use. I hope you’ll find the same thing if you give it a try.