New customers are the lifeblood of any business. New business leads must be nurtured and developed with constant communication and attention, often involving more than one member of a sales team. Many businesses have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, but all too often, in the hustle of day-to-day operations, this communication becomes more of an ad hoc exercise than the process it should be.
In consulting, knowing where your next project is coming from is even more important, because consultancies typically have fewer but larger customers than other businesses, and often rely on referrals and word of mouth to drive revenue. This means that one mishandled opportunity could be extraordinarily costly, both from a financial and reputation perspective.
Over there years, we've tried out a lot of CRM solutions, but none integrated well with the tools we were already using. We'd have to log into another system on top of those we were already using (such as Gmail and Harvest, our time tracking solution). This meant that our staff, myself included, was rarely diligent about keeping on top of our leads, undoubtedly causing us to miss out on real opportunities over the years.
Streak works differently. Unlike other CRM solutions, Streak lives entirely within Gmail and adds an organizational structure on top of the existing Gmail interface, allowing you to group relevant emails and notes together with a name and status you assign. Essentially, it lets your inbox itself function as a well-kept collaborative to-do list, eliminating the need for a secondary CRM tool.
Streak is very intuitive and easy to use. You create “Pipelines” in a top-level category of your choice—say, “Sales”—and designate different statuses for that Pipeline—”Lead,” “Negotiating,” “Purchased,” etc. When you receive an email that you want to add to a Pipeline, you turn it into a “Box,” which is a line item in the Pipeline. You can share Pipelines and Boxes with others in the organization, allowing a team to collaborate around the same set of data.
Add related emails to this Box as necessary, so that you can keep all the back-and-forth with a prospective customer together in one place. Assign the Box a status, make notes, invite others to follow it, attach files, and set reminders, all without leaving your inbox. When you look at your Pipeline, you can quickly see the status of each Box and what still needs to be done. If you need to recover a specific email, you can find it in the Box you assigned it to, rather than having to search through all your emails.
Another great feature: Streak lets you schedule emails to send at a future time, a real no-brainer that Gmail doesn’t offer on its own.
Find demos and more ways to use Streak at their website. It's currently free, though they’re supposedly working on a paid model that will offer more robust features. Give it a try and watch your correspondence fall into place instead of through the cracks.