High Rise above the CRM crowd for small business

I am a small business owner. What that means is I need simple to use tools for sales and marketing purposes. I also don’t want to drop much money on software or subscription services. today, I want to cover a simple, affordable sales and marketing software suite I found recently.

It’s called High Rise. The team at 37 Signals who are most known for BaseCamp came up with High rise as a contact management and CRM system.

BACKGROUND

CRM systems in my opinion are vital to small business owners becasue too often I’ve seen deals get lost through time when they aren’t properly executed. Its unbelievable the amount of money that must have been missed by small business owners who don’t keep up with contacts and opportunities. I lost my share.

I’ve used many CRM systems in the past…. SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, ACT!, Sugar CRM and they all have varying benefits and pitfalls. The best experience I had was with SalesForce, but that was largely due to my then partner Scott’s knowledge of it and I never would have made it work on my own. The problem is that you have to do a truckload of customization with most CRM systems, otherwise the default interface has far too much stuff (for lack of a better term) and it can be intimidating. Afer all, they design these systems for huge corporations, with large sales teams and then they reverse engineer for the little guy. In the end you and I get to try to fit our needs into what look like behemoth applications.

So as I started on my new adventure with Right Here Interactive, I was immediately frustrated with my options for organizing contacts and opportunities. I was convinced there was nothing out there for the SOHO businesses. So much so, that I even sat down with my favorite programmer and talked about building a truly simple CRM system. Then, while looking at BaseCamp for a project I was involved with, I saw High Rise.

HIGH RISING

High Rise is exactly what I’ve been searching for for some time. It’s easy to use, just the right amount of tools, shows me what I want to know and priced just right for business. Here are some key points…

  • It was super easy to set up. I was up and running in about 2 minutes literally.
  • There is just the basic contact information that I need on people (personal, home, work and online stuff).
  • Importing my contacts we’re a breeze. I do .CSV, but you can do it from Outlook, ACT! and other ones.
  • This may be my favorite thing. I jot notes every time I talk to someone. This is really important to keep a recollection of past conversations even when there is no deal flow.
  • You use tags to group people. Its similar to how Gmail wants you to organize messages (they call them labels).
  • There is a simple task management system.
  • Easy reminders by email or text.
  • Reports are pretty decent and there are add on tools for reporting.
  • There are many add-on tools for additional and specific functions.
  • There is a good iPhone app for portability.

The only drawback I have found is that I want to be able to create “groups” or contacts like I did in ACT! and I haven’t found a good way to do that. For example, I am prospecting against Advertising Agencies and I am also prospecting against Spas/fitness/yoga studios. Very different contacts. Tags are helpful, but not always great.

Anyhow, check out HighRise if you are looking for a simple CRM system. Its fantastic. http://www.highrisehq.com.

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