Could your small business benefit from a customer relationship management (CRM) platform? CRM software used to be expensive, complex, and designed for larger enterprises. Today it's a different story; CRM platforms designed specifically for small companies no longer carry the complexity or the hefty price tag.
One such company, Insightly, was created from the ground up to address small business needs. "We're designed for small business, and when we add new features and functionality, we focus on ease-of-use," says Loretta Jones, the firm's vice president of marketing.
CRM Modules Keep SMBs on Track
Insightly's lead module lets small businesses track prospects, while its opportunities module lets SMBs move active leads into the sales funnel. The system also includes project management capability, a feature you won’t always find in a small business CRM solution.
"The project management aspect is very popular—especially with service-oriented businesses," Jones says. "Once you close an opportunity and sell the customer, you can convert that opportunity to a project and begin tracking project milestones." Adding the project management piece alongside more traditional CRM activities means small businesses can spend less time entering customer data into the system and more time generating revenue.
The Insightly suite includes native email functionality. Rather than full-on marketing automation, Jones says, "It's meant to be email automation for sales people, so they can send mass emails to their contacts." In addition, the package includes a series of 10 reports. "Currently, they're configurable but not customizable," Jones says. She adds that the company plans an upgrade—that will include custom reports—before the end of the year.
Insightly's full-featured dashboard gives you one place to find everything you need to know about customer interactions.
App Integration Critical to CRM Success
An important feature to look for in any CRM platform is the capability to work within a broader array of systems. Small businesses have financial and other data that they need in order to better inform their customer connections. The capability to integrate with other small business apps is essential.
"They want CRM to be the main dashboard they work in all day," Jones says. "However, they also need other applications to get their business done." After all, she notes, "CRM is not a standalone application. It's meant to be a collaborative application."
From Microsoft Outlook to Evernote, from MailChimp to QuickBooks Online, Insightly works alongside many of the most popular platforms. It also integrates with email platforms such as Google. If you don’t use Google Apps, don’t stress; the Insightly Sidebar Chrome extension is made for you.
File sharing is a benefit of this wide-spectrum integration capability. "You can attach any file to any record in Insightly," Jones explains. You can enter sales contracts, customer approval forms, and other documentation into the system, thus giving your team one place to go to evaluate customer interactions.
Insightly Plans and Pricing
You don’t need a lot of hardware to use Insightly—it's a Web-based application—just an Internet connection and a Web browser. Although the platform doesn't currently support offline use, you can use mobile applications—both iOS and Android—for work on the go.
Like its features, Insightly pricing is small-business friendly. The company keeps pricing within reach by providing much of its support and education in a self-service format. While many small business owners prefer that approach, Jones acknowledges that some do not.
"If you want a lot of handholding, our model might not be the best choice for you," she says. "A lot of our support, our knowledge base, and our tutorial videos are all online."
Insightly's free version lets customers use the entire platform without limiting its features. "Our free plan offers basically the same functionality as our paid plans," Jones says. Customers who want more storage or the capability to handle more records can purchase plans that start at $12 per person, per month.
Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine.
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