How much more productive would you be, if you could …
…automatically answer every online contact request with a branded, personalized email from your company and get an alert to new inquiries via text, email and SMS from the cloud?
…enter each business card you’re handed into your cloud based address book and automatically pull in data from the card owner’s LinkedIn profile?
… see the last activity you had scheduled with that person, the client account associated with him or her and have the personal contact info from your cloud based client database on your screen when you look up a client on LinkedIn?
… automatically trigger the creation of a digital job folder, add a customized to-do list (based on how you go from prospect to client) to your calendar and create a blank production book in the cloud when a client sends you a job request?
… store all emails, call notes, marketing efforts, past invoices, payments and briefs pertaining to a client account in the cloud, accessible from anywhere in the world?
… control image delivery to your client from your smart phone?
… create an expense report in the cloud just by photographing a receipt?
Sounds to good to be true? Welcome to your business in the cloud.
Def: Cloud based business, means that your data is stored in with an online service. That can be a photograph you are delivering to your client via Photoshelter, contact information for a prospect stored in SalesForce or your production book from the last job including all releases, insurance info and crew details in Evernote.
There are lots of systems you can choose from. Here’s how I use mine…
My day begins with my head in the cloud (literally)
The first tab that opens in my web browser is my SalesForce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System: the heart of my cloud business. It aggregates all client info – some automatically, some from other applications or web services – into one place.
More than just a calendar and address book app, it links everything together, so my client’s personal cell phone number from last year is at my fingertips and I can easily see the last estimate I sent them while I’m on the phone talking about our upcoming project. The digital documents don’t have to be stored in SalesForce – in my case, I use Evernote.
SalesForce – the center of my cloud universe
Here are three channels I use to capture new leads into my SalesForce client database:
The contact form on my website
When a prospective client fills out the contact form on my website, they are actually entering their data into SalesForce, which then sends them an automated personalized email response and notifies me that I have a new lead. All this info is accessible via the web interface or an app on my phone (Read more about it on this Strictly Business article: Quick Tip – Automate).
The subscription button on my blog
I use a MailChimp plugin on my WordPress blog to send all subscriber information straight to SalesForce. That plugin also sends email updates to my subscribers when I publish a new blog post and maintains my mailing list. All day, every day. Don’t have to think about it.
I take a photo of the card, Scannable reads the card, saves it to the address book on my phone (pulling in any information that’s not printed on the card from the person’s LinkedIn profile) and adds my new contact to SalesForce. All in about 30 seconds. (Find a link to watch a real-time business card scan at the end of this post).
A low-tech look at cloud based business
My Moleskine notebook goes everywhere with me. It’s full of notes, sketches, location info, phone numbers–the list goes on and on. Paper is still incredibly convenient, it’s fast, needs no power and there are studies that show you remember you handwritten notes better than those you type.
Actually this picture of my Moleskine lives in the cloud in an Evernote digital notebook, which makes the text on the page searchable even though it’s in my handwriting. That’s the power of using the cloud.
These tips barely scratch the surface, but I hope they give you an idea what’s possible when you run your business from the cloud.
I know that much of what I talk about here almost sounds like magic and it is incredible to watch. I’m kicking off a series of articles called “Solving the Productivity Puzzle” on this blog today – the first post is about Scannable the app that reads business cards into the cloud automatically and you really need to see it to believe it. Watch a video screencast of the app as it …
- reads an incomplete business card automatically
- fills in the missing information, pulling it from the persons LinkedIn profile
- gets some notes manually added into the record it’s created
- sends an invitation to connect on LinkedIn with one click
- has the contact info added to the iOS address book with another single click
- which triggers an IFTTT recipe that adds that info into SalesForce, adding a reminder to follow-up with the person
- sends an SMS with the contact’s name, company name and phone number via Zapier
- has the photo of the business card and the contact info saved into Evernote, which will link to the SalesForce record automatically …
You got to see it to believe that all of this took place with no human interaction, apart from the clicks to let the app know, where you want the info stored (that’s three taps on the screen if you want the data in those three places). Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at how SalesForce works together with other apps like, Evernote, Asana, MailChimp, Zappier, IFTTT.
This post originally was published on “Strictly Business” the blog of the American Society of Media Photographers.