Guest post by John Tompkins, Founder of AllInvoice.com
I’m been putting together a list of the tools my business uses to make our operation run smoothly and provide the best level of service to our clients. Our company has been around since 2008, offering virtual assistant and call center services from our Philippines operation center. In the past 8 years we have used a lot of different online tools with varying degrees of success. This is a summary of what we are currently using and why. This is not a list of several different products that I’m aware of and that I’m providing marketing links to, these are the actual virtual assistant tools we use to run our business with 100+ employees.
We’ve been using Zoho CRM since the beginning, and they have grown a lot and added many new features. One huge benefit of Zoho is that it is very scalable and can fit any size organization and budget (we started using their free version for the first couple years). They have also built an entire suite of complimentary products around their core platform, and give many customization options similar to SalesForce.
All of our leads go into Zoho CRM, and all of our clients are tracked there as well. We also manage our email marketing to existing leads through their Campaigns App, which brings me to…
As I said above we use Zoho Campaigns to manage all of our follow up emails. The nice thing is that because we are also using Zoho for CRM we can get pretty fancy with how our emails work. If a lead has been assigned to a sales rep their signature is automatically on each subsequent marketing email. We can also send specific emails based on the lead’s industry or where they are in the sale process. All of this adds up to a lot of initial work, but also better conversion percentages than using a blanket follow up template for all prospects.
The majority of our business comes in through PPC advertising, and some very targeted campaigns and ad groups. We’ve used the service Unbounce to build specific landing pages for every ad group we have. Unbounce has an API with Zoho CRM so all completed leads forms are fed directly into our CRM and we can also push any other relevant info (AdGroup) which allows us to know financial data almost to the keyword level on our PPC marketing. Its also easy to test different variations of landing pages to see which perform the best, and show mobile specific pages.
Over the years time tracking and invoicing have been some of our biggest issues. Our business model has clients prepaying for blocks of time, and then we debit that time as it is worked from their account. When the balance is $0 its time to bill again (or stop the campaign). Most of the solutions we tried in the past were more project management focused, or had very high price tags and many more features than we would ever need. The solution is AllInvoice.com, and we ended up having to build it ourselves. It allows us to manage our client balances, have multiple projects for each client with different hourly rates. Our business is primarily prepaid, but it has flexibility to pay after work is done, or on a specific date for a certain amount. The price point is also much lower for our number of users than anything else we’ve found.
Our billing and processing is done using PayPal Business and a word press plugin called Shopping Cart by Tribulant software, we also use a plugin by ApproveMe to collect e-signatures on our service agreements. This has made for a simple system where new customers can sign a service agreement and then proceed to our shopping cart where they choose the right service plan for them and pay using a billing method of their choice. Tying all of these plugins together can take some work but the results have streamlined our new client sign up process significantly.
As I mentioned at the beginning this is a list of the software products we use to manage our VA and call center business. There are many other products out there which are very similar and possibly better than what I’ve discussed here. I’d recommend doing some research and trying a few different options to see what fits for you. Most of these applications offer a free trial period or freemium version so you can get a feel for how they work. Always make sure you do your homework and educate yourself before committing to a product because changing to an alternative after you have fully integrated something into your operations can be a headache. Best of luck in your business in 2017.