New feature: Ability to save reports

Our reports are very flexible in that they allow you to build a large variety of reports, by specifying the exact criteria you want to select your data by. That’s great. But entering the criteria every time can be a pain!

We knew that and many of you have raised this with us. It’s painful. We’ve listened and we started working on the ability to save reports, view them and be able to re-run them easily: point-and-click re-runnable reports.

Today, we’re proud to announce we’ve delivered this functionality. Let’s walk you through it via a few screenshots.

First of all, after you build your report, you will notice there is a new button called “Save As”. We’ve circled it in red in the screenshot below. Click that button when you’re ready to save the report.

Clevertim CRM_Save Report

When you click the “Save As” button, you will be asked to name your report and a description. This is some information that you and, if you decide to share the report with everyone, others will see. It’s a good idea to add a short but descriptive few sentences, as it’ll help refresh your memory next time you run it. You can also select who should be able to view this report: Everyone, just yourself or one or more groups.

Clevertim CRM _ Save Report Name

 

When you click Save, the report will be saved and available to re-run, either by you or whoever else you chose to share it with. You will then see the report available in the Reports tab (see screenshot below).

Clevertim CRM_Save Report Details List

 

There are a few elements here worth mentioning:

  1. The “London contacts” report will appear under “All reports” and also under the “Contacts reports”, given it’s a reports that shows contacts
  2. The London contacts link is clickable and it will re-run the report every time you click on it
  3. The lock icon shows you the visibility – who can view it (Everyone, just you or a set of user groups). Clicking on the lock icon will bring up the visibility dialog that will allow you to change this visibility – for example if you have marked the report as visible just to you but you want to make it available to Everyone
  4. It shows you the description you’ve entered but also additional information about who added the report and when, and also who modified it last and when

If you don’t need the report anymore, for any reasons (e.g. it is out of date), then you can delete it by clicking the Delete button.

We hope this will make it easy for everyone to create and re-run reports going forward!

Our contact management Android app

Happy New Year, everyone!

We’re proud to announce that we’ve released an Android app for our contact management system. It supports all the features that the web site supports, but includes a better display on mobile phone. You can continue to use the website on mobile devices without any problem.

Get it on Google Play

Below, we’re including a few screenshots taken from a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone.

Clevertim CRM for Android

 

Clevertim CRM for Android

Clevertim CRM for Android

Clevertim CRM for Android

Clevertim CRM for Android

 

Improvements to the What’s New tab

The “What’s New” tab allows you to see who’s done what and when and answer audit type questions: what happened to this particular contact, company, case or opportunity. It also allows you to see what data has changed (from->to) and to undo accidental deletes.

Clevertim CRM - The What's New tab

We’ve now added the ability to search the activity based on the name of the contact or company. This is done using the filters. Your options are User, Item type, Company, Contact, Activity type and date.

Clevertim CRM - What's New Filter

Once you’ve selected an option, you can then type the info you want to filter.

Clevertim CRM - User Filter

Clevertim CRM - Filter by date

You can save the filter, in case it is a search that you will do often, e.g. changes to a particular Company, or all changes made by a particular user in your company. There is a Save Filter button on the right hand side of the Filter section.

Clevertim CRM - What's new_Save filter

 

Once you are done and want to go back to the normal screen, either Reset (next to Save Filter), or just press the X on the filter details, as shown below.

Clevertim CRM_What's New_remove filter

Two businesses, one Clevertim account

I run two separate businesses, can I use one single Clevertim account to manage both of them?

Short answer: Yes.

There is nothing to prevent you from doing so. We certainly don’t place any restrictions like that. What’s in your account is up to you and the way you run your business(es) is again up to you.

Long answer:

Just because you can do so, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea to do so. One question you have to ask yourself is: Will I be able to tell which contact is for which business? And also, if your business grows and you bring in help in the form of new employees, personal assistants or virtual assistants, or if you decide to outsource parts of your business processes to a third party – will they be able to tell? Will it be manageable going forward?

One way to keep everything separated would be via tags. You tag everything with either: Business1 or Business2. You can change the names of these tags of course, but maintaining the tags, ensuring they’re correct – it’s a lot of work.

The next question you should ask yourself is why you are trying to keep your contacts into one Clevertim account? Is it to save money? We are already one of the most competitively priced contact management solution out there.  Is it because you think it’ll be more convenient to have a single login? You could use two separate browsers – for example you could use Chrome for Business1 and Internet Explorer or Safari depending on your platform for Business2. This still means you can remember logins in each browser, so you don’t have to type the password every time.

If you decide to go with two accounts, one thing to keep in mind is that you will need two separate users and each user needs a separate email address. So you will need two separate email addresses. And you need to keep them separate – for example, you should not enter email1 as an additional email address in the account for email2. Doing so will confuse the Dropbox feature that allows you to attach emails simply by CC-ing, BCC-ing or forwarding your emails to a dedicated email address. That feature is designed to identify you by your email address and it could start attaching notes to the wrong account if you start mixing and matching emails and accounts. If you have any employees working on both businesses, they will need to keep emails separate in same fashion.

Contacts or companies?

When you start using a contact management system or a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, one of the first problems you encounter is what level should you track your data at? Sounds like such a simple problem too, and, depending on your business processes (i.e. the way you work), it might be simple or not so simple. But the fact you come up with the question shows you one important thing: until you try to add a structure to the way you work, you don’t really discover some of these questions. Discovering the trivial, yet important questions about your business is important when you want to scale your business, train more staff, transfer knowledge easily and institute some consistency in the way you deal with your business partners, be it customers, potential clients etc. For example, how can you be sure that both Mike and Pete in your company follow the same rigorous steps in the sales process?

But let’s go back to our simple question. What level should you track your interactions in your customer management system? Contacts – that is people? Or companies? The answer depends on the industry you’re in, the way you interact with your business partners and what you want to get out of the contact management system. Let’s see the options you have.

1. Contacts only

If all you do is interact with individuals, then this option is the most natural choice. It is the most appropriate option if you work in retail or take appointments from the regular Joe out there. If you’re a financial adviser trying to sell retirement plans, then you obviously work with individuals. Companies are irrelevant and you don’t want the additional complexity.

2. Companies only

You might be in the B2B domain, where you work and sell to companies, not to individuals. Even then, the interaction for selling purposes with inevitably happen with actual individuals working for the target company. You might decide to only track notes under the company and not care about the individuals involved. You might lose some of the business intelligence in that case, but that might not be relevant in your case.

3. Contacts and companies

This is probably the most common scenario when you work with individuals and companies. The actual exchange of information, communication, emails happen with individuals. When you use the Dropbox feature and forward or CC emails to your dedicated email address, those notes will be sent to actual individuals, unless you use generic email addresses (e.g. sales@domainname). If you want to attach a note under a contact and a company at the same time, that is possible with Clevertim, as Clevertim allows you to attach a note under multiple contacts and companies. It also allows you to attach notes under an opportunity or a case.

We want to encourage our customers to use both contacts and companies when using our contact management system. One of the common complaint is that is not easy to have a single view of all the communications with a company. To facilitate this, a while ago we’ve added an option under the Business Preferences. It is called “Automatically file contact notes under their respective companies too”, and, as the name suggests, it makes all the notes filed under contacts visible under their respective companies. As a result, the company becomes a single view of all the exchanges done with any employees within that company.

Happy International Beer Day

So apparently there is an International Beer Day and it is on the 1st Friday of August. So we will be heading to our local pub at the end of the day to celebrate it!

Did you know that there are over 1,200 operating breweries across the UK? It takes more than just appreciating a good beer to become a home brewer, but don’t get put off by needing to learn new skills and the highly competitive market. Any refreshing change of career would require you to learn something new and, sometimes, face tough competition. As with any new product in a crowded market, you have to do a lot of research and have a solid business plan and strategy to stand out. The good news is that although the consumption of alcohol in the UK dropped, when it comes to beer and ale, it went up. So there is a market for it, in the UK and in Europe. All you need is to learn the techniques to become a master of brewery, a lot of dedication, time, patience and hard work.

If you are all set to start your new business, or if you already in the business, you need to make sure you have the right tools to help you succeed. Whether you are thinking of hiring an in-house sales team or getting freelancers to do the selling, a simple and easy to use online contact management software like Clevertim will help you along the way. Your main clients are pubs, local shops, grocers, and your sales team will be constantly on the road meeting with potential clients, attending beer events, networking. Your CRM and contact management software needs to be intuitive and easy to learn and use, simple but effective. You won’t need a full bells and whistles tool, because you won’t use it. Unless you are planning to spend all your work time in front of a computer, learning to use your software, trying to figure out how you can make the most of all the features you don’t really need, you need something that will keep your work to a minimum and will be fast to perform actions. It’s like paying a fortune for the latest model of a MacBook when all you use your computer for is checking emails. Save your bucks and your time for better things, it’s the advice we give you.

Our simple contact management solution is perfect even if it is just you in the business in the beginning. Start by adding the companies and their contacts from your researches and networking, record your sales opportunities, save your emails and notes in one place. As your business grows and you have more people working with you, it will be much easier to share the information and bring the team up to speed. Clevertim is also very easy to learn, so it shouldn’t take long to figure out how to use it.

And make sure you let us know when your brewery is up and running as we would love to try your homemade Ale.

The one simple trick that will improve your sales

This short blog article is when I tell you about the one simple trick that changed my sales mindset and significantly changed my business life and the way I think about sales in general.

It’s a simple trick once you know it, but it took me a while to fully realize its true transformational power. Once I did, I noticed that my sales improved, people started paying more attention to my sales pitches, they became more interested in the actual content and what I was really saying. More importantly, I realized I was closing more deals than before. Now thinking about it, it all seems so simple that I keep wondering how come I didn’t think about it earlier – my life in sales would have been so much easier.

You too can repeat this simple trick in your mind and it will definitely change the way you approach sales, ask for things, present your ideas and do business in general.

The simple trick is this:

No one cares about YOU, they care about THEMSELVES!

That’s it. Now go ahead, repeat it 3 times:

No one cares about YOU, they care about THEMSELVES!

No one cares about YOU, they care about THEMSELVES!

No one cares about YOU, they care about THEMSELVES!

It’s a simple thing but its implications are subtle and powerful. Too often, in sales, marketing, but also in real life, we’re too caught up in ourselves and in what we have to offer, our products, our services, the features, etc. It’s all about us, US, US and me, me ME.

Many sales reps have a pre-learned script that they go through and it’s about presenting the company, the product or the service as the best, as having X whistles and Y bells, as being used by so and so.

This is more evident in remote sales done by inside sales teams by phone or email. There, the sales reps really follow the same script, same templates and most templates are boring and talk about the company, products, services, features, etc. They don’t talk about one thing potential customers genuinely want to hear about: themselves and their own problems. So they switch off, either abruptly or they go on auto-pilot and stop listening.

So it’s important to remember customers have their own problems and they care about themselves. They want someone who understands their problems and cares about solving their problems. They’re not interested in someone who just wants to sell to them but rather someone who in the very least listens to their needs. Any solution provided, be it problems or services need to start with the customer problem and offer to solve it.

Say that once more:

Any solution provided, be it problems or services need to start with the customer problem and offer to solve it.

And now in bold:

Any solution provided, be it problems or services need to start with the customer problem and offer to solve it.

It doesn’t sound like a big realization. Pfff, I knew that! It’s so obvious. Well, of course everyone cares about themselves.

But the more you think about the implications of this one simple trick, the more you realize that you can win more, sell more, be more popular in general by simply changing the way you sell and the way you interact with prospects, existing customers or other human beings in general. Put yourselves in their shoes! Who are they? What are their problems? Their aspirations. Their needs. What actually makes them tick. What excites them. What drives them.

Create a real image of a potential customer. Give the image a name: Michael. Give it a job. A family. A house. A car. Picture him on a day in the office. Picture him on a day out. Think of him as a real person. Now ask this person all the questions above. He’ll tell you what he wants to hear.

Now go out and find a real Michael and sell to him by putting him first. Or her. And since you’ll have many more contacts, leads, prospects and customers as a result, you might as well try a really intuitive web based contact management system.

 

Dealing with your worst customers

Most customers are a real pleasure to deal with, but once in a while, you inevitably encounter one of those customers that defy the social etiquette and behave outrageously for one reason or another. How you deal with such customers tells the story about who you really are as a business and at the same time, it can leave a mark on your reputation. So how do you deal with such customers?

Well, one common advise that you read in popular business book is to “fire your worst customers”. This advice is not necessarily a purely pragmatic advice, motivated by cost and profitability – and indeed, bad customers can be a drain on your resources in terms of support, time spent answering their emails, phone calls, addressing complaints and so on. It’s a recommendation that goes against another very popular advice found in many business books that says: “The customer is always right!”.

So which school of thought do you follow? Do you think the customer is always right or do you fire the worst customers?

At Clevertim, we believe the truth and the right thing to do is somewhere in the middle. We believe in general customers are in their right to ask for things to work properly without hitches and we do apologize and fix things quickly when it’s our fault. Inevitably some people are frustrated when things don’t work as they expect to and tempers differ. This doesn’t bother us.
However, we draw the line at abuse and intimidation of our staff. We believe our staff and any staff, any human being in fact, has the right to perform their duties and live their lives free of abuse and intimidation from anyone, irrespective of what the situation is.

If that happens, we don’t fire customers though. Everyone has ups and downs and we know and accept that. When that happens, we try to cut through the emotion and negativity to see what the real problem is and address that. Is there a problem with the payment? Is there a fault with the website? What’s the root cause of the problem – get to that one thing we can do something about. Then just fix it and move on.

The other thing we do is to be honest with our customers. We’re a small business ourselves and we operate with limited resources. One of our goals is to keep the cost down for our customers, so that means that we can’t do everything. For example, we cannot offer phone support – we only offer email support, which we like to think it’s very responsive and helpful as we don’t have many layers between support people and developers or managers who can actually fix the issues. We also cannot implement all the features under the sun. We listen, but sometimes politely explain we cannot do it.

Some customers fire themselves at that point, when they realize we cannot do for them what they want: e.g. phone support or feature X, Y or Z. It’s just a fact of life. We cannot be all things for everyone. But for most of our customers we solve a real business problem of managing the data about their own customers. We like to keep those customers happy by any means we can.

Now, that being said, back to you… how do you deal with your worst customers?

Web based contact management for web designers

Do you run a web agency? How do you keep track of your leads and existing customers? Well, it’d be ironic if the answer wasn’t “on the web”. Actually the answer depends a lot on your size. If you’re a small agency, you don’t need more than a spreadsheet, your inbox and your good memory. The problem manifests itself once you start growing a bit or if you start outsourcing certain services to freelancers, virtual assistants etc.

For example, Steve McKenna, a friend of mine running a small web agency, told me that a while ago started using virtual assistants, mostly people he sourced from odesk or elance. He was using virtual assistants for getting leads from social media, essentially outsourcing the filtering of social media leads. Social media can be a great source for lead generation: a lot of people ask for recommendations for a good web design agency on twitter, linkedin groups, various forums and even on facebook.

Scouring the social media every day to track these down and try to communicate with those users is very time consuming and potentially not fruitful. Certainly, not for someone who wants to focus on web design and high value, qualified leads – i.e. people who are very close to buying your services, rather than long shots.

It’s the ideal type of tasks that can be outsourced to cost effective virtual assistants who are located in countries where the cost of living is cheaper than the UK or USA. Virtual assistants based in countries like India, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, China or eastern Europe can do that work for you. So how would that work?

Well, the way Steve works with his virtual assistants is he’s asking them every day to search various social media websites he provided them with for various keywords. For example, the virtual assistants would search twitter every day for keywords like “recommend web design”, “need web design”, “suggest web agency”, and so on. Steve has provided the full list of keywords and the full list of social media venues. They would identify tweets like “Can anyone recommend a good web designer?” or “Anyone know a good web agency in London?”.

Once identified, the virtual assistants would try to engage them by messaging them with a soft approach. Again, Steve has defined what’s ok and what’s not ok when engaging potential customers on social media. Steve has a soft approach to engaging such early stage leads as he doesn’t want to alienate people or make them feel uncomfortable. The virtual assistants mostly approach users with “Hi, please consider our agency for great work. See our portfolio here”. They’re instructed not to annoy further, unless the lead expresses some interest, or starts interacting.

This approach has the advantage that it replies to existing requests for information – so it’s not spam. It has the advantage of engaging people who already have the problem and they’re actively looking for the solution – i.e. they need web design services. The other, side benefit, is the fact that a link to the portfolio is posted in a genuine conversation that can be witnesses by other potential customers or that can attract curious onlookers. Some might become customers in the short or long run. It’s brand awareness as, in the process, some people who didn’t know about your web agency now know.

At this point, if the user engages or expresses interest, the virtual assistants enter their details into a web based contact management system (and in this case it happens to be Clevertim CRM) where an onshore team member will pick it up and continue the conversation until the deal is hopefully closed. This basic workflow is followed repeatedly every day for a multitude of social media venues: twitter, linkedin groups and a list of forums Steve provided.

But does it work? Well, according to Steve it does. He couldn’t afford someone onshore to do that sort of triage, but when low cost virtual assistants do it, it tends to be profitable in the long run. The links to the portfolio that are posted on the social media also generate leads that cannot be easily attributed to the virtual assistants and they also help with Steve’s web agency’s SERP rankings for SEO purposes.

Web based contact management for small businesses

A friend of mine works for a big company but his department is well insulated from the rest of the company. It’s a small self sufficient (in many ways) department, they have their own small budget – which if they don’t spend they lose next year, they work with little supervision. They have to obey the corporate policies around the use of the brand, logo, etc. but in many ways, they’re free to engage potential customers. He works in licensing.

The scenario above is very similar in many ways to working for a small business. But I didn’t immediately realize that. So I’ve asked him … what CRM do you use internally? I expected him to say Oracle or Salesforce, which is what I associate with “working for a big business”. Instead he stared at me point blank and the conversation went:

He: CRM?
Me: Yes, how do you track your customers, licensees, licensors, etc.
He: Oh, we have one big spreadsheet.
Me: How do you share it?
He: It’s on a network drive.
Me: Doesn’t that make the editing difficult.
He: Oh, yes, if someone edits it, the spreadsheet is locked and no one else can edit it until the first person releases it. If the first person opens it and then goes home, no one can edit it anymore.
Me: That kinda sucks.
He: Yes, but we solved it by asking our intern to keep it up to date. So we send her all the updates and requests for data and she does it.
Me: Isn’t that slow.
He: Only when she’s on holidays or when we need the data over the weekend or when she’s out for lunch and we need the data in a meeting and so on.
Me: Why don’t you get a simple web based contact management that everyone can access at any time, from any device?
He: We don’t have the time to look into it. Plus, a lot of the sales guys are not IT savvy and our internal IT department won’t support something that’s not approved.
Me: Some of the web based contact management solutions require almost zero admin work.
He: You’re preaching to the converted.

Does this conversation sound familiar? The whole thing reminds me of a cartoon I once saw.

Clevertim_CRM_contact magament for small businesses