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It’s our 20 Year Anniversary

September 5th, 2018 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Swiftpage, Swiftpage ACT

20 years ago, I went out on a limb, cut the cord with corporate America and started our company. It’s been fun, and at times, pretty much an up hill journey with some years being better than others. But we are still here thanks to a really wonderful staff of people holding us up alive and well.

It’s our customers that have made us successful.  And our vendors and products.  We have written products people love.  We support products people love.  One product in particular is Act!.  Today, the President and CEO of Swiftpage, the owners of Act! gave us a really nice “shout out” in a tweet.  The qualify of the product and the people running the business is why we are still loyal supporters, implementors and users of Act! to this day.  In our own world, we use it every single day and can not run our business without it.

Here’s a big thank you to John Oechsle for remembering us and also for helping to keep a really “awesome” product alive and well in the marketplace.

This is a link to John’s Twitter post.  https://twitter.com/hjoech/status/1037348387073544194

Act Backups and how they really work

August 10th, 2018 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Computer Security, Data management, Sage ACT, Swiftpage ACT, Windows

Patricia Egen Consulting Fast TipsThis week we helped a client recover from a data loss.  However, it was not without some pain.  The data was not being backed up correctly so we had to restore from a really old backup copy.

Responding to another question regarding data restoration, someone asked if deleted records could be recovered. The answer was yes but with a caveat.  There had to be a good working backup that contained the data that was deleted.  If the data had not been backed up then it could not be recovered. Deletes are permanent.

In going through the explanation of why the deletes are permanent, we realized this would be a good blog topic.  We’ll try to keep it “non-techy” but in some cases it will be that.  We promise to help make it user friendly.

First off, let’s address backing up Act data.  Because Act is based on a SQL database backend, SQL usually keeps a link to it, meaning it has it open and active.  Most backup systems will not back up files that are open.  That is why running the Act Scheduler on a nightly basis and backing up the files to a zip file is safer.  All backups can handle zipped files since they are closed and not open.

If you do run the Act scheduler you need to periodically make sure it is running and backing up on the schedule you set.  You can either check the backup folder or open the Scheduler and look at the log file. We’ve seen creative “helpful” people see something running, not know what it is, and shut it down. The only time you find out the backup is not happening is when you need it – which is the absolute worst time to find that out.  Another reason backups might not happen is if a password for the administrator changes.  Newer versions of Act allow emails to be sent nightly confirming the backup.

Now let’s talk about the backup itself. There are two ways to keep track of information changes in a SQL database.  This is where it gets a bit “techy.”  One way is called Full Recovery Mode and one is called Simple Recovery.  Act is based on Simple Recovery and this is for a very good reason.  It is so the casual end user can backup and/or restore an Act database without needing to be an official database administrator.  Because it is simple means it doesn’t keep large log files of changes around forever. And this is why when you delete something, it really goes away. If you need it back, you need to restore the data from a backup.  You may ask then why not use the Full Recovery method – well that would mean you would have to hire someone to manage the backups, restores and care and feeding of all the huge log files.  Trust me, unless you have a team of database admins you don’t want this. 

Moral of this story – make sure you have working backups because deletes happen. They just do. Or servers crash. Or Windows helps you by changing things to corrupt your data. It’s the best insurance you can have – a good backup. 

If you want to know more or want to make sure your backups are running properly let us know.  We can help.  Email us at support@egenconsulting.com. We’re happy to perform an inexpensive “check out everything about my Act database” analysis. 

Using warm calls to keep in front of clients

August 3rd, 2018 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Business growth, Sales, Sales management, Social CRM

This month we’re doing another of our Reese’s Southern Wisdom blog posts. The timing is actually perfect.  August is a favorite month for travel, family vacations and just getting out of town. For people, that’s a good thing. For sales, not so much. With customers not picking up the phone to call for sales or services, a business needs to find a way to bring in revenues during a slow period.

Many people are quick to send out email blasts, trusting their computers to do the work of drumming up business. That may not be the best approach during slow months.

A better approach is to step away from the computer and pick up the phone. Which leads us to this month’s Reese’s Wisdom topic – warm calls. See that play on words – Warm Calls – warm month of August?

Reese told me warm calls was one of the ways he stayed in touch with his clients so they remembered him not only for business but fondly knowing he cared about them. This is not the same as “WARM SALES” meaning not a done deal. This meaning of “warm” is reaching out to just check in and have a nice “warm” chat. Not business. Just seeing how they are doing. Reese made a point of keeping track of things of importance to his clients.  He kept all the details in his Act and periodically, if he saw an article or heard of something that would interest a client, he’d pick up the phone, and chat about that topic. Not planned – totally impromptu call to check in.

The idea is reach out to customers, tell them it’s not a sales call and that you are just checking in. Ask them how their summer has been going? How’s the family. If you have been doing a good job with your CRM, you should have little tidbits of information stored away that talk about what your client’s like personally.

Is it golf? Have they been out playing and if so how’s it going? Is it pets? Do some research ahead of time and tell them about an article you saw that talked about keeping pets safe in warmer or colder months.

The concept behind the warm calls is to keep your company and who you are in front of them so when they do need services or product, they think of you. The calls shouldn’t only be during the summer either. They should be happening with some frequency. Not so much that it’s annoying but enough that the customer knows it’s a quick call to just check in.

You’d be surprised how often they will say thanks for the call and that they have been meaning to reach out. That happens to us all the time. We must be candid and say we don’t do the calls as often as we should ourselves. Everyone gets all caught up in the day to day events and forgets to reach out and “touch” our clients.

They say you need to reach out and “touch” a new prospect 7 times to land a sale. That also applies to current customers. If you not somehow in front of them one way or another, they could potentially move somewhere else. You are trying to ensure that your client knows you care about them for more than just revenue. That you want to be a trusted partner. Taking the time to ask about them and remember things about them shows you have a vested interest in them as people, not just dollars and cents.

Take the time to reach out with warm, inviting calls. You’ll like the results.

Have a great rest of the summer.

CRM is not rocket science

June 1st, 2018 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Business growth, Management, Sales management

While working with a client recently I described the basic underlying strategy for a CRM (customer relationship management) process.  He had chatted with several different companies and he remarked that he got paragraph after paragraph of descriptions. However, he said mine was the simplest and one that he felt he could repeat to his sales staff.

These were powerful words to me and reinforced what I have felt is a really simple message. Set up a process, implement it, do it every day, repeat. It’s the discipline that is needed and it doesn’t matter which CRM you use.  Without an established process that people will adopt and use, you are throwing away good money.

Basically what I told him is you need a process in place to manage all the interactions with your customers. The tools used do not have to be all in one. However, they should somehow talk to each other so you don’t have redundant data entry – something everyone hates.

I took him through my Who, what, why, where and when story describing what each of those meant. He then asked me if I could put it in a document, which I did, but then I took it one step further.  One of the things I love are infographics.  They are clean, neat, simple one page depictions of a variety of topics. No one wants to read a manual.  Today every one is all about one or two minute updates.  Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, people like brief reviews.  Infographics are perfect for that.

Here’s a link to the infographic I created (which the client loved, btw). CRM is not Rocket Science.

The key things about a CRM are as follows:

  1. Define and articulate a process that everyone follows
  2. Enter as much information about the client into the CRM
  3. Record your everyday interactions – the more the better
  4. Ask your client what their requirements are and record them
  5. Find out when they need your services or products
  6. Deliver the goods and then follow up 
  7. Repeat

It’s really that simple.  Put in place integrations with your accounting and ERP systems, your marketing and any other vertical systems you deploy and you have a perfect CRM implementation. And even if you are not able to link them all together, simply having a process in place is a major step in the right direction.

It’s really not rocket science.  It’s everything about the customer in one place when you need it, where you need it, how you need it.

Q2C – Quote to Cash – What it means for SMBs

May 23rd, 2018 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Business growth, Quotewerks, Sales, Sales Automation, Sales management

Recently I posted a Youtube video about the integration of Act! and Quotewerks. I’m including a link to it below.

After I sent out a Tweet about the video I got back quite a few interesting comments but one in particular inspired this blog post.

This follower liked the video and said that the Act! and Quotewerks integration was a perfect Q2C or Quote to Cash software application.

To be honest, I had never heard of that acronym so I went and, of course, Googled it. Don’t you think Google needs to become a verb? Me too.

What I discovered online was that quote-to-cash software is designed to make it easier for sales people to prepare quotes quickly, send to the customer and at the same time give the customer the ability to approve and pay for the quote immediately – ergo creating a Quote to cash experience.

Sales people are finding it harder and harder to close sales and the sales cycle is taking longer. Anything in a sales reps arsenal to shorten this cycle and create a faster turnaround is a boon.

An integrated system like Act! and Quotewerks puts in place a structured, repeatable sales process. Instead of trying to build quotes from scratch, templates can be readily available to quickly customize to the customer requirements. And its attached to the customer so all the details are in one place, yet another key reason for having customer relationship systems. keeping track of customer interactions.  Add in the ability to get paid quicker as well and you now have a winning combination for SMBs.

At a price point that fits SMB budgets, it just makes sense. We use it ourselves every single day. We do indeed eat our own dogfood and it is making a difference. My staff is able to spend more time doing what they do best and less time trying to track down sales opportunities. The system is doing that for us – and what’s not to like about that.

I’m suggesting a couple of links below in addition to the link to the Youtube video. Visit our page talking about Quotewerks. Visit our page talking about Act! and the new features. And if you’d like more information or want to see a demo of how it can help your business, click on the contact us link. We’d love to help.

Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDIu8p-lIg0&feature=youtu.be
About Quotewerks: http://www.egenconsulting.com/quotewerks-consulting.html
About Act! http://www.egenconsulting.com/v20.html
Contact us: http://www.egenconsulting.com/contactus.html

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