CRM Solutions – The Most Important Tool In Your Fee Based Financial Planning Practice Toolbox | FEE006 – Transcript

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Okay so let’s get right to it, CRM solutions the most important tool in your fee based financial planning practice toolbox. Customer relationship management solutions, I can’t tell you how important it is to have a good CRM solution in your practice. Now I’ve always been on to embrace technology, I have kind of a love hate relationship with it though. You know I love it, when it works it works fantastically well however when it doesn’t work my entire life comes crumbling down. I mean it just shuts down everything. I’ve got myself so wired in that you know one interruption, one hiccup it could just – it used to actually bring everything to a grinding halt but you know I do understand the importance of good technology and incorporating that into your business because you just simply in this day and age you cannot run a successful fee based financial planning practice without it.

So what is CRM software? Well as I said before customer relationship management solution or customer relationship management software it involves using technology to organize, automate and synchronize business processes, that’s pretty much it. So it’s all about automating and using technology to make your business run more efficiently. So why should you use a CRM solution. If you’re not using one right now, I’m amazed when I meet other financial planners and financial advisors and I ask them you know what CRM solution are you using and they tell me that they’re using some basic archaic I mean just a simple well I keep track of my you know client’s name, address and telephone number and maybe their email address and that’s about it, I’m completely blown away because you can’t track enough information, you can’t glean enough information from your database if you do it that way. So keeping track of everything that goes on with your clients and your business can be completely overwhelming if you don’t have a really good CRM solution.

The other thing that’s important about why you should use a good CRM solution is in our business there’s one overriding thing that we need to protect ourselves from and that is from litigation, you know being sued or whatever and so compliance – CRM solution is a compliance saviour, it does everything for you. If you set it up properly the compliance mechanisms that you can build into your business practices are going to make it so that if you ever have to stand in front of a judge or anybody like that to explain yourself you can say no, no, no this is how I do it and I can prove that because it’s our process and we document everything, this is everything that’s there, here are copies of everything you’re looking for. You know it just allows you to illustrate to anybody that you are operating from a well organized fashion and that adds a lot of credibility when it comes to any compliance challenges that you’re going to have. So compliance you know you’re going to get so much benefit from that and the reality is, I mean unfortunately with compliance, you don’t need the compliance protection until you’re actually being faced with a challenge. So it may be a lot of extra work upfront to get the compliance protocols and best practices in place through your CRM solution and then at the end of the day you may never need to use it but at least it’s there when you need to use it.

Now you can automate a lot of your behind the scenes workflow with a good CRM solution. So what that means is that a lot of things are repetitive in our business, a lot of things just happen time and time again and so you can automate that so you don’t have to do as much thinking or remembering when it comes to managing the business processes that you have. So that’s a real huge thing, it’s one of the driving forces behind why I embraced a good CRM solution technology early on in my career, I knew it was important and I really wanted to automate as many of the businesses as I could and the driving force behind that was that when I first started I couldn’t hire anybody, I couldn’t afford to hire anybody so I needed to be able to use my technology and leverage that technology to do a lot for me. So that was really a big benefit to building in a good CRM solution into my practice.

Now also using a good CRM solution, showing your clients how you use it. it really portrays a much more professional image. You know you want to be seen as a true professional and when a client sits down or a client calls and says hey I’ve got this question can you get back to me on this and you say hang on a second let me just call up that document, you bring up an image of it or you can access the information right at the tip of your fingers it’s really quite impressive. I mean customer service is huge when you can gain access to the information people are looking for in a pretty quick way. I had a situation where we had a client, what was it four or five years later came to us and said hey you know – they were no longer a client because they moved out the country and I can’t remember where they moved to actually, anyway they moved out of the country and four or five years later they email me back out of the blue and said hey do you have a copy of you know this tax return from way back when I’ve been looking all over and basically within a few minutes of receiving that email I called up their record, went into the history, found the document they were looking for, attached it to the email, sent it back to them and I got an email back saying wow that’s impressive. So you know it really does go along way because the next time if they come back to Canada or if they make any recommendation who they’re going to recommend, they’re going to recommend me because I basically impressed upon them how serious I am about you know our job and our practice and they’ve just seen that through the CRM solution that we had in place.

A good CRM solution allows you to communicate and share information with your staff much more efficiently. I mean when you have common calendars and you go and check out somebody else’s calendar or you can check out somebody else’s notes, you can see what notes they’ve attached and maybe if somebody else touched a file while you were on vacation you come back and you can take a look at things and see what’s been going on. It just allows for a lot less oh by the way Sally can you tell me about this when it’s already there, you just go into the note section, you check it out, you look at the history you see what’s been going on, chances are you can answer your question so you don’t have to bother your staff on a lot of that. It also you can use it to manage the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. I mean when you spend the time and effort into putting together a marketing campaign you want to be able to know at the end of the day whether or not it worked for you. So you can use a good CRM solution to allow you to manage those and extract the metrics, the key metrics that are going to tell you whether or not that campaign was profitable or not and often times you won’t know until perhaps a year later after the campaign was done whether or not it was profitable or you may have a campaign that you know maybe got a lot of leads for you and you were able to convert some of those leads but maybe one campaign that you did that generated just a couple of leads but those leads turned into really good big you know great clients to work with a year later you go and you check out your stats and it says you know what that particular program where you got just a couple of leads but those were such high quality leads the value of that campaign was the highest of all the campaigns. So you can you know have it track things for you while life goes on and it’s pretty powerful.

You can use it to manage the effectiveness of your sales funnel. So when you’re dealing with your sales funnel you basically are recognizing opportunities that you want to take advantage of and capitalize on so all those opportunities will go through a bit of a sales process. So a lot of times you know the question might be well where are we with that particular case and what’s going on with this particular client file and you know is that client coming in for a meeting, are they going to come in for the second meeting and where are we at with all that, well very quickly you can set things up properly so with a good CRM you can hit a button and it says well here’s everything right now, here’s your sales funnel, this is what’s happening, you’ve got this many people who are set up for an introduction meeting, this many people are coming back for a second meeting, this many people are basically right on the verge of their final meeting which is where they’re going to say yes or no. So it just allows you to manage that very quickly. And you can use it to extract you know key metrics on your overall business. It’s not just your marketing and your sales but you know you can take a look at it and just manage well how is the workflow going you know when you’ve automated your processes and you’ve got the business workflow and the paper flow that’s working through your business you can you know check it out and see well is this working efficiently or is this not as efficient because you know if you’re sitting down and it takes you more steps to pull up a client image file for you know a client document maybe you can then tweak things. And so it just allows things to just operate much more quickly, it forces you to look at the business processes and the best practices that you’ve got in your practice in a much more sequential and logical fashion.

So that’s why you should be using a CRM solution. Now which solution type should you use and the reason why I say solution type is because there is really two types. Now this is fairly new so understand that you know back in the nineties and early 2000 these other types that I’m going to talk about didn’t exist, they exist now and if you’re not embracing them then you know you may be missing out on some technology that could be really, really powerful in your practice. Well the two types of solutions you can be looking at are client based solutions or Cloud based solutions. Now when I say client based what I’m not referring to is I’m not referring to your clients, I’m referring to the fact that the software that you’re running is actually on your machine. And so a client based solution means that you’ve got a program that you double click on an icon on your machine, you can tell I’m a PC user because you double click on it – actually I don’t know, do you double click on an icon for Macs, maybe you do I don’t know I’ve never used one or I’ve used one but I haven’t used it very much, anyways as I said in previous episodes I really would like to convert over to a Mac I just haven’t gone that route yet. Anyway when it comes to the client based solution it resides on your computer so you’ve actually got a program that’s running on your computer and the database is actually on your computer.

Now it probably does require a server so if you have an assistant or if you have more than one person working on a database, working on your CRM then the reality is you’re probably going to need a server which is going to be the main database hub that’s going to keep everything organized and then everybody in the office will link into that server. And so the server technology is sort of a network that allows you to you know work together and everybody gets to see real time what’s going on but you do need that server box in order to run that back end of the software.

It also requires you to pay for your own security solutions so you need to make sure that when you’ve got the database of all that key and you know private information that you’re retaining for your client files all that information is on your server well it’s up to you then to protect that data, to put security measures in place so that nobody can either hack in you know through your firewall, through the internet, hack into it or steal it or whatever. So you need to put all these different security mechanisms in place, that can be extremely expensive. I know when we were running a server you know we probably spent eight to ten thousand dollars just on the box, the server machine – I called it Darth Vader because it was in our server room and it just had this horrible mean black looking box with lights on it, anyway so it looked like Darth Vader and this is the server and so we needed to have all these security measures in place to make sure that people couldn’t log into that server from outside of our office without certain protocols and they couldn’t log into it inside the office without certain protocols and if they stole the server that they couldn’t access the information. So there was a lot of technology we needed to put in and there was a lot of expense to that technology. So you know it does require a lot.

Often times the solution as well is either PC based or Apple based so you can’t have one solution, one CRM solution that will run on you know two platforms. Maybe you can now, as you can hear I’m not part of a client based solution right now, I’ve gone to the other base solution which is a Cloud based solution so I don’t have to worry about that and maybe they’ve bridged that gap but the reality is when I was working on a client based solution and I had a server I could only use it was either PC based or it was Mac based or Apple based and you really couldn’t have two working together and that was because the program that we needed to install on our machine had to be able to install, it was either a PC based program or an Apple based program. So keep that in mind as well.

The other thing is that the solution, you know one of the challenges we had was that it didn’t often times work perfectly with the other software that we had. For example one of the solutions we had used to have its own document writer in it so we would have to create all of our templates, client letters and forms and all that sort of stuff in this particular document writer. Well the problem with that was that the document writer wasn’t as robust as Microsoft Word was so we were limited, you know we could do a little bit we just couldn’t do a lot. We couldn’t make it look as good as we wanted to. So you know that always frustrated me and then they finally came out and said oh no but now we’ve got a link so you can use Microsoft Word and sure enough it worked well but it didn’t work perfectly at first and there were glitches and there were bugs and you know it was a bit of a nightmare. I mean that’s probably been fixed now, I think a lot of the companies have kind of embraced that Microsoft Word you know on a PC is the primary word processing program, maybe not, but the reality is that they had to make some changes there. So it doesn’t always work with the other solutions, it doesn’t always work with some of the other software, you know we had situations where it was creating conflicts with other software so you know keep that in mind as well.

And the client based solution it is you know generally subscription based so you would pay for the number of licenses you were going to use and you got a discount the more licenses you had and the thing that was interesting in one of the programs that we used you know if we wanted to keep support we would have to upgrade every year and so that was fine, I mean that was all part and parcel of it. I know other people who have you know taken advantage of the software and they’ve implemented and utilized it and then they never upgrade it, they just keep it on the same version and then they never worry about it too much. Generally those are people who don’t spend a lot of time on really fine tuning and tweaking their CRM, they just sort of use it for the basics and if that’s all you’re using it for then that’s pretty much all you need to do but you know I do know one colleague of mine who basically the company has come back to him and said okay you know what you have to upgrade now because we are no longer even you know supporting anything to do with that particular version and so now he’s up against the challenge of well if I upgrade you know the upgrade it’s like going to a brand new program because the company rewrote their entire program you know along the way, he’s on the old, old, old version, the new version is like a whole brand new set of software so for him to do the upgrade he’s got to you know do a major overhaul so it’s forcing him to sort of reanalyze things.

So that’s a client based solution. So client based simple means it resides on your machine, on your server and then you’re in control of it and so you just need to make sure that you’ve got a lot of the technology that allows you to access it from outside of the office or synchronize being away from the office and so that’s all pretty much entirely up to you and the IT person that you use in order to keep that program running properly.

Now the other option was what I said the Cloud based option. Now Cloud based is simple the solution now resides on the internet so you don’t have to worry about having a server. All you need is an internet connection and web browser okay, it doesn’t care what hardware you use so you can use a PC, Mac it doesn’t matter as long as you have an internet browser you can use that browser, log onto your system and now you’re running off the Cloud or the Cloud based solution. Now the real benefit to that is you know using it through the internet browser doesn’t really require a lot of resources and power from your machine so in this environment now in a Cloud based solution a really, really old computer will work just fine. So you may not have to upgrade your computers as often, you’re not going to notice things slow down you know as the patches come through with Microsoft and Apple and as they you know upgrade their software. It just seems to be in my experience anyway that every time I get an upgrade or a patch or an update from Microsoft you know the machine just seems to run slower and slower and slower, there’s more involved in the new version of the software, I don’t know it just requires more computer processing power. Whereas when you’re internet based you know it’s the speed of your internet connection and that’s really it and the internet or the web browser doesn’t require a lot of resources so you know any machine will really work on it. So that’s kind of an interesting one as well.

The security is now provided by the hosting company so you know you do want to look into making sure that any Cloud based solution has really high end security and you know once they’ve got the security in place the reality is that they will – the hosted Cloud based solution will probably be able to afford a much, much higher level of security than you could ever afford because remember they’re doing it not for just you but for their entire client base. So when you pool your resources together you can get such powerful, powerful security solutions that are put in place that really you know add to the credibility of what you are doing.

The other thing is that the software has a common language. Cloud based software has a common language to speak to other Cloud based solutions so it’s so simple and easy to maintain because the API that’s being used it’s just a matter of having one machine talk to the other and when one company says okay now we work with this particular – you know these two programs can talk together, when it works it just simply works. So there’s not really a lot of customization that has to go into things, you don’t have to do a lot of that customization work and a lot of the programming work that I know I’ve had to do in the past with our solutions where you know in order to get two machines or two systems to talk to one another we’d have to get a programmer in there and they’d have to map everything out and link things together. So we don’t really need to do that anymore. And then you just simply pay for the number of users that you want. So obviously if you’re buying more in bulk then you know you do get a discount which is similar to the client based solution and you just simply pay a monthly fee and you know use it for as long as you need to.

So I really, really like Cloud based solution, I think the Cloud based solution is the way of the future, more and more companies are migrating to Cloud based because it allows them – I mean the efficiencies are all over the place. Number one you know when there’s a software update everybody gets updated at the same time, you don’t have to then worry about oh I’ve got to get all my staff machines updated so I got to bring somebody in to do the update and run the patch and then you know inevitably when you do the update it doesn’t work properly, something needs to be tweaked, I don’t know there’s always something that I had to hire somebody to come and do whenever there was an update or a patch, you know I’d get notification from the software company that hey there’s a new update and the latest version has now been released and available and I’d contact my IT guy and they’d say you what we’re not going to upgrade anybody because we recognize there’s some bugs, we’re going to wait, we don’t want to cause anymore problems so we’d have to wait for all the new technology. Anyway it was just a pain in the butt and I didn’t like it and so I really you know was happy to have migrated to a Cloud based solution.

So what have I used and what do I use now. Well my life started when it comes to CRM, my life started in a program called Maximizer. I’m sure if you’re in this space or if you’ve ever been looking for different solutions you’re aware of what Maximizer is. Maximizer has been around for a long, long time. I used it very successfully, you know I loved Maximizer when I was working on it. I learned a lot to do with it, I was able to program myself in it so it was just something that I embraced and I had Maximizer working – I mean I was totalling maxing out the resources on it, I was using every possible thing I possibly could. Now the challenge was that I got to a point where I was using you know so much and then I said okay now can it do this and they’d say well no it can’t do that, okay well can we do this, well no you’re kind of a power user you know not very many people do that. Well you know what I wanted to do that so it forced me to look around and I looked around and I said you know what I want much more automation and that’s what the limiting factor was is that with the version of Maximizer that I was using I was somewhat limited on how much automation I could create. I had you know programming that was done and that I was able to do that you know was phenomenal but it got to the point where I was somewhat limited on the resources and what I could do. So I had to make a change.

Well then I came across a program called GoldMine and for any of you who know GoldMine I mean in my mind from a client based solution if I wasn’t really working on a Cloud based solution GoldMine would be the solution I’d be working on. I mean it was something I worked on before because there’s a lot of fantastic technology in GoldMine, I highly recommend GoldMine if you’re on a client based solution because of it’s automation features. Now for whatever reason not many people know about the automation features in GoldMine. I used it extensively, I had this great programmer that we would always turn to and he would come in and I’d say hey listen can you do this and he would say oh yeah it’s simple and then he would do it and I’d say okay great if you can do that can you do this and here’s what I’m trying to do, here’s what I’m struggling with, can I automate this, absolutely. The technology on the automation side of GoldMine was phenomenal.

Now the thing that I didn’t like about GoldMine was that it tracked everything and my database I mean we’re a niche financial planning firm so we’re not a very large financial planning firm, well I would get comments from the programmer saying you know your database is huge compared to you know huge companies that are using this program what is it you’re doing. Well we were doing so much and we were using it so well that unfortunately the resources that I required for my server just kept on you know things would start to crap out and things would not work as well so even the eight to ten thousand dollar server that I had just simply wasn’t enough and then I find out afterwards that GoldMine likes to run on it’s own server with no other resources so you need to buy a special box just for that server. Anyway I just got very frustrated with that that I had so much data in there and so much information and what I ended up realizing was the way that it tracked things and the way that it did things was that I had too much information, so much information and information that really didn’t make much of a difference, I didn’t need to track however it was tracking it, anyways it was keeping tabs of it and so it was just bogging things down.

So then I said okay you know what I found out about this whole Cloud based solution and you know I really started embracing it and I recognized and I saw that you know what it makes things run so much more efficiently and all I need is an internet connection. So now the reality is I mean if you go to our server room you’re going to see in the corner a little box with a red light on it and all I care about is that that red light stays on because if that red light stays on that means that I’ve got an internet connection and that means everybody can work on it.

So we went with a program called and again it is probably – well I think it is the leader in Cloud based CRM solutions. So it is just a phenomenal program and the thing that is so amazing about it is that I’m working on the same program that a Fortune 500 company is working on and the Fortune 500 company when they get a software update I get the software update. So everybody is sort of treated equally in this scenario because everybody is on the same platform and it just works you know so much better, it’s proven to be a very, very beneficial good move. The other thing that it hasn’t done, I mean we haven’t seen it crap out, we haven’t seen crashes, we haven’t seen any of that. Since we migrated over to Kathy my partner and you know my staff nobody is complaining, nobody is saying hey you know it’s not working or it’s down or whatever. I haven’t gotten any of those questions and you know nobody is calling me and saying hey I need some assistance this isn’t working, can you help me with this. No it just simply works, it’s one of those things where you know you’d expect it just to work, well guess what it does.

So why do I prefer and Cloud based solutions. Well number one it’s very, very easy to set up. If you know how to log onto the internet you know how to set it up. So getting your staff set up is simple, you basically just say look here’s the website, here’s your user ID, here’s your password, log in and then we’ll go through a bit of an orientation and because it’s all internet based you know people just get it, you know there’s not a lot of learning of the software and if you want to customize it it’s very simple if you don’t like where the field is on this particular page then click edit, move it over and click save and it moves it over. So you know the ease at which we can customize the program, make it work for you, make it look like you want it it’s just amazing how it works. The maintenance of it, there is no maintenance. All the maintenance is done behind the scenes, it’s all done for you and as I say when you’re working on the same platform that a company like Dell is working on and you know Dell uses, I’m using when the system goes down well guess what it’s down for Dell as well, well guess what they’re going to have such redundancy because they just simply can’t afford to have company like Dell’s system go down. So you’ve got redundancy built into the whole program where before when my server would go down or if my server would crash and we’d have to reboot it or something went wrong I was down, the whole office was down and I’d then have to call my IT guy, I’d have to put in an emergency call well guess what emergency means, you have to pay for it, they would come right out, they would try and get it fixed. Well you know what that took a day at least whereas with the redundancy that’s built in with Cloud based solutions they have three, four or five different mirrored servers all around the world so you can have something go on you know in North America and suddenly boom you’re moved over to Europe and you’re working off of the European server. So you know the redundancy that’s built into it is phenomenal.

As I said before you can probably glean from what I’m talking about, there’s no server required so you don’t need that Darth Vader box in your server room anymore, you just simply you need an internet connection. So now you don’t have to worry about networking everybody together you just need to get everybody on the internet so you could do it wirelessly if you wanted, whatever, whatever works for you, it just makes it so much easier. The other thing that’s amazing is to customize it and to sort of add different solutions and different ways and you know can it do this, can it do that. Well what Salesforce has done is they’ve created a system where other companies can now come forward and say well I’m going to design a program that runs on Salesforce or with Salesforce and it’s going to do this. So you know for example they have an area called the AppExchange and when you go into the AppExchange there are hundreds and thousands of different programs that are designed to run and work with So you know an example of that could be integrating my constant contact database with my Salesforce database. So I now can put together a constant contact email communication piece and I can send it from Salesforce using the email addresses that are local in my Salesforce database and then it tracks everything and it keeps track of it all and it shows me who opened it and who opened up what particular email and it shows me what emails they received and it’s just all right there. So I’ve now almost got constant contact within my Salesforce and it’s amazing.

Setting up these applications is simple. You basically go to it, you find one you like I mean there’s one that we’re looking at now which is just a small little app that basically says anytime your client has a birthday you set up a birthday template and it’s going to automatically send them a birthday email on the date of their birthday. Well there’s some automation right there that I totally love. So how do I set it up? I click on it, I say I like this application I’d like to install it and it’s done and that’s it. You hit install, you say great this is my user ID and password for my instance and I’m an administration on Salesforce, it says great it’s now installed you can now use the program and that’s it. I didn’t have to hire anybody for that, the program was free. So you know it’s amazing especially when you consider that a lot of these programs that are in the AppExchange, I mean a lot of the programs are free and if they’re not free they’re next to free. So anyway the bolt on solutions that you can use really you just imagine anything you’d want to be done, you’d want to automate or have your CRM solution do somebody has probably written an app for it.

The other thing that’s great is from a Cloud based solution standpoint we’ve embraced working with Google and Google Apps for business so it completely integrates with Google. So what that means is now instead of having to have you know like an Outlook database for my email and all that sort of stuff I now use Gmail for our corporate email and what that means is now I’ve got all the amazing functionality and I’ve got all the storage and the ease at which I can recall and find information all for business and it’s all through my Gmail account. So I’ve got a Gmail account, we basically point our mail exchange record to our Google account so now anybody who sends an email to me that’s not at, it’s at my so they don’t know anything about it. I can access my email from anywhere, from any device it doesn’t matter, it’s just so user friendly and it integrates beautifully and seamlessly with So that’s a real powerful thing and my Google Apps I think it cost me fifty dollars per user per year, so I mean dirt cheap when it comes to setting all that up.

The customization is amazing so if you’re looking at your instance of Salesforce say you know what I don’t like where that particular things is, I don’t like where it shows up on the screen well move it and then boom you just click it, drag it over, move it and it’s moved. So it’s amazing and from a visual customization standpoint you can do so much. The automation solutions oh my gosh you know no longer do you have to worry about having the proper hardware to run these solutions, it’s all run you know in the Cloud so you don’t have to worry about is your server powerful enough or anything like that. The Automation solutions it’s just it’s so intuitive, it’s so amazing at what it can do. I haven’t even scratched the surface and I’m doing so much more than I really had ever imagined I could do when it comes to the sort of automation of things. I mean I have reports that are emailed to me automatically that I would usually you know take ten, fifteen, twenty, an hour of time to create once a month. Well now once a month on the day that I ask for it boom it gets sent to my inbox and it’s just there, I don’t have to worry about it the reports are already created and it’s emailed to me. So you know being able to do that and set things up where it just happens on an automated basis is incredibly powerful.

So if you can map out your unique process then you can tie all that into the workflow and the automation workflow that Salesforce allows for. So if you know what happens when and you have certain things that happen in between meetings and before meetings and prep that has to be done for certain meetings and emails that get sent out at certain times just program all that in. Say okay for this particular meeting when this stage gets hit then automatically assign these tasks to my staff and then when this stage gets hit automatically assign these tasks to my staff, when this happens automatically send this email and you know it just happens. So you get a little bit of time upfront to map it all out but once it’s all mapped out it just works and if you don’t like how it’s working then you just tweak it as you go along. So it’s really simple and easy to do.

The security as I mentioned is second to none so you get high, high, high end security which is great anywhere, anytime, any computer access all the time so you don’t necessarily have to be tied down to your machine you know with only your machine having the database. If you’re at a friend’s place and you need to check into something, whatever then you can just log onto the system you know your user ID and password boom you’re all set to go.

Amazing mobile solutions. I mean now with the iPhone and the iPad and believe me I used to be a Blackberry nut and I couldn’t imagine going to a Blackberry now. It’s my preference but the iPhone and the iPad take it to a whole new level. If you haven’t gone the iPad and iPhone route I strongly, strongly, strongly suggest you do. The solutions that are in place for you know integrating with the iPads and iPhones are amazing. I mean literally I can virtually run my business, virtually, not completely but virtually from my iPhone. There’s really not much I can’t do with my iPhone. Now sometimes it’s a little small and that’s where I go to my iPad to do some of that work but you know there have been times I’ve tested myself. I’ve said I’m going to take a day I’m only going to take with me my iPad and I’m going to go and work in a coffee shop. I work all day in the coffee shop on my iPad never needed a computer, never needed anything. It was just phenomenal the way I was able to do that. So you can really embrace you know being remote, being virtual, the apps that are being created for the iPad and the iPhone are simply amazing and the way you can integrate them with your Salesforce instance is also amazing.
The other thing I love about virtual or being Cloud based is that your storage is virtually limitless so your storage limitations you really don’t have any whereas you know my limitations with my server were how big is the hard drive. Well I’d have you know four hard drives that were mirrored so that was great, I had redundancy kind of built in but if that whole box went down I was lost. But still I’d then have to buy bigger and bigger hard drives in order to manage all that. Well now I don’t have to worry about that ever again and you know things – there’s a term in the Salesforce which is called a dashboard and the dashboards are great because once you’ve got all this set up you can then say okay now what I want to do is all the reports and all the stuff that I have going on in my CRM I want a dashboard that reports to me all the key metrics, I want to know what my lead status is, how many leads do I have that I’m working on, how many opportunities am I working on, what are the greatest opportunities, what are the opportunities that maybe have stalled and I to really you know push them forward or touch them again. So it does all this for me and I just simply click a button and then it refreshes the dashboard and I know exactly what I need to be doing. So it sort of draws your attention to the most important parts of your business and you really can’t ask for more than that.

So what’s the biggest benefit you’re going to get from In my mind it’s tracking. You know the methodology of is just so much better. They have leads, well I mean in any business you have leads that you’re working on and then once those leads become a client well you convert them to a client. So now you’ve got leads sort of like a separate little database. You’ve got your database of leads, you’ve got your database of clients but then you’ve also got your database of opportunities. So of those clients that you’re working on well now if you identify opportunities, maybe there’s a financial planning opportunity, maybe there’s an investment opportunity, maybe there’s an insurance opportunity, a living benefits opportunity whatever it happens to be, you can identify these are all the opportunities that I work on and when you identify them going through review meetings with clients you can then say oh I recognize that opportunity and then you can start a process that you’ve pre set up to help move that opportunity forward and then you never lose track of it. So you never have to worry about what do I work on next, the system will tell you, the system will move things forward for you and the system will tell you what you need to spend your time on. So you know being able to follow that methodology, it’s very logical, very sequential and it just simply makes sense and I haven’t really seen another CRM solution that handles things like that, the opportunities and this is one of the driving things that sold me on Salesforce was the fact that it really did have good opportunity tracking. So you know following those opportunities through is phenomenal.

So the other thing is what other solutions do I integrate with my Well we talked about one which is Google Apps you know that’s where it’s fifty dollars per user per year, you get all the benefits of all the Gmail and Google Docs and calendar and anything that goes into having a Google account and that’s just powerful in itself. So the fact that it integrates in is amazing. Another one that I’m using a lot of these days is what’s called Dropbox. Now you may have heard of Dropbox you may not have. If you haven’t heard of Dropbox check it out, it’s a free service and what it does is it basically gives you a hard drive in the Clouds. So on your computer lets say you had certain files that you want to have access to if you’re away from the office and you don’t have your computer with you, well just simply put it in your Dropbox and now it stores it on the Cloud for you, it’s also on your computer. Well let’s say you’re working remotely and you have an assistant that you want to share a file with, well then share a particular file in your Dropbox so consider it a file folder, put a folder in your file folder that you’re sharing with your assistant and then anytime you drop a file or a document or something in that particular folder what it does is it keeps a copy on your computer, puts a copy in the Cloud but also sends a copy to her computer or their computer or his computer. So what it means is you’ve now got this copy everywhere and then if they for example take that copy and they use the file as soon as they take it out of their Dropbox it removes it from the Dropbox. So now you don’t run the risk of duplicating a file or whatever.

So it’s a great way of sharing information with other people. So I have a virtual assistant so often times what I’ll do is I’ll create a folder that I share information within that folder with my virtual assistant. Well my virtual assistant is in the Philippines so what do I do, drop the folder in there, boom or drop the file in there and boom. What happens, he instantly gets it. So I send him an email and say okay I’ve put a video file in your Dropbox can you edit it for me and it’s already there, I don’t have to worry about it. So you know you can really, really take advantage of that and that’s how it works, it gives me a sense that I’ve got some backups. Like if my computer ever got stolen or crashed or whatever I can go to my Dropbox, I can then say you know what I don’t want to then share anything with my computer because I no longer have it and if they happen to get into my computer then maybe they can get those files so what I’m going to do is I’m going to turn off the share. Instantly it turns off the share, the next time that person opens up the computer all those files are gone.

So you know you can control things really, really well and the redundancy is just fantastic. I’ve had times where I’ve had a folder or a file in my Dropbox, I’m out somewhere I’ve got only my iPad, I use the Dropbox application on my iPad and say here let me just show you that file that I was telling you about, open it up and there it is, it’s all set to go. It works with my iPhone as well. So it really is powerful. So you can set up a free account with Dropbox and I would highly recommend you go and just play with it, it’s a free account there’s nothing to do and here’s the cool thing, if you go into our show notes okay you can get an instant free storage upgrade. So what they’re doing is a free account, you get two gigabytes of free storage. Well if you sign up for your free account through the link that I’ve put in the show notes then you’re going to get the free account two gigs but you’re also going to get an extra 250 megabytes and then I’m going to get an extra amount of storage as well. So simply I mean it’s a free service and it just helps us both out. So go ahead do that, set up your Dropbox, use the link that I’ve got in the show notes and then everybody gets more storage and it’s all for free and then share it with your friends. Tell your friends about it and say hey I’ve now got my account set up, here’s the link and it gives you the link when you set your account up, here’s the link go set your own account up and as soon as they do that you now get more storage. So you can actually build your amount of free storage way above two gigabytes never having to pay for it. So it’s phenomenal. Definitely do that, take advantage of the Dropbox link, go there, share it with your friends, go through the link that’s on the show notes that’ll give you some instant storage increase right off the bat and then just carry on with it.

I also use an email automation program. So what I’ve got is in our practice we’ve got scenarios where you know we maybe are trying to follow up with somebody and there’s an opportunity that we’re working on and maybe they just you know for whatever reason just aren’t responding. Well we don’t want to be badgering them, we don’t want to be bugging them too much. So what I’ve done is I’ve created this email, it’s called Follow-Up Robot and it’s an automated process that as soon as I say okay take this campaign which I’ve mapped out which has a whole series of emails, I want to assign this client to that particular campaign then I forget about it and it’s a set of automated emails that gets dripped out to the client saying hey you know we just wanted you to be aware, you showed some interest in this we just want to find out are you still interested, if you are just give me a shout and I tell you since I’ve been using that it’s amazing and people get busy, they forget well I put this together and suddenly I get an email back saying you know what we really need to be dealing with this, sorry I haven’t called you back but lets deal with this now. I didn’t have to do anything for that. All I had to do was put them on the program and the system handled it all for me and it was all free. So you know take advantage of things like that as well and that’s one thing you can get through the AppExchange there’s something called the Follow-Up Robot. I talked about constant contact and the way we integrate Salesforce with our constant contact database so you know that’s another tool that I’m using and there’s just so many more, so many more applications and apps that you can use. There’s just hundreds of thousands of them in there. Anything you want to do whether it be automated faxing or you know social networking or whatever you want to do, the more you read about all the different applications the more you realize wow there’s so much I could do for automating my business it’s unreal.

So go to and click on episode six, there you can post any questions you’d like me to answer from this episode or post any questions on topics you’d like me to cover in upcoming episodes. Also check out our toolbox and recommended reading list and see the listing of other resources I use to run my successful fee based financial planning practice, I’m listing them all there, click on them, use them. The majority of them are free services that you can use, I use them every day and I highly recommend you check them out and don’t forget to get your free Dropbox account. Click on the link on the show notes and boost your free storage. So get out there and build yourself a better practice.

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Copyright © Scott E. Plaskett 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without Scott E. Plaskett’s written permission.

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