Todd Hoskins Reviews Tools for Business
Todd Hoskins chooses and uses tools and products that could belong in an entrepreneurial business toolkit. He’ll be checking out how useful they are to folks who would be their customers in a form that’s consistent and relevant.
Cool Tool Review: Highrise
A Review by Todd Hoskins
Liz reminds us, “Relationships are everyone’s business, and every business is relationships.”
How are you keeping track of your business relationships? This is the purpose of CRM – Customer Relationship Management. CRM is a broad category of software, encompassing anything from fancy address books to sales forecasting and client invoicing. But essentially, CRM is understanding who are the people and companies important to your company. Sidenote: I hate the “M” in the acronym. What customer (or anyone for that matter) wants their relationship managed?
Nonetheless, the people you and your employees know are one of the single most valuable assets to your company. It is essential to develop a database of contact information. It’s a bonus if you also can encourage your employees to include correspondence records and organize their to-do’s in one central place. This way, if one of your employees leaves the company, you can instantly see where they left off and what needs to be done.
Two months ago we looked at Rapportive, a very simple social CRM tool. Rapportive is great for giving you context to who you are corresponding with, and where to find them online. But it currently only offers individual accounts. For businesses, you need something more.
I recommend Highrise. Highrise, developed by the trailblazing software renegades at 37signals is just enough without being too much. If you’ve read this column before you know I appreciate simplicity in design and usability. Highrise shines here.
There are a handful of add-ons that can make Highrise into Salesforce.com lite. The basic product allows you to easily enter names, companies, tags, contact info, social network locations, and notes. You can assign tasks to yourself or others. You can also set levels of permissions so your junior associate doesn’t have your board member’s cell phone.
The pricing is relatively cheap, starting at $25 per month. (Also, a 30-day trial is free regardless of company size). We are all waiting for a customized Android and Blackberry app. iPhone app is available.
Summing Up â Is it worth it?
Entrepreneur Value: 5/5 â must-have. The hard part is getting your employees to use it consistently.
Personal Value: 0/5 â an online address book or an old fashioned Rolodex is good enough