(This column originally appeared in Forbes)
Most software companies don’t have the budgets of Microsoft and Google to spread the awareness of their products and that’s a big challenge for them. It also presents a missed opportunity for businesses that could take advantage of these applications if they only knew about them.
So allow me to help. These are seven software applications and platforms that can work with — or in place of — your customer relationship management system and I bet you never heard of them. I have no relationship with these organizations, other than my clients who benefit from their products. But I do intend to recommend them.
For workflow automation, consider Process Street. Starting at $100 per month for a team, the application provides an easy way to create workflows for any process within a company and then ensure that it’s automated with reminders and alerts along with progress tracking and metrics. It integrates with more than 3,000 applications and uses “low code/no code” tools to enable anyone with a little tech experience to custom develop a solution tailored to an organization’s needs.
For a great cloud-based database, use Airtable. This application — which starts at $10 per seat per month — is like a spreadsheet on uber-steroids. You can first create unlimited tables and then bring in data from multiple sources, build custom interfaces and combine your data with automation to speed up your processes. You can even use it as a stand-alone CRM by taking advantage of one of the many pre-built templates that’s provided by the company. I have many clients who love this platform because it’s so easy to setup and flexible to customize.
To move large amounts of data from multiple data sources into your preferred destination (a CRM system or any other database) then consider Fivetran. This powerful database tool can pull, load and replicate data from more than 200 cloud applications. This is an advanced tool that can also provide marketing and customer analytics and is popular with both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure developers.
There are many good cloud-based communications platforms, but both smaller and mid-sized businesses that struggle with spam calls would be very interested in Cloudli. This is a communications platform that provides Voice over IP (VoIP) phone services combined with AI to block spam calls. It also has excellent business texting, “carrier-grade” VoIP connectivity and even digital faxing (and yes, some industries like healthcare still do this) features. Pricing begins at $25 per month for two users.
Running a nonprofit? Then you might want to consider Bloomerang as your primary CRM. Starting at $99 per month for 1,000 contacts, this cloud-based platform has excellent tools to facilitate online giving and payment processing as well as the ability to build a comprehensive donor database for marketing and integration that can integrate with many other nonprofit and for-profit platforms.
Managing credit risk is critical, especially when you’re running a business in a slowing economy. Using Nuvo can help your salespeople minimize this risk before an order is placed — and a commission is denied. Nuvo provides a one-stop-shop for credit applications. During your sales process a prospect fills out the form you design and — using its internal workflow — Nuvo will do the due diligence. And your company saves time and money by avoiding all the printing scanning, emailing, faxing (did I mention that some companies still do this?) and uploading. It has an easy capturing system for key business info, resale certificates, trade references, bank details, e-signatures, and personal guaranties. The service leverages data from more than 10,000 financial institutions to report on any potential credit issues ranging from histories of overdrafts, legal red flags and available lines of credit. Pricing is custom.
One final little app that I have to include here is CountThings. It’s not exactly a CRM thing, but it’s pretty cool. Why? From your mobile device you can take a picture or video of your inventory (different shaped bars, tubes, logs, lumber, seeds, plugs…you get it, right?) and the app will quickly count them for you. It’s not perfect all the time, but the company promises that using its templates and with its available support the application gets better and better. And once you get it to a certain level of accuracy the app can save significant time in the counting process so that your inventory is right and your sale people know what they have in stock. You can buy monthly or 24-hour licenses.
Am I right? Ever heard of these applications? I bet you haven’t. Are they helpful? I bet they are. And hopefully you can put some of these technologies to use this year to increase your company’s productivity….and profitability.