For any business, one of key challenges is to learn to manage new leads and client prospects. Â This may be especially true for a small business – one that can’t afford to have a dedicated sales staff to follow up on leads. Â In business parlance, this is called “Customer Relationship Management” or CRM. Â And, there’s a whole field of software dedicated to just this task.
At EH Design & Consulting, we’ve recently started using Highrise from 37Signals to help us respond to customer inquiries, stay on top of leads, follow-up, Â etc.
After using the service for just two months, I’ve found it to be a critical component to what we do.
At EH Design & Consulting we’ve found that some of the “simple” tasks regularly set us apart from many other companies. Â This includes simple tasks such as responding to all e-mails within 24 hours, returning phone calls and all voicemails, doing what we promised we would do, etc. Â It seems like these are the simplest of tasks. Â But, these simple tasks have set us apart from other companies – often companies much larger than us.
Highrise, has helped to make these seemingly simple (but often overlooked) tasks much easier to accomplish. Â Here’s just four of our highrise secrets:
1. Â BCC every e-mail to a client to Highrise
Every time we send out a follow up e-mail, a question, a thought…whatever… we BCC that e-mail to our Highrise Drop Box account. Â I’ve put the Highrise Drop Box e-mail in my address book. Â So, I just type in the word HIGHRISE in the BCC field.
Now, whenever I go to my HIGHRISE screen (which is every day – many times) – I can instantly see all the e-mails sent to a client. Â What we’ve said, when we said it, etc.
2. Â Make A New Task When You Create a New Contact
Every time we make a new contact in Highrise, we Immediately make a task that is 1-2 weeks out (depending on the nature of the contact) for following up. Â We NEVER, NEVER, NEVER make or import a contact without at the same time immediately making a new task for this contact to follow up. Â This helps to guarantee that the follow up happens.
Highrise then e-mails us when this task is due. Â We log into Highrise see the task (For Example: follow up on Jason Fried), Click on the e-mail for Jason and send out the follow up.
Since we started the new e-mail by clicking on the e-mail link, There is automatcially a BCC entered to copy the e-mail to Highrise.
Every time we accomplish a task (such as: follow up on Jason Fried), we immediately make a new task for the same person. Â Typically this task is just to follow up again in two more weeks or something similar. Â But, we make it a policy to NEVER cross off a task without at the same time making a new task.
Typically the less contact we’ve had with a client, the new tasks get farther and farther in the future. Â We might go from a new task being a couple days in the future to a new task being a week in the future. Â Then from a week to two weeks, and then off to a month or two, etc. Â We generally don’t stop until we feel like we have closure.
Never mark a task off without making a new taks
4. Â Use TAGS to help create a Sales Funnel
We have 9 tags (each one starting with a number 1-9 – so they line up nice) that represent our sales funnel. Â The tags are items like “1 – contact” for first contact and “2 – contact” for second contact. Â Later we move on to “5 – Quote Sent” and “6 – Quote Accepted Waiting…”, etc.
We have also added a few non-numeric tags. Â One in particular is COLD. Â We use this when we feel like it is time to stop the Complete a task / make a new task chain (item 3 above). Â When we feel like it is time to stop this, we tag a person as COLD. Â Once a contact is COLD, we don’t force ourselves to make new tasks. Â We complete the task and then leave it at that.
On a loosely regular basis, we look through our COLD list and ask if we need to warm any one up, if we’ve ran into any of these, etc.
There’s really a lot we have learned and a lot we are still learning. Â We have other “secrets” we use to leverage Highrise and we’re always learning more – for example, right now we are looking at MailChimp integration. Â Simply put, there is no way we could do what we do, without the help of Highrise. Â Give it a try and let us know what you think.