Monday, March 7, 2011

Why is Outlook not a CRM?

If you think Outlook is the equivalent of a CRM, think again… allow me!

Why Outlook is not a CRM by itself?

No doubt Outlook is an excellent electronic mail manager with an address book, calendar and tasks list and a CRM has an address book, calendar and to-do list. The resemblance stops there, so what’s the dif?

A good Customer Relationship Management system, like Maximizer CRM, will integrate Outlook as one of it’s windows to view and make even better use of Outlook, without reinventing it but extending it.

Here’s how:

The Flexibility of Personalization

The most powerful function in Maximizer is it’s ‘list view’. From the beginning Maximizer works like we do, it shows people or companies in a list view rather than a form for each contact. This form is called the Basic Information sheet and contains, well the basics, name, address, phone numbers, which we don’t need to look at all the time. This is a major difference as in the Address Book window you can view the exact information you need as a view into the database that can be changed at will for what you need at the time you need it. You can create a list view with specific information/fields for prospects, clients, buyers, sellers, opportunities and tasks. Each piece of information is put in a column, and each column can be the sorting column, so you can put the list in alphabetical order, postal code order, city order, the choice is as you wish. You can even put more than one piece of information in the same column, not too many CRM will do that. Each column setup that you create is saved in a list to be reused in a snap! That’s flexibility in my book!

Now Maximizer goes further by having ‘following windows’, that means when you click on a person or company in the list, it displays the related information such as other contacts for that individual or company, notes, the list of User Fields that give at-a-glance a portrait of who the contact is in relationship to you. How about having your Ideal Client Profile, where does the person fit compared to your ICP!, you can also tell then how the entry is qualified and where he/she in the sales process!

These fields are not just to know who you are dealing with; every field can be searched and grouped. Can you say ‘target marketing’! All those that meet a set of your criteria, can be searched and appear in a list you can save as a Favorite List and send a mass letter, fax or email with your latest marketing info.
With Maximizer you can even narrow a list or add to a list you are building.
And this is so easily done!

Speaking of user fields, for Maximizer CRM we call them UDFs (User Defined Fields) and they are so very powerful and flexible. These fields can be used to profile, categorize, differentiate all your companies and people/contacts, you can arrange them in the order you need or want as a directory down to 3 levels! There are no limits to the number of UDF’s in Maximizer CRM. Impossible to do this with Outlook! In it, you can have category names per contact, but you have to go into the address book, choose the tab for fields and then select a category of fields… too cumbersome.

Maximizer CRM UDFs used in the Address Book window is so easy to see in a tree (directory view) on the tab that you view at the same time that you view the contacts and with the flexibility of choosing which fields you want to see in the main window - you can use any UDFs or basic fields to sort your contacts or companies for example: by amount ‘sold this month’, plus ‘year to date’ to easily find and cater to your 20% that brings in 80% of your sales/revenue. It can be used to do target marketing or segmenting for promotion by classifying/sorting by industries, regions, city, postal codes, etc… There is no limit to the number of views and uses you can have on your information. I have used Maximizer CRM to assist me superbly and efficiently to manage lists for whatever purpose I need or can think of. Not possible with just Outlook…

Usability

When using the address book, calendar and to-do list (called Hotlist in Maximizer) of Maximizer CRM, you will make everything more efficient because an appointment is attached to a contact, person or company, and is cross-referenced as a note entered automatically for the contact. You never have to reenter a name, address or phone number.

Same thing with tasks (to-dos or Hotlist), they are attached and cross referenced to a contact or as a personal task if it doesn’t involve any contacts.

Considering the fact that contacts are entered either for a company or for an individual, so a company has all the employees/staff all together, an individual is a professional without a company name but has a few assistants or is self-employed. Then all the notes for the company and for each individual are easy to view, what has happened in the past, any appointment set in the future, any tasks past and future, this is not possible with Outlook since it is a basic address book name by name in alphabetical order.

Then consider before emails. People were sending letters, faxes, thank you notes, real Christmas cards… and some still do. This is so easily done in Maximizer CRM as a merge between names, UDF and an integrated editor or using Microsoft Word. I would not thing of using anything else to help me be efficient. For each contact and company, you have a document tab, this is a real document manager as it’s an area to keep together all the correspondence. Now with emails being more used than letters, you save significant emails that are important for the history of the relationship in that same section, they are saved with 2 clicks: right click on the email to get the drop down menu then select ‘save to …name of person…’ and the email is now a document inside Maximizer CRM and can be shared, viewed and even responded to by others if you are in a company with whom you need to share information.

There is an advanced function in Maximizer called ‘Global Edit’ that can be used in both the Address Book or in the Opportunity Management section, it makes tasks for mass editing easy and a real time saver for the user. When group of people, customers, prospects or sales opportunities need to be reassigned to a new account manager, or a note needs to be added to several entries at one time, this function makes it so simple and fast, it even allows modifying multiple UDFs at the same time!

I’ll quickly tell about the creation of Action Plan since I have another post entirely on that subject, this is the scheduling of a string of appointments and/or Hotlist tasks that is set up as a reusable template and you can chose which company or person to apply a different Action Plan template for. Is it that you want to keep in touch once a month, every two months, quarterly, etc… Or is it that you want to handle a project like organizing an exhibit and things need to be planned and executed in a timely manner, and that are consistent every time you are an exhibitor at trade shows… Maximizer CRM is your full time assistant!

Did I mention how easy it is to keep the emails in each contact documents section for history, how easy it is to have email templates…

One other thing you have in Maximizer that’s so neat, your library! This is document management that’s so very useful, all the documentation that you have for business correspondence and are not attached to a contact as they are in each individual’s documents section, this is a area to keep the latest versions of forms, catalogs, price lists, and other reusable documents, ready to be emailed to a contact.

Upgrade and scalability

If you start with either the Entrepreneur or the Team Editions, that are contact and sales management applications, it is simple and seamless to have an upgrade path to the full CRM Editions of Group and Enterprise, so that your CRM grows with you with full featured Sales, Marketing and Customer Service and Support and can synchronize with people working on the road or at another location.

Maximizer already synchronizes contacts, calendar and tasks with Outlook.

This is not an either/or, it’s both!

Finally, the integration between Outlook and Maximizer CRM is seamless.

A CRM like Maximizer provides customers/prospects/contacts/suppliers/partners management; sales opportunity management; marketing campaign management and customer service and support management (those last two are in Group and Enterprise Editions) with many functionalities both basic and advanced that Outlook doesn’t have. And it is not an either/or, it’s best using both Maximizer CRM with Outlook! May I say that they are like Batman and Robin, they work together!

Any questions anyone on this subject?

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