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How Marie Forleo is revolutionising CRM

photo courtesy of http://www.marieforleo.com/

Marie was recently interviewed by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation. Her mission is to help you realize your greatest potential and use your unique talents to change the world. She reaches over 200,000 readers in 191 countries worldwide and leads dynamic training programs that teach individuals to succeed in business and life.

Read more: http://www.marieforleo.com/about/#ixzz2ts12vVmE

In case some of you have been living under  a rock lately, you may have been inundated with posts, emails and links to a phenomenon called B School by Marie Forleo.  B School is is an 8 week, interactive video-based training program that teaches smart, effective online marketing strategies to business owners who want more sales and more impact from their online presence.

Graduates from B School include “advanced” students who are New York Times bestselling authors and million dollar plus business owners who have large lists (from 10K – 100K).   These “advanced” students completed B-School and have added anywhere from $65,000 to over $1,000,000 in revenue to their business from what they learned in our program. While they were already successful, they weren’t fully leveraging their online presence to drive more revenue.

Amazing huh! Marie also launched a series of 3 free training videos to teach her tribe, the “right way to market”.  So why am I telling you all this?  Well, Marie’s marketing strategies are one of the best ways we have seen CRM being implemented.

In her first training video, she talks about a  6 Pillars Map. Pillar 2  in particular is just one example of pure poetry in motion when it comes to CRM.  Pillar 2 is  how to create “Websites that Sell and Don’t Suck”:

1. Connect

 You must connect with your audience instantly when they land on your site and communicate how you can help them.

2. Capture

This is super important.  You MUST find  a way to capture your prospect’s name and email.  The majority of your visitors will not buy from you the first time. You need to capture their details so that you can build a relationship with them over time (CRM strategy anyone?!)

3. Convert

Your website needs to be the best unpaid salesperson in our business and convert browsers into buyers. Your website can and should bring revenue to your business 24/7.

So there you have it! An amazingly simple CRM strategy that does not cost you much.

For more info on the brilliant Marie Forleo, head over to http://www.marieforleo.com/.

 

3 Forever FREE CRM systems to try for the New Year!

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A lot of small businesses I know are currently using spreadsheets to manage their contacts and are finding a lot of issues with using this as a way to manage their contacts (understandably!).  They have told me that they really need a CRM system for the new year but don’t have a big budget and also have no idea where to start or where to look.

So fear not!  We are here to take out all the hard work for you in finding a system that fits your business AND your budget.  Our Christmas and New Year gift to you is a list of 3 FREE (YES FREE!) CRM systems that do a darn good job of managing your contacts and some even have other bonus features that can supercharge your business to propel you forward in 2014.

So without further ado, here they are!

1. Bitrix 24

Bitrix 24, we believe, gives you amazing features  for  FREE! It is more than just a CRM system.  It is a united work space which handles the many aspects of daily operations and tasks in the form of a cloud based social intranet.   Some of the great features the free version has are:

  • Free for up to 12 users!
  • 5Gb of online storage
  • Social Communications
  • Tasks and Projects
  • Calendars
  • File and Documents (sharing and collaboration)
  • and last but not least – a built in CRM which includes:
    • Contact management
    • Sales/pipeline management
    • Invoice management
    • An advanced business process  workflow builder (it has a great GUI interface)
    • Website integration -connect your online store and your contact forms to pass sales and leads data directly into your CRM.

It doesn’t include a case management/support module in the free version, but for most small businesses, the existing features are more than sufficient.

2. Capsule CRM

Capsule CRM has a great, user friendly interface which is quite simple to use.  The features in their free edition are:

  • Free for up to 2 users
  • 10Mb Storage
  • Calendar and Activities
  • Automated workflows
  • Contact management (up to 250 contacts)
  • Opportunity/Sales Pipeline Management (unlimited)
  • Case Management (unlimited cases)

There is no module for invoice management but if  you want to upgrade  to the professional plan for only $12 per user per month, you have access to integration with Xero cloud based accounting software which handles your invoicing.

3. Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years and now offers an Enterprise version which includes territory management.  However, it still offers it’s free version for small businesses with the basic CRM  functionality to cater for their needs including social media integration.   It Features in the free version include:

  • Free for up to 3 users
  • 250Mb file storage/organisation
  • Lead, Contact and Account management
  • Opportunity/Sales Pipeline Management
  • Tasks, Calendar, Call Log, and Notes
  • Integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • 2 Email templates
  • 1 Web-to-Lead form for integration with your website
  • 1 Web-to-Contact form for integration with your website

The great thing about all 3 of the CRM systems featured here, is that they give you the opportunity to upgrade at any time as your business grows.

So what are you waiting for?  Get 2014 off to a great start for your business with a brand new CRM system and watch your business thrive!

CRM For Puppets!

SPPT

We love to bring you stories of innovative ways a CRM system can help any type of business – including not for profit organisations. Take Spare Parts Puppet Theatre.

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre (SPPT) are Australia’s champions for puppet theatre.
SPPT present five seasons a year at their home theatre in Fremantle, nurture the art form through our School of Puppetry and Emergent training program – FirstHand, perform in Festivals, corporate and community events and tour extensively through regional Western Australia and the world.

They were founded in 1981 by Artistic Director Peter L Wilson, writer Cathryn Robinson and designer Beverley Campbell-Jackson, as part of an artist-in-residency program initiated by the WA Institute of Technology (now Curtin University of Technology). From 1997 – 2001, SPPT was under the artistic direction of Noriko Nishimoto.

SPPT are now lead by an outstanding team with their award winning Artistic Director Philip Mitchell and Associate Director Michael Barlow. After 30 years of operation, the Company has developed a national and international reputation having performed in China, USA, Korea, Singapore, Japan, Czech Republic and most recently in France.

Background

SPPT required a system to manage their clients and automate internal processes. These processes were mainly in the areas of:
1. Managing marketing campaigns
2. Managing school workshops
3. Managing Sales force automation – automatic quotes generation
4. Managing grants and philanthropic activities
5. Managing the different client and staff categories (schools, donors, volunteers, tutors)
6. Automating workflow (automatically notifying the relevant tutor when a workshop is entered into the system)
7. Managing staff contracts and other documentation

The Solution

The CRM system was configured from the front end to manage all the items listed above.
Existing contacts that were stored in excel sheets and outlook were imported into the system to create a central repository.
Custom reports were created to handle all the above items as well as:
1. VIP lists
2. Donor lists
3. Adopt a puppet members – These are people who wish to ‘adopt a puppet’ for a  year by providing a contribution to SPPT.

The CRM solution implemented by Sankhya Consultants resulted in the following benefits to SPPT:
1. Time savings by automating marketing activities and tracking marketing campaigns
2. Time savings by having a central system to manage workshops and having integrated workflow to automatically inform tutors of the workshop details so that they can prepare materials
3. Time savings in generating quotes by automating the process
4. Efficient handling of grant applications and philanthropic activities
5. Automatic generation of reports and lists for management – time savings and increased accuracy in not having to compile these manually.
6. Having a central repository to manage all types of clients and staff and their associated contracts and documentation.

Future Enhancements

The next stage is to provide Google Calendar integration to synchronise activities and tasks.  We also plan to include  SMS integration and a web-to-lead form so leads can be captured directly from their website.

Chamber of Commerce Gains Hundreds of Hours by Using CiviCRM

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce

We have been privileged to have one of our CRM projects featured as a case study in the CiviCRM July Newsletter.

CiviCRM helps organizations grow and sustain strong relationships over time. It is a web-based, open source CRM software geared toward meeting the needs of non-profit and other civic-sector organizations.

We were approached by one of the co-founders of CiviCRM (Dave Greenberg) to feature our project as their case study of the month.  The article can be found below.  For more information on CiviCRM, please visit www.civicrm.org.

The newsletter can also be found here.

Case Study

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce (FCC) champions policies and strategies that improve the business environment in Fremantle (Perth, Western Australia), enhance community prosperity and develop a sustainable mix of business and lifestyle opportunities for Fremantle’s future. They act as an advocate for the business community, a conduit for information and a promoter of Fremantle’s position in the regional landscape. The Chamber currently have over 500 members, ranging from major corporate organizations to small micro-businesses.

FCC required a CRM system to manage their members, events and organizational activities more efficiently. The main challenge, as is often the case when moving to a new system, was importing and cleaning the existing data which existed in different locations such as multiple Excel sheets and Outlook.

It’s really interesting to see how CiviCRM is being used by these types of associations, as well as smaller not-for-profits. As Brian Shaughnessy of Lighthouse Consulting and Design says“CiviCRM provides a robust set of tools for professional, trade, and community associations. Configure the membership options to track fixed period and rolling memberships, build reports to view new, current, and lapsed memberships, while empowering your members to manage their renewals and personal contact data through self-service forms. Coupled with the event registration, case management, and other tools, CiviCRM creates a single, web-based, centralized database for your association’s data management needs — creating system efficiencies, improving the quality of your data, and allowing organization staff to better serve your members!”

Sankhya Consultants were chosen for the CiviCRM implementation. The project was funded by a grant from the Western Australian government as part of a project to train businesses the benefits of CRMs. The benefits of that for the wider community are that the team at Sankhya had to submit a report on the implementation, so we have that unusual and precious thing – measurable success!

One of the most marked improvements from having their new CiviCRM in place was the streamlined efficiency of the event management process. Before Civi, the average time spent on recording each event participant’s attendance, tracking payment, sending reminders, raising invoices etc was around 70 minutes. Since Civi that average time has gone down to 10 minutes. That’s a saving of around 1 hour per contact, per event!

There are lots of other really impressive stats in the report, such as:

  • Updating memberships: Before Civi, 5 mins to contact each member individually, for 1,500 members that’s 125 hours every membership renewal cycle. Since Civi, with automated reminders for the entire database, it takes something like 10 mins admin time per cycle. That’s 125 hours saved!!
  • Searching for contacts, to find all the contacts that fulfilled a certain criteria (e.g. lived in a certain area): Before Civi this was a manual process of checking through numerous spreadsheets, taking an average of 2 hours. Since being able to search with Civi’s built-in contact search, this takes less than 5 minutes. Time saved – just under 2 hours!

See a report of the outcomes 3 months after the CiviCRM implementation.

Read the entire case study here

 

Affordable Small Business CRM Options

A CRM system doesn’t have to break the bank for small businesses.

Small businesses often ask me whether CRM systems are only for bigger companies as the common misconception is that they are very expensive.

The good news is that there are many inexpensive options available for small businesses starting from $0!  These are usually “cloud” or web based solutions which only require a web browser to use.  There is no need to invest in any expensive hardware.  You pay a monthly amount to use it and there are even “mobile” versions you can use on the go with your tablet or smartphone.

One example is Zoho CRM which is free for up to 3 users and does a good job of managing contacts and interactions with your customers.  The professional edition is only $12 per user per month.

Here is an interesting case study for a small business CRM implementation.

Your Life Your Body

Your Life Your Body (YLYB) is a sole trader company owned by Jodie Hopkins. Jodie is an exercise physiologist who creates personal programs consisting of corrective exercises for clients.  Jodie is one of the attendees for the DEP workshops and was selected for the program for her keen interest in implementing a CRM system for her business.

YLYB required a CRM system to manage clients, activities and invoicing more effectively.

The main requirements that the CRM needed to fulfil were:

  • To have a central database for all clients
  • To facilitate contacting clients and scheduling appointments
  • To facilitate client profiling
  • To allow for client documents to be uploaded into the system attached to client
  • To assist automation of sending marketing material to clients
  • To have the ability to create invoices in the CRM and track status until paid.
  • To have mobile access to the CRM from  iPhone and iPad
  • To link a web form to the CRM from the website for leads generation

Outcome

Since Jodie has started using  Zoho CRM she’s found real benefits in running her business more effectively  including:

  • Manage appointments online
  • Mobile device access to CRM data – even when no internet connection
  • Synced to iPhone, iPad and laptop
  • Having a central online repository for client contracts, documents and templates.
  • Automating invoice creation and tracking until paid
  • Automatic generation of reports.
  • Automatically capture leads from website when e-book is downloaded

So as you can see, it won’t cost you an arm or a leg to start managing your customer database, interactions and automating your business through a CRM solution.  So what are you waiting for?  Get started today!

Author: Dr Vish Ramakonar, http://www.crmconsulting.net.au
photo credit: Tax Credits via photopin cc

How Implementing CRM Can Fulfil Your Top 10 Business Wishes – Part I

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In my 10 or more years in the IT/CRM space, I have come across many businesses from various industry verticals.  However, all of them have the same business needs no matter which industry they are from.  I have compiled the Top 10 needs of most businesses and will explain how a CRM strategy and implementation can fulfill this wishlist.  Here we go!

1. “I want a central place to store all my customer contact info and interactions (appointments, emails, tasks, etc). I currently have to rummage through Outlook emails and countless Excel sheets. I want info to be accurate and not have duplicates.”

A CRM solution captures all your prospects and client information in a central place (usually accessible from a web browser or any mobile device).  You can integrate your Outlook tasks, contacts and Calendar (if need be) and also capture all your incoming and outgoing client emails so its all accessible from one place.  Most CRM systems alow you to import your data through excel CSV files and even have a duplicate checking function so you can clean up your data quickly and easily.

2.“I want customer demographics info at my fingertips. E.g. I may want to send a promotion to all my customers who are in the Tourism industry and live on a certain street  in the central business district.”

If you have your data in excel sheets and Outlook it may be difficult to find specific client or prospect information to carry out targeted marketing.  A CRM solution can give you this information a the push of a button with it’s powerful search and querying facilities.

3. “I want to keep track of customer purchases, know who my repeat customers are and which products /services they purchased.”
A CRM solution is very flexible and can be integrated with other solutions such as a shopping cart on your website or accounting software.  This allows you to capture information from various sources but have all your customer data in sync and up to date.  Knowing who my repeat customers are and which products or services are selling best is very powerful market intelligence which can help me identify cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
4. “I want to track enquiries and make sure they have been attended to promptly. If I am sick or my staff changes, the business should continue running as per normal – all customer info and interactions should be accessible by the people taking over.”
This is a major gripe with most businesses where all client information and interactions are stored in separate systems.  A CRM system has information on all customer (or potential customer) calls, meetings, proposals, quotes etc  in a central location which can be accessed by the appropriate staff members with permission.
5.“I am doing a lot of things manually in my business like preparing quotes, and tracking and sending follow-up emails.  I would love to have some of these tasks automated.”
I really get thrilled when I can help my clients save their precious time by automating everyday manual tasks such as event management, preparation of quotes, follow up emails and reminders etc through a CRM system.  A lot of solutions have ‘workflows’ which can be configured to automate a lot of tasks that you normally would have to do manually.
There are even more wonderful things a CRM solution can do for you.  So stay tuned for Part II.

Dr Vish Ramakonar – CRM Consultant/Analyst

Sankhya Consultants

http://www.crmconsulting.net.au
photo credit: cbcd04 via photopin cc

CRM For Pets!

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

It’s pretty much a given – pets are big business. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) industry trends report predicts that US households will spend just north of $50 billion on pets in 2012. Increasingly, businesses in the pet sector are finding success using customer relationship solutions to build customer loyalty and attract new buyers.

Over $7 Billion a Year in Pet Food

Dick Van Patten, a comic actor baby boomers might remember best for his lead in the 1970’s TV series Eight is Enough, began Natural Balance Pet Foods in 1989 with the intention of “developing the best natural pet food on the market.” Today his products are sold globally to an expanding consumer market of pet owners with a lot of buying power – according to a study on ibisworld.com, the pet store industry has pulled in $14.7 billion so far in 2012, with 58% of that coming from pet food sales. That’s a lot of chow, and a lot of loyal customers to curry. To accomplish just that, Natural Balance has signed on with SugarCRM, one of the leading customer relationship management companies.

Natural Balance needed a solution flexible enough to be tailored for the pet sector, across a worldwide landscape and, according to SugarCRM “to provide the ultimate customer experience.” When your ultimate customer is someone’s dog or cat, their ultimate experience is the food – do they eat it, or turn up their whiskered noses at your offering? There are a lot of foods that pets will eat – certainly dogs show little discretion, although cats can be fussy – so a key goal of the CRM is to create an emotional bond between the company and the pet owners that differentiates one brand from another. The ibisworld report concludes that pet sales are driven even during tough times by “an increasing number of ‘pet parents’ – pet owners who treat their four-legged friends as family members” and want to indulge them with purchases like all-natural and organic pet food – a good trend for Dick Van Patten’s product line.

CRM Aimed at a Market that Reaches 70 Million Homes

According to the American Pet Product Association survey, 62% of US households own a pet, and pet ownership has been growing slowly but steadily for the last two decades. 76% of dog and cat owners consider their canine or feline companions to be part of the family. 72.9 million American homes are homes with pets, and a CRM that interacts with the owners by sharing a passion for these pets, can grow customer loyalty. The big pet store chains are all crafting loyalty programs now as a facet of their CRM solutions, offering discounts and personalized sales opportunities based on customer purchasing habits.

According to a recent article on petbusiness.com, the most popular loyalty perk is “a discount at the register. There are many subsets of these loyalty programs designed to target different types of subscribers, including relationship marketing, database marketing and reward-based programs.” Leslie May, founder of Pawsible Marketing, a firm that helps pet businesses build their brands, notes, “As pet lovers increasingly become concerned about the health and safety of what they purchase for their pets, brand loyalty and customer loyalty programs involving continuous and evolving communications are key to keeping customers.” That’s what CRM does best, and in the pet sector, customer relationships become even more important, because pets are a part of our emotional lives, where our hearts sometimes lead our sales decisions.

By Leslie McCreath – Inside CRM
photo credit: Natalia Romay via photopin cc