Using CRM to Build Relationship with Your Customers

CRM Software aka Customer Relationship Management helps you to build and maintain relationship with your leads, potential customers, and current clients, as well as manage your sales pipeline.

Here’s my review of the CRM software I’ve tested.

  1. BatchBook
  2. Network Hippo
  3. Highrise
  4. Zoho CRM
  6. vTiger
  7. SugarCRM

The three most interesting CRM solutions to me are: BatchBook, Network Hippo, and Highrise.
You probably never even heard of them.

Here’s why I picked them: they are suited to small business owners. Network Hippo and Batchbook has good integration with social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The “Social CRM”.
Intuitive to use and looks good. Contacts display their Facebook and Twitter. Has SuperTags which is tags on steroids, customizable fields.

Network Hippo
Personal network management.
Unlike existing CRMs that focus exclusively on sales data and basic contact information, Network Hippo evaluates the strength and influence of individual relationships with contacts to find new opportunities, strengthen relationships, and learn more about key people in their ‘network’.

Easy to use, cut-to-the-chase CRM, from 37signals.
Email integration just by CC-ing to a special address.

Zoho CRM
Good offer with plenty of features. Free account for 3 users.
E-mail integration requires paid Zoho Mail addon. UI clunky, like Salesforce.

A popular SaaS CRM, which plenty of third-party apps that enhance its features.
I think the UI is clunky and slow. Average small business owners may feel it’s too complex.

vTiger CRM
Open source CRM in PHP.
Lots of features. UI is pretty okay. You can install it on your webhosting account.

The open source but somewhat crippled open source CRM software.
You need the commercial package or addons to experience the full functionality.

oDesk Review for Outsourcing Work

Outsourcing has always been a struggle for me since starting my business online.  In fact, I feel that almost every mastermind group that I belong to  discusses the infamous “outsourcing” topic on a regular basis.

In the past, I have used eLance and Rent-a-Code rather exclusively.  Both have lots of freelancers ready to do your work and my experience has been rather hit and miss.  Both are good company, though.

But a few month ago, I was recommended oDesk and now it is the first place I go for any new outsourcing task.

Just like the eLance and Rent-A-Coder, it does not cost anything to join oDesk.  You can go there, create an account and start browsing around.

One thing I first really like about oDesk is the amount of preliminary information about the candidates that it provides to you.

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I love this outsourcing website!  First, the job posting process is very simple.  Then, the evaluation process is even better.  They provide you with tons of details about each applicant for the task.  This includes their past history, work ratings, and current assignments.  Further, the applicants can take online skills tests which you can view the test results.  This can include English literacy tests (great from when outsourcing overseas), technical tests (for programming assignments), even SEO tests for those looking for link builders and social media buzz generators.  Payments are made onto your credit card on a weekly basis.  This is a single payment to the sum of all jobs that are currently active (making multiple-job management a breeze).  The other great thing about oDesk (maybe the greatest) is that freelancers must log-in to the system, which takes random screen shots during their charged time.  This monitoring also provides activity levels during their charging times.


Like any freelancing/outsourcing website, oDesk has their “dud” users.  Mind you, I have had more success finding good workers on oDesk than any other site, but I have also had problems finding the “right” applicant for certain jobs.  Some skill sets are not well represented here, where I have had successes elsewhere.  The project management software is above average.  The logging diary is great…if you can find it.  Managing the jobs once you start them (and even stopping then) requires a bit of playing around.  Also, they put a lot of protection on your account (which is good!), but remember all of the security answers when you sign up…you will need them regularly!

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Tabbed Browsing is normally touted as one of the Internet breakthroughs of the 21st century. I beg to differ.

Yes, tabbed browsing was cool in its infancy. But now, we have much better operating systems than a few years ago.

My Ubuntu system live previews open windows during app switching (the Alt+Tab). I’m so grateful for “Show all windows” (Expose?), that makes it easy for me to pick a window visually (not a tab). I’m using Dockbar X, with superior grouping & window switching capabilities.

And I like juggling windows around in my dual monitor setup for best productivity.

Windows 7 also does these almost equally well.

Firefox tabs does none, at least not without some additional add-ons… that slow Firefox. But this applies for all browsers.

So I love windows better than tabs, for browsing purposes.

Along these lines though… is that sometimes we take innovation for granted, that we forgot why it was invented in the first place.

Tabbed browsing was not invented to solve a computer performance problem. Users are who needed it most, to manage their browsing activity, back in the day. What about now? Perhaps a bit, but not so much.

Phones, chat, and text messages also get overused these days. They are innovations in COMMUNICATION.

When these tools actually hamper your communication, something is wrong: Either the tool or how you use the tool.

Smartphones (PDAs?) should be easier to use than your agenda… Or is it? If you feel more productive with your agenda, by all means use it and ignore your smartphone’s features!

While it’s true that just because you can doesn’t meant you have to use it… it’s also true that just because you don’t use something means you can’t have it. I’m not suggesting to be lavish of course, just being practical.

Whatever tools, technology, or method you use: Make sure it WORKS FOR YOU.

You may or may not follow the crowd. You may or may not up to the latest trend. But NEVER FIGHT AGAINST YOURSELF.

By all means, if I can live happily without a smartphone, a laptop, and the Internet, I will not miss them at all. *shrugs* Not yet, though, but I hope one day I can forego all of these things. Seriously. Not even TV.

What’s YOUR OWN preference: good ole’ school grandpa’s sleek tricks… OR latest & shiniest Iron Man-style new tech?