November 20, 2012


safety deposit boxesIf you're in business, you need a proper Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. When you’re starting, you may be tempted to use paper, your email contact system or a simple spreadsheet. As your business grows, you need better. It's best to have a system from the outset but you can add one now. The ideal solution is
  • easy to use
  • scalable
  • web-based

Easy To Use

Using a CRM system takes discipline. Some corporate systems are onerous and get underused even if mandated. You don't want a solution like that. Many systems offer free trials. Be sure to try before you buy even if reviews say a system is excellent. You may not like it. A system which doesn't get used is a waste.


Your business may start with a single person: you. Using a system still has merit. Your contacts are probably your most valuable assets. A CRM helps your organize them and track activity.

As you add more users, the pricing varies. Take a look now to see if you like the structure as you grow.


A web-based CRM system saves you the hassle of installation and ongoing maintenance. Some systems integrate social media to give you a current snapshot of contacts and their activity on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you use Google Apps, look for a CRM solution that integrates well. For instance, Insightly is reasonable but tied to one domain (as far as I can tell). If you get email at more than one web domain, that's a limitation. For example, I have email accounts at,, and personal Gmail. However, I want to use a single CRM system since a contact is a contact.


Batchbook CRMI've been using Batchbook since January 2010. It meets the requirements above. The problem has been integration with my Google Calendar. I'd like to input events in either my Batchbook calendar or my Google calendar and have them appear in the other place.

Batchbook is currently relaunching with all plans offering unlimited users, which is bizarre for small business. The pricing is
  • $20/month: 2,000 contacts, unlimited users
  • $50/month: 10,000 contacts, unlimited users
I’m currently on the old pricing which allows unlimited contacts: one user for $15/month and five users for $30/month. This structure makes much more sense even though I’ve got no plans to add 10,000,000 contacts.

Batchbook lets you synchronize contacts with different Gmail and Google App accounts. If I get a business email at my personal account, I can easily add it to that client's record on Batchbook. You may find that fits well with the way you work.


Insightly CRMIf you're using Google Apps, try Insightly. The pricing is compelling
  • free: 3 users, 2,500 contacts
  • $29: 6 users, 10,000 contacts
Insightly works reasonably well. The free plan may be all you need if you don't mind being tied to one web domain.


There are lots of other solutions. I explored some recently but didn't find they fit my requirements well.  You may feel differently.


Will your CRM provider stay in business? There are no guarantees. If your business is successful, you'll have money to pay for a migration. When you're test-driving a solution, try the process of exporting the data.

If you’re in business, you’re big enough for CRM.


PS How do you keep track of your clients?

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