30 January 2018

Shoebox CRM

Nearly 20 years ago, one of my first CRM implementations was for a Baltimore-based, office interior company.  I was young and confident that I had the whole sales process and CRM thing figured out.  To be successful, clients simply needed to use what we sold, stick to the process we defined, and use the CRM the way we customized it.

Then I met Joe.  Joe was an older, well-seasoned sales guy.  He was the kind of guy that started his career back when we had secretaries, phones still had cords, and people smoked in the office.  Joe called me aside before training and said, “Sweety. . . “, Joe was also the kind of guy that always called women darling, sweety, young lady, and he meant it as a term of endearment.  It was not offensive, or condescending, it was just Joe.  “Sweety, I’m never going to use your damned software.”

“But you have to.  It’s part of the sales procedure.  All sales reports will come from the database. You have to enter your Contacts, choose their status from the defined list, track your interactions and schedule the next steps. Sales is a cycle and it is all tracked in the database.”

Joe kind of rolled his eyes at me and said, “Follow me, young lady.”

I followed him to his office where he pointed to a shoebox filled with lined 4×6 index cards, organized alphabetically with index card dividers.  Some of the index cards were handwritten, some were neatly typed on a typewriter Joe clearly had stashed somewhere in the office.  Some even had business cards stapled to them with meticulous cursive notes below.

“This is my database.  This section is everyone I have to call today.  Next divider is tomorrow.  The conversations are noted here.  Key tidbits highlighted here.  See this guy just paid for his daughter’s wedding in Hawaii.  He loves to talk about that wedding!”

I was getting frustrated, “But how do you know who are clients versus prospects?”

Joe pointed to little colored circle stickers in the corners of the cards, “The blue dot in the corner means they are an active customer.  Yellow means I need to follow up.  Green means they have a proposal.”  I respectfully listened.  In my mind the whole time thinking, I needed to have a conversation with the VP of Sales to get Joe “on the system”.

Fast forward several and several sales status meetings, in which we used all the pretty, colorful graphs and lists from the database I built.  Joe was top sales guy.  Every. Single. Month.  I sort of loved that he wouldn’t cave to “that damned computer system.”

After one of our follow up trainings, I popped into the VP of Sales’ office.  We had tried everything to gain the buy in of the entire Sales team, including Joe.  “I think we need to leave Joe alone and go ahead and assign his license to the new hire.”

What I was humbled to learn was Joe sold like a mad man without software.  Software is a small piece to successful CRM.

A few things I learned from Joe about CRM:

  • Keep it simple – Everything that was important to the sales process fit on a 4×6 index card.
  • Track what matters – Too often we get lost in the minutia of data. Data that you think is important may not actually affect the sales process. You may also overlook the things that are helpful to sales, like key tidbits worth mentioning in client conversations.
  • Standardize data input – This helps with reporting, sorting, mining data, and it helps users stay on task. For Joe it was the little color-coded dot stickers.  Define clear, standardized field categories, values and entry rules.  For instance, Prospects are contacts we’ve qualified as potential buyers.  They aren’t called Prospects sometimes and Potential Customers another.  Definition is key to quick data entry, and standardized data.
  • Work your process – When Joe completed a call, the card was noted with the outcome and refiled accordingly. If you define a process and don’t follow it, it fails every time.

What we can take away from Joe is, it’s less about the software, and more about defining your process and using your system.  If you and your team are diligent in that, the success of your CRM is far more likely.

We can’t leave Joe without one of my most memorable career moments.

“Michelle, I have something I want to show you before you leave.” There was of course a sweetheart or a darling in there somewhere. I followed him into his office certain he was going to show me he had entered some data into the database.  “Look, I upgraded my system.”  With a giant, snarky smile he pointed to the “upgraded” shoebox.  His 4×6 index cards were now neatly organized in a clear, plastic shoebox with fresh new index card dividers.

1 November 2017

Act! v20 is here!


  • Optimized Act! emarketing – create and send campaigns, track results and follow up, all without ever leaving Act!.
  • Compatibility & usability improvements – Work with Act! on Chrome for Mac, plus benefit from numerous usability improvements that make Act! even better!
  • Fresh, new look – Experience a fresh, new look with updated designs, now consistent across Windows® and Web. Updates include a modern navbar, new big button menu design, contemporary icons, and more.
  • Act! Insight dashboards – Guide decision-making with rich insights from interactive, graphical dashboards. See dynamic, visual snapshots of real-time metrics for sales productivity and performance, sales pipeline health, top-performing products, win/loss analysis, and more. This and other features available exclusively to active Act! Premium subscribers!

Couldn’t you use  more insight, more productivity, and more features?  It’s time to take advantage of all that’s new in Act! v20. Email mscott@3leafcrm.com to move to Act! v20.

25 May 2017

3 Keys to CRM Success

When people asked me what I do, it was always very easy to say, “I sell CRM software”.  While sitting in a conference session given by Barton J. Goldenberg, something I’ve felt for a few years was cemented.  According to Goldenberg, CRM software is only 20% of the solution.  If you don’t have the other key elements, and the right balance, your CRM software isn’t worth it’s logo.

So, if that’s the case, what is the right mix and what are the keys to CRM success?

  • Your People – Without your people and their buy-in, you may as well throw your CRM product, and the money you spent on it, out the virtual window. Your people are more than half of the mix.  Your solution must fit in their day, make their jobs easier, and it has to make sense.  They must know how to use it.  In short, it needs to be built on their needs, it needs to be user-friendly, and your users need to be trained.
  • Process – Your CRM tech must help uphold your process. Do you have a defined sales process? If not, no CRM software in the world will solve your sales & marketing issues.   Defining your process should be weighted at about 30% of your solution.  Spend the time to define your process.  Engage an expert (yup we do that) to take a look at your business, your process and strategy.  A defined process is mission critical to the success of your CRM.
  • Technology – There is not a CRM product out there that you can plug in and it will instantly create prospects, make sales people more productive, or make your customers happy.  The CRM solution needs to follow your business process.  And, it needs to be the right CRM solution.  Meaning, it has to fit your business needs – do you need mobility, online or offline (or both) access, on-prem or in the cloud?

Does your CRM solution have the key elements, and right mix, for success?

18 May 2017

Using CRM to turn up Customer Delight

People love to buy stuff.  Customers, the people that buy stuff, love to feel important.  And, consumers love to be wowed.  How can CRM help you up your customer delight?

I take my car in for regular service.  Thanks to my dad, I was taught that a car lasts longer if you take care of it.  (Yes dad, my oil was changed on time.)  One of the things I love about my dealership is – they know me.  OK, they make me feel like they know me.

This is how my dealership uses CRM to delight me and their customers:

“Hello, Mrs. Scott”

“Not Mrs. Scott.  Michelle, please”

“Haha. Good morning, Michelle.  What service do you need to schedule for your 2017 MDX?”

“The A15 service.”

“OK, let’s get that scheduled.  What morning works best, and are you going to need a loaner again this time?”

“Yes, please.”

“And is there anything else we can do for you while we have your MDX?”

A few things:

  1. I did not tell them the model car I have.
  2. I didn’t tell them I need a loaner. They knew.
  3. I didn’t tell them I wanted a morning appointment, they knew that mornings are my preference.

They knew all of this, because they love me and I’m memorable.

Maybe that’s not completely why.  They knew because they tracked.  They tracked those little details because their CRM system has a place to capture those details.  They were able to quickly, in the midst of a conversation, pull up my info, and see the details.  It changed a very mundane conversation – scheduling the oil change my dad taught me is key to my car’s lifespan – and made it a connection.  It’s one of the ownership experiences that has me driving my 3rd MDX.

Does our CRM do that? It should, and it can.  It is a key ingredient to ensuring your customers are delighted.

  1. Does sales & customer service user your CRM?
  2. Are there places to capture key data about the customer? (Think products they own, models, versions.)
  3. Do you capture your customers preferences?
  4. Can your users easily access those details while taking care of your customers?

To build a CRM solution to help delight your customers, drop us a line – mscott@3leafcrm.com.

10 May 2017

Spring Cleaning Your Database

What does your spring cleaning routine include?  I typically like to get in all those nooks & crannies with my Swiffer duster.  I strip everything off the desk and give it a really thorough wipe down.  Beware piles of paper, I will tend to you too.  And, I pay some close attention to my database.

3Leaf was recently featured on Act’s blog.  Check out our tips for spring cleaning your database.  Afraid to purge solo?  Give us a shout at mscott@3leafcrm.com.  We’d be happy to pull on our virtual cleaning gloves and help.


3 April 2017

Fidget Yourself to Focus

I recently took my youngest to the pediatrician to chat about some ADD coping options.  While sitting with the doctor, who was so adeptly discussing ADD and what it means with my 11 y.o., he explained how he’s also ADD, and “I’m pretty certain even without a formal eval, your Mom is too.”  As I’m poking around my purse organizing receipts, tapping away work e-mails on my phone, etc., I glance up and giggle.  (He further explained he is as well, and that many successful entrepreneurs and celebs are also at the ADD party.)

Come to find out, ADD & ADHD are many an entrepreneurs secret weapon, their super power if you will.  With them come creativity, energy, and “juggling” for which mere mortals aren’t equipped.   One of the things he (and many ADD/ADHD experts) recommend to keep our minds, both adult and children, focused and engaged. . . TOYS!

Fidgets help relieve stress, promote focus, and help to engage your whole brain.  These gadgets help tap into the creative right brain.  We’ve tried several “fidget” toys, and here are our three absolute favorites:

  1. Spinners – In the official pole of our resident “fidgeters” spinners won, hands down. We have several now.  We found our favorite so far on Amazon.  It’s perfectly balanced, great spin time, and engaged our fidgeters for extended periods of time.
  2. The Fidget Cube (https://thefidgetcube.co/) – This is a “multi-taskers” dream. With 6 sides, and 6 different fidget activities, this little number is an absolute must have for fidgety fingers.
  3. Bunchies – These little guys stick together in bunches, similar to burrs, but are soft and pliable. They’re fun to play with individually, and stimulate creativity as you rearrange them.  You can find them here.

These little gizmos may look like just toys, but they are truly effective business tools.  By engaging your tactile fidgeting, you’ll focus better & absorb information more quickly.  You may even smile a bit more!  Pick up a few to feed your fidget, spark your creativity, and engage your whole business brain!

20 March 2017

How to Make Working From Home Work

When I tell people I work from home, I know they are picturing me in my pajamas & fuzzy slippers.  Or they believe I’m using “work from home” to be PC about being a domestic goddess.  In fact, none of those are correct.  Ok, one of them is. . . I do love my fuzzy slippers.

I’ve worked from home now for 19 years.  I did the corporate cube land for several years prior.  One could say I’ve mastered the art of working from home.    If you are considering, here are five important guidelines:

  • Be honest with yourself – Do some soul-searching. Are you envisioning leisurely days spent in your PJs, answering the occasional e-mail, and filing your nails?  If so, red flag.  That is vacation, not working from home.  Plain and simple, there are some people that are good at working from home, and others that are very, very not.Some people need the office space to get in a work mind set.  You may need the office comradery and bustle.  That’s ok.  When assessing if being home-based is right for you, you have to know yourself.  Do you have enough focus to truly work from home?
  • Designate your space – If your ideal commute is up a flight of stairs, make sure you set up a designated home office. Not only does it put you in a work mind set, it also fosters efficiency and organization.  Setting up at your dining room table may be ok for the occasional work from home day, but long term you’ll want to setup an actual, designated office.Sharing your work space may not lead to home-based bliss.  I wouldn’t recommend sharing your large, double desk as a homework space for your 2 sons.  Yes, I did that.  It was short-lived, and ill-conceived!  Request that your family or roommates know that your office is a work place.  Set boundaries.  My family knows that during business hours, I’m working and if the door is closed to the office, it’s off limits.
  • Design your space – You will spend more time in your home office than any other room in the house. Take the time to make it your own.  Map out your workspace to be efficient and attractive.  Decorate your space.  Pick a color that you enjoy, and that motivates you.If you can, invest in business grade equipment – monitors that are easy on your eyes.  Yes, monitors.  Dual monitors are a game changer if you haven’t already embraced that setup.  Purchase a decent printer if you print documents.  I also highly recommend a desk scanner.  There are several out there, but eliminating as much paper as possible helps keep your home office organized and clutter free.  And most importantly. . . invest in a good chair.  Having spent the first 5 or so years in a crappy, bargain basement office chair, my back paid for that.  My Herman Miller Aeron and I – or more likely my lower back – are dear friends.
  • Defined hours – A slippery slope of working from home is that you are always physically at work. This piece of advice cuts both ways.  Define your hours for both working and not    Exercise restraint outside of your defined work hours.  If you don’t want to clients to expect to reach you after hours, don’t make it common practice to answer e-mails after your set hours.  Set the boundaries that you are available from these hours to those.  Believe it or not, it exudes business confidence and value.Consider your ideal work/life balance, and honor that.  If part of your decision is based on being available for your kids, like it is for me, try to limit taking work “home” after hours.  Also, make sure your friends and family know that you actually work.  It’s far easier to stay on task if you don’t get mid-day invitations to play hooky.
  • Embrace the perks – Wear your fuzzy slippers to work. (I do recommend actually putting on day-time clothes every day!)  Take the dogs for a walk over what would be your lunch hour.  Enjoy the perks of working from home, as long as it doesn’t overtake the work.Set the expectation with both your clients, and your friends and family.  For instance, 3Leaf has ½ day Fridays in summer. My clients are aware, I set the expectation, and over the years, only one single client has pushed back. Embrace the upsides of being home-based.  Be conscious of the work/play line and don’t let the playtime overtake your business time.

Working from home can be an amazing setup.  I wouldn’t trade my fuzzy slippers and foot warming labs for a corner office.  If you’re considering it, make sure you have the discipline to truly work from home, carve out your dedicated space, make it yours, define and respect your work yours, and enjoy!

11 August 2016

The Best Way to Send Emails

3Leaf is featured as a guest blogger again this week at act.com.  Check it out or read on. . .

Do you e-mail your clients? Of course you do! Written communication has long been the top method to communicate in business, with e-mail taking the lead overall as computers and internet connected devices infiltrated out lives. What is the right way to send e-mail to your clients?

Yes, there is a right, or at least a best way to send e-mails to your clients. To know which is best is all about the circumstance. A few factors that play into how to send include:
• Your audience – who are you sending to
• Size of your send – how many recipients are in your send
• E-mail design – what your e-mail should look like plays into the best way to send your e-mail

Sending to one Contact
When your audience is one, or even a couple of Contacts, your e-mail client – like Outlook® – is easy, quick and efficient. Act! can even records a history of the e-mail sent. (You can follow the instructions in this Act! KB article to integrate your Outlook® & Act!.)

History TabThis is great if you have a simple, primarily text only, message you need to send. You can click on the e-mail address in Act! and your e-mail client opens, or you can simply send the e-mail directly from Outlook® and the Act! e-mail integration will make sure it’s dropped in the Contact’s history tab.
Sending to Multiple Contacts
This can be a subject of deep discussion with many of our customers. Before we get into the “right way” to manage these types of sends, it warrants a little education of the why behind the how. If you are sending to multiple Contacts via e-mail, you are more noticeable to spam filters.

Spam filters – According to good old Merriam-Webster, Spam – noun – e-mail that is not wanted: e-mail that is sent to large numbers of people and that consists mostly of advertising.

You may shake your head and say “I’m not sending spam. I’m not sending to a “large” number of people, and everyone wants the info I’m sending them.”

Think about e-mails as letters. If you take 25 pieces of mail to the post office at one time, someone will notice. Spam filters are similar. There are so many spam monitors out there, that chances are one of them will notice. Depending on the thresholds of the different spam cops out there, you are running the risk of being tagged as a spam sender.

So, before you send those not-so-many e-mails straight out of your e-mail client, really think before you click.

Act! Templates & Mail Merge
If you are sending to a handful of Contacts, you’re confident what you are sending won’t fall into the land of spam, a mail merge to e-mail may be a good option. At the most basic level, you’ll:

1. Create an Act! template
2. Perform a Lookup
3. Perform your mail merge

Your recipients each receive an individual e-mail the history is recorded in Act!.

Act! Emarketing
act emarketing_CMYK_blk
Act! emarketing is a subscription based e-mail marketing tool, integrated right into your Act! database. We recommend using Act! emarketing when you are sending to a large number of Contacts – rule of thumb on “large” being 25 or more. A solution like Act! emarketing offers the ability to design an eye-catching e-mail, without any real design skills. You can schedule your send, and track the success of your send.

We even use Act! emarketing for one off e-mails, to single recipients, when we want to send an e-mail that is prettier than a regular e-mail, or we want tighter control over what the recipient will see on their end. Meaning, if you heavily design/format your e-mail in Outlook, there is no guarantee that your recipient’s e-mail client will display it even remotely close to what you designed. We like that we have tracking for opens & clicks.

Act! emarketing also ensures you’re compliant with spam rules, like offering an opt-out option. For us at 3Leaf, the biggest reasons to use Act! emarketing are:
• Design capabilities
• Personalization
• Call lists
• Reporting
• Scheduling

These are all tips that help ensure opens. That’s truly the key, isn’t it? You’re sending your e-mail with every intention of the recipient opening it. Why not use the best strategy to raise that likelihood?

16 June 2016

3 Ways to get personal with Act!

CustomerWhen Act! reached out looking for guest blog entries, we were up for the writing.  We love providing tips & tricks to help you get the most out of your Act!.

Check out the latest Act! blog, by yours truly – “3 ways to get personal with Act!“.