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  • #993055
    phoenixvirtualservices
    Member
    • Total posts: 9

    Hi All,

    I am trying to find a program to go on my computer as I don’t really want to use on line one if I don’t have too, where I can store all my clients contact detail’s, services they have received, referrals they have given, whether or not they are a VIP client; as well as information about prospective clients and possible leads, when to contact and what contact has been made.

    I looked at Microsoft Access but am unsure whether or not it will meet the requirements.

    Does anyone know of any good software, or if not, something online if that is really the only avenue I can take, preferably one that is free or minimum cost.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    #1189547
    I.T. Guaranteed
    Member
    • Total posts: 51

    Hi Briony,

    Sorry no one has replied to you as yet. I was hoping someone who actively uses an offline CRM would answer. It certainly looks like on-line is the way most CRMs are being offered.

    As a Microsoft Access Expert I would advise that you stay away from Access as a DIY database unless you want to waste a great deal of time fiddling with things, instead of using the CRM. As it is a basic list type of thing, you could go for a straight list as in using Microsoft Excel.

    You could use Microsoft Outlook which will let you add custom fields and forms to add the extra items that you want.

    If you have an good accounting package, it can be used to track the things that you mention. I have used Quickbooks since 1995, and in that time only upgraded a couple of times. If you do use the accounting package, you will already have the numbers that the clients spend with you. That will avoid entering data twice.

    Maybe you could go with a combination of Outlook for prospects and accounting package for clients.

    Good Luck and if you do find or try something please let us know.

    #1189548
    phoenixvirtualservices
    Member
    • Total posts: 9

    Thanks for your reply.

    I did some research and ended up going with insightly as I too use Quickbooks and it integrates with that as well as the google apps and evernote, all programs that I use.

    I guess because I scribble stuff down on scrap pieces of paper I was trying to see what the best way was for managing all my information.

    I think at the end of each day I just need to input all the scribbles down into insightly so I have all the information in there.

    Thanks for your help.

    #1189549
    darryl
    Member
    • Total posts: 8

    Briony,

    I avoid answering what is the best “xxx” type questions because the answer nearly always depends on what you want to do with “xxx”. I read that you have settled on Insightly, but please, for your own sanity and benefit draw up your own list of criteria that you can use in 6 months time to judge whether or not Insightly is working for you or not.

    Just having a list like this will help you use Insightly better as it gives you a reference point to know which parts of the program are useful to you and which parts are useful to someone else.

    Darryl

    #1189550
    rob_wre11
    Member
    • Total posts: 3

    Yeah, I’m with Daryl. Start looking at at how you want to objectively structure the DB and then research your options to no end. I definitely agree with the notion of staying clear of external clouded platforms. Your business is obviously in the web design space, so start talking and/or networking with any devs you may know because this may allow you the option of a DIY customised build and run things locally from your own infrastructure with a VPN or other secure access. This can also save you a lot of dollars too, but you do have to commit to spending some time learning and researching to properly clarify your exact objectives etc. There’s a million and one options out there, but you have to start by understanding where you ultimately want to go with it.

    Cheers,
    Rob

    PS: Why Weebly? They’re a forked version of WP with no RWD.

    #1189551
    arrowwise
    Member
    • Total posts: 641

    Most of the mainstream hosted CRMs out there are variations of basic contact list systems that are very basic by default – built to suit most businesses, whereby you often can spend a lot on a ‘per user’ basis when you could otherwise develop something similar with your existing systems in place already like Outlook, Google Apps, and cloud accounting systems etc. The mostly try and push you into their sphere of doing business through a ‘vendor lock’ type business model. Once you require more precise and specialised functionality for your business, then they are often limited out of box without significant investment in customisation and ongoing tweaks / maintenance. As said it really depends on what you really need to do without being diverted by a lot of amazing things these systems can magically do.

    #1189552
    Roman K
    Member
    • Total posts: 44

    As a professional IT consultant I worked on many large enterprise systems which used SalesForce CRM as a customer management solution. I never really used it for small businesses but I just drilled down to their website for you and found out they position themselves as appropriate platform for small businesses. Here is a short video I found on their small biz page:

    [MEDIA=youtube]LYHnQjyY5LY[/MEDIA]

    I can guarantee this is a world class rock solid system deployed in thousands and thousands of companies with great success based on my personal experience as an IT consultant.

    Hope this helps.

    To your success.

    Roman

    #1189553
    GuestMember
    Member
    • Total posts: 318

    Google Sheets are fine for me. I looked into a CRM, such as Zoho, and apart from automatic scheduling and complex If This Then That logic, I didn’t see the value (for us). Sort, filter, names, contact details, position in the sales funnel, strength of lead – are all available on a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are supposed to be for calculating really, and databases and CRM for this, but I find it intuitive.

    As some of the other contributors have said, everyone’s needs are very different and it can be useful to know what you want. Still, I find choosing software a cyclical process. When you ask for advice, you don’t always, already, know what you want. People mention features and benefits and it spurs creativity on how they could be used to improve your business (without getting distracted by things you don’t need).

    #1189554
    Roman K
    Member
    • Total posts: 44

    Love your thoughts Paul, sometimes simple solutions work just fine. Especially in the beginning when no systems have been built and there are too many hats to wear as a business owner.

    As the business grows introducing and enhancing systems becomes more critical and it’s never late to consolidate and improve systems and jump on something bigger that suits your particular needs.

    Absolutely love Google products and they do work well for small businesses. Google is an amazing world class company with lots of great products.

    Great advice, Paul.

    #1189555
    Calcul8or
    Participant
    • Total posts: 469

    For what it’s worth, I’ve used MS Access to build all sorts of complicated systems, from shipping container tracking systems, grain inventory management systems, document management systems, to one that I’m working on right now for a well known and prominent national chain who require an OTB planning system for their merchandise/planning team. The level of complexity would probably blow the minds of the uninitiated, but only serves to excite a nerd like me!

    Anyway, I have yet to build a CRM, but please rest assured that it is more than capable of handling such a task. Access these days is not the unstable and scary thing it once was, and it is simply amazing what you can do with it. Heaven knows, I’ve astounded myself on more than one occasion!

    Oh, and personally, I don’t like or trust the cloud, especially for business data, for reasons I’ve discussed at length here many times and moons ago, and given that connecting a system built in Access can also be connected directly to a MySQL backend (as I have also done numerous times), there is absolutely no need to hand over your sensitive data to people you’ve never met.

    Anyway, that’s my 2c worth!

    Cheerio for now! :)

    #1189556
    MattDell
    Member
    • Total posts: 52

    Just a quick note to suggest you explore the Google Apps store
    https://apps.google.com/marketplace/search/crm?pann=gam
    (Probably only applies to Google Apps for work and not vanilla Gmail but not sure)
    There are a number of CRM programs, including Insightly, that are free to use for small business
    Some offer feature limitations in free – others offer the full features but for limited # of users. If you are solo this won’t be a problem (Insightly is free for up to 2 users I see)
    Trial each and see?
    As per Roman’s advices – go for the biggest, best known and well supported one so you can get training and advice/support more easily

    #1189557
    keithj
    Member
    • Total posts: 5

    Not a CRM at all, but it you want something v. small, quick & dirty try trello.com
    It’s a bit like post-it notes on steroids, so useful for lots of things apart from CRM. It cloud based & free & it’s easy to share boards full of notes if you need to collaborate.

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