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google crmIf you run a small business, you will know how challenging it can be to maintain communication with all of your customers and sales at the same time without losing track or forgetting to follow up. If you’re fortunate enough to have more than one person in your sales team, then you may also experience uncoordinated sales reps, each talking to the same customer about different things. This is a what a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is for, and insight.ly is one such CRM, with an attractive free plan and a strong focus on Google CRM services.

Insight.ly is a part of the Google Apps Marketplace. If you wish to install it, you will need to provide it with ample permissions to access lots of information stored in your Google Apps accounts, such as your contacts, calendar information, and more. Understandably, you may not be too keen on granting an app such extensive permissions just to give it a spin, which is why I went ahead and did just that.

google crm

This is the dashboard, which is the first thing you see once you register. Now let’s look at the settings:

google crm software

The list of settings actually goes on, but this should give you an idea of what you can configure. If you’ve ever used a CRM before, terms such as “Pipelines” and “Relationships” would probably seem familiar. But if this is your first crack at a CRM, insight.ly offers a so-called Concept Guide (PDF), which is a 17-page text-heavy overview of all of these terms.  If manuals aren’t really your thing, you might be pleased to know that some of the more cryptic screens contain built-in explanation text:

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google crm software

The heart of a Customer Relationship Management solution is obviously….customers. And relationships. Which is where insight.ly’s contact import option comes in handy:

google crm software

When you click the Gmail import option, insight.ly quickly shows a list of all of your Gmail contacts, letting you select which ones you want to import. Once you make your selection, the actual import isn’t instant – it takes a few moments, and insight.ly notifies you it’s done using an email.

Contacts are individuals; but sometimes you may want to keep track of a company or an agency – in other words, an Organization. Adding an organization looks like this:

google crm solution

Once you add an organization, you can see your organization’s history with them at a glance:

google crm solution

This is a supremely useful feature, and is much better than a Gmail search, because it shows what everyone in your organization (not just you) did for or with everyone in that organization (even with people you don’t know).

The next tab is Opportunities. An Opportunity is basically a sales lead – a chance to make some dough, or to otherwise forward the purpose for which your organization was established:

google crm

You can also specify how much money an opportunity is worth, the probability of winning it (not an accurate science, obviously), and an estimated close date. Most importantly, you can assign a single individual as responsible for that opportunity, so it’s very clear who’s working on it.

Insight.ly also supports projects, which are collections of tasks. No need to go through the interface here – it’s pretty much what you’d expect. It also supports email, but in an interesting way. Rather than plug directly into your Gmail stream (as a Google-based service), it provides you with a forwarding address. When you want to record an email in Insight.ly, you forward it to this address, and insight.ly files it under the correct contact.

Bottom Line

Insight.ly is simple, almost utilitarian. But it’s a very handy Google CRM solution, especially if you’re just coming to grips with the concept. Its free plan allows for up to three users and a maximum of 2,500 contacts, and does not have a time limitation. If you have a small business, you might make use of this plan for quite some time, until you grow out of it. If you’ve been struggling to find a way to keep track of your customers, give Insight.ly a spin.

  1. fran cisco
    July 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    i believe, we can call c.r.m
    creeem!!!

  2. crowd SPRING
    July 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Came to knew that To install it, we will need to provide it with ample permissions to access lots of information stored in your Google Apps accounts, such as our contacts, calendar information, and more...really it becomes very difficult to maintain communication with all of your customers and sales at the same time ..that too without any mistake!CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system will be very helpful in this case as i will make our work easy!

  3. Jim Pappas
    July 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Insightly is one of our client favorites.  One additional feature that users love is the Insightly Gmail Gadget.  Right from within an email message in Gmail you can create a new task,
    create an opportunity, or create an associated project. Insightly will
    also link up the email sender to the task, opportunity or
    project if they are already in Insightly without having to forward the email to the CRM.

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