Monday, April 09, 2007

Mate of the Week - Highrise CRM

There once was a children's program on TV called 'Zet', and every episode they would choose a 'Mate of the Week', typically some 6 year old kid who drew a bad picture of Zet himself, who was some form of South African Sasquatch.

I thought I would start doing some product reviews on Yeah!Fi about products that make my working life better. I hereby introduce to you 'Mate of the Week'!

My mate this week is called Highrise CRM, the latest super Web 2.0 product from 37signals, well known for Basecamp, a Web 2.0 project management app, and for inventing Ruby on Rails.

I have tried a few different Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools: ZohoCRM (too slow), (too pricey) and most recently SugarCRM (too complex).

Nonetheless, the 3 mentioned above are pretty much clones of each other with nothing original offered by any of them. All of them are too cumbersome for a small business to use and not in the least bit intuitive.

You will need to train your staff about the differences between leads, opportunities, contacts, accounts and cases while simultaneously beating them with a whip to motivate them enough to actually use the software on a frequent basis.

37signals decided to bugger all known wisdom and develop a CRM application from scratch. And it is simply brilliant. It took me about 10 minutes to set up and completely understand how it works.

The interface is simple, uncluttered and incredibly intuitive: (Click picture to enlarge)

The coolest feature is definitely the Email Dropbox. When I get an email from someone, I can simply forward the mail to my Highrise Dropbox email address. It will automatically attach it to the correct contact. If I haven't yet created that contact in Highrise, it will be created for me!

If you have a small business with a handful of employees and a growing customer base, I strongly recommend you give Highrise a spin. It could really make your life better, and therefore deserves this week 'Mate of the Week' award.


Anonymous said...

I've been *trying* to use Sugar for the last couple of weeks.... And it just seems unnecessarily compicated for my size (smallish) business.

I love the 37signals philosphy, so will def give this friend a spin.


The Lush said...

Henk you made my week. I've been looking for a system, something that works the way my mind works and this was it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Oh and so looking forward to seeing you at the next 27 dinner.

at said...

I use Highrise in both of my startups companies and have found it to be a great way to communicate sales and biz dev progress to my 10 person teams. Simple, quick, and relatively painless. I do use Salesforce when I need to create multi-step email campaigns or am selling products with a $5k-10k price tag. In an organizaion where you have more than 30-40 transactions a month you will probably NEED something like a SF for invoice and product reporting.

And that brings us to Sugar, a product that I implemented back in '04 at a 20 person software company. In fact, I know several of the Sugar team memebers and had several products featured in their product exchange. I probably wouldn't recommend Sugar these days because the price point between SF and Sugar has shrunk quite a bit and the manpower to maintain the open-source version is very costly.

Pricing (last I checked):
Highrise: $50/mo <=15 users
Salesforce: $100/mo <=5 users
Sugar: Free -> $40/mo/user