Not that your customers or your relationships need “managing”…it’s just a term that applies to any number of available software systems that help you track, communicate with, and…well…manage your contacts, clients, friends, potential customers, and business associates in all sorts of creative ways.
I realize that many of you may not need such help. You have your own system that works, and works well. Great!
But if you haven’t noticed lately, the software and internet services available in this area are unbelievable, and typically quite reasonably-priced. They help you stay organized. They facilitate communication in ways that you couldn’t imagine, with methods that are appropriate and creative. Think of them as virtual assistants…and when you’re a lone freelancer…that can be handy.
Having said that…be careful…there are only a gazillion CRM solutions out there, and they cover the spectrum. When you get into this field, you’re verging into the realm of sales, and salespeople live for hype…and the promises can be over-the-top at times so be careful.
In my view, a good CRM for VO’s covers the following basics at a minimum:
1) newsletter generation, with scheduling, follow-up, and metrics through email
2) autoresponder service
3) online survey capabilities with metrics
4) mobile functionality
5) integration with social media
6) timely summary reports
7) easily handles, stores, and sends media
8) allows for creation and handling of various opt-in mailing lists
9) provides email service if desired
10) provides calendering, email, and contact list integration
Here’s my short list…7 simple solutions. It could be 777…there’s that many out there. But below are 4 I’ve dealt with, and (at the bottom) three others I’ve researched that are more complicated and advanced:
Comf5 – I use this program…mostly ’cause it was devised by a genius techy friend of mine in Las Vegas. He’s moved on, but the software is amazing. It’s the email program I use. One of the coolest features is that of letting you send video emails in a snap…and they play on the other end just as easily. Newsletter templates and functionality blows me away. There’s more (beyond the scope of this summary), but of special note are the configurable metrics they shoot back to you.
Constant Contact – My favorite before Comf5. This online-based service continues to improve at every turn. Their instruction modules and support are crazy good. I see a lot of VO newsletters coming out under the heading of Constant Contact. It’s a full-featured service with reasonable prices, and an ever-growing feature set.
Mail Chimp – Google-based service that also seems to grow every time I turn around. You can launch it from your Gmail interface, and it will draw from your contact list there. The interface is uber-simple and understandable. Very intuitive. You can be up and running with mailings and surveys in little time.
ZOHO CRM – I really like the ZOHO suite of online business services. The CRM piece of it is simple and easy. ZOHO operates in the cloud exclusively and integrates well with a lot of other online platforms as well as your smartphone. You can be creating your own CRM program with ZOHO in no time for a very reasonable price.
RatePoint I see this service mentioned a lot in CRM comparisons. Worth a look.
SalesForce CRM Salesforce is the 800lb Gorilla preferred by gaggles of salespeople. This can be an overwhelming product, but has every bell and whistle you could imagine.
Sugar CRM Along with RatePoint, I also see this service mentioned a lot in reviews of CRM’s.
Honorable mention: Used creatively, Microsoft Outlook can serve as a CRM tool, especially with all the add-ons and 3rd-party integration extensions offered for this contact-management system.
Need more? Click top_40_crm for a .pdf doc I downloaded that offers some comparisons.
Got a favorite I’ve overlooked? Please let us know what works for you by commenting.