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25 August 2010

Shopping for Programs that Help Track Sales and CRM

I’m currently researching web-based programs that can help me track leads and manage sales. It’s easy enough to email end-users and keep track of prospects and sales in Excel, but personally, I find it clunky and difficult to use. I’d rather have something more flexible that’s web-based.

Domainer Income

I spoke with the co-founder of Domainer Income, Simon Johnson, this evening, who gave me an overview of what his program has to offer. Domainer Income is the first system to bring together all of the main domainer tools—drop lists, appraisals, portfolio management, and sales—under one roof. It’s the first program of its kind, and is geared toward serious domainers. There are videos highlighting the various features of DI on the website, and for someone who’s looking to manage and acquire an extensive portfolio of names, it seems like a fantastic tool.

What I need, though, is not so much a portfolio manager, as something that will help streamline the process of contacting end-users, managing sales, and sending out contracts.

I’ve become spoiled by online contracts since I launched my music business last year, and started using a program called Tave. Tave was originally designed for photographers, but I was able to customize it to meet my needs, and it allows me to have a fully integrated contact form on my website, so that when someone sends me an email, they are automatically added as a “lead” in the system. I can also easily keep track of quotes, send out invoices, and do all of my contracts online, which has saved me an enormous amount of time and stress.

Tave is great for jobs that are attached to specific dates, but not for managing a list of products (domains) or clients. It doesn’t seem like there’s a single program out there that can do everything (if you’ve found one, PLEASE let me know), so right now I’m evaluating a couple of different ones that cover all of the features I need.

Tout: Send, Track, & Analyze Emails

Mark Fulton wrote a great article titled How to Automate End User Domain Sales Marketing on DotSauce, which is where I first read about Tout. Tout allows you to create templates for email campaigns, manage lists of users, and get website-like analytics about your email’s performance. You can even see how many people opened your email, clicked on the links within your message, and which email templates perform better than others.

It’s free for unlimited email templates with up to 5 emails a day, and $30/month for the premium plan that allows up to 150 email pitches a day. I haven’t used Tout yet, but I’m putting it to the test later this week. There are a number of other email apps that provide tracking and statistics like this (Newsberry is one), but I like the simplicity of Tout. Tout is not a mass-mailing system—it is for automating individual emails, which is exactly what domainers need.

Pros:

  • Simple interface
  • Tracking & reports that let you know how many people opened your email
  • Free for up to 5 emails/day

Cons:

  • 5 emails/day isn’t really suitable for domainers who have to contact a lot of end-user prospects.
  • At $30/month, it’s expensive, compared to apps like Newsberry, at $9/month
  • No ability to create custom signatures for each email template
  • Reporting is not that robust at the moment

Milton

I recently read about Milton in Entrepreneur Magazine last week on my way to New York. Milton allows you to manage contacts, organize projects, and track financials all in one place. I like that it allows you to keep track of expenses and create invoices. There’s no functionality for online contracts, but I think this is something I’m going to have to use EchoSign or ContractPal for.

You can read more about Milton here: http://www.yourmilton.com.

Pipejump

Pipejump is a way for small businesses to track sales and manage customer relations. Whereas some of Milton’s features might be overkill for what most domainers require, Pipejump seems more streamlined. I’ll be able to provide a more detailed review once I test the system, but I was impressed by what I saw on the features tour on the website.

More info on Pipejump: http://www.pipejump.com.

Why Do You Need These Programs in the First Place?

You don’t. There are a number of successful domainers who generate sales simply by emailing end-users, seeing who responds, and negotiating deals with the ones who are interested. That’s a perfectly legitimate way of doing business, and you don’t need fancy applications to track sales data. I am looking for programs to help me with this because I’d like to be able to track everything outside of Excel.

I am in no way implying that using programs like these guarantees success—success comes from perseverance, your ability to seek out and contact targeted end-users for your names, and your ability to craft a professional sounding email. If you have leads, clients, and email campaigns (or portfolios, in the case of Domainer Income) you’d like to manage, programs like these might save you time—precious time that can be spent on development projects, selling more names, or stepping away from the computer once in a while.

What’s the best way you’ve found to keep track of clients and organize your business?

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About Nadia

Nadia is the editor of DomainSushi. Her love affair with domain names and web development dates back to 1998, and she is passionate about educating the tech community, small business owners, and laymen about domain name strategy. Follow her on Twitter: @DomainSushi.

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