SMBs are so eager to find simple cloud-based CRM and Sales offerings that they can use on handheld devices that they’ll grab the iPhone right out of your hand. That’s what happened at lunch today while dining with a fellow CRM geek. My colleague pointed to my phone and said, “Okay, show me what you’ve got.” As I walked her through my latest mobile CRM find, the gent at the table next to us was obviously listening in keenly, then he jumped right in with hand extended to see the app for himself when he heard me say (partly in jest), “See? It’s got the cutest little sales funnel!”
Developed by startup Future Simple, Base is an attractive cloud-based CRM and Sales Management tool for SMBs . With minimalist, uncluttered interfaces on both the web and smartphone apps, Base will appeal to smaller organizations and individuals looking for simplicity and convenience over feature depth. I think Future Simple has hit a good balance between functionality and ease of use. And it is FREE for unlimited contacts and users for up to 50 deals.
BASE ON THE WEB
Menus and work areas are well organized which allow users to efficiently move between tasks, reports, sales, and contacts. The simple overview displays a pipeline, activity stream and task list, which is also useful for managers as a snapshot of progress and usage. Predefined reports include Incoming Leads, Total Sales, Lost Sales, Lead Sources, Sales Stage Distribution and the Sales Funnel. Each report is easily filtered by date, user and/or tags and offers a good balance of graphic and text-based information for review. Within Sales, users can quickly view, add, edit, and move opportunities through sales stages simply. Data input is simple and painless throughout the system; the ability to add both standard and custom fields on the fly to system records for users, contacts, and deals is particularly useful. There doesn’t seem to be any social channel integration related to the activity streams yet, social site links like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Skype that are stored on contact/organization cards will link directly to the site profile.
Several other key features of the Base web:
- Admins can easily configure custom values for Lead Sources, Loss Reasons, Sales Stages, as well as custom fields
- Data import options for contacts, organizations and deals include: .vcf, .csv., Salesforce, Highrise, Basecamp, and Gmail
- Email Dropbox – When emailing contacts from mail apps outside of Base, users can paste a token into the BCC field and the email will automatically be attached to the contact record within Base.
- Data Export – contacts, deals, and tasks can be exported to .csv
- Create a Client Space to have deal conversations and share documents with clients
- Embed a hosted web form on your site to harvest Leads
- Integration with Facebook, DropBox and Harvest
- API (REST) – didn’t test it, but clear guidance offered on Future Simple’s Developer pages
- Security – Information is transmitted via SSL to Amazon EC2 servers
Overall, Base offers a simple CRM and Sales experience without a lot of fuss and muss – and – you can take it with you on your handheld.
BASE ON THE SMARTPHONE
Future Simple offers both iPhone and Android apps. In testing the iPhone app, the data integration between the web and phone was seamless. As with the web interface, the mobile version delivers clean simplicity and the same base feature functions. Contacts, tasks, deals and deals are easily managed. The dashboard displays recent items and an activity stream for a quick overview. Work deals from the (cute little) Sales Funnel.
One downfall is that contacts aren’t connected to contacts stored on your device, but this isn’t likely to be a deal-breaker for most users because they can import contacts from Gmail easily. Perhaps Future Simple will work on further contact sync and integration options in future versions. Some Android users report minor glitches with Asus Transformer, but the Android reviews are otherwise consistently positive.
Base is FREE for unlimited users and contacts, but that is limited to a total of 50 deals. Upgrade options include usual deal package bumps and a referral program deal offering (which I’m not a fan of, but some users will like.) See Future Simple for further details.
My Opinion: Base for the iPhone stands out as a pretty powerful and clean tool that might be more appealing to SMBs and individuals than some of the more complex CRM smartphone offerings.