Cool Software

Why iCloud is Not Business Friendly-Updated

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | 4 Comments

Updated: 5/9/2014

Blog articles can get dated. So when I first wrote this article in 2011, iCloud was not the best tool for one’s business. I wanted to give a brief update since I wrote the blog below. As I write this update, iOS 7 is the current operating system for iPads/iPhones. Apple has made a tremendous leap forward in the business world by adding some really great updates for business users. In more recent months, we’ve seen them add Apple Pages, Numbers & Keynote as standard business apps. If you are not familiar with these three apps, basically it is similar to Microsoft’s Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

By adding these three apps to the desktop, online version and mobile apps, iCloud is not a much more business friendly solution for small businesses. The calendar features seem to be the only area that is a little lacking compared to Google Calendar or Microsoft 365. Yet, it will do the job…it can work. If you are trying to use less 3rd party programs and simplify things, iCloud for your business is a good solution. You can use it for your email, calendar, contacts, word documents, spreadsheets and presentations! You can store your documents in iCloud too, but it is still not as powerful as Dropbox, 365 or Google Drive.

What I hope will come soon is that Apple will really make an iCloud for business. What I mean is that they market it to businesses in a way that lets us all know it is ready to handle a lot more. It still feels light and “personal.”

October 2011 Blog

First Off, Why Apple Again, David?

20111024-074658.jpg

Each month, a growing number of consumers turn to two mobile devices, Android or Apple, for their personal and/or business needs. Although I like Android devices, I have given Apple iPhone two thumbs up for being the most business friendly. Two reasons:

  1. Apple was first to create the popular downloading of “Apps.” (i.e. App Store). Why is this important? Because developing an App is expensive, and an App on an iPhone does not work on an Android. Therefore, developers typically create an Apple App before they create an Android version. The Android Apps I’ve tried for business are typically more buggy, because Android has a lower standard for allowing Apps; the Android Market is open source, meaning anyone can create an App and post it. Apple has very strict standards and can take an App off their store at anytime. One good example is Facebook’s App for the iPhone and Android. The iPhone App is incredible and has 10x more features than the Android version. A business owner or employee can manage a business page directly from the iPhone App, but not from the Android (yet).
  2. It is just a very handy device and fun to use. The Android, to me, as very many cool features, but Apple has less moving parts on the screen. I get less distracted when using the iPhone and find myself playing around too much with the Android features. I stick to business on the iPhone!

Now for the Update on iCloud for Business

In mid October, Apple released what seems to be their biggest software update ever: IOS 5. It truly is remarkable. I wrote a quick summary of my favorite features last week. Because it is such a big jump from version 4 to 5, there are still a few bugs. I’d go ahead and upgrade your iPhones if you have not already, but just know you will encounter a few small bugs. Most of these bugs seem to clear up quickly, either on their own or when you restart. I’m sure their first update 5.1 will fix all these critters.

Now, Apple is claiming their biggest update in IOS 5 is the new iCloud (formerly MobileMe). What I read about iCloud sounded spectacular: updating Apps on multiple devices, taking a photo on your iPhone and it showing up instantly on your work/home computer, file storage, email, calendar syncing and sharing etc. I also realized that Apple sells primarily to consumers and not small business or Corporate America. I had many people ask me what I thought of the new iCloud and if it was a good tool for business. My answer is simple: iCloud is NOT a good business tool. It is meant for individual, personal use. Do I like iCloud? Overall, yes! It is easy to use. But I am very disappointed about a few things:

  1. Only one email per account: A family or even a business cannot have multiple email addresses within iCloud. Each person has to create their own iCloud account. The problem with this is…
  2. Photo Sharing is for Personal Usage: Because each person needs his or her own iCloud account, the new Photo Stream feature does not allow sharing with other iCloud users. It works with 1 account only. So as a business owner taking photos of a job site or business activity while using Photo Stream, the photos will be uploaded and streamed instantly to his computer, not to his marketing person, admin or another co-worker. That pretty much defeats the purpose.
  3. Can’t Delete Photos Easily: Apple offers 5GB of Free Storage. This will add up fast when you turn on Photo Stream. Once you take a photo, it uploads to iCloud. You cannot delete individual photos within iCloud. So if you take 5 quick shots of a job or person, all the bad ones are uploaded with the good ones. Now there are some techie work arounds, but with the first release of iCloud, Photos are there to stay in the clouds. You can delete photos on your phone and computer only. You can also wipe ALL photos off iCloud and start from scratch, but why would anyone want to do that? The idea of iCloud is to help consumers be more mobile and save everything off site to avoid hard drive crashes and provide easy access to info on the go.

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  1. Calendar and Document Sharing Do Not Exist: The bottom line is iCloud is for a single user, you or me. If you want your co workers or family to share information, you can create 1 iCloud account, but it is not safe and is just not a good idea. iCloud will not replace Egnyte, Dropbox or Google Apps.

What should a business do with IOS 5 and iCloud?

I know some of you are thinking, “Run that by me again, Dave. Why is the iPhone better than the Android?” It is true that Android technology is a Google product, and I like Google. Yet there are too many devices and features to figure out with Android and only 1 with Apple: the iPhone. That’s it. Also, just because iCloud is not business friendly, doesn’t mean you need to ditch the phone. What I did was this:

1) I basically kept everything the same: Synced my Google Apps for Business account (compare with MS Exchange) with my iPhone.

2) I switched from MobileMe to iCloud for personal use. I use my iCloud account for Photo Streaming so I don’t have to download and upload photos to my computer. I then can take those photos on my computer and share the ones I want with others.

3) I continue to use Dropbox and Google Docs for my file storage. In short, the new upgrade is business friendly if you customize it to your liking. I am just not endorsing the iCloud for business, and I think Apple would agree with me that it is meant for personal use. I hope Apple releases an iCloud for Business! At this point they are rolling in the dough selling their new product to individuals. They don’t need to be all things to all people (just yet). It is good marketing. They know their audience!

Your Turn

What do you think of the new iPhone 4S, IOS 5, SIRI, and iCloud? Are you happy with the changes Apple made?

IOS 5 Upgrade for iPhone Quick Review

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | 3 Comments

I was one of the millions of users, I’m sure, who upgraded the iPhone to the latest operating system with IOS 5 and iCloud. It took awhile to get it working correctly, and I’m still figuring out all the new tricks and features. Am I happy with the upgrade? A definite Yes! Yet for those of you who are not really techie, I’d probably hold off on upgrading unless you don’t mind a few bugs and the process taking awhile. Some of your programs will crash. This is not Apple’s fault most likely. The App companies are frantically trying to catch up with Apple and get their programs compatible with IOS 5. I’ve had a number of programs crash, yet even as I write this, I’ve gotten App updates. A quick workaround is to delete the buggy Apps and reinstall them.

My Favorite Things About iOS 5 For Business Usage
What I like most about the upgrade? The notifications and dropdown menu are similar to the Android devices, which I’ve always liked. It is about time that Apple introduced this. This can save you time in the long run, not having to open up different applications to view emails, to do list, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You can set up your phone to only receive the notifications that are most important to you. From a social media marketing standpoint, this definitely is a nice feature. I can now take a quick peek on some of my networks without logging into each App.

The camera feature is also the latest and greatest upgrade that is noteworthy. Now you can click the “up” volume button to snap a photo and a camera icon is on the Lock Screen menu.

Apple claims there are close to 200 updates for the iPad and iPhone on this new release. If you have an iPad, the upgrade looks almost the same. My favorite upgrade on the iPad was the split keyboard. It works great! In this blog post I won’t explain all the new features as I just mentioned several of my favorite ones! As for my thoughts on iCloud, this too is an incredible new feature, but I don’t see a lot of real value for a business owner. iCloud is still more focused on personal use. For example, you can now take a photo on your iPhone, and it will show up on your other Apple or PC devices that run iCloud. Your music, movies and photos are stored “in the clouds” freeing up space for your devices. So no more plugging in your devices: it is all wireless and automatic. A time saver I’m sure.

The iPhone 4S
I will be testing out the new iPhone 4S soon and give you my feedback on SIRI, the new voice recognition feature. I have never really seen a good voice recognition program to date, so I’m hoping Apple will have released something impressive. The good news is they partnered with the premiere voice recognition company, Nuance. Stay tuned.

Your Turn
Will you be upgrading your phones this year? If you are using a Blackberry or Android, do you plan to switch to the iPhone or are you happy with your current device? Also, those who have an iPhone, will you upgrade to the 4S or wait til Apple releases a new design, iPhone 5?

Nutshell CRM: A Quick Look

Posted by | Cool Software, Marketing Advice | 12 Comments

I recently came across another cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that I found noteworthy: Nutshell CRM. My first though: “Oh great, another wannabe CRM competing in red oceans (a competitive market).” Yet the more I explored the features of Nutshell, the more I could not believe how intuitive and simple each feature was to use. I can see blue oceans ahead for this program!

The design of the user interface (UI) was very impressive. Of all the CRM programs I’ve tested in recent years, Nutshell seems to have the best UI. I found myself wondering if the designers worked for Apple, since every design feature was top-notch. Most CRMs I’ve tested start with some advanced features but not a great UI. Then as they release updates, the designs gradually improve. Nutshell, on the other hand, started with a good UI, so I expect each update to be like updating my iPhone, just more features with a quality design. This observation makes Nutshell noteworthy to me, because they right from the start they have a quality product with good features.

The icing on the cake for me was the native iPhone mobile App that does an instant sync with the desktop version.

Pros

  • Google Apps plugin to add new contacts or forward emails into Nutshell’s Contacts (works great)
  • User Interface is simple and beautiful
  • The native iPhone App is simple yet powerful (two-way sync)
  • Android App soon to be released
  • CRM is very customizable
  • Can be used as a simple or advanced CRM program (lots of features if you want them, or a simple Contact Manager)
  • Reporting and Analytics: easy to run reports and view (again…user interface is very good)
  • Sales Pipeline is very organized: You can customize all sorts of activities such as when to send an email, a thank you note, follow up, who and when, what day, and much more
  • The “deals” (or Opportunities) make it easy to add standardized pricing. So a contractor could have set service prices i.e. Kitchen Remodeling $45,000 (then adjust the price)
  • Easy to setup and start using
  • Events Sync up nicely with your Google or Outlook Calendar (I only tested Google Calendar and it was instant)
  • Importing from other CRMs seems to be easy. I tried it from my CRM, Highrise and it took me a couple minutes. (btw, I still use Highrise and like it…it fits my business style perfectly)
  • Captures leads from your website and creates a contact

Cons

  • The iPhone App, although is awesome, still has room for improvement. It does not sync with your native iPhone calendar…and I am not sure how well setting events on the app work with Google.
  • The Task Manager works well when dealing with a Lead (next steps), but not great dealing with existing clients or projects. I’ve spoken to Nutshell, and they are working on releasing a Task Management section soon. So this “con” may change. Task Management is one of the number one reasons I continue to use Highrise.
  • To set a task, you basically have to create an “event.” So the process is not easy. This may sound minor, but for me, I use to-do lists and reminders all day long.
  • The program is more geared for sales management than for customer management. This too is a major downside to the cloud-based CRM. The whole purpose of a CRM is to manage the ongoing relationships you have with your customers. It is not a one time deal: sell them, do the job and move on. A good CRM should then take you through the next steps: customer follow up, customer satisfaction, setup monthly email blast, thank you notes, etc. Although there are ways within Nutshell to do some of these tasks, it is not as simple as one would expect. If they improve in this one area, I believe Nutshell will be a major threat to Zoho, Salesforce, Pipeline Deals and others.

Your Thoughts?

This was just a quick, “nutshell” review of Nutshell CRM. Has anyone out there tried Nutshell?  Do you currently use it?

A quick word of caution: don’t quickly switch CRM programs. Although companies online are making switching easier, take the time to evaluate what you want your CRM to do. I would also suggest talking to your staff about it too. Show them the program(s) you are looking at. Ask them to take some time evaluating them and give you feedback. I tend to always want a program to do something better and can easily get discontent. I’ve forced myself to stay with Highrise from 37 signals. It keeps getting better and works for my company.

Top 3 Music Mobile Apps for Contractors

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

My primary service is being a marketing manager and keeping service companies accountable with their marketing and customer service. My secondary service, which ends up being more of a hobby, is testing out cloud computing programs and mobile applications for contractors. Small business contractors tend to be on the road a lot these days trying to stir up work. Many of them use their time wisely by listening to books on tap and podcast, which I highly recommend. However, if you are like me, I sometimes like to use those short trips to do nothing productive but listen to good music. So what are the three top music mobile apps that I’ve used? I will list them in order of my top choice to third choice.

#1 Grooveshark 

Grooveshark works primarily on a Blackberry or Android platform. It can work on an iPhone, but the iPhone must be “jailbroken.” What does that mean? It is easy to do but complicated to explain in this blog post. If you really want it on your iPhone, shoot me an email and I’ll tell you how to get it on there: it is free and easy to do. Grooveshark lets you choose what songs you want to listen to. Once you select the song, you can create your own playlist. It takes a bit more work using Grooveshark because you have to manual put all the songs you’d like together. I tend to go through phases where I listen to 20 or so songs a hundred times. So for me, Grooveshark is perfect. I have a couple of favorite playlist that I play often. Once I get tired of those songs, I create another playlist. The only downside to Grooveshark is the monthly cost. It is free if you use it on your desktop computer, but if you want it on your phone, it is about $9 a month. Good app, definitely cheaper than just buying individual songs from iTunes, if you really like music!

#2 Jango 

Jango has recently introduced their own mobile apps to the Android and iPhone communities. I have been waiting for this App for about a year. I have not tested this App on the Android but use it on my iPhone. Although I like Grooveshark when selecting individual songs, Jango does an excellent job helping me select a good playlist. How it works: I choose an artist. Jango then gives me a list of similar artist. I then tell it whether I want to play more or less of those artist. Once I’ve built my desired artist, it will begin playing them. I then begin to rate whether I like the song and/or artist (like Pandora). If I don’t like a song, it will tell me it won’t ever play it again and will then ask if I want to continue playing music from that artist. It is pretty intelligent, because sometimes, I don’t like all the artist on a certain “station” that I created. Jango is still new to me, but so far, I really like it. The songs it is playing are pretty much right to my liking. The good part: it is still free!

#3 Pandora

I was a huge fan of Pandora when it was released. I wondered who the heck could ever compete with this company. I would play Pandora at my house, computer and car whenever I could. Grooveshark and Jango have truly done an awesome job in my book moving ahead of Pandora because of the customization features. Pandora is still a great App, simple and easy to use.

The only downside I’ve experienced with it is it is not so customizable. It also tends to play the same songs several times in a short timespan. Do I still use Pandora? Yes but not as much as the other two apps. My wife still is use to Pandora and plays it primarily. That is only because I have not introduced her to Jango!

What do you guys use on the road? Anything I’m missing that should be on the list? I’ve yet to try Rhapsody, though it sounds very similar to Grooveshark and is $9.99 a month.

Booking Software Online Testimonial

Posted by | Cool Software, The Obvious | 3 Comments

I recently told a few of you about a simple scheduling program for Google Calendar that I liked called YouCanBook.me. The overall design of the program is not as cool as some of the larger companies such as Schedulicity, Genbooks, Setster or Bookfresh. Yet YouCanBook.me works extremely well with Google Calendar: almost too well. Below is a testimonial from Steve from Burnett Painting in Southwest Florida (yes he has been on my blogs before) on how he is using YouCanBook.me and his “first” experience with a booked lead.

Hi David,

A quick testimonial: You shared www.youcanbook.me with me last week. I had Javier plug it into the front page of my site right away! While its not pretty we are working on that. Well last Friday I received an e-mail on my phone while on the road for a “booking” for Monday the 16th at 4pm.

How the youcanbook.me lead went:

At first I was concerned because Mark, the prospect’s, e mail’s with me were VERY short. Is the guy not cool? Is this a plant from a competitor?

I arrived today and learn he is a sales rep for sprinkler systems out of CA and he drinks Red Bull, HA! So he is very busy and on a sugar rush, too busy for long e-mails. My calendar on my front page was PERFECT for him.

I measured the interior and handed him our first rate proposal and went over it and his e-mail chimes on his phone. Its my local competitor with their proposal. They come in at 60% of my price! I still closed the job with deposit check in hand !

“Front page youcanbook.me calendar” is 1 for 1 baby!

Thanks for the youcanbook.me calendar tip David!

Steve 🙂

www.burnettpainting.com

I am impressed with Steve’s idea to put the calendar right on the home page. Most companies put forms to fill out for someone to contact the prospect. Steve decided to save that step and put the calendar right on the home page, which to be honest, I’ve never seen before. Why? Because it doesn’t really look as pretty and cool. Web designers tend to design for looks rather than conversions. Yet Steve’s idea worked! People searching online are typically in a hurry. They don’t stop to read much these days when looking for a service company. So making it easy for people to schedule an appointment that is convenient for them, saves them time! I applaud Steve to stepping out of the typical design standards, putting the calendar right smack in the middle of his home page and doing something different! Well done, Steve!

How To Get Your Clients To Write Online Reviews

Posted by | Cool Software, Marketing Advice | 10 Comments

Update to this post (2/6/2012)

Ratepoint is no longer in business. Feel free to read over the article anyways, but no need to hunt for Ratepoint. They got bought out by a competitor and totally changed their services. 

In recent years, another benefit of the technological revolution has been online customer reviews.  Whether they are buying a tractor, a trundle bed, or a toothbrush, people will check out customer reviews on any number of websites.   Today, the majority of homeowners will research your company by searching for reviews by your previous customers before calling to set up an appointment.

This trend was started several years ago by Amazon.com, as well as local restaurants in various locations.  Soon, it spread to sites like Yelp, Google, Angie´s list, Wal-Mart.com, and the BBB online reports.  When a customer has an experience, good or bad, they can go to any number of sites to describe their satisfaction or anger about a product or service.  Now some of the major search engines are beginning to give first place rankings to the companies with the most reviews.

Obviously, this means you want reviews—good ones, and lots of them!  The problem is that your satisfied customers are contentedly quiet, and the ones that make online noise are usually those who are dissatisfied or have a chip on their shoulder.  Also, many of the clients of the companies I work with are busy, wealthy homeowners who have never heard of Google Reviews or Yelp.  They might read some reviews on these sites before hiring a contractor, but afterwards they don´t remember the sites they used.

So what can we do to get our satisfied customers to leave excellent reports about us? Generic emails asking them to write a review won´t work.  A service company has to get a little more creative and personal.  As you conclude a job, talk to the customer by phone or in person and ask them to write a review for you: “Can you do me a favor…” or “Can you help me out with something?”  Briefly explain how it helps you to keep down advertising costs and assists other homeowners in finding you online.  Give them a quick overview of how long it takes and what they need to do.  If they seem willing, then send them an email with detailed instructions, preferably with screenshots.

Besides making it personal, you need to make it easy.  Many customers won’t write a review because they have to register for an account or follow complicated instructions.  To make it easy, I´ve started using a program called Ratepoint.  This is an independent online review program that makes everything a piece of cake, and doesn´t require customers to create an account.  A company can install certain widgets or graphics on their site that will encourage visitors to read recent ratings and testimonials.  It´s like having your own Amazon.com review system right on your site.  Because it is 3rd party, it also has many Search Engine benefits.  For example, Google can discover the reviews and post them on Google Places.  Ratepoint has also made it even easier for customers to share their thoughts on other major review sites: after writing a review (again, without needing an account), customers are invited to share their thoughts further on other major websites.

Another key benefit to Ratepoint is that it can handle your email marketing and any surveys you want to conduct.  It can replace your current email system completely.  I’ve used it for a few clients and I do like it.  However, my favorite email program continues to be MailChimp.  It is just really slick and easy to use.

So remember, personally invite your satisfied clients to write reviews, and tell them how.  Make it easy for them.  Give Ratepoint a try:  Here is a sample of how it looks on a website: Brennan’s Custom Painting

Pipeline CRM Introduces “Goals” Tab

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

A few weeks ago, Pipeline Deals released a new featured called “Goals” which is just outstanding. It is one of the few CRM programs that has this feature. Goal setting for a salesman is key to his or her success. It is also crucial for a sales manager or the business owner so he too can keep track of his estimators and sales team. By using the new “Goals” tab, an owner can set weekly, monthly or annual sales goals along with prospecting goals. I like the prospecting goal idea too. You can create a goal for your sales person to get 10 new business contacts a week or write 20 thank you notes per month or knock on 5 doors a day! Then you can keep track of his or her progress. How cool is that?

About Pipeline Deals

I’ve been using Pipeline Deals for a number of months now. I like some of the bigger companies, Salesforce and Zoho but found Pipeline to be simple, easy to use and affordable. Another reason I selected Pipeline is the two-way sync with Google Calendar and Contacts, which I use all the time. Their support team is also incredible. Pipeline CRM is a scaled down Customer Relationship Management program built for small to medium size businesses.

Future Request

What I’d love to see in future updates are the following:

  • A native App for Smartphones. I really don’t like using the Mobile Web App. It is very buggy.
  • Make Contacts easier to look up on every page of Pipeline. Right now, I have to do a couple clicks. I’d like to be able to do a quick find of clients
  • Quick view of documents. I upload my notes and documents to Dropbox and have begun keeping a copy in each customer’s “folder.” However, when I click to view a document, it wants me to download it. I don’t want to do that. I’d rather just see a snapshot of the document to review notes: similar to Google Docs or Mac’s Preview
  • Integrate with Google Voice, not just Skype
  • More integration with forwarding emails automatically
  • Better Integration with Google Contacts (Right now each new email I get creates a new contact)
  • Update the Calendar functions and Task to make it more user-friendly like (Google Calendar) Right now too many clicks and typing. The task need to have reminders too (Mobile version)

HP Slate Tablet for Small Business

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

The HP Slate will be released to consumers the first week of November, and I’m anxious to see how this new tool can help service companies be more productive and sell more work. The released price for the HP Slate starts at $799. Expect to spend a minimum of $900 with shipping and a few extras and possibly as much as $1200 after you install MS Office.

The HP Slate is nothing like the Apple iPad. I purchased an iPad shortly after it was released thinking that it would be the next small business Tablet. It was not! Although I loved the iPad, I sold it, because it was just a big toy, and I have enough gadgets. The iPad operated off of Apps (Applications) not standard desktop software. The HP Slate, on the other hand, will operate similar to a standard desktop computer. In my opinion, that alone will blow the Apple iPad away by making it a priceless tool for a service company. My only concern about the new HP Slate is this: It is a PC running Windows! I’m really concerned that after 6 months, your once fast HP Tablet will be booting up and running at the speed of a turtle who ate a bottle of sleeping pills. I hope I’m wrong on this one!

So, give the HP Slate a try and let me know what you think. So far, it sounds like a good investment.

A Quick Background on my Tablet PC experience

Tablet computers have been out for close to 10 years, but have had 2 major problems: 1) They are very expensive and 2) Not very reliable. Despite these drawbacks, Tablet PCs have made service companies a lot of money by saving them time! I purchased my first Tablet PC in 2004 to help streamline my estimating process while working for my father’s painting business. Pre-Tablet days, I’d do a takeoff with pen and paper, drive back to the office, type in my numbers into Excel, print out the estimate and mail it or hand-deliver it to the prospect. Phew, just typing that sentence makes me tired! Anyways, when I got my Toshiba Tablet, I was able to do my takeoff, show a consumer the price and even get them to sign the proposal right on the screen, saving me 1 possibly 2 hours per estimate. A few years later, I upgraded to the smallest Tablet at the time, a Motion Computing 800. To this day, I still like that device. It was about the same size of the new HP Slate but very heavy and unreliable. My machine cost almost $3000 and broke on 2-3 occasions.

Swipe Credit Cards with Your Smartphone

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | 6 Comments

Accepting credit cards using your iPhone, Blackberry or Android phones have been available for a number of years using specific apps. However, not to 2010 did a nifty program and product become available to small businesses: Square. Square is a tiny device that plugs into your phone’s auxiliary port and enables a user to swipe a consumer’s credit card, have them sign their signature and even sends an emailed receipt. The neat thing about Square is there are no monthly fees. So if you are not doing a lot of credit card swipes, Square is definitely worth considering. The software and Square device are completely free. You only pay a $.15 transaction fee plus around 2.7% to your friends at VISA, MasterCard, and so on.

One draw back is the transaction percentage. I use Authorize.net for my credit card transactions and my local bank: PNC. I pay around 2.3% for my fees and have a monthly fee of around $40. I’ve shopped around a bit but am comfortable at this rate for now. By using Square, I’d pay a little more, but again…you don’t want to have to wait for your money too long. If you have something that takes credit cards, chances are you’ll get paid on the spot. So, if you are a small business and need to get paid, use the Square.  This can be a great tool for estimators who need to get a deposit right away to secure a contract. Learn more about Square (started by the guy who created Twitter)

Simple CRM That Works with Google Apps

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | 4 Comments

I’ve been keeping an eye on some full scale CRM programs in the cloud and a number of simple and less complicated CRMs for small business for many months now and have some exciting news to report. Pipeline Deals, a simple and easy to use CRM for small business, finally made a big change to their cloud-based CRM. They integrated a two-way sync with Google Contacts and Calendar. They are also on the Google Marketplace, making signing in a cinch. A two-way sync makes Pipeline Deals miles ahead of most other online Customer Relationship Management systems. I am surprised that Zoho, Tactile, Highrise, Batchbooks and most other companies have not integrated a two way sync.

So why is this such exciting news for small business? If you are like me, I’ve completed switched from Microsoft products to a Cloud-based business. My business is run using the following: a Mac, an iPhone, Google Apps, Dropbox and 37Signals’ Basecamp. I did not use a CRM, because nothing synced well with my “Office in the Clouds.” I’ve been testing out Pipeline Deals CRM and so far…so good! I can make an appointment with Google Calendar, and it shows up in my Pipeline CRM account. Also, if I create a new contact on my iPhone, that syncs to Google Calendar, which then syncs to Pipeline Deals.

I must add 4 items for my Pipeline wish list to make it an almost perfect program:

  1. I’d love to see a Native iPhone and Android App, and not web-based. The current mobile version does work well but has its limits. The scheduling of an appointments do not work well on Pipeline’s mobile version, for example. But now I can just continue to use Google Calendar!
  2. Make the flow of creating a new lead to customer easier (currently a bit confusing where to start and enter data).
  3. Creating and managing deals (opportunities) are a bit confusing as well. I’d stick to what people are familiar with: Opportunities. I’m still figuring out how to use “deals”
  4. Make the Mobile Version’s activities (events) with more details: location, time, reminder, (like Google/Outlook details). It is currently more setup for “Task” that activities

All in all, Pipeline Deals is excellent for tracking your sales on the go! Now that it is one of the first to truly sync with Google Apps, it makes it my favorite! Pipeline will get my business, and I’ll stay with them…especially if they make my wishlist come true.

Get a copy for your estimator/salesperson today. It is only $15 a month!

Schedule your free 30 minute marketing call. Contact David Today!