CRM programs for small business | A David Creation

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.

A Less Complicated CRM Program: Highrise

Posted by | Small Business Solutions | 29 Comments

I’ve been using a product from a company called 37 Signals for quite some time now called Basecamp. Basecamp is a web-based, project management program that allows for good collaboration within a company on projects. It offers a message senter, uploading of files, to-do list, milestones, a whiteboard and the ability to comment on anything posted. My favorite feature is the emailing of reports, when someone post a comment and reminders of when assignments are due. I’ve tried out a number of other project management programs and Basecamp is at the top of my list.

37 Signals also created a number of other helpful programs that help small, medium and large businesses to be more organized and productive. The one I’m recommending is called HighriseHighriseis a less complicated CRM, contact manager program. Most CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) have a lot of gadgets and functionality. I’ve discovered that in the small business world, most folks end up only using a small portion of the functions: emails, to-dos, calendar, and opportunities. Highrise developers cut some of the fat from large CRMs and simplified the functions of their web-based Highrise  to offer a more user friendly program and productive software. Highrise is quite simple to use and affordable. While most CRM programs (like Salesforce, SugarCRM and countless others) charge a monthly fee per user, Highrise is available for a small monthly fee and allows for a bundle of users. For example, for $25 a month, a company can have up to 6 users have full access to Highrise with limited deals or opportunities. The best rate is $50 a month for 10 users and unlimited opportunities. For a small business guy like me, I can utilize the free version…and absolutely love it! If you think $50 a month is high, ask me why I think it is affordable and very reasonable! If you want the full capabilities, say from Salesforce (mobile included) you will likely spend $65 per month per user.

One of my favorite things I like about Highrise is the to-do list/task function. I always have a pile full of small projects going on. Highrise makes it simple for me to write down the action items and be sent an email when those items are due: even down to the minute!

So try Highrise for free today. Sign Up Online

(note: I do like Salesforce CRM and endorse it. I also realized a lot of small business users (my audience/clients) cannot afford or will use all the functions Salesforce has to offer. If you have the money and want a lot of functions…oh and will use them…go with Salesforce!)

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