Turn Gmail into an AWESOME customer management tool!

Gmail IconOne of my biggest internet WOW moments was the day that I switched from Hotmail to Gmail in 2004 when it was still in Beta. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something about the service made it irresistible. The functionality seemed similar to Hotmail and there weren’t any real technical breakthroughs (that I could see!) but everything just seemed so much easier and comfortable! Gmail was fun to use and I was hooked. Since then, the world has gone decidedly in the direction of Google and each day it seems that large chunks of the world are gobbled up by the company. However despite the anti-climactic hype surrounding Google+, my favorite place to hang out in the Google universe is still Gmail.

Over time I’ve learned to harness the power of combining the calendar, tasks, labels, filters with Gmail for an amazing enhanced e-mail experience. Today I want to show you how you can stretch the boundaries of Gmail even further and use it as a CRM Sales channel for your business. This trick is not going to work for a large company juggling multiple salespeople but for a small shop or an entrepreneur it is really wonderful!

The two tools that you need (both Free!) are Streak and Boomerang. Both of these awesome tools are loaded with features that you might want to discover for yourself but I will only focus on the ones I use. Streak allows you to create ‘Pipelines’ for Sales, CRM, Product Development, Bug Tracking, Publishing and more. In each pipeline you can create ‘Boxes’ that you can track across multiple stages. For example, it’s easy to create a sales pipeline that spans from capturing a lead to closing a sale. The great thing about Streak is the highly intuitive and robust level of integration that it has with Gmail. Your contacts and e-mails are always at your fingertips and you can easily put conversations and filters into the Streak ‘Boxes’. This means that any time you can go into your pipeline and find a comprehensive overview of any account or object of interest.

One feature I really love about Streak is that while I’m composing an email, I can select which ‘Box’ I would like to file it under and this will give me a sidebar with all the relevant information associated with it. So if I’m e-mailing a potential client, I can see all the information about the account as well as the potential size of the deal and any previous communications. Amazing!

The second tool that I use is Boomerang and admittedly, I only use one function regularly – but it’s a really important function. When I’m creating an e-mail I can set a ‘Boomerang’ date (any number of days that I select) if a certain condition is met. For example, I can set the date 5 days from now if I don’t get a reply to my e-mail. In 5 days Boomerang will push the conversation to the top of my inbox to remind me! I can also ‘Boomerang’ a conversation if the email is not clicked or if it’s not opened. Yes, you read that correctly, Boomerang actually keeps tabs and gives me visual cues to let me know whether my emails have been opened, clicked on or ignored.

The power of these 2 tools is magnified when they are used together. Since I’ve discovered these techniques I find myself constantly using Streak Boxes and Boomeranging all over the place. I have tried dozens of CRM web services. A few were actually excellent but they all suffered from a lack of integration with my daily routine. Also the good ones can be expensive! Combining Gmail, Streak and Boomerang is a no-brainer for me. Extremely intuitive and powerful and Free! What else could I ask for?

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