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Google Docs CRM

User Name: Lauren
Name: Lauren Carlson
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I write about various topics related to CRM software, with particular interest in sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer service. I have a background in the music industry, and whe... [More]
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Add Date: 09/17/2011
Many small businesses need a way to manage prospects, especially during periods of growth. CRM software is a great tool for doing that.

Many small businesses need a way to manage prospects, especially during periods of growth. CRM software is a great tool for doing that. Software Advice offers some great customer relationship management software reviews, but the truth is many of the most popular systems on the market like Salesforce and Oracle On Demand are beyond the budgetary means of the average small business owner.

So why not build your own CRM system? The benefits are clear:

• It's cost-efficient (free)

• Flexibility

• Customization

• Easy to use

A great tool for building out a CRM system is Google Docs. Already used as a management tool, it is fairly easy to extend the power of this group of applications to the customer management space. Google Docs also allows all users to collaborate across any document, thanks to a same-time editing feature. So, if one person changes a contact's information, that is automatically synced across the system, allowing all users to see the change immediately. You can also monitor privilege settings, ensuring that all users have access to the right information.

Chris Keller of Profitworks Small Business Services outlines a step-by-step process for setting up a CRM system within Google Docs. He shows how with Google Docs, you can track and manage:

• Demographics - contact name, email, phone number, company name

• Prospect source - a note of where the prospect came from so that you know which marketing activities are working

• Next actions - a number system for the different actions required to be taken with a prospect

• Contact log - the date at which the next action needs to be taken

• Lead nurturing stage - a numbered system of how close the prospect is to purchasing. I use the following system 1 = aware but not interested, 2 = interested, 3 = verbal commitment to buy, 4 = has purchased. This is just the numbering system I use but you could create your own numbering system that works for your business.

• Estimated opportunity size - an estimate of how large the sales opportunity is with the prospect. I always record this number as the projected annual sales to the prospect but this could be modified to whatever is applicable to your business.

For a full outline, you can check out his post here. Another great source I found was Laurence Buchanan's post on what Google CRM might look like: Who knows? With all this buzz around Google and CRM, it might not be long before they step up to the development plate and create their own CRM. (P.S. - I've already predicted that, by the way...)

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