Tag Archives: CRM

The #1 Reason CRM Implementations Fail

Over 60% of all CRM implementations fail. Crazy, right?

There are many, many, many articles out there that explore why this may be. Continue reading The #1 Reason CRM Implementations Fail

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

New Features and Updates: Scheduled Emails, URL Support for Custom Fields, and More

You asked, we listened! And we’ll keep on listening…

A few months ago, we sent a survey to all of our customers asking what they thought about karmaCRM and what we could do to make it better. We received a treasure trove of information, and, over the past several weeks, we’ve been hard at work putting that feedback into action.

We’re very excited to share the first round of new functionalities with you today.

Without further ado, here’s they are!

Print the calendar as a calendar

One of the bigger feature requests we is the ability to print out the calendar in calendar format.  Now you can do just that!

Schedule emails to send later

Drafting that perfect email at 3 am, but don’t want your prospects to know you’re neurotic? You can now use the “Send Later” feature to schedule your emails to go out at a more reasonable time.

This feature is available to customers on the per-user plan. (If you’re not on this plan, contact us so we can set you up with a demo.)

Have a clickable URL as a custom field

You can now insert a properly formatted URL within a custom text field, and it will automatically become clickable.

Export more task info to your CSV

When you create a task export or backup, you’ll now see completed_at and completion_notes included in the exported CSV.

Access MailChimp and email templates, even if you’re not an admin

In the past, only the admin who added the MailChimp integration could use it. Now, all users on an account will be able to see MailChimp information.

Similarly, all users can access and create email templates. If you’re a user, you’ll just see your own, but if you’re an admin, you’ll see all.

Wish your customers “Happy Birthday”

OK, so this one isn’t from the survey, but everyone likes to feel special on their birthday. Simply add the “Birthday” field to your contact form, and the system will even auto-calculate your contact’s age.

(This is just the “birthday” beginning. We have secret future plans to help make you the hero on your contacts’ birthdays. Stay tuned!)


Thanks to all of our customers who requested these improvements. We hope they will benefit all karmaCRM users.

We’re continuing to develop our software based on user feedback. Be sure to check back in a month for the next installment.

Not a karmaCRM user yet? Give it a test drive for free.

I am a passionate inbound and content marketer. My goal is to create content that educates, engages, and helps people do their jobs better. In my offline life, you can almost always find me attending live theatre.

Must-Have CRM Features for Small Businesses

Small businesses are scrappy. Nine times out of ten, they’re made up tough, creative go-getters who aren’t afraid of hard work.

Okay, I made up that stat.

But not this one: Since 1990, as big business eliminated 4 million jobs, small businesses added 8 million new jobs. While big businesses are toppling like bloated Goliaths, small businesses are rising like scrappy little Davids.

And the little guys have different needs from their big competitors and colleagues. Here are the must-have CRM features for small businesses.

Ease of use

Ease of use is the kingpin of features — it’s what you need to make all your other features fall into place. It means speedy adoption, streamlined interfaces, and intuitive design. Rockstar usability improves user adoption, software satisfaction, and your team’s productivity.

But beware! Just because a CRM is well known doesn’t mean it’s easy to use. Imagine a world in which octopuses and monkeys ran the show (stick with me). If you were a monkey and the most popular computer system was built for an octopus (waterproof, with four keyboards, etc.), you and your monkey team would waste an amazing amount of time trying to adapt to that industry-standard piece of equipment.


To be easy to use, your software needs to be the right size. A CRM with every feature under the sun is probably too bloated to be the most user-friendly tool for your small business. Chances are, your team would use just a small fraction of an enterprise system and lose a lot of time navigating around inessential features. Instead, go with a CRM that’s made just for you and your team’s needs.


Speaking of made for you, nothing quite says “perfect fit” like the ability to customize.

Moving into a new CRM is like moving into a new home. Your data fields, your dashboard, and your task list need to be just so. Any aspect that can’t be adjusted for the way you work will just get in the way. You’ll constantly be tripping over it.

This is especially true for small businesses. Your sales processes, follow-up strategies, and contacts will likely change as you evolve. Larger businesses may be able to get by with fixed strategies and platforms, but you need CRM that grows with you.

Contact information tracking

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s essential that your CRM can, you know, track your customer info. Like every other feature, your CRM’s contact info tracking should work with you, be easily accessible, and enhance — not impede — the way you work.

If you track very specific fields, such as fiscal year start date or hat size, look for a CRM with customizable customer data fields.

Email templates

Think of the number of emails your team sends in a week. Now, think of how many nearly identical emails your team sends in a week. It’s a lot, right?

You’re repeating sales techniques across customers and repeating appointment-setting emails with small tweaks across clients. You’re even sending similar emails to your team . . . over and over again.

When you have a small team, efficiency is the name of the game. Without templates, you’re reinventing the wheel every time for no reason. Tighten up your ship with a CRM with built-in email templates.

Follow-up tracking

The beauty of a CRM is you can see the big picture that emerges out of all the pieces that make your business work. The interactions you have with your customers — the emails, the phone calls — these are the small, steady, daily tasks that lead to big wins.

Your CRM should let you track all of that hard work over time so you can better understand what’s working for your business. A good CRM will be your virtual assistant, giving you a daily plan for where your energy will be best spent.

With follow-up tracking, you can systematize your outreach efforts:

  • Schedule regular email and phone call reminders to help you nurture your leads
  • Remind you of contacts who haven’t heard from you for a bit
  • Pinpoint exactly when you should contact your customers and leads, which will increase your chances of hearing back from them
  • Help you figure out whether your contacts like text, email, or phone best

When you’re working with a small team, this kind of virtual assistant can spell the difference between scraping by and knocking it out of the park.

Looking for more? Check out our blog on everything you need to know about CRMs, for newbies.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

Why “Ease of Use” is the Most Important Feature of CRM Software

What are the most important features of your CRM? You’re probably thinking customizable contact fields, analytics, or being able to email from right inside your contact screen. But you’d be wrong. The single most important feature of your CRM is ease of use.

A little over 70% of senior executives would trade functionality for ease of use. Too many features can be overwhelming. We may think we need the app with all the bells and whistles, but when we look practically at how we use our software, extra features can really get in the way. Muck up the works.

Ease of use, on the other hand, is one feature that will help make your team’s day-to-day workflow simpler, happier, and frustration-free.

So, just what are we talking about when we talk about ease of use?

Here’s a great breakdown of some of the hallmarks of primo usability:

  • Simplicity. Is it so straightforward your technophobe uncle could use it?
  • Speed. Is it quick as a bunny after downing a shot of espresso?
  • Lack of Disruptions. Is it a smooth operator?
  • Ease of Integration. Is it BFFs with your favorite sales tools?
  • Consistency. Is it as reliable as Old Faithful?

With those things in mind, it’s a little clearer why ease of use is so important. That list is pretty much everything you could dream of in a new tool for your team.

But there’s more!

Here are three big benefits of top-notch usability.

User adoption

When a CRM is easy to use, it’s its own best advertisement. It sells itself to your team so they want to use it. This helps you get over the initial hurdle of convincing your team that they need a new system to begin with.

The tools your team uses should make their job easier. And if learning your CRM is a job in itself, your team is going to take to it as willingly as a kitten to water.

An easy-to-learn, intuitive CRM, on the other hand, makes for smooth and happy sailing.


And speaking of happy, an easy-to-use CRM is integral to your team’s overall job satisfaction. Your team will spend a lot of their time each day interacting with your CRM. For most teams, especially in client-facing businesses, their CRM is one window on their computer that’s  always open.

And as with any window you gaze through day in and day out, your team will notice the little imperfections in your CRM. The little daily frustrations, hiccups, and confusions in a difficult-to-use CRM are like the cracks, nicks, and bug guts on your car windshield. They make you a little less adept at getting where you need to go, they impede your ability to see the whole picture accurately, and they make the job of going places less fun.

With an easy-to-use CRM, your team can just cruise on through their work days. An easy-to-use CRM, like a spotless windshield, facilitates a big-picture view, helps your team focus on what’s most important (your clients and contacts), and makes them that much happier at their job.


Happiness isn’t all you have to gain from a simple CRM. Your productivity will increase as well, because happy people work harder.

In a recent study, 70% of staff said poorly performing technology is a drain on their productivity rates. Poor technology is also demotivating and results in higher employee churn.

You may not think a complex piece of software would trip up your team’s smooth functioning or even contribute to turnover. But technology is, in many ways, another member of every business team. Overly complex tools impede performance — much in the same way a difficult teammate would.

An easy-to-use CRM is a team player. It does what a CRM does best, and it does it well: it speeds connection, streamlines workflow, and keeps your team organized. Above all, it supports your team to focus on what it does best: grow your business, build relationships, and get stuff done.

There you have it — the power of ease of use in a nutshell!

Looking to get down to basics? Check out our blog on all you need to know about CRM, geared right toward CRM newbies.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

The One Thing Everyone Gets Wrong about CRM

I’m about to say the unthinkable – that a primitive, cell-toting spreadsheet can be just as effective as any million-dollar-a-month CRM.

“WHAT?” you say? “Aren’t you the founder of a CRM company? Blasphemy!

It really doesn’t matter if you use a spreadsheet, a Rolodex, or a complex CRM; without the right strategy, you won’t make it far. It’s the development of this overall strategy that most people miss. If you rush this journey by jump right into picking a CRM, you’ll end up with a lack of clarity that usually spirals into angry salespeople, unused products, and general chaos in the streets.

Let’s consider an all-too-typical story.

Meet Biff Jones.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 5.08.42 PM

He’s the sales manager at Goats-for-Pets LLC. He’s been tasked with finding a CRM. Why? He doesn’t really know, he’s just been told by his boss / wife / coach that he needs one. Biff is pressed for time, so he Googles “Best CRM for (Insert Industry Here)” and signs up for a trial for the first 5 he finds.
Before he has time to say “Jimmy Crickets,” he’s neck-deep in a powerful deluge of trial emails, all equally eager to close the deal.

The products are all starting to bleed together.

He’s getting 17 onboarding emails a day, all screaming for his attention.

Finally the trials expire and it’s time for a decision. On a tight deadline, he picks one, Russian-roulette style and sashays out an email out to the team, fingers crossed, whimpering, “Here’s our new CRM; use it.”

And that’s that.

Without any shared strategy, no one is communicating, and the CRM starts to resemble the Tower of Babel. Through sheer grit, a few salespeople manage to salvage the CRM and trudge on. Everyone else fades, like your favorite blue shirt when it was washed with that pesky generic detergent.

Soon, most people are back to notes on cocktail napkins. The red-faced manager is trying to get the team to use the system again, and can’t understand why this shiny new $500-a-month tool is gathering dust.
Eventually the company decides to cancel the CRM because no one is using it, and they start the whole process over. Rinse, repeat, and guess what happens about 6 months later … rinse, and repeat again!

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone – CRM initiatives currently have a 63% fail rate, according to a new study by Merkle Group Inc.

A major contributor to CRM failure is that companies skip the less glamorous planning phase and jump right into trialing software. We’d argue that trialing software doesn’t come into play until step three. After onboarding countless people to CRM, we’ve seen the same confusion and lack of clarity arise time and time again.

Based on this insight, we’ve developed a few steps that can be your lighthouse in the angry sea of CRM.

  • Understand your goals
  • Make the commitment
  • Pick the tool (hint: one is better than none)
  • Define your processes
  • Develop your personal CRM routine
  • Measure and optimize

Understand your Goals

Bring your whole team in, and discuss what you want to accomplish by having a CRM. Is it to increase referrals, close bigger deals, or just better organize your existing customers? Each of these might have very different implications when it comes to picking the right tool. There are a LOT of options out there, so having some criteria to narrow it down really helps.

This clarity on your CRM objectives will also help you measure success later!
Once you know what you are searching for, and BEFORE you start finding software, do some internal soul searching. How serious are you about making this CRM work? This is the single most important aspect of being successful with CRM.

Make the Commitment

I hear from people all the time, who are interested in CRM, but won’t commit. They are overworked, overwhelmed, and constantly dropping the ball, but haven’t made the firm commitment to change.
To be at the top of your game, you have to escape the rat race and invest your time in the right areas. It’s not just a commitment to use CRM regularly, it’s a commitment to growth, and being better than you were last year.

Make the commitment: Dive in and don’t look back. If you don’t make the commitment, do yourself a favor and stick to gmail chaos. You’ll just end up back there, a few months later, and a few hundred dollars poorer.

To do CRM right, you’re going to need to invest time, period. If you’re not committed, stop here.

If you’ve dug deep and decided enough is enough – then you can proceed to picking the right tool for the job.

Pick the Tool

So now you’re on a roll. You have clarity on your goals; you’re committed to kicking ass.


Now it’s time to apply these goals to the selection process. If you’ve decided that increasing referrals is your number one priority, then you want to look for a CRM that focuses there, like karmaCRM or Contactually. If you have the leads and want to increase your daily output capacity, you might pick a transactional selling tool like Close.io.

You can see how having this clarity helps you dramatically reduce potential options, and allows you to refine your search to specifics.

Here are a few things to consider when picking a CRM:

  • How is their support?
    Do they respond quickly? Do you feel like they actually answer your questions, instead of responding with canned gobbledygook?
  • Do they have a mobile app?
    With so much of sales happening on the road, you want to make sure you can get to your data anywhere.
  • How much of the product will you actually … actually use
    They might have a ton of bells and whistles, but when it comes down to it, what features do you need, day in and day out? The more bloat, the more unlikely you’ll be to put this tool to effective use.
  • What integrations do they have?
    It’s important that you don’t have to change too much of how you do things already, in order to accommodate a CRM. The higher the friction, the lower the adoption.
  • How long have they been around?
    Do they have Capterra reviews, do they have a twitter following, have they published recent blog posts? CRM is a highly competitive market, and tools come and go with the wind. Make sure you’re buying into a product that’s here to stay

This phase can last a long time, so don’t be intimidated. It’s important you give trial periods time to breathe, so you can see how they align with your vision. Once you’ve found that alignment in a product, it’s time to craft processes to define how this thing will be used on a daily basis.

Define your Processes

Think through the workflow. How will the team interact with this product? Who’s going to do what, and what parts of the tool should we ignore? Be proactive and ensure everyone is using the tool the same way. You might consider nominating a process-oriented team member to help craft the CRM strategy.

We’ve seen entire teams passionately using in their CRM … in 30 very different ways.

Avoid building a CRM Slum; it’s not fun to clean up after.

Proactively ask your team these questions:

  • What does our sales process look like?
  • Will we use the system fields, or do we need to create our own?
  • What features will we use?
  • What features won’t we use? (Then, ideally, these can be hidden from view.)
  • If we’re using open tagging, can we agree in advance what tags to use?
  • How will lead assignment work?
  • Who’s going to be the CRM manager?
  • What integrations will we be using?

This process paves the way to how you as an individual will be using the platform. Despite what marketing jargon says about “automatic, automated, save time, shave time,” you still need to spend good ol’-fashioned human hours in your CRM to keep things clean-shaven and relevant.

Build a Personal CRM Routine

Beyond defining how you’ll use CRM in general, you should consider crafting your own personal CRM routine. True, the better CRMs will do a lot of heavy lifting for you, but you’re still going to have to talk with it, to maintain a relationship.

While this isn’t an exact science, here’s a general idea of how to invest your time with CRM:

  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day reviewing and updating the status of current leads.
  • Take a few hours a week nurturing relationships, sharing articles, sending emails and doing follow-up.
  • Once a week, do a full review to make sure people are in the right stages, new contacts are properly categorized, and your tasks are getting done.

By doing this, you learn to trust the data in your CRM. This trust becomes the foundation for growth as you start to have more relationships than you can keep straight all by yourself.

And you’re done, right? Now, the profits will start rolling in! No, don’t stop here. You’re doing great, but don’t get too complacent. You got to constantly measure, optimize, and push to stay ahead of the Joneses.

Measure and Optimize

By following these steps, you’ve definitely increased the likelihood of succeeding with your CRM initiative – See there, Biff! You’re not done, though; it’s not a one-time deal. Success requires constant review and optimization. Being the best is a constant effort, but at least you’ll start on the right foot. You might even consider a quarterly review of your CRM to see how it’s helping you get closer to your company goals.

You could look into what sort of internal features the CRM has for goal setting and measurement. Figure out ways to keep you and your team accountable.

What do you think?

Each step in this process is a great blue whale, and warrants its own deep dive. We’re going to be publishing separate posts on each of these topics, and eventually putting it all together in an eBook. I’d love to hear your experiences, and how we can improve the CRM adoption experience together.

Whew, there it is. We’d love to hear about your experience in embarking on the CRM journey. Did we miss a step?

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

The 11 Essential Types of Software You Need For Your Business To Succeed

At KarmaCRM, we’re all about helping you become more productive with your business. Here are the 11 essential types of business software you need to do better, make more sales, and achieve business success:

1 – Call automation

When you’re a small business, you want to leave a phone number around. In fact, having a phone number present increases paying customers and user interaction, perhaps a sign that your company is reputable and ready to do business at any time. How do you deal with all those calls streaming in though?

Grasshopper can help by setting that phone number through a virtual management layer that helps a call leap through the cell phones of your employees. Customers call the main line you display and then the call hops from one mobile phone to another until somebody can pick up and talk, ensuring that your promise of caring for your customer comes true.

2 – Customer Relationship Management

You want to know as much as possible about your customers. There’s no better way to do that than to store notes and insights in a customer relationship management software. Think of it as a living database that gets updated every time your team contacts a customer. A CRM helps frame a collaborative effort for everybody on your team to nurture relationships together.

We’re a bit biased, but we believe you’ll quickly see that KarmaCRM is the best value on the market. You can have up to 15 users collaborate together for $41/month–a per user cost of $2.75 a month, a fraction of most CRM systems out there.

3 – Email management

Do you feel like you’re drowning in email? One of the ills of the digital age has been the increase in unwanted communication because of how easy it is to email. Sometimes, it feels like there’s just not enough time to open your inbox, nevermind respond to it!

Missed emails can be the death of your business. Each email could represent a new growth opportunity that you haven’t seized. To be on top of your inbox, you’ll need a business software tool like Boomerang that can automatically tag your emails and resurface them if either you or the sender doesn’t follow up within a certain amount of time.

4 – Freelancer management

Need somebody to step in and help you out for a bit? It can be hard finding the right freelancers that can help get you to the next level, or can help you with a task you’ve been dreading.

Fortunately, services like Fiverr help you get people for creative tasks for $5 or slightly more, and platforms like Upwork can help you locate quality freelancers willing to work for you on a hourly rate. You can grow quickly with other people working for you.

5 – Payment processing

Have you ever needed to take credit card payments? Jack Dorsey of Square founded the company to help process payments seamlessly. With a wireless square hardware piece that can attach to any tablet, the company helps you collect payment at a fraction of the price of regular credit card processing. It handles all your receipts as well.

If you’re looking for online credit card collection, look no further than Stripe. This business software tool will help you process credit cards in the blink of an eye and automate away all the pesky security and communications issues that usually come with customer payment. You’ll be able to collect credit card payments for online services provided you have some friendly developers to help you out.

6 – E-Commerce

Have you ever wanted to sell your goods online? Take a look at Shopify, the full suite e-commerce solution that makes building an online store as simple as blogging.

Go from having no web presence at all to a website dedicated to selling your wares online.

You might want to have some help with this, but you don’t need to hire technical people. The Shopify interface is set up so you can build everything yourself even if you have never written a line of code.

7 – Accounting

Accounting is always a pain point. You need to record how your business is doing, but it can be a mess of a paper trail. Web accounting platforms like Freshbooks and Wave help simplify that pain by offering you a seamless way to record invoices, payments, and more. By giving you analytics and allowing for collaboration between different team members, accounting software can make sure that you’re not too busy counting your sales to make even more.

8 – Internal Communications

Ever wished you had a central place where all your team could get together and talk with one another? Slack is as close as you’ll get. The super chatroom allows people to interact with one another seamlessly, allowing everybody on the team to reach out to one another individually or as a group. Chat channels can be curated to talk about general, random or business-specific topics.

You can integrate a whole bunch of business software solutions so that the Slack chat room becomes populated not only with your team’s communications, but also its actions. Imagine a searchable dashboard that could show you what your team was thinking and doing, a stream of Google documents being made along with the communication and context around it. This is what Slack and internal communications platforms offer now.

9 – Social Media Management

You should be on social media. It’s one of the most important channels for a business to differentiate itself and reach new customers. How do you manage all those different social outlets though?

A business software tool like Buffer can help you schedule all your posts at once. You can then analyze exactly what results they’re bringing for engagement and clicks.

10 – Social Media Monitoring

With all the traffic that’s happening around your brand online, you need to analyze different customer conversations and engage with people.

Check to see what people are saying with monitoring tools like Mention. These business software tools pull in conversations around the web into an easy-to-view dashboard with easy export capability so you can analyze exactly what’s happening around your brand online.

11 – Swag management

Every small business needs swag for different reasons. Maybe you want to do local events. Maybe you want to hand them out as gifts. Whatever the reason, company t-shirts and pens are often one way to say that you’ve made it as a company and as a brand.

It can get cumbersome dealing with individual orders, especially if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, services like Printification help you manage everything from design to order fulfillment so you can get to handing out swag faster.

With software for call automation, customer relationship management, email management, freelancer management, payment processing, e-commerce, accounting, internal communications, social media management, social media monitoring and swag management, you’ll be well on your way to business success!

What kind of business software do you think is essential to your business? Comment below 🙂


I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.