Simple Tools to Get Ahead

I wrote an article a couple of years ago on my personal blog about my annoyance with popular CRM tools and how unhelpful they were for true internal collaboration and remembering what you needed to do the next day for your prospects. As we started to do some outbound sales we decided to go with Highrise from 37signals.

I’ve worked for some of the largest organizations on the planet who had the ability to do proper CRM and dropped the ball. Here are some of the situations I found myself dealing with:

  • Couldn’t enter a new opportunity into the system because I didn’t have the prospects billing address (like you need their billing address on the 1st call).
  • Couldn’t enter a new contact because I didn’t have a fax number and it was a required piece of data.
  • Would be called by sales management 2-3 times per day for updates on a particular deal
  • Had to manually paste emails into the CRM tool because there was no other way to copy an email message into the CRM
  • No search
  • No natural flow when looking up, contacting and recording a successful call.
  • No natural flow to plan the following day, week, month
  • No why to look at other prospects in the system to ensure you aren’t stepping on a colleagues toes
  • No manner in which to merge duplicate contacts

It literally got to the point where I was contemplating the following:

  • Subscribe to an online CRM that was nimble.
  • Install SugarCRM on our own server
  • Start my own SaaS based CRM tool, make it amazing by actually having to use it on a daily basis (actually what the 37signals folks did)

That’s when I found out about Highrise and decided to focus on actually building our business.

Although we like to chat once a day around here just to catch up there’s no need to really. When we log into Highrise we land in the dashboard view below we get an instant picture of what’s happening at that moment.


From this view, every call, email, note, completed task are reflected in a order or occurrence. Not sure how many times this has saved us from doing the same thing twice. The dashboard flows in realtime and lists the newest item at the top. Additionally, we’re able to copy emails into the system by simply BCC’ing a simple email address given to us by Highrise. Very simple but tackles a tough issue that we’ve had with other CRM tools.

Deal Flow. Here’s what our pending deals look like:


You can quickly tell what it is, who owns it, what the deal size is and what the service we are selling is. Very simple and not only does the drill down allow access to the opportunity but the folks that are associated with it. Talk about a picture worth a thousand words.

Lastly, as far as a simple, somewhat GTD inspired task list:


I can look at other’s tasks and can even assign tasks to other members on the team. Very simple and the application is lightning fast in its response.

So why am I pitching Highrise in our blog today? I guess the main point is that the tool needs to be fast, easy to use and allows forward movement with imperfect data. Is it really worth looking up a billing address to put into an opportunity if the deal is still a year out? We don’t have to screw around with things like that – we have lots of clients depending on us to get work done on their behalf and like to keep moving.

Additionally, when we do sit around to talk about stuff – it’s quite strategic as opposed to: “I called xyz corp today.”


Square pegs / round holes

Many would wonder why we’d start a company like ColoAdvisor. Long story short, we’ve been directly employed by excellent hosting providers all of which set out with the best of intentions to provide a quality product. But no company can be everything to everyone and with the pressures for sales revenue in larger corporations, one maybe pressured to compromise their integrity in order to keep their job.

The reason we’re thrilled to have launched ColoAdvisor is that we work with 30+ hosting firms to ensure the best fit for our clients. When we don’t have a fit (which is rare with 30+ hosting firms) we’re quick to confess it because we don’t have the pressures larger firms face.

We are thrilled to be serving our clients, please contact us for anything through our contact page.