Oct 21 2010
Keeping track of clients is critical. It starts when you learn their name and basic contact info. Over time you’ll cultivate the sale and deliver the product. This process is different every time. Some will purchase, some will fall away. Some will wait around for a few weeks then make up their mind. One of them will send you money out of the blue, leaving you in the dark for days as to who they are. It’s a fun challenge keeping track of clients.
The most basic tool for client management is a simple spreadsheet. Just add column headers, a section for notes, and you can set up a rudimentary CRM. Before too long this method becomes unwieldy and inconvenient. Keeping track of which clients need follow up, which deals were lost, and how much money was made, becomes increasingly difficult. Thus, Customer Relationship Management software was born.
There are huge CRMs that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as Oracle. And then there are open source options. These require time and effort for installation and ongoing maintenance. Not to mention people are much less likely to consistently back up their data. The biggest fish in the online CRM sea is SalesForce. It’s highly customizable, and highly expensive.
Springing up on the web are new CRM offerings. Some of these are shrink wrapped, in that you only get the options they provide. Others offer the core functionality that small businesses need, with an appropriate amount of customization and functionality. One such product is KarmaCRM. Karma is a new web based CRM that’s both simple yet flexible.
At its core Karma is a basic CRM that allows you to add contacts and track them every step of the way through initial contact, purchase, and then follow up. What makes Karma stand out is that it works right out of the box. You can immediately start adding contacts, companies, events, deals, and team members. At the same time, it provides the flexibility to be customized as well. New fields can be added to track extra information for the customer. Or you can adjust the customer stages, such as lead, qualifying, or follow up. Similarly you can add or modify the customer status, deal stages, referral source, and task categories.
KarmaCRM not only allows you to adjust what data is collected and stored, it also lets you personalize the presentation. For instance the dashboard consists of a series of widgets representing the activities of the business. There are graphs, reminders of upcoming events, tasks, and the most important one- deals. Each of these can be modified, moved, or removed as the user sees fit. Karma is also set up with two navigation systems. The first is the main navigation and runs along the top of the screen. The second is a drop down at the end. Sections can be move to one or the other and reordered.
Karma has one feature which I hold very dear to my heart. It’s the dropbox email address. Each client contact is allocated an custom karma email address. When you email your client, just bcc this address and it will automatically update the contact’s file with the email. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s spent countless hours of tedium cutting and pasting emails into systems that lack this functionality. What’s more is if you’re using a desktop mail client such as Outlook or Thunderbird, it will auto-populate both client and bcc addresses for you just by clicking the link within the browser.
As for initial setup, Karma readily imports client contacts from many major sources including:
- CSV file
Karma is integrated with MailChimp so you can send out bulk emails to your contacts. Once the contacts are set up in Karma’s system there’s a tool that allows you create lists by selecting the clients you’d like to contact. They can be selected individually, or by stage or status. So let’s say you want to send a bulk follow up email to all contact whose status is urgent. Just create a list based upon that status and click on the MailChimp button.
Files can be uploaded, tagged, and categorized. Permissions can be set. Users can be placed in groups. Tasks can be created, given deadlines, and assigned. Multiple graphs and reports can be viewed. Karma has all the features you need to manage a full sales staff.
KarmaCRM is the web based CRM that small businesses have been waiting for. If you don’t have time to set it up, then don’t. Just start using it. The default configuration is fine. If after a while you want it would work a little differently, check the Settings tab. Chances are you’ll be able to make the adjustment. As of this writing KarmaCRM is still in private beta. I’m predicting they take the small to medium sized businesses sector by storm. Or another way to look at it- Karma will fill the CRM void where others fell short.