The Best CRM Solutions for Solo Entrepreneurs

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I am hustling to make my clients the happiest business people on earth, and even though I am not sending them gifts for Christmas, I am working harder than ever to make them understand that the return on investment is huge. But, I am a solo entrepreneur, and it seems that the harder I keep working, the more difficult it is to keep track of what I am doing.

At the moment, I’m working with 10 clients and on more than 10 projects at the same time. I keep working on all of them simultaneously, but I don’t keep track of how often I talk with my clients and how many times I follow up conversations and emails. I just keep working.

I remember when I worked at the University, the people that impressed me the most were people who had true structure at work, and the people who remembered tiny details about me, and the people who followed up with me on the exact dates we agreed upon. I used to be like that, but at the moment, too many things are happening.

Why I need a CRM

I have decided that I need a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to have more control of who my customers are and what types of projects I am working on. There are basically four reason why I am looking for a CRM solution for my business:

  • Follow up the sales process
  • Be more personal
  • Overview of the deals
  • Managing time

At the moment, I don’t feel that I have the time to follow up what happens during a sales process. And, I forget about leads and prospects. A lot of people have told me that they’re interested in doing projects with me, and I have never followed up on anything, because I have more than enough doing what I am doing. But, with a CRM solution, things will be so much easier. I’ll just add contacts and what they’re interested in and the dates I talked to them, and it would be easier to remember and send them an email to follow up on what we talked about.

I’d love to add details about my customers, like what their interests are and when their birthdays are, things we can talk about the next time we talk. I remember a lot of personal things right now, but I am thinking that in the future, when I have a lot more clients, I won’t be able to remember everything. I want to be able to add notes about each person and about each company.

I am working on many projects simultaneously and I keep getting new customers, and at the same time, I keep talking to people who have projects for me. But, I don’t have an overview of the different projects (the different types of categories and if there are any similarities), I don’t know how much money I’ll be earning if I close all the deals or just some of them. I just keep working.

And finally, I need to manage my time with each of my customers. I am using many different tools to keep me structured at work, I am using many tools for blogging, and I am using the Pomodoro technique to manage my time. But, I would like to have one place to get an overview of everything.

I am testing 3 different CRM solutions

I have been looking at a lot of different CRM solutions, and at the moment, I am testing three of the best I have found. The reason I am testing only three, is that I am looking for CRM for solo entrepreneurs and collaboration will not be an issue for me.

Highrise

Highrise CRM

 

 

 

The most important reason why I am testing Highrise is that it’s made by 37signals. I am very impressed by what I’ve seen from 37signals so far, and the reviews I read about Highrise is impressive as well, and it seems to be a great solution for solo entrepreneurs. They have a solo plan for people like me. And, I can use an iPhone app to keep things running smooth. I have only been using Highrise for about 24 hours, so I don’t know how it will work for my business yet.

Base

base crm

 

 

 

I have been using base for the past two weeks. They have a free version, and it seems to be a very good alternative for a solo entrepreneur. The version I have been looking at is the $15 a month plan. I especially like the reports I get with base, they make me get an overview of how my projects are going and how many deals I am closing etc.. I am testing the iPhone app as well.

Nimble

nimble crm

 

 

I really enjoy social media, and I believe social media will be even more important in 2013. The first thing I realized after I signed up for nimble is that it’s very integrated with social media. I have a good contact manager, it has the overview with deals, and I can send emails, and follow up on conversations in Facebook and Twitter from inside nimble. I am waiting for them to create an app for iPhone.

At the moment, I need to add all the various features I will need as part of my CRM solution to a piece of paper, and then I will compare and see which one that will be best for my business. I will write a follow up in January to let you know what I decide.

Your turn

Are you using a CRM? And if you are, let me know which one you are using and how you are using it.

  • sohil

    Jens Have you tried Zendesk they have a iphone app and all the social media features

  • http://www.wonderoftech.com Carolyn

    Very cool, Jens! I am impressed that you have this need, though not surprised. Your business really seems to be taking off and I know you want to keep your clients happy. You’re right, tending to their needs is very important, even before they become customers.

    I wish you much success in 2013 with your business, Jens!

    By the way, our family will be in Norway for a couple of days in the summer. It will be our second trip there, we loved it so much when we visited in 2009.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    I haven’t tried Zendesk, but I thought that it’s a helpdesk and not a crm? I guess I need to take a another look :)

    Thank you.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    I have always thought that I had control of my customers and the people I talk to on a regular basis, but now I understand that I don’t. It’s a limit to how many people I remember things about, and now I don’t even remember when I last talk to some of my customers :)

    That’s exciting news Carolyn. Where in Norway will you be?

  • http://cyberturfstrategic.com Janet

    It’s smart to take the CRM for a test drive, because the interface needs to work for you. I tried a few and dragged my feet on a decision, until I tried Nutshell. My preference is for simplicity, or I won’t use it, and Nutshell has everything I need in a ridiculously easy format. It also integrates with social media. The iPhone app makes it easy for me to keep track of appointments and look up the address on a moment’s notice. Anyway, for $10 a month, it’s a great tool.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    Hi Janet,

    This is the first time I’ve heard of Nugshell. Now that I have visited their website, it seems that they are offering everything I need in a CRM and then some. I will sign up for the free trial, and the $10 is cheaper than the alternatives I have been testing.

    Thank you :)

  • http://inspiretothrive.com/ Lisa

    What a great idea Jens. You got me thinking. I will have to check Nugshell out too. I always like to test drive a FREE trial before diving in. Thanks for sharing this. I am looking for a better to keep track of customers on our retail sites. I had all kinds of spreadsheets but they are getting out of hand.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    It sounds like you need a CRM just as much as I do :)

    I am still testing all four of the systems, but so far, I am most comfortable using Nutshell. I will probably write a blog post about it as soon as I decide which system I’ll be using.

  • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

    Hi Jens

    I’ve not been in need of a CRM system yet but it’s certainly something for the future.

    I’m interested to hear what you end up going with. I had a look at Nutshell after you mentioned it and it does look pretty good.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    I’m very satisified with Nutshell so far. I’ll write a blog post about in January :)

    You should check it out. It’s a free trial and you don’t have to add a credit card or Paypal.

  • http://homemadebathsaltsrecipes.blogspot.com/ Maynard Olsen

    The Customer Relationship Management tool really can work wonders if used properly. Bosses must understand the significance of the CRM tool if they wish to get a competitive edge over their peers!

  • http://www.h4hitech.com Kumar

    HI Jen

    I’m here from Brian’s Hot blog tips.
    CRM is really important to maintain the competitive advantage, and you made an excellent choice with Nutshell, but check ZOHO as well.
    Thanks
    Kumar

  • http://www.unlockiphone5.co Fernando Burch

    The Customer Relationship Management tool really can work wonders if used properly. Bosses must understand the significance of the CRM tool if they wish to get a competitive edge over their peers!

  • http://capturedbloggingtips.com Khaja moin

    Seems we all are in need to CRM now, I don`t have much knowledge in CRMs, heop to find best from you ;)

    ~@Khajmoin1

  • http://www.van-man-removals.com/ Kelly

    I’m more of a sales person rather than a marketer, in our company we don’t use CRMs our marketers do and they do the organizing and endorsing to us after their filtering process. So far these CRMs are really helpful.

  • http://www.yourdiybalihut.com.au/ Stacey

    I’ve been using CRMs for the past 2 years and it has definitely changed the way we work around the office. It’s less of a hassle and it gives you positive results.

  • http://www.shopurbanoffice.com/fun-office-supplies/ Kristine

    CRMs are definitley helpful for those of us in the sales industry and I find that this technology really helps in various departments of the company.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    I have never used a CRM until a few weeks ago, now, I don’t understand how I could do business without one :)

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    That’s exactly what I feel. Which CRM are you using? I have been testing five different, and at the moment, I’m only using Nutshell.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    The CRM I am using, even though I am a solo entrepreneur, has a way for teams to work together. And it looks awesome how you can delegate tasks, and create reports and follow up on the sales process.

  • http://balihutsuperstore.com.au/ Sandra

    I’ve used a CRM back when I was a marketer. It was definitely helpful in finding leads for our sales agents. I never thought there would be other CRMs available. It’s good to know these kinds of things.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    I have never used a CRM prior to the testing I am now doing, and it’s actually hard to believe that I have come this far without one :)

  • http://houtz.co Phil

    I like Nimble for it’s focus on the individual and the way that it compiles (some) conversations. You can also include offline contacts and conversations which will show up in your Recently Viewed stream. Nimble gives you a comprehensive message inbox for Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The bummer is that Notes are not searchable. That’s pretty much a dealbreaker for me.

    One free CRM, Insight.ly has searchable notes, links to LinkedIn and Twitter streams but does not really compile conversations. It has lightweight CRM features such as Projects, Opportunities and Tasks without the sales specific targets, pipelines and funnels. Insight.ly does an excellent job of linking contacts together and to multiple organizations.

    Also free, ConnectedHQ is not a CRM but does combine Google Contacts, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook along with Evernote. It could work alongside Insight.ly – with mutual links.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    Hey Phil,

    I have been testing Nimble for a while, and I really like it as well. But, I have found the custom sales processes in Nutshell to fit my business better, and that’s why I’ll end up using Nutshell instead.

  • http://techienize.com/ Rajkumar Jonnala

    Yes CRM is necessary tool for analyzing the customer’s mind. Is there are any free CRM’s, as I like to have a try at it. What about sugarCRM is it worth using it.

  • http://slymarketing.com Jens-Petter Berget

    I haven’t tried SugarCRM, right now, the only CRM I am using is Nuthsell, and it’s definitively worth it.

  • http://corp.yonyx.com Sanjay Bajaj

    Hi Jens

    I was wondering if you have seen a list of all CRM systems out there? I wonder how many companies are out there that have these?

    Also, please point me to any article you may have written where you describe the choice you finally went with.
    Thanks …
    Sanjay