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Every Business Needs a CRM

There are many CRM (Customer Relations Management) tools available for businesses nowadays, but which one is right for you? Keep in mind that each program may have slightly different features that allow you to access just the right information at just the right time. While yours may differ, my key deciding factor is the matter of navigation. The ability to ‘swim’ through your data, and recall just the right information at just the right time, is what makes my CRM work for me.

Oracle CRM OnDemand offers a very robust CRM program that allows you to organize many types of business contacts, like sales prospects, accounts, and even your vendors, so that you are sure to be in contact with all of these very important people when needed. Oracle also allows you to schedule upcoming events, and log calls and events that happen to any lead or account. You can also add customized fields to Lead and Account pages, which helps when the appropriate field just doesn’t exist. The problem I find with Oracle is that as it is so robust that I don’t need the vast majority of the program, plus its expensive and requires at least a year contract. I am indeed wasting much of this Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that is being paid for, much like man only using a small portion of the relatively large brain that God (or maybe Darwin) gave me.

Sometimes, simplicity is the key to success. 37 Signals offers me just what I need in a CRM tool called Highrise, in that it is smaller, with a more ‘fluid’ feel. Highrise offers easy to use tools and features that help all of its users, like the ability to upload all of your contacts. It doesn’t look to have any functionality that I don’t need or that I won’t use. It allows me to list several contacts for one business entity, and organizes conversations for each of those contacts… This is something that Oracle lacked. Another neat tool that I enjoy is the integration of outbound emails. Highrise allows me to log all of the emails I send very easily, which makes it easy to find ALL of my conversations with any one of my contacts. That leads to my favorite factor of Highrise; the ease of navigation. Highrise allows me to seamlessly flow from Person A at ABC Co. to Person B at ABC Co., and so on. Highrise is far less expensive than Oracle or Salesforce.com and in my opinion the perfect fit for many small to mid-sized businesses. Check it out, the folks at 37 Signals even offer a risk-free 30 day trial.

If you’re looking into a CRM program for your business, list the types of data that you want to save and log, and make sure you don’t pick a CRM tool that will be cumbersome. Your CRM tool should help you get information about any one of your contacts, deals, or vendors ASAP, keeping your business in motion!

Good luck in your search!
~Dan Shekleton


Cloudflare

Speed-up & Protect your site

We’re all busy people, including our prospective customers. What better way to show your company is fast and responsive than making your visitors web experience speedy? Fast or slow websites leave a lasting impression on prospective customers. The leading brands we use every day have staff and know-how to make sure things are running smooth.

Let’s be honest, you’re the one responsible for making sure things run smooth. That can be a hard task to tackle everyday with the growing number of vulnerabilities, technical learning curves and everyday responsibilities. (sigh)

There’s hope yet in making fast & secure web serving a little easier. I found a service that helps speed-up your website and protects it from some attacks. Cloudflare works with any website system, though of course we recommend using Worpdress. Cloudflare even provides a WordPress plugin to help optimize your site’s configuration for use with the service. (Combine this with a WordPress caching tool and you’re off to the races)

CloudFlare protects and accelerates any website online. Once your website is connected, its web traffic is routed through Cloudflare’s intelligent global network. They automatically optimize delivery of your web pages so visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance.

Threats, abusive bots and crawlers are blocked from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.

The best part is there is a free account to give it a try (though for the $20 a month, I recommend a paid account).

Configuration is a snap, though you have to have access to change your Name Servers at your Domain Registrar. This may sound complex for some, but most of the providers such as Godaddy, Network Solutions or Hover can help you do this; and if all else fails, drop us a note. We’d be happy to lend a hand.

Happy faster & more secure web-serving!


WordPress is calling your phone using Twilio

We’ve all seen websites that let us request a call back by entering our phone number, the phone rings and then you wait for the next representative. Now thanks to Twilio and a little WordPress plugin Click2Client by Alex Swan, users can now talk with your business right from their computer over the web. Of course visitors have to have a microphone and speaker connected, but with a single click your visitors can now connect to your business from their computer right to your phone.

The one downside to the WordPress plugin is that Twilo does have native support for iOS devices and mobile applications. Since the plugin appears to use Flash on the WordPress plugin it doesn’t work properly for Apple iOS users. With some encouragement, maybe Alex will implement a WebRTC version later, but for now we think its a great tool and thank Alex for his hard work!

This configuration does require you to have a paid Twilio account (but this should be very affordable for any business) and some setup, but the setup instructions provided by Alex gets you up and running quickly. If you have trouble with the install check out his instructions or leave a comment below.

Of course if you want to see if in action you can give it a try here and talk with us!

[wp_click2client id=”AP8c699ab3bd94bab617e5cff370c1a941″ caption=”TURN ON YOUR SPEAKERS AND CLICK TO TALK WITH US”]

What do you think of letting users click to call? Will it improve conversion?


Remote Desktop for Free

We’ve seen a lot of tools that allow us to work remotely or help customers, but some tools we’ve tried have been better than others. I have to give it to Google for their new WebRTC application and Chrome application when it comes to remote desktop access. Some of you may use Google for more than search. There’s many powerful applications Google provides for free or a small fee, but by far I have found this to be one of their best free apps.

Google Chrome Remote Desktop is a free plugin for Google Chrome’s web browser and your Google account. This tool lets you connect with third parties for a single session remote desktop collaboration, or register with your Google account and connect to remote computers you own even if you’re not at the other station to accept the connection request.

This is a great tool that lets you work with customers, have a meeting or work on the things that matter to you. Installation is a snap and the best part, it is free! We’ve paid for services like this time and time again. Some of the competitors you may want to look at are Join.me and GotoMeeting or GotoSupport. Some of these tools have free trials, but for the long haul I love the free Google application.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, or if you found something better for me to review.

Happy teleworking!


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