Series Posts: CRM

Little Improvements > Big Features

CRM • February 24, 2018

Sometimes it\'s the little things that count. What do I mean? Well, the Benchmark CRM is chockfull of enterprise features: Assignment Rules, Automations, Permissions, Sharing Rules, Content Library... the list goes on. But what about the little tiny improvements that make your workflow better every day? We focus on these things just as much as chasing a powerful feature that maybe only 10% of our user base will ever use. Exhibit A: the email notifications icon We changed the way you\'re notified about incoming email replies from your CRM contacts & leads. It used to be this notification would refresh itself from page to page as you toured through the CRM, doing your work. But some users let us know about their actual daily workflows. Sometimes a phone rings, a customer walks in, or maybe fed-ex is at the door. You\'re not jumping from page to page in the CRM, but sometimes just sitting on the same page for minutes or longer. So why doesn\'t that notification just light up the minute there\'s an important reply incoming? Why can\'t it be more like an instant notification like Facebook or Twitter? So we changed it. Now that notification is its own autonomous ever vigilant sentry. The notification for the incoming email will light up even if you\'re on the same page without any effort from you. Exhibit B: email addresses in list view One prominent user had a simple suggestion: How come when I see my contacts or leads on the dashboard, I can\'t just click on their email addresses to email them? Why not indeed? Now any contact or lead\'s email address in the list view is actionable. Instead of clicking the name to view the record to click the email compose button, all you need to do is click the email address. It even opens the CRM email editor in a new tab so you don\'t lose your place. [caption id=\"attachment_252\" align=\"alignnone\" width=\"300\"] click to picture to see the action[/caption] We want your improvement next So what\'s your idea? Do you have a little tweak that would pay off big time in time saved? Let\'s hear it, please!!! Let us know either via the in-app chat or just email me: paul@benchmarkcrm.com    


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New Feature: Add a Date Range to Your Views

CRM • January 25, 2018

It\'s time to save the dates. A great little CRM improvement is the ability to add a date range as a condition in your views. Need to see which contacts were created between 1/2/17 to 1/9/17? Want to see the opportunities with an expected close date between 2/15/18 to 6/4/18? Can you see the support tickets that were opened up between 12/14/16 to 12/17/16? Done, done and done! Use the \"Between\" Condition on Date Fields Whenever creating a view, if there\'s a date field available, you can create a between condition for it. Step 1: Add a \"Meets All\" or \"Meets Any\" condition to your view Step 2:  Select a Date or Date/Time Field (we call this the 1st operator). An example would be \"created date/time,\" \"due date\" or \"expected close date\" Step 3: Select the \"between\" option for the 2nd operator Step 4 Select your beginning and ending dates.   Step 5 Save your view   The new between operator is just one part of creating views. For a quick overview on creating views, watch this video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toKfZLlLVj4&t=4s  


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New Feature: Track Email Opens

New Feature: Track Email Opens

CRM • December 26, 2017

You asked for it, you got it! Now it\'s possible to see if your leads and contacts have opened the emails you\'ve sent them via the Benchmark CRM. You choose the emails you want to track When composing your email, just check the Track Email box if you\'d like to add tracking to the email. Sent Emails Will Show Their Statuses It\'s not the emails that have replies you worry about, it\'s the emails that have been sent with no reply in sight. Did my client get the email? Did they bother to open it? Should I call or send it again? Now when either looking at your email dashboard or the contact/lead record, your sent message will show if it was read or unread. You\'ll have actionable data on which to act. See an unread? Get on the phone and call that contact, like now! Email tracking is available on every outgoing email message. You can change your tracking options in the middle of a CRM email thread.    


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B2B Sales? Better Make Sure Your Digital Game is on Point

CRM • December 2, 2017

If your business is selling to other businesses, you need a solid digital presence to go along with good old-fashioned sales. CEB (Gartner) Presents its Research on B2B Purchase Behavior You matter, but not as much as you think you do When buyers do their research in the buying process, a study by CEB (now part of Gartner) concludes that only 17% of the buyer\'s time is meeting with potential suppliers. And that\'s not just you that makes up that 17%. It\'s your competition, too. Here\'s CEB\'s breakdown of time spent by buyers across the purchasing process: 27% - researching independently online 22% - meeting with their buying group (internal decision makers) 18% - researching independently offline 17% - meeting with potential suppliers 16% - other Get your digital presences in order What does this mean? It means that buyers are online researching the best option for them. You know how this works because you do it, too. You look at the company\'s website. You check their online referrals. You look for reviews. You try to meter their reputation based on what you find out online. Why would your buyers be any different? Your website should be solid and informative. Although you\'d like your site to get your visitors in some sales funnel, there\'s a research component that\'s as big as anything else. Make your website informative, with the facts that buyers need easily found. If there are stats, facts, prices and catalogs to share, make them downloadable or at least easy to find again. Also, your online reputation matters. If there\'s a popular review site, get on it. If there are high profile industry experts who blog, invite them to profile you and your company. Don\'t abandon your sales team The study also finds that online efforts are there to get your customer to the sales handoff. People still matter. Multiple marketing engagements with your site and email marketing should tell your team exactly when a purchase decision is at its highest. Automate that process with the final email in the journey inviting your customer to purchase while it lets your sales team know it\'s time for a personal call or email to the buyer. Note: we confidently recommend our CRM software with integrated email marketing. The buyer doesn\'t stop their online research during the sales process The CEB study also states that 83% of buyers use at least one digital information channel during the sales process. So your website needs to continue to nurture the sale, even when your sales team takes over. Provide deep information that can help close the deal. Make sure your sales team is able to provide links to that information during the sales process. It\'s called alignment. You\'re ready to do it now Motivated? Good. I have your action plan: Review your website to make sure the information your buyers need is easily accessible. Get your business increased visibility on industry and review sites. Track the frequency of digital engagements for potential buyers so your sales team can identify likely buyers and spring into action. Always be closing - this applies to your sales team AND your website. Your digital pipeline needs to keep feeding detailed product information all the way up to the close.


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CRM Solutions: Automate Repetitive Tasks and Emails

CRM Solutions: Automate Repetitive Tasks and Emails

CRM • November 16, 2017

In this series, we present a business problem and offer a CRM software solution. Automated Emails Problem: I spend too much time in my software writing the same welcome email to my leads or customers CRM Solution: Create an email template with merge fields that automatically sends a personalized email to your contact or lead based on criteria and conditions you set. Example: Whenever you or your coworkers creates a contact whose language preference = Spanish, send the \"Bienvenido\" email the next day. Auto Tasks Problem: As my potential sale moves through its stages, there are different tasks for different people in the company. There\'s a bottle neck because often times the person changing the status doesn\'t immediately notify the person who needs to do the follow up work. CRM Solution: Create milestone-specific Auto Tasks that will automatically create and assign ownership of milestone-specific tasks, triggered by the changing values of your opportunity records. Example: Whenever the value of an opportunity changes to \"proposal,\" system creates a task to \"draw up contracts\" and assigns this task to the employee in charge of underwriting. Webforms Problem: I\'d like to be able to collect lead information right from my company\'s webpage CRM Solution: Create a lead capture webform Example: In the CRM, you create an HTML webform based on the lead fields that are important your company. The CRM will generate HTML for you. On your company website, you or your web designer includes this code on the pages you want to capture leads. Once live, site visitors input a few fields and click to submit. Instantly, leads are created in your CRM for you and your team. Assignment Rules Problem: I would like to establish rules in the CRM so that new support tickets are assigned to employees based on criteria I set. CRM Solution: Create support ticket assignment rules Example: You create a set of assignment rules based on custom issue types you\'ve set up in the CRM. If the issue type contains \"TV\" or \"television,\" then assign the ticket to Fred. If the issue type field contains \"computer\" or \"laptop,\" then assign the ticket to Wendy. If none of these, then assign to any user in the \"support team\" group in a round robin manner. Problem: I\'m importing 10,000 contacts on a CSV. I want to distribute those to my sales team based on state. CRM Solution: Create contact assignment rules Example: You create a set of assignment rules so that states: CA, TX, UT, NV are assigned to salesperson Craig. States: NY, VT, DE, NH go to saleperson Lisa. Anything else goes to Gina. Next import the CSV via the contact import page, select the CSV, select this assignment rule and import. These are just a few of the ways that automations can solve your repetitive task issues and tremendously speed up your workflow. There\'s lots of busy work that the CRM is more than happy to do for you so that you can do the things you to do to win and retain business. For instructions on how to set up a good automation, see this post on creating an automation.  


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New Feature: Personalize your Email From Address

New Feature: Personalize your Email From Address

CRM • November 15, 2017

You asked for it, you got it: Your CRM Emails sent on behalf of your own email address! Two Options: Highest Authentication or Highest Personalization Option A: Use Bmarksend.com This default option will format your emails as: your first name + your last name + your company name @bmarksend.com Example: BobSmith.Acme@bmarksend.com [caption id=\"attachment_72\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"418\"] this example shows how my own emails from the CRM look with option A[/caption] Option B: Use your own email address This makes it so that your email\'s FROM name will be the email you signed up with. Example: bobsmith@acme.com [caption id=\"attachment_73\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"382\"] this example shows how my own emails from the CRM look with option B[/caption]   What option is right for me? There\'s no difference in email functionality in the CRM With either option, emails get sent from our system to your contacts/leads, and their replies come right back to the CRM (along with email notifications sent to you as the user). Authentication is higher with option A When you send with option A, we send the email with a From Address using our email server \"bmarksend.com.\" This enables us to authenticate your email using SPF, DKIM, DMARC protocols. This gets your email in the inbox with better deliverability rates with less chance of ending up in a spam or promotions box by your contact or lead\'s email service provider. Support-oriented teams might choose this as they send less exploratory emails and are answering tickets where the email is already expected by the client. Personalization is higher with option B Many clients like their emails to appear as if they came from them, meaning their personal/company email address is in the From Address position. When your client clicks on the From Address in an email, they can see it\'s from your email address, sent through our servers. We still authenticate the emails with SPF, and the DKIM authentication is on our servers. In real-world cases, we\'ve found this method to be highly deliverable as well. There is a higher chance of your emails - especially repetitive emails sent to the same address -to appear as promotional. Sales oriented teams might use this option because they value personalization over the slightly less deliverability.   Where do I set this up? There\'s a new settings page in Organization Settings called \"Email From Address,\" which you can find on the Settings page:   Just pick the option that makes sense for you and all the users of your account. The top is option a, the bottom is b. Your setting will affect all users as soon as you click SAVE. Thanks to the CRM Beta Users for the feedback that led to this CRM software solution.


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How Email Works in Benchmark CRM

How Email Works in Benchmark CRM

CRM • November 14, 2017

We take pride that Benchmark CRM is unique to other CRMs in that you can create, receive replies and reply to replies while logged in online. You can even read replies in your personal inbox and reply to replies from there too. The conversation tracks back to the CRM so you or other CRM users don\'t lose important information. Keeping the whole conversation in the CRM is one reason we believe we are the best CRM for small business. How do I send email from a contact or lead record? You can send email to your contact or lead while on its record page. Replies go to your inbox and are tracked in the CRM.   What\'s the quickest way to create an email? Use the CREATE EMAIL button on the right nav bar to get to the email composer in one click.   How do I know that my contact or email has replied to my CRM email? If you see a number in the messages icon, it means there are some incoming replies for you.   Can I reply to contact or lead email replies from my own email client? When you send a CRM email to your contact or lead, their replies also come to the email address you used to sign up with. You can view and reply to those email replies without having to log in from your CRM. Your contact gets your reply and so does the CRM!   That\'s it. Start your emails in the CRM and get your replies in the CRM and your personal email address. Responding from either doesn\'t matter as your contact or lead gets your message AND the whole conversation stays in the CRM. Nifty, we think :)


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What Are the Record Types in the CRM?

CRM • November 14, 2017

The CRM is comprised of modules like contacts, leads and organizations A module is basically a type of record. Each record is made up of many fields that hold the information that’s important to the type of module. Here are the main record types within the Benchmark\'s online CRM software: Leads Leads are people that you may or may not want to convert to real contacts. They are potential business, but you don\'t yet have a relationship established with them. Leads are important to many sales teams so that they can track people who might become customers without having to clog their main contact database with what later might turn out to be junk leads. You can send email to leads, create activity records (tasks, events, calls) related to your lead. But you can\'t create related opportunities or support tickets for them. To do that, you\'ll want to convert your lead to a contact first. The Lead fields include details like: First name Last name Phone Email There are more default fields and - like any other module - you create custom fields that are important to your business. Contacts Contacts are people who are important to your business. You have already started and are building a relationship with them. They could be customers, donors, partners, etc. You can send email to your contacts, create follow up activities for them, but the real relationship building features is that you can create and relate support tickets, and opportunities to them. The Contact fields include details like: First name Last name Phone Email Related organization Organizations Organizations are the companies with whom you do your business. They also could be companies that your important contacts work for. While organization records contain fields like name, address, website, phone, etc., the power of the organization record is that it functions as an umbrella for all related records. This means that one can quickly see all contacts related to an organization, all the support tickets related to these contacts and any opportunities related to the organization or its contacts… all right from the single organization record. The Organization fields include details like: Organization name Website Phone Opportunities Opportunities are specialized records contain fields relevant to a possible sale or deal. The Organization fields include details like: Amount Expected close date Probability of closing Stage - these are the milestones your opportunity will travel through Related contact Related organization Opportunities are friendly to both B2B and B2C business models. If your company is a business that sells to other businesses, you’ll most likely create the opportunities and relate them to organizations. If your company sells directly to people, you’ll be happy to know that you can just as easily create and relate the opportunity directly to a contact. You can do either or both depending on the unique needs of that deal. Support Tickets Support Ticket records have fields related to your customer service/support issues: Ticket Number Subject - a summary of the issue Description - further details of the issue Due Date - by when should this issue be solved Requester - a ticket can be opened for a contact or even internally for another CRM user Priority - this helps you and your team to know which tickets should be solved first Status Open - this ticket is not yet solved Pending - ticket is awaiting input from the requestor Solved - ticket is considered closed and needs no further action CRM users can quickly create, reassign and solve issues because all the emailing is handled right from the ticket.  You can have multiple conversations with multiple people on a single ticket. You can even create activities (tasks, event, calls) that are related to the ticket. Activities Activities are made up of tasks, events or calls. These “todos” can be anything and can be related to any module. An activity has a subject, priority, description and can be related to a person (contact or lead) or non-person (organization, opportunity, support ticket, project). A task is an activity with only a due date An event (ex: meeting) has a start date/time and end date/time. A call has a start time and duration. Activities will show up on your calendar. You can create multiple alerts (via email or in-dash notification) to remind you of what you need to do. Projects Projects are great for the planners in your company. Beyond name, start time, end time and phase; a project can be customized to hold any fields that help your company manage a project’s completion via its related activities. You can send emails back and forth related to the project. You can create activities related to the project to help you complete your project. If you need help creating custom fields, please see this FAQ.


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You Know You Need a CRM When You’re Confusing List Management with Customer Relationship Management

CRM • November 13, 2017

Many Benchmark Email customers take full use of the list management features in Benchmark Email. That\'s terrific. If you really want to manage your customer relationships, please don\'t mistake the powers of Benchmark Email\'s list management tools for what the Benchmark CRM software solution can give you: customer relationship management. List Management Building lists for specific purposes. Having multiple webforms that populate these lists based on the marketing role of said list. Utilizing segments to identify swaths of customers based on demographics or brand/product preferences. Purging those lists so that stale and questionable emails are removed. Yes, this is good list management. But this is an email marketing list management.  Notice what isn\'t there: Customer Relationship Management tracking deep data on the customer based on a mix of many typical and important-to-your-business custom fields creating and reading notes on the customer creating and following up on todo tasks, meetings and calls for the customer deal tracking opening and solving support tickets, assignable and reassignable to different CRM users sending and receiving one-to-one email messaging to your contact attaching import documents to contacts or their related records assigning ownership of contacts for various employees viewing and interacting with a calendar for managing todos keeping organization records that collect information of all you related contacts who work for the organization creating, viewing and sharing reports that combine contacts, opportunities, tickets and activities working lead records that can be converted to contacts and opportunities Are any of the above workflows that apply to your business or organization? If they aren\'t, here\'s a hint: you probably could do better numbers than you\'re doing now by doing them. Or even if you are doing all that, but it\'s a very informal process, good CRM software can help you manage it better. In many cases, automations can help do some of these workflows for you, so you have more time to do the numerous important things that no one else but you can do for your business. Experience The Difference Come sign up for the Benchmark CRM free trial and start learning how the right software can help you. There\'s no magic bullet. You need to do the work.


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Small But Useful Fixes

CRM • November 13, 2017

These might not be new features, but little improvements help the CRM work with you and not against you. You can now send to email addresses that have a + in the address Many ESPs like Gmail allow the user to put a + symbol and any string of characters after the plus sign so that users can create email aliases instantly. So your emails to paul.rijnders+1234567890@gmail.com will now reach paul.rijnders@gmail.com because google and now the CRM accommodate that kind of thing. Support Ticket Dashboard Sorting It now is a lot faster to sort your views and columns on the support ticket dashboard Bounce Notifications to Sending User If you send an email to a contact or lead and it bounces, the CRM system will send you an email to let you know there could be a problem. In general, the email server will try to deliver the email multiple times before a soft bounce becomes a hard bounce Worldwide Currencies You are now able to show your currency type fields (like in opportunities) with more than just $USD, Euro and Pound. All major currency names and symbols are supported now. Home Page Remembers Reports Preferences If you choose to set your home page reports tab open or closed, your preference will be remembered and stored. Easier MyBCC name The format of your MyBCC address is a very easy to remember format as: user first name + user last name + user company name @bmarksend.com Example: BobSmith.Acme@bmarksend.com Contextually Aware Send Email Shortcut Now when you click on the Create Email button in the right nav menu, the system will detect the page you\'re on to save you time: If you\'re on a lead or contact record, it will be pre-loaded in the email TO field If you\'re on an opportunity, ticket, organization or project record, it will be pre-loaded in the email RELATED field Import with xls and xlsx files Previously, importing records required a CSV file. We\'ve expanded your options to accommodate your Excel-type files with the extensions: .xls and .xlsx. Sped up Autosuggest Autosuggest helps you find your lead or contact when creating an email. By typing the first few letters of your contact or lead\'s name, the CRM will prompt matches for you. Our development engineers have sped this process up. Automations: Triggers/Field Update: fields in alphabetical order Fields here used to show up based on your layout field order. We\'ve found it much easier to find the field you want when it\'s in alphabetical order. And more to come We will continue to bring you both big features and small improvements every month. It\'s what we do as we strive to be the best CRM for small business. But don\'t let our powerfully simple philosophy approach fool you. We are simply powerfully enough for small enterprise, too!


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