Customer Relationship Management for the Solopreneur

Customer Relationship Management for the Solopreneur

I've been getting a lot of questions about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications lately and, not having found the right solution for myself just yet, I wanted to pass on some ways to make it easier to keep up with projects and opportunities. It seems like most of the CRMs that are available are are cost-prohibitive for small businesses. It is possible to bring together a number of different services and keep the costs down, but my goal here is to find a CRM which is both easy to use and offers the tools available to enterprise users, but is still affordable to the solo consultant or small business.

1. NIMBLE

Nimble is a CRM that attempts to accomplish a truly unified inbox. It was very simple to get started, but once I started trying to make it useful for my processes, it got more complicated. It integrates well with social media, but doesn't include business page capabilities on Google+, which is a big drawback for me. The inability to connect to multiple social media accounts (one per platform) was a bit of a drawback, as well. I am a very small business, but I keep multiple lines of business and want to track all of them in one place. Not being able to connect to multiple social media accounts for the same company (i.e. 2 Twitter accounts, multiple Google+ pages, or LinkedIn companies and accounts) is a problem.

Pros: Single inbox for social media messages and Gmail. Lots of video tutorials the first time you get to a page that are helpful in getting set up.

Cons: You are limited to only one page on social networks and only one calendar and it links primarily to personal social media rather than to business pages by default. Limited functionality in the mobile app.

2. INSIGHTLY

We currently use Insightly as our CRM. I've found it's integrations suit my needs well after pairing it with Zapier to handle some extra connections.. It can take some time to set up and the lack of integrations with other tools can be a challenge. I found that once I was able to set up Insightly with extensive use of Zapier to push new contacts to Google and import new subscribers from MailChimp, it became a workable option (still not ideal).

Pros: Simple, traditional CRM style makes it pretty fast to learn. Pricing is affordable ($84 per year per user at the time of this writing) for any solopreneur.

Cons: The app needs some work - to the point that I prefer using the Web site. Lack of easy integration with other tools makes it challenging to the non-technical user.

3. BATCHBOOK

Overall, I found I liked BatchBook, but couldn't bring myself to love the pricing since I try to keep my services overhead as low as possible. It's $46 per month if you pay annually ($550 per year). It is much easier to set up than some of the others I've looked at in the past, but it wasn't simplified enough to make it worth the cost. I did like BatchBook's integrations more than any other platform since it included more of the services that I utilize, including those that don't get as much integration like Xero (most people seem to like Freshbooks which they connect with, too).

Pros: Drag and drop setup. Better integration options over the competition.

Cons: Pricing can be a little expensive ($46 per month), but you get unlimited everything. Requires a credit card just to try it out (don't forget to cancel if you decide you don't like it during your free trial). Very limited mobile app functionality.

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