Should I use Outlook by itself as a CRM tool ?

CRM Abstract

Someone on LinkedIn posted the question: How do I use Microsoft Outlook for CRM ?   I posted my answer on LinkedIn.  Outlook is great for what is called a “PIM” (Personal Information Manager). Outlook is great for E-mail, quickly adding contacts from e-mail into distribution lists or categories and calendar management for yourself.   Then, it’s quite easy to get those contacts your smart phone.  We use Outlook in house with Office 365, and it works really well.  The difficulties using Outlook as CRM include:

  • Creating proper conversation notes and sharing them.
  • Documenting conversations by date/time stamp.
  • Implementing contact security among your peers.
  • Creating a sales forecast.
  • Creating a mail-merge to a Word document.
  • Creating effective user fields to classify contacts by more than one field such as "category".
  • You have to resort to redundant data entry in Excel for call reports or sales forecasts.

What’s the best CRM platform for you?  It depends on what business business processes you want to improve.  Then, figure out your budget; then, we can come up with a custom solution.  Some products like Act! and WiredContact can be self-hosted or hosted by us.  Or, some programs are only hosted on their data center like Zoho and Benchmark One (Hatchbuck).

If you aren’t sure how to approach this, feel free to contact us for a complimentary discovery call.

How to Wisely Spend for CRM

Do I need a CRM?

YES. A CRM system has now become a necessity of every business because most of the transactions are now done online and the processes and database need to be accessible all the time. Businesses now shifted to making themselves available online because everyone is online and customers are now confident in transacting with businesses who are available at any time of the day.

There are a lot of advantages of CRM and this is not only for the customers but more so for the business processes. Everything is streamlined and centralized because anyone in the organization can access the database with ease. Communication within the business becomes easier and smoother too. With the right CRM package, the processes and reports that you need in your business can be easily dealt with. CRM prices may seem steep for some CRM providers and you need to be careful when choosing the right service provider and package. CRM software is a much-needed investment for your business and it’s best to consider everything before purchasing anything.

Here are some tips to guide you when spending on CRM software:

CRM Stock Photo

What features do I need?

Before making a hasty purchase, you need to know and plan out the features of CRM that you need for your business. Some necessities are contact management, marketing, email, customization, intelligence and reporting, accounting and inventory, usability, lead management, task management, security, contacts, and storage space.

Out of all those features, you may not need all of them at once and it’s better to just get what you need at the moment. It will help you spend less on the features that you will not be using often. You need to customize your package to save on your CRM software expenses.

Employee at Desk

Consider customer service

This is an important point to consider because you will surely have issues especially at the beginning and the after-sales of a CRM provider should be efficient enough to help you. It’s best to review and see if the CRM provider was able to support their current users. The CRM cost most of the time depends on the structure of the system that you will purchase. Some of the available options for customer service are also placed on the packages.

Consider the type of support that you will be needing on your end. There are different types of basic support like live chat, email, knowledge base, and video demos. Wisely choosing the kind of support that best suits your business needs will make CRM software service worth your money.

Woman in call center

Billing Cycle

Most of the billing cycles are offered annually and monthly. For annual options, there surely are big savings because you can save up to months. However, there will be risks too like being locked with a vendor. You need to make sure that the CRM provider is consistent with their service when planning to go for annual billing cycles.

Cash Box

Modular vs Suite

Another consideration is when planning to get modules or suites. There are CRM providers that offer modules and this is a good thing when planning to save up because you can mix up modules that you need and create a solution that’s tailored to your business. It will help you save money because you can avoid buying features and modules that you don’t need.


Free and open source software

Some CRM providers offer a free trial or a free edition of the program (ex: Zoho CRM Free) and you can try this first before considering purchasing the package. You need to test out the free sources until you reach the limits. It may sometimes surprise you that what you need may be available for free and you need not purchase a package. There are a lot of advantages though when you decide to purchase because the features can be customized according to your business needs.


Software Compatibility

This is one of the most important considerations because people in your organization including you will be using the CRM software daily in your business processes. The users in your business should all agree and be capable of integrating CRM software into their tasks. The software should help them lighten up the load and not make things complicated. Check if the CRM system can be accessed on mobile and not only through desktops. Having the ability to access the CRM software at any time and anywhere will be a great advantage and worth your money.


Consider different purchase options

It’s crucial to do your research before purchasing anything, especially your CRM software. Include in your research the support that they offer, reviews, and price points such as a monthly or annual fee. You may also come across other providers where you can compare the price, services, and features offered.



To determine if your CRM is overpriced you should do your research and make a spreadsheet to compare each vendor. Look into the service that they are providing and check how much are other providers charging for the same quality service. There are a lot of SMEs when it comes to quality CRM software and it will be best to consult seasoned experts. These people have years of experience and they will surely help you in making guided decisions when planning to cancel and change your CRM software.


CRM 101: The CRM Application and How Does It Help My Business?

CRM Abstract

CRM or Customer Relationship Management is a technology used for better customer relationships and interactions. Before technology hits the masses, CRM is done with face-to-face interactions and sending out letters to clients. The modern world advanced everything and made it possible for us to connect with people through telephones, emails, live chat, and social media.

Having CRM software plays an integral role in business growth and sales. This software helps the business effectively and efficiently communicate with customers, partners, and potential prospects.

You must create lasting impressions on customers because of the tough competition and the fast-paced world that we live in. People’s attention is much shorter because of the many distractions and because these interactions– no matter how minimal it may seem– should be impactful in every way.

CRM helps with interacting with people outside the company or business. It also streamlines the transactions that are happening in different channels and platforms all at the same time.

CRM and Marketing

CRM software has an important role when it comes to marketing. It can directly affect the outbound sales of the company. A good CRM can supply the data of a customer’s purchasing journey. It can also provide every action of the interaction that you had with a potential prospect or partner. The provided data can help marketing teams to make guided decisions with the strategies that will be used for business growth.

Marketing teams should also be equipped with the latest technology because it will help them streamline their tasks and activities. They are also the people who are directly interacting with the customers and they should have all the necessary information to gauge the needs of the prospects that they have. CRM can help with the menial tasks of sending multiple emails, provide detailed reports, and give useful data to better understand the trend and needs of the people.

CRM 101 Mac

1. Focused Marketing
A company may be able to produce a lot of lead magnets and gather large amounts of data, however, not all of these can be checked individually. CRM software can help marketers in filtering through the contacts and leads that were produced and gathered. From this, potentially profitable customers or Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) can be selected and prioritized. The software can give various information on customer behavior and preferences. This information can be used to improve prospect awareness and customer retention.

Turbo-Charge E-Marketing Platforms

2. Segmentation
It’s important to know and understand the latest trends before offering anything to the customer. CRM can segment the lead not only by industry but also to more specific demographics. This account-based marketing approach is proven effective because since the behavior and demographics are already known it will be easier to identify the need of a specific segment or group of customers. More specific profiles can open up a lot of opportunities because the messages and approach can be tailored to fit the needs. This will also lead to a much better conversion rate.


3. Personalized content
As mentioned above, the segmented data can help with generating content that is fit for a specific group of people. You can even curate individualized marketing approaches because of the data provided by the CRM. Moreover, you should be careful to become too obvious when approaching customers because you may spook them with knowing too much about their needs and preferences. Use the data to suggest ideas to people, give information, and shape the whole communication process that suits them. The more personalized the content is, the more likely that you are going to get better results and responses from them.

Advanced Personalization

4. Blueprint
Once you already have a working strategy from the derived data, you can use this blueprint or approach to other campaigns as well. It’s not a crime to use a strategy that’s proven effective and has been tested. The data provided by the CRM is there to help you make guided decisions when approaching customers and making strategies that work. Don’t forget to document the data and campaign that was most effective and successful because you will surely need them again in the future.

Process Automation

5. Lead form integration
CRM can also generate and integrate forms that can help with your funnels. Instead of manually adding all of the information into a system, the software should be able to sync all of them automatically.

Put It All in One Place

6. Email nurturing
A well-equipped CRM should be able to cut downtime by manually emailing all of the prospects. It should be able to send emails to the lists of prospects simultaneously. Also, it should be equipped with the capability to automatically send follow-up emails and proper communications based on the sales process.

Two Apps Function as One

7. Tracking and progress
Lastly, the CRM marketing software should be able to monitor the progress of the campaigns that were launched to see if it was effective. There should be integrated tracking capabilities that can produce weekly or monthly reports to see how the campaign is performing. This will help your marketing determine if you should change or maintain the approach that you are treading. It will also enable you to make wise decisions about the strategies that you are implementing for the demographics and segments that you have at your disposal.

Correlate Campaigns to Deals


CRM 101

CRM might be an overwhelming term for startups and growing businesses but this software is a good investment for your sales and marketing teams. When looking for a CRM provider you should carefully consider the services and capabilities that you are offering. Look into the service that they are providing and check how much are other providers charging for the same quality service. There are a lot of SMEs when it comes to quality CRM software and it will be best to consult seasoned experts. These people have years of experience and they will surely help you in making guided decisions when planning to cancel and change your CRM software.

Act! Pro License To Be Discontinued 6/30/2020

Supported or Unsupported

It’s the end of an era for Act!.  From 4/1/1987 until 6/30/2020, you could buy a copy of Act! for a one-time price and install it locally.  If your business process or technology stack didn’t change much, you can leverage it for 3+ years.

However, with the advent of rapid changes by Microsoft and the web as a whole, desktop technology for a complex program like Act! is simply too expensive to develop and support with a one-time license.   Other industry giants like Autodesk, Adobe and Sage have migrated desktop software to a subscription model as well.  Quickbooks desktop offers a one-time fee, but they discontinue services like payroll or credit card processing to force those upgrades.  Oh, don’t forget Microsoft as well with Office 365.

We have laid out some options here, but feel free to contact us to evaluate your unique situation.

Act! Logo

Recommended for:

  • Clients that want to remain on Act! for 3+ years.
  • Clients that need software updates for Microsoft compatibility and new features of Act!.
  • Clients that want to integrate with additional applications via Zapier or the Web API.
  • Clients that need phone support from Act! corporate.
  • Clients that don't want radical change of business process and invested heavily in custom programming or commercial addons.

Changes Required:

  • Act! will be billed on an annual basis.
  • Upon cancellation of the subscription, the software will no longer access the database.
  • No walk-away one-time license purchase is available.

For Act! Pro users, you can upgrade to Act! Premium CRM for $350/user/year (Year 1 promotional price subject to change by Act! corporate).

Learn more about our services.

WiredContact Logo

Recommended for:

  • Clients that want to keep an Act!-like user interface without radical change for the sales reps.
  • Clients that no longer want to deal with desktop support issues.
  • Clients that want to automate more process.
  • Clients that simply don't believe in paying a subscription and prefer a one-time fee.

Changes Required for Self-Hosting:

  • Clients need to install a dedicated Windows server.
  • Clients need either an in-house I.T. department or a MSP (Managed Service Provider) to maintain the server.
  • An evaluation to make sure all the features you want will translate into WiredContact.

WiredContact Enterprise is available as a one-time purchase, a buy once+hosting fee model or a monthly subscription.

Learn more about Act! vs. WiredContact.

Zoho Logo

Recommended for:

  • Clients that want to integrate CRM with their ecosystem of 40+ applications known as Zoho One.
  • Clients that want to outsource CRM hardware and software management.
  • Clients that want an affordable alternative to SalesForce.
  • Clients that want to automate more processes.
  • Workgroups less than 3 users who need a basic edition of Zoho CRM for free.

Changes required:

  • An evaluation to make sure all the features you want will translate into Zoho since its a different approach to CRM vs. Act!.
  • Budget a fee for conversion, database re-design and training on a new platform.

Learn more about Zoho.

Customer Experience in the B2B Space Matters

Customer Survey

Customer experience has become even more important in the 21st century as buyers gain power.

Customer churn kills growth. And because it’s ultimately unsustainable, it kills companies. Is there anything more important to the bottom-line health of your company than delivering great customer experiences consistently? We’d argue, nothing. So it begs the question, “How can you deliver great customer experiences if you don’t know much about your customers? That’s where we come in. (Do you think you’re already delivering great customer experiences? Think again. Blind surveys with actual customers say otherwise).

But what if you’re a B2B enterprise? It turns out your B2B customers expect experiences consistent with what they get in when they’re consumers in the B2C space. I happened upon this article recently that profiles 10 B2B companies who deliver great customer experiences.

It means having a good CRM matters, not only for your internal benefit but you can leverage the same data to create great experiences such as:

  • Automate sending birthday or anniversary cards.
  • Have all the customer's history on one screen, so no matter which sales rep picks up the phone, the rep knows what's happened. The customer doesn't have to repeat the same story multiple times to get something resolved.
  • Create self-service portals so customers can view their order history, retrieve serial numbers and place help desk requests anytime.

How do you plan on creating better customer experiences? Let’s take a look at your churn rates and lifetime customer value data. We can certainly help. Feel free to bounce some ideas off me. Discovery calls are always free.