Intuitive CRM Software: now we look it!

The case for an intuitive CRM software

Sales does not need one more training! Certainly not how to use a CRM software.

Software should be easy to use and functional. By which we mean, it should allow you to do what you set out to do. Without someone guiding you along. That’s the bare minimum. Good software does not need a guided tour- those annoying pop-ups telling you “hey, click this button”. Good software (and here we say in the context of technical/ business software) logically groups work areas in a consistent ¬†way. Good software recognizes you and tailors the menu. Good software is intuitive.

Good software grows on you and grows with you. It should be intuitive enough so that you can start using it from the first day. A good software is open to discovery: as you mature as a user, you will find things inside that you did not know existed.

Features do not overwhelm you; not in a good software. Not in an intuitive CRM software, like Saleswah.

Good software celebrates content

Bad software is stunning, visually wow! Tremendous to look at, terrible to use. Focus is on the form, not on the data. For a CRM software, that’s the wrong focus. For any software, that’s the wrong focus. What is the usage model? Who are the users? Focus on getting the job done and then try to be part of the work-day of an average user.

Let me explain this. A user comes to your software with a specific objective or two. When a salesman sees your CRM software for the first time, it must help him to know:

  • What can he do with it
  • How many of his present day to day activities can be done using it

If she/ he needs training to figure out the above; then it is bad software. Obviously, you want him to use the software as much as possible; but not because it is tedious to use, but over time he discovers usages that help him do what he does, everyday.

Good CRM software is intuitive CRM software

An intuitive CRM software knows its audience- its users. They are sales and marketing people.

They need to know who their customers are, what they do, how they interact, their past worth and future potential. They need to add them to the software, and surface the above details of their activity and profile.

An intuitive CRM software shows you the business metrics that matter so you can immediately focus on improving them. The Dashboard becomes the launch-pad.

Dashboard of Saleswah Intuitive CRM Software

Setting up vs settling down

The admin user needs to set up the account so other users can get the full power of Saleswah. If she forgets, and you are stopped from sending a quote (for examples) because your admin has not uploaded a product list, you can message him through the system.

As an admin, you can start setting up at the pace the users set or need. Or, drive their adoption by setting up everything in one go.

Take a look at Saleswah CRM, on your own. The most intuitive CRM software. We do have a support team, but they are really under-worked. ūüôā

Want to evaluate the software but do not want to go through setting up your own free account? How about checking out our demo account at your own pace??

Check out the all new look. Click here to register, for free.

Sales lead qualification – BANT still rules, okay!

Months back, we wrote a post on Sales lead qualification. It was called A meaningful Sales Forecast.

Our qualification process, what is employed by Saleswah, is still driven by BANT- the sales model that IBM introduced decades back. Several recent attempts aver that it is an outdated method, but, we continue to believe in it. We still believe that getting a proper answer to the Budget, Authority (Decision maker), Need and Time (time frame of decision making) questions are critical to proper forecasting.

Lead qualification using BANT
Saleswah CRM Windows 8 App: Coming soon!

Among all the attacks on BANT that you see on the web, there are two broad categories:

One notion is that BANT is an early stage lead qualification process. Further, the way it is employed is by somehow getting customers to fill up a form with several leading questions. (Are you planning to purchase in the next 3 months? What is your budget? Do you have approval to spend? And, so on). Customers are no more likely to answer those questions, truthfully than a terrorist answer the security related questions on the DS-160 form¬†(“Are you a member of a terrorist organization?” LOL)¬†! The broad thrust is argued here, see below:

Fifteen years ago I worked for a B2B marketing agency that had an outbound call center focused on lead generation.¬† The goal for the majority of our programs was to have our telemarketers qualify names, gather some information and qualify these prospects by the famed BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe) criteria.¬† We were quite successful in developing these programs for our clients and the leads were graded based on the answer to the BANT questions.¬† That was then, this is now.¬†¬† We are smack in the middle of marketing 2.0, a more ‚Äúmodern‚ÄĚ way of marketing that makes BANT no longer effective for several reasons.
via Why BANT No Longer Applies for B2B Lead Qualification | ANNUITAS.

BANT was never, and should never have been employed as an early stage sales lead qualification process. It is lazy marketers with pretenses to understanding a sales process who introduced those “response cards” and “seminar feedback forms” with those leading questions. Leads qualified through those, have always found their way to the trash. For BANT to work for sales lead qualification, the revenue responsible sales person has to be responsible for qualification. It always was and it always will be. BANT is a B2B sales lead qualification process and it is NOT employed at early stage.

Having got that off my chest, let me tackle the other attack on BANT; which is: “it is outdated, and we have something better”. So, we have acronyms like¬†FAINT.

Impact
This is Рto my mind Рthe critical addition. It’s not enough for your prospect to agree that a need exists. They also need to acknowledge that not dealing with the issue will have a measurable impact on their organisation in terms of reduced revenues or increased costs. If you can’t get your prospect to calculate and agree the negative impact of doing nothing you would be well advised to try harder or qualify out.

–via Why the case for BANT qualification is getting FAINTer.

Now, it is quite a well written piece, the one above. And I do concede that your solution must have Impact (that is what the I stands for in FAINT) on the customer’s organization far more than its cost. But, I contend that big ticket salesmen anyway interpreted the Need question to include Impact- if no impact, the customer had no need for your solution anyway.

But, for most B2B sales, BANT still rules for sales lead qualification. Not enough case has been made for its abandonment.

Showing off: Reports of Saleswah CRM

Following up from the last post on our great new look, here are more screenshots of Saleswah. This time from the CRM reports section.

Update dated 21st July, 2013

We are in the midst of a huge revamp of the look and feel and usability of the Saleswah CRM app. One of the prime objectives is to make more digestible information available to our users from the data that they bring into their CRM.

So, if you have any bright ideas on what you would like to see in the CRM reports and the dashboard- the kind of data you think you would like to look at before you start your day in the office: please email your suggestion to us. Serious suggestions, irrespective of whether we implement them or not, will get a Saleswah CRM user license for 3 months for free. And, if we implement them? You will get 12 months of usage free of a Saleswah CRM license! So, hurry. Send your suggestion now!

Folks we want to thank

Google

Firstly, we want to thank Google for letting us use Google Apps for free.
Google Apps is the suite of office productivity tools like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, that all businesses today need to run- no matter whether you use Microsoft or Open Office or Google.

We use Microsoft Office but we also use Google Apps for sharing and collaboration. And, our email runs on Google Apps. The same look and feel of Gmail, the same fantastic anti-spam features; except that it is integrated with our domain. So, we can mail you from anwesha dot in rather than having to conduct business from a personal looking abc** at gmail dot com or even, (horror!) abc.anwesha@gmail.com.

Google Apps for business is free for upto 10 users; after that it is 5$ per month per user. For that you get huge storage, secure IT infrastructure and all the office apps that you possibly need. It’s a no-brainer; especially if you consider the alternative is to worry about hardware, software, hosting, connectivity and so on.

Fusioncharts

The reason Saleswah charts look so good is because we use Fusion Charts to output them to! And, believe it or not, Fusion Charts has a free version as well; which we use!

Fusion charts is a tool for creating great charts, gauges and maps. We code the logic behind each report, dump the XML into Fusion chart and Fusion chart converts that into pretty nice looking charts.

…and, even though we have already thanked them, once more won’t harm..

We want to thank Microsoft for making available all the development tools and office productivity tools worth thousands of dollars for free under the Microsoft BizSpark program. Thanks, Microsoft. No matter what anyone says, you rock!

 

 

Interesting browser stats on Saleswah dot com

We capture browsing behaviour on our sites..

I hope that is not a surprise; today¬†everyone does (here’s where you go to check our privacy policy). What was interesting though probably not a surprise was the recent insight we got from the data we capture.

Here’s a snapshot of the most common browsers folks have used to visit and navigate through our pages¬†on Saleswah CRM site.

How people visit saleswah dot comSo, a browser introduced about 4 years back is used by almost 2/5 of the visitors to our site.

Firefox is the next significant followed by IE. We decided to lump all the FF versions and IE versions together in another table and lumped every other browser under “Others”. Here’s what we got.

Summary of browsing behavior on saleswah dot com

The good news is that we have not seen any page abandon rate increases or complaints from folks unable to use the pages or the application because  their browsers could not handle our application or website. Though, Firefox users seem to have significantly lower page-views. We will watch it next month and see if there is something we need to understand here.

Territory management using Saleswah

What: Those who follow us and of course, those of you who actively use us know that Saleswah has a simple pyramidal hierarchy of users in the sales function. We are now pleased to announce Territory Management, adding a geographical structure to the sales force management as well.

This is for those with large sales forces divided into many territories and branches and so on.

Why: The pyramidal structure works for most sales teams and in fact this is the “direct line” How Saleswah CRM handles a sales hierarchyhierarchy that follows reporting relationships in sales organizations. There are cases, though that we need to manage an additional hierarchy or even another way of looking at markets and customers and how they are handled by the sales team.

Let us say you have a headquarter and branches and those branches have branch managers who manage them and have a team of executives under them who manage customers. To make it more realistic and more aligned to a consumer product sales scenario where the sales executives have fixed routes journey plans, let us now draw the parallel hierarchy.

How: So, what happens to the sales reporting hierarchy? It remains, as is. But, we have now made it possible for managers to control branches (your account administrator will assign managers to branches) and then the branch managers can create the territorial hierarchy under them.

Sales territory management : what we are calling this plan above is on private beta. That is, you will not see it if you are are logging into our standard demo account or otherwise registering for a free or paid standard account with Saleswah.

If you want to check it out, though; request for a demo account to be set up specially for your evaluation. Remember to select “Sales Territory Management” option in the Preferred Mode of evaluation drop down.

The folks who helped: Microsoft BizSpark

When you are big on ambition and short on cash but surely do not want to compromise on the tools for development- a program like Microsoft BizSpark program is a Godsend.

Saleswah CRM is a Microsoft BizSpark Startup

What it is: Microsoft BizSpark¬†program lets you have free access to software to develop and run your office for 3 whole years. Think about it- legal, secure and updated development tools from what is still the world’s prime software company.

To be honest, were it not for the program; we would not have started off. Those tools are expensive; some of them cost thousands of dollars. And, so we watched our dream take shape (we are a product company), bit by bit, without having to worry about paying for legal development tools.

That’s the part of the program (and it’s a huge deal) that we really like. The MSDN portal is easy to navigate, signing up for the program was easy too, from what I remember. And, Microsoft just went and removed the exit fee of $100 as well recently; which you needed to pay when you graduated from the program.

Now for the things I wish Microsoft did, through this program. I mean, it says it does but the program just did not deliver on those counts for me. Here, then, is the list of things I wish MS did for us.

Firstly, MS needs to really understand that there is a power in the developers banding together, making their products work with each other and pooling resources for marketing. MS went ahead and put together the Pinpoint site where prospective partners can list themselves and be visible. I want you to go and check out the India site of Pinpoint and see the companies that are featured there. They are mostly, if not all, services companies. All helping Microsoft sell more licenses of its own products. So, there goes any support that you can expect from the ecosystem.

Secondly, we have had our product listed there on that website: and guess what the traffic has been like? No, not on our own website, but on our listing on Pinpoint? Zero. Yeah, correct.

So, this is the thing. We make a CRM software, and MIcrosoft periodically sends me emails extolling the virtues of its own Dyamics software. C’mon Microsoft; surely you don’t need to compete for attention in your own community?

It is as important (if not more) to sell a software as build it. Bill Gates did it too. Microsoft, you are doing awesome work with this program- just don’t leave it halfway. Promote the Pinpoint site, pay more attention to the product developers and do more about showcasing the fruits of the product development ecosystem. We will win together.

Mass email marketing using Saleswah CRM

Can you? Should you?

Simple answers to the first two questions first; yes you can (remember Obama?) and well, it depends.

Firstly, what does Saleswah CRM offer you in terms of mass email marketing capabilities?

1. Create email template using a html email template builder; powerful enough that we send all our own marketing communication and sales proposals using it. Use this to compose your message, insert custom tags (for mailmerge- like in MS-Word) and even insert “action links”- which the recipients can follow.

2. Target list creator – to filter and zero in on the contacts from your contact list in Saleswah CRM that match your intended message.

When you put 1 and 2 above together, you get, 3!

Jokes apart, you get the campaign sender, which is the part that takes the created html template from 1, marries it to a target list from 2 and sends it off on email. And, did I tell you that you could have sent an embedded link, which once clicked, would have registered them for a seminar or a tradeshow that you may have invited them to in this email? Powerful.

Okay; so, cool. So, why the long answer, huh? This means not only I can, but it seems like a great idea, too, right?

Hold that thought for a minute more; and let me tell you a couple of other things.

Each contact in the list within your Saleswah CRM database has a checkbox against her name; to denote permission to email. And, each email that goes out from Saleswah CRM, carries a “Unsubscribe me” link. Once the recipient clicks the link, the contact will be automatically marked as someone you are not allowed to send emails to. Doing it, heedlessly, nevertheless- is bad practice.

Yes, and by the way, do you know where the emails go out from?

If you want them to go out from your company mail box, and that is how you have configured Saleswah CRM, then be sure that your company mail server can handle the volume. All mail servers  have limits; Gmail allows only 500 emails sent out per day, for instance. If you want to do serious heavy duty mailing, then it is best to get yourself a mail server and configure that to work with Saleswah CRM.

Do we provide mail-servers? No we don’t.

So, back to the original questions. Again, yes you can do mass email marketing using Saleswah CRM and perhaps you should- but, do keep some of the above things in mind.

New features in Saleswah

In the past one month, we added a bunch of advanced CRM features in Saleswah. We also tweaked many screens to make them easier to use.

Here’s what we did, in no particular order:

1. Sales proposals: we have now added the ability to send professional looking proposals on email. Of course, you can use your letterhead, graphics, formatting and anything else to make this look professional.

Who will use it: Salespeople sending proposals to important clients; distribution channel managers sending monthly updated price lists to their partners etc.

You can create once, and modify and reuse many times.  Best of all, you can create and make it available for the entire organization for their use, for their own customers.

Send a sales proposal to clients

Send monthly price-list to your distributors using Saleswah's Sales Proposal feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Purchase orders:

Convert an existing quotation into a purchase order, record the amendments to terms and conditions, change prices and/ or discount levels and mail back a properly formatted purchase order to your customer. Of course, mention the expected shipping date and any other terms and conditions.

Purchase order acknowldgement from Saleswah CRM

3. Now, add a contact in less than 2 minutes:

Let’s start with a visiting card; like this:

Visiting card of a contact for upload in Saleswah
Visiting card for upload into Saleswah

Saleswah allows you to open the “Add new contact” and start typing in directly, without worrying about whether the “Account” exists in the database or not.

Type in the name, the phone numbers and designation and email address; just the way it flows in a typical visiting card.

Then, you start typing in the “Account Name”, Anwesha Custome.. and well before you have reached the end of Anwesha, you will see Saleswah come up with choices- of Account Names that match; or, if they don’t, no choices- like here, so you click “New Account”.

New contact creation in less than 2 minutes using Saleswah CRMWhen you do, you get choices.

Is your client a one man shop- like a trader in the automobile market? Or is he part of a large organization?

If it is the latter, like here, select Company Account and go ahead and input the rest of the data in the card; click submit to save the account details and then click Save to save the Contact record itself.

The second part of the 2 minute process of creating a new contact in SaleswahLet us know what new features you would like to see in the coming days. If you want to test out Saleswah, login for a no obligation demo. Right here!

 

Process or activities? American or Indian?

The two approaches to CRM and why the Indian approach works better for small businesses

If you follow the CRM products and solutions out in the marketplace, you will know the “flavour of the season” is “Social”.

All CRMs are now focusing on managing contacts- the interactions, tracking their social media presence and activities and making it easier for engage their contacts on social media.

This is all very well and there are several folks who do this very well; taking contact management to a different plane altogether. You can now “engage” your prospective client like never before; congratulate him on a job-change, perhaps “like” his photos from his family holiday and follow his wisdom on Twitter.

All very well; but come to the point. Cut to the chase, if you will.

My experience of talking to customers over the last many months is telling me that customers (in India, at least) today are not seeing contact management as their big challenge and social media as the answer. They are looking to manage the sales process- from the enquiry (inquiry, if you are American) to close. They are looking at a B2B sales process in terms of “Account Management“- where multiple contacts take a “committee decision, past experience matters and sales follows a path of Awareness to Interest generation to Evaluation to Proposal to Close.

Has B2B sales become possible to be done on FB in US? Is it okay to Tweet a quote? ¬†Ever posted your 20 page sales proposal on your prospect’s “wall”?¬†You tell me.

The amount of time that you need to engage your clients on social media, the amount of compelling content that you need to constantly supply- and make it individually relevant- just providing the tool is not going to work.

How many social media savvy sales guys do you know?

How many customers are on FB with you?

This long, virtually never ending courtship that the “new-age” CRMs promise, will not likely lead to consummation.

The other observation I have, and this is a more generic comment about the CRM softwares: when they do go beyond contact management, they are more into process tracking and milestones. Let me explain why I think an Indian customer is looking for more than that.

B2B Sales, in India and I suspect in many parts of the world, is a formal process.

There is a long sales cycle and your software is probably doing a great job capturing the milestones. But, the customers are looking to send a quote, a formal proposal with terms and conditions, acknowledge the PO when it comes in and point out the deviations. Perhaps even invoice at shipment.

The advantages:¬†The “Indian approach” has one huge advantage over the CRM softwares made in the west. It is that, you do not need to do these activities (quote/ proposal/ literature mailing/ event invitation) outside, using some other software and come back to CRM only to log these activities. So, the CRM gets elevated to a level of “part of work- a tool I use to do my daily customer facing activities”. The disadvantage is of course, that this makes the software itself “heavier-more laden with functionalites”.

The balance: I do think a CRM needs to do more than Contact Management. It also needs to go beyond process milestones logging.

Remember, one of the biggest problems the sales people have against CRM adoption was having to duplicate work done elsewhere. While the new CRM softwares in the market manage the task of profile management very well, managing to keep the contact profiles updated and rich in interaction history, I am not sure if the need of a small business is really served by having a long “courtship period”/ sales cycle. When they want to “pop the question”/ send a proposal or a quote or sales literature, they want to do it from the CRM itself.

I am not a great fan of the very transactional view of the business. But, the end goal of a CRM is business generation. Click here if you want a demo or a guided tour of Saleswah CRM.