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This article may be a bit different than most you’ll see us put out there. I wanted to get away from any “fluff” whatsoever, and help you identify the best tools and technology hacks you can utilize within your business that will directly impact your bottom line. When taking into consideration all of these software tools, we asked two questions:

  1. Will this make life easier for the business?
  2. Will this create a better experience for your customers?

If the answer was ‘yes’ to both of those, it rose to the top of our selection criteria!

Strategic Capital has always been a technology focused firm. As any business owner knows, there’s multiple software systems and tools you can utilize for any given task and sometimes some experimentation is needed to determine which one’s best. Since we use many of these software tools within Strategic Capital, I’m happy to share our experiences with you and how they’ve helped our business grow from a single-man with a vision to a thriving enterprise. Please keep in mind that not every business will find every single one of these tools relevant. Have a “grocery store” mentality and “pick off the shelf” any tools that sound like they can create an impact within your organization!

Salesforce

Salesforce technology hacksOut of all of the technology tools we’ll visit today, this is one of the most recognizable, so it’s of no surprise if you’re saying “Hey, I use that already!” If you do, fantastic, you’re ahead of the curve. If not, it’s definitely worth some evaluation and taking a second look!

What scares most people away from Salesforce is the cost. Dependent on the specific instance, you’re going to pay anywhere from $25/user per month up to $300/user per month. Usually the Enterprise level will be sufficient for any growing business of 2+ employees. Then again, if you wish to start off with professional and upgrade later, go right ahead! Even though Salesforce is one of the pricier CRM’s on the market, you will not find one that’s better. Period. They have integrations with thousands of 3rd party applications and robust permission sets, role configuration, security settings to take your organization digital to the best extent possible. It has no limitations.

The common mistake I see people commit with Salesforce is only using the tool as a CRM, when in fact it can act as your company’s organization wide database – helping you organize and report on everything from new hires, training, accounting, and of course… selling your product or service, the life blood of any business!

Learn more at www.salesforce.com/products

Tip: While the CRM is worth the “out of the box” pricing, there’s generally generous room for negotiation. If your organization consists of 5 or more users and/or you wish to pay annually, there’s some healthy discounts that can take place! Make sure to communicate this with your account manager and also get a growth trajectory in place. It will help them price you fairly in the now and long-term. Should you need help with financing large technology roll-outs, you can learn more about our financing solutions.

InsideSales

insidesales softwareOK, maybe you’re already an existing user on Salesforce or now sold on the fact that you need to switch from a less robust tool. The next question is how to create the biggest impact for our sales professionals? InsideSales.com is an all encompassing solution and one of the greatest technology hacks that does exactly that. Oh boy, where do I start…

It’s important to know that you can actually use InsideSales as a standalone tool and it does a fantastic job. However, we use it as an add-on application that “sits atop” Salesforce and makes it the most powerful machine you’ll ever use for your sales reps. Let’s get one thing clear here – InsideSales carries a hefty monthly subscription with it – somewhere north of $150/user per month – however if you’re using it correctly that will be a drop in the bucket in comparison to the ROI your organization will net. Let’s find out why..

The first thing InsideSales will help you do is help your sales reps reach more prospects and decision makers. At the end of the day, sales, and more specifically – running a call center, is a numbers game. Quality overrides, but when you can take good sales reps and help them expedite their dial or email activity from 100/day to 200+/day, obviously there’s going to be a drastic increase in good conversations, conversions, and sales! For this reason alone, the ROI is easy to validate the additional monthly cost.

The other huge game changer that InsideSales is able to bring to the table is the ability to create gamification dashboards and leaderboards that create a competitive environment for your sales team(s)! Jimmy can look up at the flat screen in your office and see that Rachel has more points, dials, and talk-time. Jimmy doesn’t like being in 2nd place so he busts his ass the rest of the day to surpass Rachel. When he passes Rachel in talk-time, a large congratulatory icon appears on the screen saying Jimmy is now the new leader!

Return On Investment Example: Peter Sample normally sells $50,000 of widgets each month and nets the company $10,000 in profit. After the InsideSales platform is implemented, Peter is able to increase dial activity by 150%, automate the tracking and correspondence of prospect emails, and earn additional rewards and incentives when he excels above his peers which offers him additional motivation to succeed. By the end of the next month, Peter has sold $90,000 of widgets which makes the company $18,000 in profit. The company has spent $150 that month, and offered Peter a performance bonus valued at $500. Their net increase of return is $7,350 in earnings that month or a whopping $88,200 per annum. Multiply that by the number of reps in the sales organization, and you can see where that can radically shift your sales organization very quickly.

HootSuite

hootsuite colorful logoThere’s certainly some pro’s and con’s to using HootSuite. The pro’s definitely outweigh the con’s though. The biggest reason why your business should use HootSuite is because it acts as your “marketing hub”. If you write a blog post or piece of content and want that content on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Hootsuite will perform the task with the click of a button. If it’s 2:00AM, and you don’t want to let your social audience know you’ve been up late sipping the midnight oil trying to get the post done, then simply schedule it for 10:00AM the following day, and no one will be the wiser.

The con’s to watch out for here are that some social networks like Facebook won’t place emphasis on your posts as much if they see them coming from a 3rd party application such as HootSuite, so for this reason it may behoove you to still post directly to Facebook.

Domo

domo for businessLet’s clarify up front that you’ll probably only need the Domo platform if you’re a thriving enterprise of 20+ employees or have the intention of being one. If not, and arguably for any size business, Salesforce can do the trick most of the time. But nevertheless, let’s talk about the value adds here..

Domo’s sole intention is to bring multiple divisions or silo’s within your organization and help you report on company wide metrics and initiatives. For instance, let’s say that you’re using Quickbooks for your accounting and bookkeeping, Salesforce for your sales floor, and another software for HR and records management and you wish to draw conclusions from all three segments and relate them to one another. Domo will get the job done and probably give you more insight in the form of reports and dashboards than you ever imagined. In fact, their slogan is “One modern platform to run your entire business.” It’s of course a cloud based platform, and it’s scalable from businesses with 10-15 employees all the way up to massive Fortune 500 companies and every business size in between.

You can learn more about Domo by checking out their platform and products here: www.domo.com/product

DocuSign

Docusign businessDocuSign is the reigning champ in the world of electronic signatures and the value tends to pay for itself very quickly. This is another tool you’re probably saying to yourself “I receive those DocuSign envelopes in my email all the time.” As you should! All industries from auto to real estate to mortgages are going digital and so should you. In fact, there’s a measurable attrition rate of clients who choose not to continue with the purchase of your products and services because the closing process is too cumbersome or takes too much time. One of those missed opportunities could pay for your monthly DocuSign subscription and then some!

Another subtle, yet game-changing feature of DocuSign is their ability to integrate with other tools and systems such as Salesforce, Box, or Google Drive, among a plethora of others. Various technology hacks are abundant here – it can be as simple as creating the integration, hitting one button to auto-fill fields from your CRM, and upon your client signing, it automatically stashes away the completed contract in your Google Drive and Salesforce. It can’t get much simpler than that!

Get to “yes” faster with DocuSign electronic signatures.

MailChimp

mailchimp for businessSo, I’m actually going to play devil’s advocate on this one and tell you there’s a plethora of capable tools for you to send out emails to your subscriber list and nurtured audience. MailChimp is fantastic, so is Constant Contact, among a few others. The important thing is that you’re regularly staying engaged with your audience in the form of an email newsletter. When combined with call campaigns, and targeting your subscribers on social, you can achieve a huge impact as opposed to only doing one of those things. At the end of the day, you want to target a lesser amount of people, but the right type of people that are actually going to vibe with the products or services your business offers. You want to leave them with a sense of “I see this brand everywhere!” until they buy your product, and thereafter still give them that constant touch so they can remain a life-long client.

When it comes to email client tools, MailChimp really is great though. Their user interface makes it a breeze to create attractive share-worthy templates and content. Their reporting for metrics such as opens, click-thru rate, response rates, open frequency is very robust and gives you a clear indication of how your audience is engaging with your emails so you can send them better and better campaigns moving forward.

The other awesome news about MailChimp is that it’s totally free up until 2,000 users, so go nuts! (or bananas)

FormStack

Form StackThere’s going to be times, whether it be during the launch of your business (market research) or at intervals or growth or decline, where you will want to better understand your customer’s buying habits and preferences. It doesn’t have to be rocket science; sometimes the best way to find out what your customer’s are thinking is to simply ask them directly! FormStack helps you make forms that can be tremendously beneficial from items like customer engagement to simply asking your sales reps what size T-shirt they need for the company sponsored 5K, and everything in-between!

As your company grows, it may also be worthwhile to start using FormStack’s full capabilities, which are nearly limitless, due to their ability to type in formulas, lines of code, and html content to create your dream short-form. Some heavy lifting may be required here dependent on the complexity of your form needs, but the end product will always be worth it! If you’re having trouble building a form, you can always hire someone from UpWork, which is a simple scroll down this page 😉

WiseStamp

wisestamp email signatureOK seriously though, WiseStamp is dope! This cloud based software allows you to create beautifully designed email signatures and ensure proper syntax and information throughout your organization. If you’ve ever managed a team before, you likely know the frustration of sending a new team member instructions on how to setup their email signature, only to find out they wanted to use the color purple instead of the company’s color schema of red | black | white. This is a simple example, but the jist of it is that WiseStamp eliminates the guess-work and the leg-work out of creating email signatures for your entire organization. It’s especially impressive when onboarding new team members. Provided you’ve already setup their email client – that is Google or Outlook – their email signature will already be setup the first time they login!

When people leave your company, simple remove them from your WiseStamp portal. When people join your company, simply login and “refresh” and all of your new email users will appear instantaneously. When someone gets promoted, update their title within the admin portal and they’ll have gleaming satisfaction of seeing their new role already in their email signature the next time they send an email. It’s the smallest things sometimes that can create a huge impact!

An awesome email signature that can be well organized is great for internal communication, but the most important piece that we haven’t even touched on is what it can do for your external communication! That is – prospects, clients, partners, investors, and even your mom who’s questioning your work at a startup and wants you to find a “real job”. Yes, an awesome email signature can appease even the toughest of crowds and result in real impact, measurable ROI, and better client satisfaction and trust. It’s well worth the $5/user per month – trust us.

LivePlan

liveplan business planI’m of the belief that a good business plan is always changing and adapting. It’s not just about throwing together a synopsis and trying to raise capital from your friends and family (although that is a good use case for one) but about so much more. A great business plan can also help you hold yourself and your key hires accountable towards the long-term vision of your company.

When I started my first company, one of the biggest fears and deterrents of creating a business plan was that I didn’t know the proper syntax, styling, or how to create pretty charts and graphs that would be indicative of our growth later on. All of what I just mentioned is what the LivePlan software helps you accomplish. It takes the guess work out of your financial projections, what items to account for in your cost of goods sold, etc. and breaks the entire process down into measurable easy tasks that result in a kick ass business plan that you’re proud to bring to potential colleagues and investors.

RecruiterBox

recruiterbox softwareWhen it comes time to hire additional staff, the process can always be rather daunting. There’s so much potential to lose track of the bigger picture, because you have 50 post-it notes that say things like “Call Martha – Interview #2” and “Need to chat with management before hiring Johnny – less qualified.” With RecruiterBox, you can crumble up all of those post-it notes and work a seamless system of hiring all from one platform.

For instance, if you have 50 candidates for a competitive role, RecruiterBox will tell you which of those candidates has completed testing, or a 1st interview, or which you’ve conducted reference checks on. It also has some really cool functionality that will automate messaging and testing of your preference to further qualify them for the role without having to personally reach out.

The software starts at $250.00 per month (up to 3 users) and goes up from there, so use it only to the extent that it makes financial sense. If you’re a business of 7 going on 10, it may not hold it’s weight but that entirely up to you to decide! Whereas, if you’re a business of 50 going on 60, it’s kind of a no-brainer when you account for the additional organization and functionality.

UpWork

upwork hireUpWork has been a really exciting tool for us to better explore. In fact, we’ve probably hired over 10 contractors and freelancers to do everything from graphic design work to complex functions and formulas with Excel and Macros that are a valuable element of our internal underwriting practices. Whatever the task is for your business, there’s going to be someone out there on UpWork that’s a perfect fit!

You can post your job and usually within a few hours, you’ll have freelancers that will submit their offers and qualifications. The other way to hire is to search out those people yourself by filtering through their network of freelancers. For instance, you can search for individuals who perform work within graphic design that have an average rating of 5 stars, and an average successful completion percentage of 98%+ who also have accreditation within various skill sets. No matter what type of business related activity or task you need done, there’s going to be someone who can perform it on UpWork and most of the time, your online hire will be more cost-efficient and flexible than another full-time hire in-house!

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I hope you’ve found these technology hacks valuable to your business and that you’ll experiment and implement some of these into your organization’s growth efforts. Keep in mind that most, if not all, of these software tools offer a free trial for 14 to 30 days!

What are some awesome technology hacks you’re currently using within your business that we may have overlooked? We would love to hear about them!

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