I was recently shocked to discover that a friend of mine who is quite a few years (and jobs) into a successful career in engineering sales not only doesn’t use any kind of customer relationship management (CRM) system or application, but actually had never heard the term! When I described what a CRM system does, he said, “You mean like the padfolio where I write stuff down and keep business cards?”
It’s hard to say he’s going about things the wrong way, because he’s never been fired, but I strongly believe that some kind of CRM software would help him a lot in his work, and single him out as a progressively-minded individual with his employers. There are so many easy-to-use, free options out there, you’d have trouble not finding a good solution. Recently, I tried out Funnela, and I think it has something to offer people like my friend.
Like Relenta, another CRM app I recently covered, Funnela makes simplicity its main selling point. It offers the basics, and little else, which is great for a beginner. There are some minor language issues, since Funnela comes from a Polish developer, but these minor quirks don’t interfere with the app’s usability.
Once you’ve signed up, logging in takes you to your dashboard, where you have an overview of your upcoming tasks and appointments. You also get a feed of changes, new tasks and updates as they occur. This is particularly useful if you attach multiple users to your account, which you may choose to do if you’re running a small business or working with a partner. In the case of someone like my friend, you could set coworkers up with accounts.
You can either jump directly to tasks from your dashboard, or use the tabbed navigation system to access different features. “Mail” works like most web-based services, and even provides smart folders, both pre-set and the option to create ones yourself. You can set up reply-to addresses, but by default, your address will be “yourcompanyname”@funnela.net. On free accounts, you can only work with mail sent to that address, but you can always just set up automatic forwarding from your actual work account.
“Contacts” has a nice three-tiered layout, with groups, lists, and detailed profile panes. You can create contacts from within the app, add them from emails, or import them from .csv files or Highrise. Strangely, there’s no “import” button in the main contacts screen; I finally tracked it down in the “Settings” page, which I found to be a little counterintuitive. I also would appreciate an option to import individual contacts from vCard files, since that doesn’t appear to be an option at this time.
Funnela’s “Calendar” and “Task” screens are also very straightforward and simple. The calendar application in particular looks to be based heavily an Apple’s iCal, which is not a bad thing. You can add as many calendars as you need, and share them with other members on your account, too. Tasks have convenient built-in filters in case your schedule gets complicated, and a nice notes interface for adding additional information.
The real appeal of Funnela, especially for CRM beginners, is the simplicity it offers, because it can be hard adjusting to life beyond the padfolio. Basic options and a straightforward interface that has everything you need, if not all the bells and whistles, are just what the doctor ordered for those unfamiliar with CRM software. With simplicity comes a lack of customizability, though, so more experienced users may find it somewhat vexing. Still, having yet another option when it comes to web apps that might help enliven your sales can never hurt. The free plan is limited to one user and a default funnela.com email address. Paid accounts vary from $15 to $149 per month, depending on how many users you want on the account and how much storage you need. All the paid accounts let you work with your own email addresses. A 30-day free trial is available on all plans.
What CRM software do you use?