As consultants we are constantly asked about software. As a result we have done extensive research into business software—particularly CRM software. Our clients are generally small businesses—less than 50 employees and often closer to 5-10. Their first software need is accounting. Just as Microsoft Office has cornered the market on word processing and spreadsheets, Intuit has done the same with QuickBooks. Remember that the best software for your business is the software that the person using it likes and understands. Little else matters. Few of our clients have ventured beyond accounting software and are missing the competitive advantages that can be gained. In particular, CRM (Customer Relations Management) software can be of significant help to the small business owner. We recommend Highrise by 37 Signals. (Clicking on the ad in our right margin will give you a free 30-day trial). Below is a comprehensive summary of how to use it. Start by listening to the tutorials built directly into the software and then keep this for your reference.
The Fremont Group is now offering customization and support of this software for small business owners. Call 303 338 9300 for more information.
HIGHRISE CONTACTS, NOTES, CATEGORIES, TASKS, DEALS AND TAGS
The Fremont Group is recommending the use of Highrise as a preferred CRM program. It is the program that we use in our offices. This memo is intended to help you install, run and get the maximum benefit from the small investment.
What is Highrise?
- Highrise is Customer Relations Management (CRM) software. For those of you stuck in 1999, CRM software is used to coordinate your sales effort. Every sales lead is entered into the system and every time a sales lead is “touched” (any contact with them) the information is entered in the program. Therefore you develop a running log of all contacts that you company has had with every sales lead. This information is then readily available to anyone you choose to allow to see it—or not.
- The benefit of having this information should be obvious. A phone call comes in from a sales lead and anyone who answers the phone can immediately know what has been said to the person and the status of the lead.
- A second benefit is the concentration of all information about all of your sales leads in the same place. You only have to go to one place to find out email addresses (and send emails), phone numbers, addresses, maps, and all documents that you have associated with that person.
- Lastly—what no one wants to think about—you have a significant CYA document. A record of everything done with a lead.
- The second major function of the software is to significantly improve communications within your company. Beyond the obvious sales applications, the software allows you to create a “flow of events.” Every time a note is entered into the system a follow up task is entered with it. Then someone becomes responsible for following up to everything and there is a written record of the follow up to eliminate disputes.
- The benefit of this is to eliminate the “cracks” where sales were lost simply because no one followed something up.
- Secondly it saves significant time looking for things—everything gets posted on the software.
- Highrise is “Cloud-Based.” This means that the program itself is never put on your own hardware—it is stored by the company on their server.
- The first benefit of a cloud-based program is no one can screw up the program! It is impossible for someone to corrupt the program.
- The second benefit is you never have to pay for up-dates. The program gets automatically up-dated from time to time without cost or time on your part.
- The third benefit is that it can be accessed anywhere you can get on the internet. You can work from home, you can work odd hours, employees can check it on the way in, you can get it on your I Phone—anywhere you can get on the internet.
- Price. Some companies spend nearly $100,000 on software that is only 10% better than Highrise and Quickbooks. And this doesn’t count up-dates, training and maintenance. You will probably spend less than $50 per month on Highrise. The downside is that you do have to pay the bill every month on your credit card or you lose your system.
- Simplicity. If Playschool had built a CRM program it would look a lot like Highrise. You will have diverse levels of employee sophistication on the computer—trust me—anyone can run this.
How do I try it?
Go to our web site—www.tfginfo.org. On the right sidebar is an “ad” for Highrise. If you sign up there you will get a free month. If you don’t like it, don’t pay after the first month and you will not be billed.
Do I need training?
It helps. The Fremont Group will help you but first listen to the tutorial pages, read this memo, and have someone with some CRM (or at least basic computer skills) start playing with it. Remember you can’t hurt it. The issues in this memo will help you in setting it up.
Part two—Getting started
First listen to all the tutorials. They go a little fast so listen to them a couple of times. You need to get to know the “vocabulary” of the program. They are defined below but make sure that you know what the Dashboard, a Contact, a Note, a Task, a Category, a Deal and a Tag are.
Decide who should have access. There are some limits to be aware of. There is a significant price jump ($50/month) for having over 15 users. Start slow. The person who originally signs in and put s up their credit card becomes the “account owner.” The account owner and anyone you designate as an administrator have the power to modify the program—and invite or delete users. You should have at least one other administrator just in case.
When you invite a user, an email goes out to them. They get the instruction regarding how to sign in and how to create their own password. You will not need their password—but they will. Make sure they have saved their sign in and their password.
Make everyone up load a picture of themselves. It personalizes the system. You are the owner. As the owner you have some abilities that others do not. Go to “My Info” on the top right. On this page you will be able to receive alerts (as others can) but you also have the ability to Export data—this exports all of the data in the system to a zip file for backup. (Assume it will never happen but this is a good idea if you are about to be cut off for non-payment and it is simply good form to do so once in a while.) On that page is also information regarding dropboxes. This is for sending emails remotely back to the system. If you really are good you will understand and do this; if you aren’t don’t worry about it.
You can delete a user very quickly and easily. If a person leaves the company you can cut off their access immediately by editing the “Users” page. In addition, you should create “Groups.” A Group is simply a group of users that have something in common. The Board of Driectors, the Sales People, the Operations People, or whatever is appropriate in your company. This simplifies the control of access or sending of emails.
Then go to Settings. There you can play with it—you can always change it. Pull up your logo; enter your USP after your company name, choose your color scheme—customize it to suit yourself.
****hint. It might be useful for people not to use their regular email accounts for work. It can be fine but some people (myself included) have separate email accounts for work, for personal, and for sort-of-junk. Ask people what email account they want to use. If you are providing them from work use that, or, what we do, is set up a gmail account for each person as their “work” email.
There are a number of terms that you must understand.
(Note—there is an introductory page that you can eliminate once you don’t need it. It will not be discussed here.)
The Dashboard is simply a running log of all entries made in the system.
Your Contacts are all the persons and companies that you have as leads or with whom you do business. In other words—everyone.
Importing. You can import lists of people into the program including your customer lists from Quickbooks. Our clients who have done so were able to do it but it was not easy. You must export from Quickbooks to a spreadsheet, properly edit the spreadsheet and then import it to Highrise. Lists on Excel spreadsheets are relatively easy to import.
****BE AWARE that separate Contacts get set up for the company and for a person. This can cause problems if you don’t have a policy about where you will enter your data. We choose to enter all data under the person’s name rather than the company name. Remember if data is later entered under the company Contact, it will not be visible to persons who call up the Contact under the person’s name.
Contacts can be entered manually or imported. To enter a contact manually go to Contacts and on the right side of the screen click “Add a New Person.” You can also “Add a New Company” but in general we don’t recommend that you do that. We keep all of our records under the “Person.” (If you do otherwise and like it, let me know!) When you click Add a New Person a screen comes up where you enter the person’s information. More can be added later and it can be edited. You can also choose who can, or cannot, view this contact. A person without permission to view the contact will also not be able (or even aware) of the Notes and later entries relating this Contact.
On the right side of your screen when you pull up a Contact you will find a place to “Stay up to date on this person.” Just below that if you click “Turn on email up dates” you will receive an email every time anything is entered on this Contact. This can be helpful when you are waiting for someone to call or enter some record on a high-priority person. Be careful though—you can end up with a lot of emails.
Your Contacts can also be searched in a number of different manners. We will discuss Tags later but first go to your Contact page. You can find someone by typing their name in the box. This will search your Contacts for matches. You can also search for Contacts by City, State, Zip, Phone, Email, and Background by clicking on that search just below the box. Lastly you can also use “Show” and the drop box next to it to see a number of other possible searches.
*****You must establish a company rule. EVERY TIME THERE IS A TOUCH WITH A PERSON YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY ADD THEM TO THE DATA BASE AS A CONTACT. AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE MUST BE PUT IN THE CONTACT AND IT MUST BE KEPT UP TO DATE.
Notes are the entry you make any time a Contact is “touched.” A phone call—no answer—enter it. A phone call—what did you talk about? Enter it. A note must be entered EVERY time a Contact is touched and probably every time anyone even thinks about the Contact. It is through these notes that you have the strength of the system.
Regarding notes. You enter you text in the box but just entering the text doesn’t finish your task. If all you want to do is record the note then to finish you must click the “Add this Note” box just below the text that you entered. More likely (especially once you get going) you will want to do more so therefore, after you enter your text in the box, click on “Show Options (files, cases, deals and permissions).” This opens up another entire list of options.
- You can attach the note to a Case or a Deal. (This is discussed below.)
- You can determine who you want to be able to see the note. If you do nothing everyone will see it. However there may be times when you want to select the people who are able to see the note.
- You can change the date of the entry. Although it is bad form, you might be entering the notes of an out-of-office sales call you made at the end of the day before the next morning. This box will put whatever date you want on your note.
- And lastly, you can choose to email the Note to selected persons or everyone. You do that by checking the appropriate boxes. Highrise then automatically sends the emails.
One other neat feature is in the sidebar of each contact. There you will see the contact information for your Contact including their email address. You should establish a company policy that all emails sent out are sent out by clicking on the email address shown in their Contact record. This will send out the email for you AND it will also post the email as a Note for all to see. Attachments included—which can be then opened by anyone with access to the Note.
Every time a Note is entered, a Task must also be entered.
Notes are simple. Just do it. Make sure that you click “Add the Note” so that it is actually recorded.
The cornerstone of the Highrise software is the use of tasks. Every time that there is a touch with a Contact a Note is entered. Unless the lead is being closed, you also must assign a Task. A Task is the next thing that is supposed to be done to follow up on the Note. The consistent setting of Tasks changes your entire company. Things are now done and follow up becomes automatic. Each person starts their day by signing in to Highrise and checking their Tasks for the day.
Tasks fall into three categories: Tasks related to Notes, Tasks related to Cases; and Tasks not related to either Notes or Cases.
Tasks related to Notes:
After you add the text in the Note the box will, in yellow, ask you to add a Task to that Note. Click that box to add a Task associated with that Note. The Task fields then come up.
- The top line is a Heading Box. This can be used as much or as little as your company chooses. Keep the Headings short. When the Task comes up on the appropriate user’s daily tasks, this heading is shown first, followed by the category, the Contact and then the time.
- When is it due? When should the person see this Task? From the drop down box you can choose Today, Tomorrow, or a specific date and time. Or you can choose This Week, Next Week or Later. This Week means it will show up each day in the current week, Next Week it will show up each day next week and Later will simply post it at the bottom of that person’s To Do list indefinitely.
- Who is responsible? Choose the name of the person who is supposed to act—the person who will see the task. Unfortunately you cannot choose multiple people. If more than one person should receive the Task you have to enter the Task multiple times. You can (and often will) set Tasks for yourself. It simply is proper form to have a Task set with every Note and if the Task is for you, so be it.
- CHECK THE BOX TO LET EVERYONE SEE THE TASK!!! If you don’t check this box no one else will see the Task. Your company will undoubtedly create some controls to make sure the Tasks are entered and if this box is not checks that person will assume that no Task was set. There could be a time when you want to keep it private but that is very much the exception rather than the rule.
- Choose a Category. Default Categories are established for you. See Categories discussion below.
- THEN BE SURE TO CLIENT “ADD THIS TASK.” It is amazing how often new users fail to click this box and never actually add the Task that they create.
When every Note has a Task, follow up happens.
Tasks related to Cases:
Some of this discussion will be under Cases below but suffice to say that there are times when a Task is set for something other than a Note. In most of those instances the Task should relate to a Case. For example, if you need to have the company cash flow up-dated you might assign a Task to the accountant to complete the Cash Flow and post it in a Case called Accounting.
To set a Task related to a Case you use the same procedure as above. Start your screen from the Case and add the Task from the Case instead of the Note—often times it is from a Note in a Case.
Tasks not related to Notes or Cases.
These are done just by clicking “Add a Case.” We do this as a double-check on our sales follow up. When the Task is set for the next action it is common for another Task to be set a day or so later for someone to review the file and make sure that the follow-up plan is being completed.
Completing your Tasks
Each day each user starts their day by signing in to Highrise and checking their Tasks. As they complete the Tasks they:
- Add a Note as to the action that they have taken.
- Check off the box next to the completed Task. A line will go through the Task indicating that you have completed it. Do not use the trash can—then the task disappears rather than showing as completed.
- Add the next Task for the follow up—even if it is for yourself.
Step five above in how to set a Task tells you to choose a Category. Categories can create a visual reminder to the person who receives it. When you start there are default categories established for you. You can rename them, create your own or delete them. You can also assign them different colors. When a user opens their account and goes to Tasks they see the Tasks that have been assigned to them for that day. What they see is the heading followed by the Category in the color that you have chosen. To customize them for yourself click on “edit categories” and play with it. You can always change them later.
Cases are for actions that do not relate to individual clients. At The Fremont Group we currently have Cases for Board of Directors, Full Company Announcements, for each different category of employee, for our Alternative Marketing Plan, Office Expenses, Travel, and a few others. Each Case is customized to only allow access to the persons that you choose—others do not even know that the Case exists.
The use of Cases grows over time. We have our Marketing Associates post their daily reports in the MA Case; Board notes and announcements are on the Board of Directors Case, etc.
There are times when a Note that is entered on a Contact should also be posted in a Case—this is an option when you are entering the Note.
Tags are the main method of sorting your Contacts. You create your Tag names. A Contact can be given as many or as few Tags as you choose and they can be changed at any time.
An example of how we use Tags is in our Outside Sales. The inside people call and set appointments for the OS each morning. As they get an appointment the Tag the Contact with the date (year/month/day) and the initials of the OS. When the OS picks up their sales leads for the day they go to Tags and mark the multiple tags of their initials and the date. A list then comes up for that day’s leads which they then download into an Excel spreadsheet. After they run the lead the classify it ABC or D and put the location Tag on it. Now it is possible to call up (and download if desired) lists of the A leads by a certain sales person—or any other combination. (Of course they also enter their Notes and Tasks).
Tag use is an extremely useful aspect of Highrise. Although its use is different in every type of business, the ability to sort out your leads and then be able to export that list has many applications.
The use of Deals has to be controlled. It is nice that you can post a pending deal, won deal and lost deal and Deals will show each and total them for you but if you aren’t careful, Notes posted under deals will not show under the Contact and vice-versa unless you click the instruction to attach it to the Deal.
The Fremont Group uses Deals for our accounting and to track the results of all persons with whom we have had a physical touch. You will develop your own use.
The problem with Deals seems to be that you can’t delete them without losing the Notes to them. Honestly this is something that we are still learning.
Summary of Company Rules
- All entries are made under the person not under the company (unless you choose otherwise).
- Every person, vendor or client that comes in contact with the company needs to have a record created under Contacts and it must be done immediately.
- Every time a Contact is touched a Note must be entered.
- Every time a Note is entered a Task must be created—sometimes more than one.
- All emails to Contacts must be sent out through Highrise.
- Tags must be used according to company policy.
Example of Highrise Use in a Screen Printing Company
- All Sales Leads are entered into Contacts. They are Tagged by Sales Person.
- Notes are entered every time a Contact is touched and a Task is entered for the next action.
- All estimates and sales sheets are scanned and posted to the Contact—anyone who takes a call can see everything that has gone to a potential customer.
- The sales form is posted on the Note and Task is set for the sales manager to price the order. The sales person has turned on his email up-dates on the Contact so as soon as the pricing is entered he receives an email.
- Sale is made. Deal is opened. Owner turns on email up-dates. Sales form is posted and Task is set for Accounting, Art and Purchasing.
- Accounting contacts customer to verify information required for the account.
- Purchasing notifies customer by email through Highrise when delivery of product is expected and again when it is received.
- Art posts the work and communicates by email through Highrise with Customer for Art approval. When Art approval is received it is posted on the site and Task is set for Production.
- Production schedules the run and emails the customer with run date. Task is set for Accounting to create the invoice.
- Accounting emails the invoice to customer through Quickbooks.
When production is completed customer is emailed that it is available for