We all like to buy the latest and greatest tools that will help us do a bunch of shit automatically. I dislike this idea since a lot of people buy tools before they really understand what their needs are. Companies will buy a tool try it out and then realize it’s too much and try another tool. This is futile. The company needs to do whatever it is their doing and use a pen and piece of paper to write down their process.

Once they have their process written down on paper, they can follow that process on the piece of paper. If they need to make any changes, or improvements, to their process it’s super simple. Just use the eraser and make the change. Instead of having to figure out all this other shit going on in the tool they just purchased.

If you must use a tool, use Trello

Trello has been the best hit-the-ground-running tool I’ve used so far. It allows you to visualize whats going on. In the example I’ll talk about, I use Trello as a poor man’s CRM. With so many CRMs out there, how the hell could I choose? I have some basic needs:

  • Have a list of people I need to contact
  • Easily add people to that list
  • Have a list of people I’ve contacted and I’m waiting on a response from them
  • Have a list of people that have responded and are waiting on a response from me
  • Have a list of people that are in the process of starting a project with us
  • Have a list of people that are waiting on us for something with our Remote tool Standupbot for Slack

Some people would say, “Oh, just use X for that”. No, I’m not going to just use X for this. If there is anything that I’ve learned over the past 25 years of building software as well as working for companies of every size and maturity level, everything is unique. There’s very little standardized in the industry as a whole.

How to use Trello as a Sales CRM

Anything new that I start process-wise I try to keep as easy as pie. Trello allows you to add as many “columns” as you want, my thought is “add as few as possible”. Taking from my bullet points earlier, I only need to make sure I have: a column for people I need to contact, a column for people that have responded to something I have sent them, and a column for people I havent heard from yet. I can add more columns later, but for now, these three will do.

The process

My process is simple.

First, add names to the “Need to Contact” column as they come to mind. Or if I’m reading an article, throw the name of the author on the list. Maybe I’m looking at a product or another service provider, I’ll look for the information on the ‘About Us’ page and then add the name of the person I want to chat with to the column. Trello allows me to do this extremely easy and fast.

Next, when someone does reply to me, I move their card into “Waiting on Me” column. This way I can quickly see who needs work from me while I’m going through my Inbox. This has two benefits. One, it helps train my train to always to go Trello first before doing an action. Two, it skirts dangerously close to the [Getting Things Done] mindset.

Last, at the moment, is moving one of the Trello cards to the “Waiting on Them” column. This allows me to stay on top of things that I need from people. I can look at the column and go through the cards to make sure I stay on top of others to get me what I need from them.

Go try it now

Head over to [Trello] and create an account real quick and use Trello to create some simple process that you can adhere to for your business or department. Try not to allow anyone else to see it, or give out access just yet. Or else you’ll just bog yourself down with trying to implement all this process stuff with your team. Don’t bother them with it yet. Make sure you have all the kinks in whatever process you’re working on worked out already before adding anyone.

Go forth and conquer!