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I was talking to a friend who runs a >10 person distributed professional services firm. He was looking for better tooling to automate his customer processes. He had recently dropped Salesforce, not because it was too much or too expensive, but because the configuration and usage was too complicated for his non-enterprise sales staff. We’ve been talking about his constraints and what he’d like the software to do.
It is part CRM, part project management, part marketing automation. Similar to the “Poor Man’s CRM“.
- Must access the FreshBooks API – All client billing is done in FreshBooks. It works. His staff is familiar. It is easy enough to send, track and account for with FreshBooks. They are not replacing this.
- Preferably cloud based.
- Must work with Microsoft Exchange email.
- Costs <$150/person/month – this is an all in cost. However a preferred cost is $6000-12,000/year.
- 20,000 contacts
- 5,00 active clients
- Prefer commercial offerings to custom development, and modify workflow to fit new processes.
It’s a pretty standard workflow. From lead capture to opportunity identification. The opportunity is defined by multiple stages, each stage has a series of tasks that usually result in an email being sent or a web form needing to be completed or a signed document. The workflow is pretty linear with clearly defined actions that move a opportunity through each stage of the engagement.
The majority of the business is referrals and business developers sourcing leads (50%). New business from existing clients (30%). And the remaining 20% is from web contact forms.
We’ve been talking about both CRM and marketing automation solutions, particularly those that are able to match both an organization or a person to their FreshBooks contact information. The goal is to be able to show outstanding invoices before a new project kicks off.
Web Forms & Electronic Signatures
Scotch Tape, Safety Pins & Spaghetti
I keep leaning towards solutions I have used in the past. But I think they are not the right fit, given that I’m going to have to automate a number of webhooks using Zapier or itDuzzit, which are amazing, but the complexity scares me given the friend. It’s starting to feel like my advice is going to end up with scotch tape and safety pins holding together a spaghetti of web services.
I have no idea if it is the professional services aspect, or the hand off from lead generation to sales to project management. Maybe it is because of the FreshBooks integration (which I have never done). But I’m unclear about what the best options are. I keep finding more interesting solutions. Maybe it is that the past 3 years I’ve been deeply immersed in inbound activities for SaaS offerings that makes me drool over HubSpot and Performable. But I’m just not sure where to go from here.
Thoughts? Guidance on where to look next? I’m stuck.