When you build out your sales pipeline, an approach that works on the understanding that most of your sales opportunities will follow a certain series of steps before becoming a client, you’ll need tools to help you manage it. From systems that manage your contacts and help you visualise it to software that lets you nurture leads or schedule appointments, the number of platforms you need can add up.
And that means your overheads can too.
Luckily, there are many free tools that can help limit how much you need to spend on managing your pipeline.
To nurture the leads that are coming in, you’ll need a tool that helps you send emails to your subscribers, leads and prospects. This will allow you to maintain contact, update them with company news or initiatives and send mailers.
Mailchimp is one of the most well-known email platforms, particularly for small businesses. There are service tiers for it, however, the free service works well for most businesses.
Scheduling tools are a great way to free up your time and eliminate the back and forth that comes with trying to set appointments. These integrate with your calendar and allow people to schedule time with you only during moments that aren’t already booked.
The free version of this tool is set up for a single user, but each member of your team could sign up individually. It integrates with Google, Office365, Outlook and iCloud and provides a personalised calendar link for you to share.
This program only integrates with Google or Office365, but has a wealth of other features that let it compete with other options. This includes integrations with several video conferencing platforms and the ability to grant team access.
Customer Relationship Managers (CRMs)
Bitrix 24 is a free CRM that includes a pipeline management tool for up to 12 sales people. It also includes some chat and video capability.
Streak is a CRM that is designed to interact with Google. The free version includes private pipelines, email tracking and full G Suite integrations.
Agile CRM has a free service for up to 10 users and includes some marketing tools like emails, reporting and a chrome extension.
HubSpot is a free CRM that has advanced features like emails, a deals pipeline, reporting dashboard, meeting scheduling and live chat. With just the free tools, you can effectively manage your contacts and nurture your leads through one platform.
After you know the options available to you, there is an easy-to-follow process to effectively pick the best software solution for you and your business. By using the USES (Understand, Shortlist, Evaluate, Select) method, you should be able to choose a tool that meets (or exceeds) your business's needs.
Understand, assess and prioritise your requirements. Make sure that you include everything you need a piece of software to do and how important it is to you.
Create a shortlist of your top contenders for the solution. In this decision, that should be simpler as you already have a convenient starting list. That said, we of course encourage independent research too.
Take out that list of priorities and compare it to your shortlisted software. Evaluate how well each one stacks up against what you actually need.
The final step is to select the platform that will offer you the best match of features to your needs. With most decisions, you’ll need to consider a cost-benefit analysis at this point too, but with free software, it’s easy to leave that out (you may want to consider pricing if your business were to grow, however.)
These are just some of the useful tools available to help you better manage your sales pipeline and increase the efficiency of your team. By implementing solutions like these, you can create a more effective sales strategy.
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