How to make your own CRM system in 15 minutes and avoid SAAS by saving money
Definitions of words
CRM is acronym of Customer Relationship Management. The word is a synonym to Customer Information Systems, or Customer Interaction Software or Technology Enabled Relationship Manager. It is enterprise-wide software applications that allow companies to manage every aspect of their relationship with a customer. The aim of these systems is to assist in building lasting customer relationships and to turn customer satisfaction into customer loyalty.
The definition of Customer Relationship Management for this article is expanded beyond the computers and software technology, as the management of customers existed already before the first world war, and back in time in ancient civilizations.
Customer information acquired from sales, marketing, customer service, and support is captured and stored in a centralized database. The system may provide data-mining facilities that support an opportunity management system. It may also be integrated with other systems such as accounting and manufacturing for a truly enterprise-wide system with thousands of users.
SAAS is Software As A Service. It is licensing model that charges users subscriptions to use the software usually hosted or provided by third party providers. Such software is not part of the company neither is run by the company that uses data and the software.
Some popular CRM systems as SAAS in the world
There are too many SAAS or Cloud CRM providers that are popular and millions of people use their services. Some of them are:
Yes, once you come to this computerized world, you are faced with such databases without knowing the basics and foundation of the management of relations. That basic and fundamental factor to managing multiple relations is recording.
You don't need third parties to make your own recordings. If old Egyptians could record their information, so you can do it too.
Who is the author of this text
My name is John, and I am author of this article How to make your own CRM in 15 minutes. I am the inventor of RCD formula for wealth and someone who has made my own Customer Relationship Management system multiple times in my life time. Multiple people have worked on my own, self-made CRM solution, in the real time.
Since my fourteenth year I have used self-made Customer Relationship Management systems, and yes, that was not in the modern computer era. There is always a way to manage relationship with customers with or without software.
I have started managing the relations by writing notes of the people on the paper. I have used multiple notebooks which are yet dear to me and which I still own somewhere in the storage. In such notebooks, I have been recording the customer's information, so that I can track the process and progress of our relation. This has been done before the computer era have begun.
How people manage relations with customers without using computers.
People used and still use paper and pen to manage relations with customers. Paper is used all over the world. If you are now laughing at this point, maybe you did not see as I have seen, many hospitals in large, economically developed countries, which manage relations with patients by using paper files. In those files there are notes, calls, appointments, medical reports, x-ray images and much more. All interactions with customers may be managed by using simple paper folders or paper files. You may assign to each file an unique ID number, so communicate such to the client, so that in future, even with duplicate names, you may quickly locate the file. Hospitals are often locating files by using the birth date.
Now this may seem funny to you as you are on the computer right now.
But that is a fact. Millions of people worldwide are using paper folders, paper notes to manage interactions with customers and to gain their trust and royalty including to move them from one sales stage to another, resulting in sales or accomplished deliveries.
You can use papers to take notes about customers, to write down their contact information, to write your plan how to contact customers and what to communicate to them, to schedule your calls, appointments, knocks on the door, just about everything. Paper based Customer Relationship Management has been done in past, in present and it will stay for long time in the future.
It is very easy to [count interactions] in the paper based Customer Relationship Management, because you will notice the thick file right away. No need for a database search.
I am not saying you should not be using databases, as such are of great help. Yet you should see how to organize and record the information without using third parties, and here are some of basic transition methods explained.
Simple paper based CRM for you
Rolodex was one of the paper based CRM systems. You write a phone number on the card, call the person, write the note on the number, mark the card as prospect, hot, meeting, and so on. Simple system, that may move customer and the sales person, from step to step to the sale.
How to make your own CRM by using computer in 15 minutes
Today we have computers. Too many software packages. We don't even know what the underlying software is doing to our data and information. According to latest news, the information is compromised all the time. Google accounts are compromised and insecure. Yahoo has been compromised too many times.
And people still need help to understand how to take notes, and organize their stuff. Did we advance at all?
We have computers, but we don't know how to properly use them. We need third parties to provide us with the software, while we may simply use text files.
A simple text file can be a good CRM system. In fact, I earned much money just by using simple text files as my own CRM system.
Using your file system to organize clients, companies, sales stages
You can use your file system to organize your clients, companies, sales stages, notes, calls, appointments, just about eanything. You may find the number of interactions by simply counting the files that belong to a certain customer.
Organize your system to manage your relations, and you have the CRM
Organize your system to manage your relations, and you have the CRM. Simply everyone need a management of relations. If not with customers, you need to management of your friends, relatives, workers, you name it.
Simple system to manage relations is the address book. But with the number of contacts, your system may become unmanageable.
You have the computer. You have numerous software. Literate computer user shall know how to use spreadsheet, and how to create documents, files, how to send email, receive email back. You alread know how to do this. Organize yourself, your files, information about customer, his email messages, his calls, notes about customers in any way you like it by using existing software.
There is no such thing as fully ready solution for everybody.
Simple CRM in the file system in 15 minutes
Organize your directories by organizations, lists, or accounts to which customers would belong.
Put a simple text file in each directory that contains information about the organization or such account to which the customer belongs. It could contain the name of the company, its address, notes, website, phone numbers.
Make one directory or folder for each of the clients belonging to that company.
In each of the directory belonging to the customer or client, you can put his or her basic information, such as name, phone numbers, address, notes, anything, you name it.
You may put the email folder in the folder belonging to the customer, to easily find all his emails.
Any documents belonging to that customer shall be in the sub-folder Documents under the folder of the customer's name.
You can create various new folders such as Sales Stages where you could put symbolic links of customers' folders. When you move a customer from sales stage lead to the sales stage prospect you would be simply moving the symbolic links from the folder Leads to the folder Prospects. You would know at any time which customer is lead or a prospect, and you would easier bring them to the point of sales.
You can search the file system and files by your computer search function. It is easy.
How to record information in the file system
Decide which directory shall hold the CRM information. Let us say it is /home/data/protected/crm directory.
Under that directory, make new directories, such as:
/home/data1/protected/crm/accounts for groups or accounts, where you may be sorting your clients.
/home/data1/protected/crm/contacts for contacts
I recommend under the contacts directory, to assign to each contact a unique ID number, and so to create the additional two directories:
/home/data1/protected/crm/contacts/by-id where you would have numerous other directories by ID number, such as 1, 2, 3 and so on.
/home/data1/protected/crm/contacts/by-name where you would make symbolic link from the directory under /home/data1/protected/crm/contacts/by-id/123 to this one like /home/data1/protected/crm/contacts/by-name/Jean Louis as that way you may be able to access contacts by its ID number and by its name. There may be a problem with the same names being in conflict, and for that reason your symbolic links could look like Jean Louis, ID: 1 and Jean Louis, ID: 32734, where first one would point to ../by-id/1 directory and second would point to ../by-id/32734 directory.
Now you may sort the contacts into the groups or accounts. You may simply create the symbolic link of the directory by-id/1 to the /home/data1/protected/crm/accounts/Suppliers/Timber directory. You may create other symbolic links in different other accounts or groups, such as accounts/Friends or accounts/Teachers.
That way you get very managable system where you may sort people into groups, and quickly access their information.
Sort all files belonging to contacts into their corresponding directories. Sort all files belonging to companies, groups or accounts, into their corresponding directories.
When you call somebody, before calling the person, open up the directory of such person, and review the files. That way you will know what to say, and what is the next step in the sales process for that specific individual or company.
Each time you wish to add some note, make a new directory which can be by its date. I recommend sorting many files into years, months, and dates. For example:
For contact of Mr. Jean Louis, you would have:
directory by-id/1 which corresponds to its ID number,
symbolic link to that directory inside of by-name/Jean Louis, as if you click on this one, you get to the first one. That way you can search by name.
if you have pictures relating to that contact, you would sort them like:
And in the same manner, you can sort pictures for accounts, and also files which are not pictures.
If you are adding a note to the contact, you could also store it in similar manner by the date.
That way you and other people accessing the files will know what happened before.
You may give access to your files to various groups of people as you wish, so that other people may manage it together with you and in the same time. You may organize salesmen into groups and give permissions to those groups to access certain files. Some other files may be forbidden, or you may give them read only access.
You may search for contacts by using your operating system's search features, and file manager and directory browsers. You may search for specific contact's files, or you may search in files of all users. No database required, and no special software installation required.
Why using SAAS is not recommended
SAAS is software hosted and managed for clients. Database and all information that belong to the client or the company is stored on third party servers. A client cannot know where is that data exactly stored. Usually clients of SAAS do not have any clue what is done with their data.
And yet, we can see the trend in the society, that millions of people trust to SAAS providers.
I am sorry, but I don't.
There are too many arguments for SAAS and many are just a product of marketing. The arguments that bring customers to use software as a service are not based on the basic premises of computer storage and information security.
But yet, millions of people, fire up the online CRM, such as Upvise and trust the company with the hundreds, hundreds of thousands of records of their customers.
I am sorry, but if you are using CRM in the manner above, have you asked yourself ever following questions?
- do I know director of the company?
- where is that company located?
- what is the address of the company?
- do I have phone number of the company?
- did I verify at all if that company exists?
- what are the limited liabilities of the company?
- is that company ever going to be responsible for loss of my data?
- how many employees have access to my database?
- how many employees are previous or hidden criminals?
- is there possibility that my database of customers is revealed in public?
- can somebody steal my CRM database with the SAAS provider?
If anybody on the street that you don't know the person approaches you and tells you he is best programmer in the world, and please, he will manage your database of all your customers, including all the private information, would you say yes? How crazy are you then?
But yet, millions of people entrust their customers most private information to third party providers they know nothing about them.
You name it: Google, Yahoo, Skype, SugarCRM, Upvise, Salesforce, too many.
Do you know that those companies don't give a damn about your database? Just read the terms and conditions. You are paying subscriptions whereby they have no liabilities whatsoever for data loss and other risks.
We recommend you to read the article Who does that server really serve? by Dr. Richard Stallman.
Trusting foreign, anonymous companies with your data, information that is revealing everything about you, your contacts, your clients and customers is insanity. If you are trusting them, even without knowing who they are, without seeing their faces, would you be then willing to give that information just to anybody? Maybe you should give the information of your clients to your competitors? Just think about that.
How do you know that nobody is to abuse the information which you store remotely, with companies which you don't know, which representatives you have never meet and seen face to face?
Keep your CRM software in your house or premise
Yes, keep your CRM software in your house or premise. Don't trust your hosting providers, that they will take care of security. If you have multiple workers accessing the CRM software from multiple international locations, you can still keep your computer server in your own premises and enable to workers access. But you would not trust your hosting providers with your database.
When you have 100 contacts, and you sell flowers, maybe it is not a big deal for you.
If you however, have 20,000 contacts, related to finances, banking, real estate, you are keeping your customers' precious privacy information in your database. Your customers do trust you. But did your customer ever agree that you keep their information on third party providers such as Upvise CRM? Or such as Google? Such as SugarCRM and many others?
Think about that.
Many hosted CRM provider consider email address as "owner" of the database
Realize that many hosted CRM provider consider email address as "owner" of the database. If you happen to loose the domain for any reason, such as being sick, or on the travel, or in the accident, or simply by forgetting, anyone could request the lost password and gain immediate access to the database. Unspoken from various software viruses, malware, and malicious users, that always could gain access to remote database.
That cycle in short is following:
You order or gain access to the online CRM provider, or any other kind of online service as a software substitute SaaSS.
You start using it, inviting your own contacts into it, you may invite all the thousands of contacts that you have into LinkedIn database.
You may forget your password, you may be sick and not accessible, and somebody else may take over your business domain. Then they come to LinkedIn or other provider, and they may ask to "reset the password" and by doing so, they can effectively gain access to all your contacts, conversations, notes, financial information, and much more.
That is happening because the stupid SaaSS providers are not considering you as being authorized, as individual with certain legal rights for your company, but they consider the domain or email address as being authorized to access the information, whoever would control that email address.
Can it be more wrong?
If you open up your own Internet server for 5 dollars, just for fun, on Digital Ocean and install fail2ban software that measures and bans malicious users that attempt to break in the server, you may get a feeling that security of an Internet server is often compromised. Sometimes hundreds of times per day.
What do you think how many times are big, large, cloud based CRM providers attacked by malicious people world wide?! Thousands of times per day!
There are many self-hosted CRM solutions. But it does not mean you need to host it on a remote server, host it at office, in your premises, in your home. Why would you trust your Internet hosting provider, if you don't know a single person in that company?
If you keep your information, your customers' information on third party servers on Internet, be sure that information will be abused.
Imagine, you need to call your customer, and you are searching for his phone number. It is in your online, cloud based CRM. And cloud does not work. What then?
If you have it on your own computers in your premises, you don't even need an Internet line, to manage relations with your customers.
Keep your CRM system in your premises, office or house. Even then, you are not secure enough.
One more method to create your own CRM by using spreadsheets
It is quite easy for every small businessman to start managing relations by simple usage of a spreadsheet. This does not mean that you need to keep your spreadsheet online.
You may simply make ID numbers in the first column, and put the information of clients, such as First Name, Last Name, Address, Phone in other columns.
By using a simple spreadsheet, you can create your own CRM in 15 minutes, by following implementation:
Create multiple sheets, such as Accounts for groups, companies and lists of customers. Then a list of sales stages in a separate spreadsheet, may help you define the position of your customer in relation to the sales process.
Use the connection between one sheet and another, enter your customer details, customers' names, addresses, phone.
You can make calls, contact customer, and even click and send emails to them. You can make links in the spreadsheet to the direct search of all of his emails.
Add notes, comments, on the spreadsheet that relate to the customer.
You can share the spreadsheet with other people if you need a collaboration.
You can add a link to the notes about the customer, even to letters, faxes. You can basically connect each piece of information to the relevant customer, group, company or account.
Organize yourself, create a system for Customer Relationship Management
By knowing your customers well, by communicating relevant subjects with your customers, you and your organization will have a good relation. To manage relation with multiple, hundreds, ten thousands, hundreds of thousands of customers, you need a system for management.
That system for Customer Relationship Management, can be based on paper, or by using simple file system or by using simple spreadsheets.
You can organize yourself within 15 minutes and make your own Customer Relationship Management.
In the next stage, you may find a self-hosted and open source software that you may use as your own CRM system.
You can program or design your own CRM software. It is not that hard. You have probably spent same amount of time by learning SAAS just as you would spend the time to create your own CRM software which would be very relevant for you.
I hope you find the above ideas and implementations well enough for a simple and quick creation of your own Customer Relationship Management system.
Let me know if you need any help or assistance.
Contact RCD Wealth now. There is a simple rule at RCD Wealth: if we can help you, we do, whenever and wherever necessary, and it's the way we've been doing business since 2002, and the only way we know