Building Saleswah brick by brick

What do you need to build a product?

We are on our way- we started years back, we are still building. And we keep adding features, tweaking or revamping UI and we keep adding customers.

It sounds great but it is not so simple, obviously.

We have worked hard for years, made changes to workflows, UI, cut features, added features, changes pricing, run promotions. We have shown the product to thousands. And a few thousands have used and continue to use the product.

And we keep getting better. There are many answers to the web on “how to build a great product”. I personally like many of them. But, the one quality you need – other than the obvious and usual ones like getting to a product market fit, hustle, investing in scale, selecting the right feedback…

And, that quality is patience. Coupled with belief.

Not just yours; but your customers’ too!

You must have faith in your sense of direction. And your customers, especially some of the early adopters must share it too.

You must be patient. There will be problems that will take days to solve. Implementation issues will clog delivery of that new feature that the customers have been shouting for. Perfectly working integrations will suddenly stop working.

No documentation, no roadmap, no stories of “been there and done that”. You need to have patience and you need customers, who have bought into the vision and are willing to wait.

Remember it is a journey. Enjoy the ride.

 

 

 

 

Who is Saleswah for?

Customers we serve (and benefit)

Years after we started our journey – our focus continues to be those companies who are selling products and services to other businesses.

CRM tends to be a bit of an omnibus term. Here’s how we explain to customers when we talk. In our view, CRM is a software that helps manage- schedule, track and facilitate all customer facing processes. The way I see it, the difference between ERP and CRM is that ERP manages the processes “inside your gates”. CRM manages “outside the gates” processes.

So, within this broad ambit, there are sales and service processes- both.

Let’s discuss them one by one and position Saleswah appropriately.

Sales CRM

If you are scouting for a Sales CRM, first ask two important questions to yourself:

  • Who is my customer?
  • What is my selling process?

Am I selling to individuals or am I selling to companies? Normally most companies do either one or the other. Your product or service will typically determine your choice of customers.

There are exceptions. For instance, you may be a soft-drinks company and have 2 target segments. Individuals who you target through your retail play and corporates like clubs, airlines, hotels who you sign up with for exclusive deals. While the latter is a B2B sales process, the former is B2C. Saleswah does not cater to B2C process at all.

A B2B sales process will need salesmen with feet on street. There will be territories, hierarchies, target setting and periodic reviews of achievements against targets.

A B2B sales process needs profiling of customers- organizations and people who work for them- for they decide on the purchase. The history of interactions, captured over time guides future interactions.

Why Saleswah Sales CRM?

Saleswah Sales CRM helps sell products and services to other businesses. So, all other entities in Saleswah (Contacts, Deals, Tasks, Appointments, Quotations- and even sales targets and achievements) are linked to the Accounts (companies that you sell to). “Account owners”- sales people who are the first line contact for the customer (Account in question) have primary ownership of targets, get rewarded for achievements (deals won) in the accounts, get assigned tasks related to the accounts and so on.

Does the above describe your sales process?

Ask for a demo or Register for a free trial.

Service CRM

If you are looking for a Service CRM, the defining questions are:

  • What is my product or service that I need to provide after sales service for?
  • What is my post-sales service process?
  • Do I provide in customer site or does he bring the product in for service?

There are many products that require no post sales service. Most home furniture, consumables etc require no service. Some products may simply be too inexpensive to require customer service.

But, many products- home appliances and industrial products  (and even services- think the cable TV or broadband service) require services to keep going. Many software products which are customer premise installable, require service as well.

Service can be during the warranty period and after.

Service can even include installation support. And, typically warranty coverage kicks in after installation is complete.

There are products that the customer brings in to be serviced to the service station. Think cars or laser printers or laptops.

But there are many products that are only serviced on-site. Home appliances, large machines – Diesel Gensets, Chillers, CNC machines. Some machines are serviced onsite for minor complaints and brought in to the service centre for major work.

Software support is normally always onsite- this is irrespective whether it is an installable software like Tally or cloud based software. Of course, you may end up providing the support on phone, email or internet.

Why Saleswah Service CRM

Saleswah Service CRM helps manage after sales service processes that require:

  • Onsite services.
  • Tracking warranty and/ or Maintenance contract based service.
  • Require field visits tracking.
  • Asset management- based on serial numbers.
  • Managing out of support cases.

Saleswah can help manage large installed base of equipment- running into tens or even hundreds of thousands. It can easily scale to hundreds of users, many roles and hierarchies and and a complex process of onsite service deliverable.

If you are looking for a easy to use service CRM which can scale to the most complex of requirements,

Ask for a demo or Register for a free trial.

Metamorphosis: Saleswah CRM new look

Saleswah CRM now sports a brand new look

Since being launched more than 5 years back, Saleswah CRM just went though the most comprehensive overhaul of UI ever in its life. Saleswah CRM for Sales users will henceforth login to a totally different interface.

Now, we all know that UI changes can be problematic. As a user, you are used to a button being at a certain place. Or the menu revealing a certain number of options in a certain way.

Suddenly that changes.

So, we have been testing with a variety of current users who were generous enough with their time and we know we are on the right path- we have not yet had to set up a demo with anyone. So, if the test was to be intuitive, simple yet retain the functionality of the old UI, we believe it passes.

We took a few daring decisions with the UI- we believe it paid off.

First, the new UI has far fewer pages than the old one. And it makes use of the calendar to subsume the Tasks, Meetings etc.

Secondly, we have gone overboard with reports- the number of reports are many more and the dashboards are more informative.

We set out to create a look which was modern yet simple. But, we also wanted our pages to load faster and improve user experience.

We have rolled this out now to all users who have a Saleswah CRM for Sales account. And any new registrations will make you use the new UI.

New UI, new home

Saleswah CRM for Sales users will henceforth login to their accounts at www.saleswahcrm.com.

We are working to migrate the service accounts users to a new UI too. Watch this space!

Hope you like what you see. Please mail us at accountservices AT saleswah DOT com and let us know your feedback and if you need some help.

 

Asking questions of enterprise sales management

What are we about?

We are about enterprise sales management. Saleswah CRM helps you in selling products and services to other businesses.

CRM is a vastly misused term. Anything from a spreadsheet to a rolodex- a CRM has been used to describe many things, a lot of it is not even software!

And then, because a lot of our business interactions deal with people- “contacts” in CRM-speak, it is not surprise that contact management is a big chunk of CRM. Many CRMs simply stop there- they simply manage contact profiles- social media and all. Then they manage interactions, appointments and through in the sales piece as almost an afterthought.

The workplace – where these contacts go to work 10 hours a day- is not so important in many CRMs. Because their root is in Contact Management.

Saleswah is about enterprise sales management

Saleswah was built by people with deep roots in enterprise sales management- big and small. And it shows in the way it is built. “Accounts”- companies where contacts work have as much if not more importance. While interactions still get captured by contacts, they are grouped by accounts.

And, sales targets and achievements are captured by Accounts.

enterprise sales management CRM

Saleswah understands the true nature of enterprise sales. Long gestation cycle, multiple influencers and their roles, mutiple touch points and often formal nature of proposals and quotations. For a CRM to be effective in enterprise sales management, it has to map the linkages. It has to manage territories, teams and hierarchies- both internally and at customer locations.

It does not mean abandoning contact management. Neither does it mean not capturing contact interactions or updating profiles. But it does mean leveraging the interactions for business results. Recognizing that the business is long term. By logging history and linkages. Also by recognizing that it is the enterprise – a collective- which is your customer.

 

Saleswah CRM wins mention as a top CRM platform of choice

Exciting news! Saleswah CRM was recently reviewed by Finances Online — a website that lists and compares various B2B software products and services. Their reviews help business owners and decision makers in finding  the right software tools for their organizations.

Finances Online produced a very detailed thorough review of Saleswah CRMOn the review, they have also accorded the “Verified Quality” seal- which is provided to companies with Verified Contact, Verified Support and Positive Social Mentions.

Quote- “Saleswah provides an impressive suite of features that enable businesses to efficiently manage their relationships and interactions with their existing customers, website visitors, leads, and potential clients. This web-based application comes with a load of capabilities and functionalities designed to significantly enhance your enterprise sales performance, stay on top of your field service personnel and assets, and effortlessly monitor your distribution channels.”- Unquote

Finances Online awarded the following 2 awards to Saleswah CRM.

top crm platform top crm platform Finances Online

 

 

 

 

Both awards are delivered to top notch online CRM software solutions that balance between uncompromising usability and advanced functions. In order to win any of them, the vendor is supposed to guarantee in-time and reliable support, good traction with users, and innovative policies that would keep those users tuned for new features. Saleswah is exactly a system that focuses on improving customer experience, as a result of which it was also discussed among the platform’s leading CRM solutions.

What experts appreciated the most about it is its versatility, which gives it the capacity to serve small, medium, and even large and international teams in an equally good manner.

We are humbled and delighted and will do all we can to better this in 2018.

How we classify your opportunities in sales funnel stages

The sales funnel stages

Over the last three years we have evolved a lot in our thinking about the sales funnel stages and how we should report them.

Find and surface the leads that you should focus on

We started off with a very radical approach. We got Saleswah to proactively alert the user that there was a sales lead. We used some nifty calculations to see which contacts and accounts were “active” and what more, which ones were active in a “deal-bearing” way. We had our views on which customer facing activities were more important i.e. more likely to result in a sale. So, we surfaced leads in your funnel before you recognized these as such. Pretty cool, huh? Or, so we thought. This was a blog we wrote which explained our thoughts.

About two years back we pulled the plug on this feature. Simple, we never managed to get customers to understand this. This was perhaps before its time in the market or simply poor marketing and/ or hand-holding on our part.

Next up, grade the deals in the funnel

Now, we took a fresh look at the sales funnel stages. Our earlier thought was to get to capture the marketing activities and sales activities that led to a sale and if the action was “hot” in an account, we reported a sales lead- the very earliest stage opportunity in the sales funnel stages.

As we evolved, and abandoned the previous strategy, we started concentrating on the opportunities that the salesperson had recognized as such and created a “Deal” record. We felt there is a huge scope in helping the salesperson figure out where to concentrate his efforts. Let me explain.

A sales funnel has deals which are at different stages of maturity. Some may close the next week, some may close the next month and some may never close. Also, there are various stages of probability that you will win the deal.

Traditionally, the sales review consisted of the manager and the sales executive looking at a spreadsheet with a list of these deals and arguing about the probability of a win and the timeframe of the eventuality. The Sales Executive is the optimist whereas, the manager is more pragmatic if not downright pessimistic! Having played both roles in the past, I knew there is a scope to contribute positively in this debate.

A sales deal requires information – as the salesperson engages with the customer contacts, he gathers more information. The critical information is about the budget, timeframe and decision making. Also, knowing how critical the need is helps her to understand if the deal will be prioritised above other issues demanding management attention at the customer place.

So, the information maturity is crucial in understanding how far down the funnel has the deal come. So we started tagging deals with the calculated sales funnel stages. We called them Prospecting, Opportunity, Investigation, Presentation and Close. For more details, read our previous post on the 5 sales deal stages.

We just changed the names of the sales funnel stages

Sales funnel stagesWhile this time we achieved a lot better customer understanding and adoption, we felt we needed to make it simpler for folks to understand what the stages meant. So, we renamed them. Now they are called Sales Lead, Prospect, Warm deal, Hot Deal and Close. The algorithm that classifies them as such remain the same with some tweaking to better reflect how Saleswah itself has evolved.

Hope this made sense. Please get back to us to schedule a one on one session if you want to understand more about Saleswah.

 

 

Large boost to Saleswah CRM usability

A focus on Saleswah CRM usability improvement

The last two months have been more productive in terms of adding to customer experience than in many months prior to those. While we will duly celebrate milestones in office and feel good about yet another sign-up, I wanted to turn the focus inwards and focus on the technology for a change. The technology that runs Saleswah.

We are Microsoft fanboys! No, really!

The technology stack we use is Microsoft all the way; Windows, IIS Web server, MS-SQL server, ASP.NET. And, our first and second apps were developed using C# and XAML and were released on the Windows 8 store and Windows 8 Phone Store.
Saleswah Lite CRM app in the Windows StoreSaleswah Lite Windows Phone Store

But, we are more and more into Google

We are doing a huge amount of work integrating with Google services- Contacts, Calendar and now Tasks. If you have seen our login page lately, you will see that we now allow login to Saleswah CRM using your Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Google Credentials. Not only is it more convenient, it is also very secure. It relies on the huge amount of work that has been put into security by these internet behemoths.

Single Sign on for CRM usability enhancement

Keeping focus on CRM usability means keeping it simple, yet secure for the user

So we built Single Sign On (Oh, how we love those acronyms) – for all these services. Then since, Google announced migration from the previously used Open ID (for us) or OAUTH 1.0 standards (for some others) to OAUTH 2.0 we migrated our Single Sign On using Google to OAUTH 2.0. Some of the code we did, is helpfully shared here.

Then, we set about creating logic for Contact Sync using the new standards, that done, we released Saleswah CRM on to the Google Apps Marketplace. What that means is that if you are a Google Apps Domain Administrator, you can go to the Apps Marketplace and activate Saleswah CRM for all your employees. Oh, if you are not a domain admin, you can add it too, but only for yourself.

Then, we synced the Calendar with Google- oh, there was the small matter of creating the Calendar feature first!

Now, as I type this out, the techies are testing integration with our Tasks with Google’s Tasks.

So, think. If you link your Saleswah CRM account with your Google Apps account, you can get your CRM Contacts, Tasks and Calendar over to Google. You can make changes to them- either in Saleswah or in Google and they will show up in the other side.

Enormous increases in Saleswah CRM usability and productivity benefit, what?

On a side note, don’t ask me why we are not doing the same tight integration with Microsoft; I gave a hint in a previous post. For the moment, I have said enough!

And, then something that only the techies understand..

Our apps connect to our web based product through what are called WCF services. We changed the services from Basic HTTP binding to Web HTTP Binding – thereby moving into REST from SOAP. We expect to deliver better speed of access to the app users and really that is all you should care about!

Another ode to speed: we are now fetching data behind our pages through Json- leading to improved load times and faster working.

On to December..

Yes, December is upon us already. What will we launch in December?

Whatever it is, it will make a positive difference to how you perceive Saleswah CRM usability. And, December is really a short month, so it will be quick and hit the prime time before 20th December!

Watch this space!

And, we have created a fun poll – to seek your opinion on what among the four above, in your opinion made the most contribution to CRM usability. Do participate.

Mobile first Cloud always

Mobile first Cloud always

Mobile data is also in cloud

Among the biggest challenges of working with customers are the 3 C’s of currency, comprehensiveness and context.

Currency

How current is the information that you have of your Contact?

That is why, we allow you to sync your contacts and Tasks with your Google Apps account; so that your information is current and relevant- saving you time as well. And if you are using the Saleswah App on Windows Phone- we allow you to pull in your Contacts from phone.

Comprehensiveness

wp_ss_20141011_0001Do you have all the information in one place? (Add another C – Cogency: can you make sense of the information at a glance, in a digestible format?)
That is why we show you all the contact history, activities- open as well as past, and a summary of all involvements in sales opportunities: in one place.

Context

Your contact is in your phone, in Outlook or Gmail or LinkedIn or maybe even in Facebook. But, when the context is sales, you need the Contact and his activities in your CRM.
That is why, when you call your CRM contact by tapping his phone number from within the Saleswah App, it asks you if this was in the context of an ongoing Deal or pending Task.

The advantage of being mobile

Since Saleswah launched on the desktop as a Windows 8 app, I have been spending less and less time using the web and more time with the app. I like the speed- even though even today, after eight revisions, it is still not as powerful as the web version. The web version is the most comprehensive that there is.
Now we launched the Saleswah on Windows phone and I anticipate spending even less time on the web.wp_ss_20141011_0005
For one, it is convenient. For someone who is traveling. And it is light- I deliberately work with a 2G network and it never stalls.
I like the feeds- of messages, activities of my team as well as that on the business dashboard which updates all the time.
But, here is something the phone app did which even the Windows 8 app did not do.

Mobile first

For long our philosophy was we would do everything on the web and only some small subset of the work while we are mobile. It worked a year back; it does not now. Our customers are all moving to mobile first.
Then, the phone offers its own unique capabilities that my laptop connected to the web does not. The ability to call customers from within the Saleswah CRM app for instance, import phone contacts with a minimum of fuss to the database etc.
To be fair, a phone or a tablet will still be primarily used to consume content- so, I expect you will still go to the web to create your HTML templates, for instance or to create a target list. So, the phone app is largely focused on contact management, task management and managing individual deal workflows. For that purpose, it is a killer- I unabashedly use it more than my laptop.

What is interesting though is that my team uses the phone with increasing regularity. They like the freedom of updating on the go.

Mobile first cloud always

Of course, when it comes to uploading an excel spreadsheet, doing initial set ups of the Saleswah account or indeed, checking out the reports- go to the web. For all history, go to the web- like closed deals and tasks.
While designing for the phone, we liberated ourselves from the constraints of the web- we did not ask ourselves: “Has it been done for the web, first? Does it exist there?”.
And, that will continue to be our philosophy going forward.

We want you to stop worrying about accessing your CRM- just be assured that your data will always be current, consistent and comprehensive- no matter on the web, tablet, laptop or phone.

Mobile first cloud always with Saleswah CRM

Because they all meet in the cloud. We may want to be Mobile first but we are Cloud always. And we will stay like this always.

Saleswah CRM on phone, desktop, web

We released the most comprehensive, large scale revamp of the Saleswah CRM in the last one year. What’s more, this also co-incided with the release of the Saleswah Windows Phone app and almost a ground-up revision of the Windows 8 app- which many of you use.

A summary of changes and what they mean for you

License terms:

You would notice that we have simplified our license terms and types considerably and added a “Free for life” category.

When you create a new account with Saleswah today, you get a chance to test drive the full capabilities of Saleswah CRM for a month. After a month, you have an option to upgrade to a paid account and continue using all the features.

This is still true. But, with some important things to remember.

  • Your license does not expire after your trial! It just gets converted to a free for life license. We call it the Saleswah Basic License. And yes, it is truly free. For life. What this allows you to do is upgrade when you are ready to, to a paid account. And, while we call it Basic, it allows you to track all your appointments (NEW!), tasks and of course manage your contacts and accounts.

As a corollary, paid licenses also become a free account upon expiry; of course, you can get back to CRM license status when you pay again!

  •  If you want to add another team member, you need to upgrade yourself to a paid account and add the new user.

New features:

1. Appointments: Now you can add appointments (create new ones, schedule and add contacts- (no matter if the contacts are part of your CRM contact list or not; just add their e-mail address) to invite them.

2. Easier and less demanding app settings: Try it! The email setting is now easy, even if you have never done this before.  And we pre-select the currency settings from your admin country.

3. The email and proposal templates: We now auto-create sample templates from your logo (yes, you still need to upload your logo!) and admin address. So, you can start emailing your clients- almost immediately.

New features on the Windows 8 App:

Windows 8 CRM1. All of the above 😀 All of the above new features in the Saleswah CRM Web App are now available in the Windows 8 Desktop App.

2. Proposals: You can email proposals right from your Desktop using pre-stored templates.

3.  Appointments: Create appointments and mail out to contacts.

The all new Windows Phone Saleswah CRM App

wp_ss_20140825_0002Contact Management, Account Management, Tasks, Appointments and Deals. Now we also add the ability to painlessly pull your phone contacts into your CRM.

Surprisingly lightweight, Saleswah CRM App on Windows Phone makes keeping abreast of your contacts, tasks, appointments and sales opportunities a breeze.