4 / 5 stars
Review date: Updated October, 2012
Base CRM (formerly PipeJump) from Chicago based FutureSimple Inc., is a web based sales and contact management system which allows users to track their sales process from ‘Unqualified’ to ‘Closed’ keeping a history of all the activities along the way. Targeted primarily at smaller companies and single entrepreneurs, this application is extremely easy to use with a clean, friendly interface.
To get you up and running as effortlessly as possible, Base offers you a simple online Quick Start Guide with the initial steps required to get you going as well as a quick tour video if you prefer. Online help and tips are readily available so there’s simply no excuse NOT to get started.
An import facility allows you to pull in existing client data in a vcf or csv format or from one of their main rival products (Salesforce; Highrise; BaseCamp). However, if you are wanting to import your contact data in a csv format, you need to send it to Future Simple and they will import it for you within 24 hours of you sending it to them - hardly a matter of getting yourself up and running in a few minutes as they state on their import screen.
Adding company and contact information was easy enough, with the ability to add pre-defined fields (e.g. industry, website, fax number) to your company/contact form. Custom fields may be added to profile your data thereby extending your search functionality. If you are wanting a subset of your database like a list of golfers for example, simply add these fields to your contact form and your searching becomes a lot more refined. One limitation on the capture form though, is having to retype basic company information like address/telephone numbers etc on the contact form when adding a contact to a company. The default address information on the company form should be pulled through to the contact form.
Base does, however, allow you to embed a form on your website to capture leads directly into your account which is a time saver and a real nice-to-have (if not an essential) in any CRM software.
Adding notes and tasks to a company or contact is easy enough but there are no bells and whistles, the action is simply date stamped and a user name added to the description and there you have your note. A due date may be added to a task along with a due time which is again date stamped. It would be great to be able to prioritise one’s to-do’s and then have the facility to sort by priority so one is working with the most important daily follow-ups first but on the up side, there is integration into gCal and iCal which is a bonus.
Retrieving your sales pipeline is a mere click of a button and there are various filters available to view this data. The layout is clear and easily readable and the user is able to see at exactly what stage each deal is sitting at along with the next action required in order to close the deal.
Sales and Tasks:
Getting an overall picture of what you have been doing, what is pending and what needs to be completed is a breeze. There are numerous filters you can use to refine your list and each action that has been completed has a definitive icon which makes like tasks easily identifiable. You will be reminded too of any tasks scheduled for the day as they are displayed on the overview which is very useful. Once you have scheduled your reminders in Base, you can literally forget about them until prompted to follow up.
Dashboard – Sales and Tasks:
Reporting is surprisingly powerful after the initial simplicity of capturing your contacts and deals. An overview of salespeople and their pipelines is readily available and can be filtered by a number of fields for example, total number of sales by salesperson for a given time frame. Data is available in different report formats like pie charts, graphs (seen below) and lists.
The basic company/contact capture screens are customizable to the extent that you can add a number of pre-defined fields to your basic template for example fax number and web address. You can also add custom fields to allow you to profile your companies and contacts thereby improving your search capabilities. There are 4 stages in the sales cycle with Incoming and Closure being mandatory but you are able to add up to 4 stages between these two to customise the sales path to suit your requirements. Although no customisation is required to get the system up and running, it would be nice to be able to tailor the package a little to suit one’s industry and sales process more.
Getting your data out of Base:
An export facility is available so you can download your contact information for use with email marketing applications. On exporting your data, a neatly zipped Excel file is sent to you pretty promptly with your data which may then be manipulated. It is comforting to know that your data is not locked into the system.
A free 30 day trial version (as well as a free lifetime version) is available thereafter your purchase options range from $14 per month for the Uno or single user up to $149 per month for the Mega version with unlimited contacts and deals for up to 20 users. A full upgrade path is available along the way.
The ease-of-use and simplicity of the system stand in Base’s favour as a no frills CRM offering. The casual comments throughout the application make it that much more user-friendly. Future Simple have said in their own words that they have kept it simple so the user can spend more time selling, rather than navigating and learning the application. Another upside of Base is its click-of-a-button reporting – data is easily retrieved and displayed in a number of different report formats. Reporting is often the true test of a CRM program- it’s all very well and good getting the data in, but are you able to retrieve it easily and in a readable format. If your sales process is more complex and protracted, and demands more of a project management approach, Base would not be that suitable, however.
In a nutshell, Base CRM’s Unique Selling Points / Differentiators
Overall, I give Base CRM a huge ‘Thumbs Up’!