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The Boomer Bulletin - 2011
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Build Business by Smart Use of Technology (Part 2)

Posted By Jon Hubbard, Monday, September 19, 2011
Two months ago I wrote an article titled, "Build Business by Smart Use of Technology (Part 1)” that identified 8 areas of business development and how to leverage technology and web-based services to streamline and maximize your business development in these areas.  Part 1 focused on the first 3 areas:
  • Client Referrals & Testimonials
  • Branding & Design
  • Social Media
In this article, Part 2, we will focus on the remaining 5 areas of business development:
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Online Payments
  • Email Marketing
  • Website
  • Project Management
Customer Relationship Management

I don’t need to convince anyone on how important a good CRM program is.  However, as software-as-a-service improves, so do the CRM tools.  No longer are we bound to self-hosting, expensive, clunky CRM programs.  CRM programs are becoming truly slick, effective, and affordable options for organizing and coordinating our business development efforts.  Below is a list of services to consider.

Zoho offers a suite of online web applications in the areas of collaboration, business and productivity.  Zoho CRM system is web-based.
One of the most popular web-based CRM platforms available.  Over 87,200 companies currently use them.

An open source customer platform that prides itself in being able to adjust to how your firm works.

Microsoft CRM
This is the service we at Boomer Consulting currently use.  It integrates seamlessly with Outlook.

Online Payments

Although the payment phase of the process falls outside the responsibility of sales & marketing, it is still important to use technology that streamlines this area so results and commissions can be tied back quicker to sales & marketing.  Offering the ability for your clients to pay for your services online will get you your money faster while being more convenient for your clients. streamlines and automates your business bill payment and invoicing process.

Intaact offers accounting, revenue management, project accounting, order and billing management, financial consolidation and financial reporting software.

See your cashflow in real-time with online accounting, invoicing, billing & banking.

Email Marketing

Developing an email communication plan and schedule is crucial to a well-rounded business development strategy.   Despite spamming, email marketing is still a very effective medium for communicating with your clients and generating leads.  You can have the best strategy in the world but if your email marketing platform is difficult to use and ineffective, it won’t do you much good. Below are a few email marketing platforms that range from simplistic to robust but they are all powerful.

Constant Contact

Website Builders

Creating a great looking website is no longer expensive and time consuming. Using the website building services available, you can have a complete website in less than a week or two.   Below are some platforms for creating a website if you are interested in someone from your firm building it.

Wordpress is core software that has been built by hundreds of community volunteers.  It boasts easy to use plugins and theme allowing you to create a custom website.  However, you will need to find your own hosting environment.

Emochila specializes in website design and development for CPA firms and accountants throughout the nation.

Squarespace is a full service design, build and hosting platform.  Rates start at $12 a month.

Weebly is a free service that allows you to quickly create simple, elegant websites.  All sites are hosted with Weebly and upgrades are available for a fee.

Wix is a flash-based platform  for creating websites and does not require any programming or coding.

Webs claims to have some of the easiest website building tools on the market.  They have a free version but you will most likely wants to upgrade to the "Enhanced” package for $7.75 per month.

Your Membership
YourMembership provides one solution that delivers membership management software that’s fully integrated with vibrant social networking features. 

Project Management

Project management tools are becoming more effective while decreasing in complexity.  You firm’s business development efforts need to be fully coordinated to maximize the results.  As firms are producing more with a leaner staff, it is crucial to have a "go to” place that partners and staff can refer to check the progress on projects.  We are learning every day that our email is the best place for this.  The below tools will help your firm manage projects, tasks, resources, clients, budgets and more. These are great for keeping your sales & marketing efforts properly aligned.

Created by 37 Signals, Basecamp is easy-to-use and is trusted by millions as their online project collaboration tool.

Copper is a project management software tool that helps your team manage projects, tasks, clients, contact and documents online.

Final Thoughts

As you can tell, there is no shortage of web-based services we can access to begin improving our business development efforts.  Although some of the principles are the same, business isn’t developed the same way it was 5, 10, 20 years ago.  Taking full advantage of smart technology, especially in the area of business development, is quickly becoming a "no-brainer”. These services are becoming more powerful and more affordable every day.  However, with the implementation of these services comes the need for communication, organization and management.  These web-based services can’t substitute the soft skills that you have or haven’t invested in your employees.  As always, continue to Think, Plan, Grow!

Disclaimer: Not all of the resources recommended in this 2-part article have been thoroughly tested. We encourage everyone to research business development solutions fully and determine which solution is best for your firm before purchasing. Also, Boomer Consulting, Inc. does not have a financial interest in recommending these resources.

Tags:  Business Development 

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