The customer discovery process has taken hold and the future entrepreneurial leaders are using it to learn more rapidly than ever. In programs like Flashpoint and StartupGauntlet, entrepreneurs interview hundreds of people to hone their product and vision. Through these programs, they are getting out of their bubble and getting real data. Next, they need to do it for the business.
In speaking with startup entrepreneurs, I hear many common threads that create various concerns about viability. A few examples I commonly see and hear are:
1. The entrepreneur is going to grow the business using social media.
A few questions to this assumption would be:
How many Twitter followers turn into a customer?
How many Facebook likes turn into a customer?
How many leads come in from a large social media campaign?
Have you ever run a social media campaign?
2. The projected revenue numbers are made up or based on what the entrepreneur needs them to be.
Lets say that you are starting a brick and mortar shop:
What is the revenue of other businesses that are exactly like yours?
What is the revenue of other business similar in footprint, pricing and nearby where your store is or will go?
Just like with customer discovery, in business discovery it is important to come up with multiple hypotheses, then go out and get real data to prove or disprove it. Do you have a business discovery process?
The range of services that we offer are typically geared towards managing leads as they come in. But what about paying for leads to make them flow in?
Pay per lead services are something that I have been aware of for a long time but always thought would be too expensive. There is also the fear of the unknown that kicks in and many questions that arise like:
What if I am paying for poor leads?
How many other people are getting the same lead?
Is this expensive or standard?
After a recent customer engagement I discovered that there are companies having large success by paying for leads. They receive a lead and quickly follow up with the customer to understand what they are looking for and then move them into the sales cycle.
Have you had success paying for leads?
What services did you use and which one did you like best?
This month we launched CRMState.com a service that specializes in monitoring SugarCRM. There is a vast assortment of server monitoring solutions available but we ( Atcore Systems ) wanted to utilize our knowledge of SugarCRM to build a monitoring system that is application specific. The fact is that I can choose 1 of hundreds of server monitoring tools to monitor my server but none of them are SugarCRM aware. They don’t know the application, the features and all of the additional non standard types of monitoring and suggestions that can take place to enhance the software.
In version 1 we changed up the standard monitoring and instead of monitoring for the page to respond we verify that specific words show up on the login page. This insures that not only the server and database are up but that the page is showing as it should. It is in our roadmap to take on page checks to another level but we will talk about that in our next update.
Another monitor feature we added was fatal log alerting. Fatals shouldn’t happen very often, except in certain scenarios, if your SugarCRM instance is healthy. We monitor for fatals and alert the user based on their alert configuration. This may seem somewhat standard for a logging system but we have plan to take it much further in the near future.
Perhaps the biggest impact this has in relation to SugarCRM monitoring is that the service specializes in SugarCRM monitoring. With that focus we can continuously add SugarCRM specific checks, build in suggestions and keep up with the pace of SugarCRM releases.
We recently launched CRMState.com a service that specializes in monitoring SugarCRM. With that launch we decided to compare multiple online advertising services, one of them being Adroll. We decided to throw Adroll in with some top competitors such ad LinkedIn, Facebook and Google for two reasons. The first is, it was recommended by a partner that we trust. Secondly, and more interestingly, was that they offered Retargeting.
We will be publishing some information about the results in the near future but needless to say the CPM and click through rates are significantly higher on people that are retargeted. To top it all off, everyone that knows about your site or has recently been targeted will contact you and send you screenshots exhibiting where they saw your ad.
We look forward to telling you more about Adroll in the future but until then I recommend setting aside a little budget to try it out.
Disclosure: This is not a paid post but we did use the referral link. If you liked the information above and decide to try Adroll, please click our link to register and we will keep the tips coming.
Recently I met with an individual and we got on the topic of networking and started discussing the various events that we attend. This person recommended a group called Clarity and said that it was like “BNI on steroids” and only for B2B networking.
Shortly after the discussion I attended as a guest and found out that it was in fact a BNI meeting. At that point I didn’t care because I had met a phenomenal group and realized that they did things different from what I would have expected.
Had the individual that told meet about the meeting pitched it as BNI, I might not had gone. I had been to them in the past and decided that it wasn’t a fit for my company.
This raises a few questions:
- What do customers immediately think of when they hear your name?
- Is it what you want them to think of?
- Should initiatives to break out of a certain role be part of a new brand?
These are just a few of the questions you may want to ask yourself about your companies brand image. What issues has your business encountered with your brand?
Yesterday evening I attended the Atlanta Bloggers Meetup and had the pleasure of meeting Rob Sutton who owns and operates Bike198.com. Sutton is an informative owner who was open about his operation including the ways that he generates leads, makes money and markets.
Since I have been thinking of starting a newsletter for CRMStage.com we dove into the topic to discuss how he leverages them. Here are a few of the details that I took away from the conversation.
- Non techies want something in their inbox
Even though people are all hyped up on social networking juice, many people still want data delivered.
- Gain Trust
If you have affiliate marketing it is important to gain peoples trust and make sure that they don’t always feel like they are being pitched. This seems straight forward but we have all seen companies that overdue it.
- Click through rates are much higher in newsletters
Prior to this discussion I had never researched the specific conversion rates of newsletters vs web advertising.
Do you send a newsletter for lead generation, marketing or promotions? What tips do you have?
During CRM consulting projects there is always the need to show progress to customers. The caveat is that progress has to be shown with a certain amount of balance.
Too Much UI
You cannot do all of the UI development up front and show the customer. The problem with this is that to a non developer the UI in the CRM is everything. Once a customer sees the UI they assume that it works and all backend work is complete.
Too Much Code
Too much code is the complete opposite of too much UI. In this situation you will have almost all of the backend CRM functionality working but the customer will feel like you aren’t making any progress. This can lead to the customer not trusting the hours being put in during the project.
Based on the type of CRM work being implemented it is important to find the right balance. Finding the right balance creates trust with the customer and ensures that your project goes smoothly.
For the second CRM Atlanta Meetup of the year I decided to present Real World Social CRM Use Cases. I wanted to get down to the grit and present scenarios on how social networks could be leveraged and integrated into an existing CRM to make it more social. In marketing CRM Atlanta we attracted a contact at a Social CRM vendor. This person contacted me to find out more about my topic and exactly what level of Social CRM would be discussed.
The fairly short phone discussion that we had gave me good insight into the battle lines that were already being drawn in the Social CRM space. It was clear that the Social CRM that I would be speaking about and the Social CRM that the vendors offers were very different. Neither version is wrong in implementation or approach. They are just fundamentally different.
So what did I take away from this?
- I decided that I should preface my slides a little more than usual for an emerging technology.
- It helped me identify a solution and marketing angle that I really hadn’t thought of before.
- I made a new contact and discovered new Social CRM technology that can provide proven ROI for customers looking for Social CRM solutions.
- This engagement gave me good insight into the various approaches to Social CRM and made me wonder just how many more I am going to see over the next few years.
As a SugarCRM consultant ( for SugarCRM partners ) and avid Twitter user I find that there is a common question that all companies ask when looking for a CRM. That question is, what CRM is right for my company?
Being a SugarCRM consultant I would love to tell you that you should pick SugarCRM every time but that is just not the case. Each CRM on the market has many similarities and differences that should be thoroughly assessed before choosing. Below are a points that need to be taken into consideration before making a decision. They are in no particular order.
Determine your budget:
Analyzing your budget will quickly knock out many vendors. If your company has less than 20 employees and a low CRM budget then you can probably dismiss going with certain solutions.
Look at vendor minimums:
Some vendors have minimums on the number of seats that have to be purchased for certain solutions or product features levels. It is important to cross check the number of seats your are purchasing with the product feature level that your company needs.
On-Site or Off-Site:
Determining if your CRM will be hosted on or off site is a very important factor for both budgeting reasons and in planning for the future. Keep in mind that on-site does not have to actually mean at your physical location, it simply means that you have access to the software and can install it wherever you like.
Certain CRM vendors are Saas only solutions which means that if they don’t have a robust API then you could have trouble doing any integrations or automation in the future.
Some vendors offer both deployment options but their on-demand ( Saas ) option is crippled and doesn’t provide root level access to make changes. For you this means that you need to ask about access permissions and module loading permissions when making an on-site, on-demand decision.
Whether or not you have a full time technical resource can be a big factor in choosing a CRM. Having a technical resource to correct issues and implement light or even heavy customizations means that you have the potential to fully leverage your purchase.
If you don’t have a technical resource then looking at a more basic Saas CRM solution may be a better choice. Another opiton is to hire consultants that can provide these services if your budget allows.
Integrations into other systems enable CRM software to automate processes saving precious time and money. However, if you do not have the budget or are not planning an integration for the foreseeable future then your company may be able to pick a less expensive CRM option.
There is myriad of other questions that I ask when helping a customer choose a CRM package that is right for them. The goal is to take all possible factors into account before choosing, do your research, and when possible run pilot programs before going with a solution.
When you are not a graphic designer, coming up with a logo or logo ideas for a product can be a grueling process. First you start off sketching out ideas on paper which depending on your skills may or may not come close to what you need. If it does then you still need to hire a designer to transfer it to a digital format which will cost an hourly rate.
I have been through the scenario of needing a logo a few times now. Up until this latest time I had always used a graphic designer and paid either an hourly rate or went with their “logo package” of a few logo ideas and a few revisions based on a set fee. In the end this usually ended up costing me more than anticipated for multiple reasons such as:
- I wasn’t 100% sure what I was looking for in a logo.
- The designer didn’t seem to understand what I was looking for
- I just didn’t like the 3-5 ideas that were presented.
Most of these are pretty common reasons for spending more than anticipated for a logo. There are also multiple ways to get around these issues such as:
- Have a very good idea of what you want before hiring a designer.
- Pick a designer that spends time understanding before starting.
- Provide the designer logos and design themes that you have seen elsewhere that you like.
The fact is that once you have found a designer that you work well with, understands what is appealing to you, and has rates you can live with you will no longer have these issues. But until then, there is 99Designs.com.
99Designs.com is a crowd sourcing site that allows you to request a graphical design of almost anything and have hundreds of people submit ideas. This is extremely helpful when you are not sure what you are looking for and only have a color scheme or vague idea. It also saves you the time involved with trying to come up with multiple ideas yourself when you may not be graphically enabled.
Here is how it works:
- Choose what you want designed ( Ex: Logo, Brochure, Site Mockup, etc )
- Set the price that you will pay to the winner.
- Set your criteria such as colors, size, fonts, and ideas.
- Launch the contest
What will happen is that designers will find your contest and start submitting ideas for you to comment and vote on. I recommend staying very involved in this process through the duration of the contest. When commenting and voting you can tell them what you do and don’t like and many designers will tweak their ideas based off of that information.
End the end you could potentially have hundreds of submissions to pick from which means that instead of having to settle on a logo or design you now have multiple quality designs and have to narrow it down to the winner.
Now that you know about 99Designs I have a few recommendations for when you try it out for the first time.
- The amount you give to the winner is not the total cost. As one would guess, 99Designs.com has to get paid also. On my $175 logo 99Deisgns.com charged a fee of $56 for a total of $231. So be aware of this before you start filling out the design brief.
- Get the logo on both a white background and another color background. Most effects on logos can look really good on white backgrounds but when moved to a different color loose their effect or meaning. This will help you visualize what your logo could look like on other mediums.
- Use the tools that 99Designs provides to thank designers for submissions and to provide immediate feedback after posting.
- Once you have a few submissions that you really like and will potentially pick, click the Guarantee button. By clicking this button you guarantee a payout which usually doubles the number of submissions.
At the end of my first use of 99Designs I was out $231 but I had over 175 submissions with about 10 logos that made it a very tough decision to choose. I also had about 50 more on top of that which were professional grade and could have done the job.
- No public Twitter messages.