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A look at free (or nearly free) sales tools
by: Tim McMahon, The BizCAT Group

n my February Office Technology article, I told you about some pretty amazing free tools that could help power your marketing efforts. In this article, I will focus on some free, or nearly free, sales tools that can improve your sales tracking, build customer relationships and even save you some money. At the BizCAT Group (www.thebizcats.com) we have reviewed and tested each of these products and, the bottom line is: We love them! So, give them a try and drop us an e-mail to let us know what you think.

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three users and just a small monthly charge for additional ones. What I like is that Zoho organizes everything together into its Zoho Business application . Not only doe s thi s make th e applications easy to use, but everything is fully integrated. This means all the applications w ork togeth er. And w ith Z oho Reports, a small business owner can easily manage his (or her) entire team and business. Gist Relationship Management I found thi s sit e, Gi st Rel ationship Mana gem ent (www.gist.com), and cannot stop playing with it. I still cannot figure out what to call it. CRM? Social media marketing? Business intelligence? Relationship management? Something else? I have no idea. Still, it is the business tool I wish I had created because it is fantastic. If you are in sales or marketing, or are a small business owner, you absolutely, positively need Gist. With Gist, you have a powerhouse of customer and prospect information right at your fingertips that can help you manage your customer relationships at a whole new level. What is Gist? It is a free online site that takes all of your business contact information — from e-mail contacts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or anywhere else you have information — and aggregates it all together in one simple system. It then goes a step further and searches the Web for more information about your contacts and their companies, like articles, blogs, company profile data, stock performance, management team information, phone numbers and so forth. Finally, it interrelates everything; you can see your contacts by company (or related companies), who is connected with whom and a lot more. There are three views: Company View, Contact View and a slick Dashboard that shows you what is new every day with contacts or companies so you do

Zoho CRM The state-of-the-art technology for small businesses is cloud computing, which simply means that the business programs you use and where you store your files is online, not on your PC. Google offers Gmail, Google Docs and much more, as does Microsoft Live. Not only is this a good strategy that allows you to manage your business applications from any PC (even an older, slower one), they are basically free. But if you want to see a suite of cloud applications that will knock your socks off — and just might give your business everything you will ever need — then you need to check out Zoho (www.zoho.com) right away. What do you get? Office-compatible Writer (word processor) and Sheet (spreadsheets), Mail (similar to Gmail or Microsoft Live), Docs (like Google Docs) and Planner (tasks, calendar and more). Add to that Zoho Show for online presentations and Zoho Meeting (desktop sharing Web conferencing). There is more too, but we saved the best for last: Zoho CRM. Zoho CRM is our pick for the best full-featured online CRM application. Similar to Salesforce.com’s offering, Zoho CRM offers easy management of accounts, contacts, opportunities and activities combined with robust forecasting and reporting — and it is fully customizable. It is also intuitive and truly easy to use. The best part is that it is free for up to
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we will ever need. not have to dig for it. L et ’s lo ok at Rond ee (www.ron Is it an individual CRM system? It can Many of the free dee.com). You can set up a free account be. By cleverly using tags and setting conference calling in less than a minute that gives you “importance rankings,” I can track comservices are now completely free conference calling for panies where I have an open sales opoffering a no-charge up to 40 participants, as well as some portunity, a project underway or even product with basic pretty nice features like on-demand or track my “top prospects.” When you view functionality as well as scheduled calls, Web invitations and a company or contact profile, Gist has a premium offering ... response tracking, view all attendees provided a handy “notes” function that and comments at a glance, U.S. and lets you add comments or track activities. Your e-mail and attachments history shows up in the European dial-in numbers, Outlook and iCal integration, individual records, too. Does it have all the bells and whis- and free audio call recording. With this product, everyone tles of a full-blown CRM system? No, but what it has ( for calls Rondee’s Bridge number (United States or Europe) and enters an assigned passcode to connect to your meeting. It once) is exactly what you really need. Gist is good. Very, very good. Visit www.gist.com and see could not be much more simple or easy for all concerned. Now let’s look at FreeConferenceCalling.com. Like Rondee, how you can get set up and running in ten minutes or less. you can host a free conference call with your dedicated Free Rondee & FreeConferenceCalling.com Conference Calling account anytime, from anywhere. The difDo you conference call with customers, employees, ference is that FreeConferenceCalling.com assigns you a pervendors or your sales team? Do you hold telephone semi- sonal, permanent telephone number and passcode. With this nars or meetings? For a lot of us, conference calling has product you can access conference call reports after each call become a way of life. Today, it is one of those fundamental to review when and which callers attended your call, and business tools that we seem to be using more and more. The record your conference call for easy reference and playback thing is, conference calling can be an expensive proposition via MP3 so you can listen, download and podcast easily. What — but it does not have to be. we like is that you can watch your conference call from your At the BizCAT Group, we have been using free conference Web browser and manage the individual rights of conference calling services for the last seven or eight years. Here’s how call attendees for up to 500 callers. Attendees can join a conthey work: Instead of you paying a fee for each of the callers ference call from a regular telephone, cell phone and popular on your conference call, each participant simply calls in to a VOIP services without issue. predefined telephone number assigned to your event or your Whichever product you choose, we think you will be more company. The thing is, this is not an 800 number, so rather than happy. Both do a great job and seemed to be pretty than you paying a charge, each caller pays whatever amount problem-free. And if you are concerned that your customers he would normally pay to call that number — typically a might think you are being cheap by not having an 800 long-distance call. Just to clarify, there are no surcharges number for them, we can pretty much assure you that will from the conference call companies or the telephone compa- not be this case — at least that’s what our years of experience nies to your participants; they only pay long-distance using these services for our calls tells us. Besides, your cuscharges. Now, at first that might seem offputting, especially if tomers might just be impressed that you are focused on they are customers, since you are causing people to incur an saving a bundle of money in today’s economy (especially expense. But today, most people have unlimited long-dis- when it is probably not costing them anything either). tance plans built into their landlines or cell phones, so it Tim McMahon held senior executive positions for many years with IBM and DEC before founding Catalyst, a global really does not make much of a difference, if any. consulting firm, in 1995. He is a best-selling Many of the free conference calling services are now author of four books and has been offering a no-charge product with basic functionality as well as a premium offering with additional capabilities, such as call featured on CNN and CNBC International. recording and on-demand playback, Web scheduling, desktop He can be reached at sharing and more. The good news is that for most of us in tim.mcmahon@thebizcat.com. small or medium-sized businesses, the free offerings will be all Visit.www.thebizcat.com/reviews.
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