nutshell-logoBack in February of 2015 I reviewed a number of CRM. I recently took a fresh look at each CRM and Nutshell has an even stronger top position than before. Here’s the full review and recommendation for Nutshell CRM. (Some of these notes may not make complete sense unless you’ve read the series on how to shop for CRM.)

What is excellent:

Their target market is not enterprise-size companies—it’s everyone else—so you will not have to fight inappropriate defaults.

It is genuine CRM with sales-tracking features (instead of sales-tracking calling itself “CRM.”)

There are straight-forward descriptions of what is what, making it easy to map to our needs.

It’s easy to enter human and company contacts. The program will link the two if desired but won’t insist on it. It also notes possible duplicates but easily lets us keep both.

It’s very easy to customize contact fields. The system shows key information at the top for fast reference.

The lists of contacts, next steps, etc. shows what we often need at a glance; and we can choose what to see.

The “dashboard” shows activities, such as scheduled meetings and calls, instead of sales performance data. This is practical because it helps keep users organized, and realistic because it’s activities that drive sales performance.

We can easily customize and name activities, e.g., call, phone meeting, meeting, email. These activities roll into reports so each user, and their managers, can see what’s going on.

The contacts have most-used activities in sight: Use the task function as a tickler, add a note, log activity so your boss knows you’re working, send an email—all easy peazy.

It has click to dial! Fold in their “click to call” option and you’re good to go.

There’s good integration with MailChimp (which I happen to like), as well as other third-party options. Can also easily use email within Nutshell because the program includes ways to set up and use templates.

I did not test the mail-merge function but it’s easy to do so in the trial period.

What is awesome:

The marketing and sales process features and functions are very easy to match to yours. The sales process functions use milestones (stages), and each milestone can have steps within it. This means you can get as detailed as you want, or stay as high-level as you want. These process functions can probably also be used for project management.

The sales process can include a marketing milestone. Hooray! (It can include more than one marketing milestone but that may not be advisable.)

You can also set up and/or track the duration of milestones or steps within the sales process. When used over time this will reveal the length of your sales cycle. How cool is that?

You can add sales information per dollar amount, as well as per product/service. Using the latter means you can see where those dollars and units originated, e.g., dollars from speaking, dollars from training, and dollars from writing.

You can use a realistic prospect rating!

I am absolutely thrilled at this CRM’s functions on this point because you can use the Savage and Greene rating system.

My first attempt was to use the unlimited custom fields for leads. After customizing the fields, I created reports showing the rating fields (by choosing which columns showing in the report). This worked okay. However, after describing the rating system to Eduardo, my Nutshell demo guy, he suggested using Tags. This works even better because you can see which rating factors apply to the rating itself.

Using tags: The example below shows a lead for ABC Bank. ABC Bank’s CEO is Sam Spade. (There is probably a way to change the “Lead – 1001” to something else but I didn’t do that.)

This lead is a repeat client, a description easily added to the lead view itself (saving you from having to determine such designations in advance).

rating example using TagsSee the tags? (See “Tags” below the green circle. Tags run to the right of that.) These show which rating factors are in play. The factors for this prospect are: They have and see needs, wants, etc. I’m talking to everyone involved in the decision and I know what their decision process is, they place a high priority on meeting the wants/needs related to my services, and there is one negative factor.

It’s also very easy to add and delete rating factors for each prospect. The negative factor can be explained in a Note, which means you can easily update its reasons as needed.

As shown in the screenshot, the lead’s status is Open. And, yes, this CRM includes probability, aka “confidence,” which cannot be hidden. To avoid the counter-productive issues use 50% for all prospects (using zero will be depressing).

Additional suggestion for rating prospects:

  • Create and use a custom field to show the rating as per total points (the example would have a total of two points because there is one negative point)
  • Use Tags to specify which factors are applied in that rating. Again, the Tags are easily named, added and removed—perfect!

Those are the many reasons why I recommend this CRM. Now for a couple downsides.

NewSemi-downside #1:

When I started playing around with this CRM…er, I mean testing it… I had no problem figuring out how to add persons, companies, leads, etc. But when I fired it up the 5th or 6th time I was momentarily stuck. Where was the “new” or “add” button?

Turns out this CRM uses a shortcut via a circle icon: pale orange with a plus sign in it. It was right there in plain sight but I overlooked it because I wasn’t used to the CRM. On the upside, that single icon adds almost anything you want in just two clicks. The example here shows what things look like when you want to add a company.

Semi-downside #2:

Nutshell’s marketing describes itself as “elegant.” I have a hunch this refers to its functions in the same way a physics theorem is elegant, and in this respect the descriptor is well-deserved.

As for its looks: The screen is mostly white, which is nice and clean and boring at the same time. However, my jaded perspective may be chalked up to looking at umpteen CRM with dark gray screens, which looks good but actually drove me crazy after a while—I’d choose boring over that any time.

Other information:

This CRM is inexpensive, about half of what most other CRM charge, and the minimum number of users is one.

It’s got lots of mobile functionality, as well as terrific features suitable for the entire sales team and managers—whether that team has two or two hundred members.

Their demo process is very good. Rather than forcing you to sit through a pre-set demo or video, their demo-ers will show you what you want to see. I suggest you schedule the demo after you’ve worked with the CRM on your own for a bit. Then take advantage of their knowledge to get specific answers, tips, and demonstration of customizing for your wants and needs.

For those who care about such things: Nutshell is headquartered in Michigan. No, I don’t get referral fees…but you can!