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Law and Ordered: How to choose the right Legal Document Management System

By Abhishek Singh, 28 June 2017

As an attorney, you've probably seen a few documents in your time, right? But how many of the documents are organized neatly and securely? If the answer is not “all of them" then you're in trouble. Don't worry, though: a legal document management system can ease the burden of managing multiple legal documents by creating an online repository where you can collaborate with your peers and clients, share encrypted confidential details, and archive documents for future reference. (more…)

What is inside sales, what are the benefits, and is it right for my business

By Karen McCandless, 28 June 2017

In an industry where communication is everything, it's ironic that sales is full of confusing terminology. You have your acronyms - from AIDA to BANT to the ridiculous GPCTBA. Even job titles can be misleading - account manager, biz dev, demand generation, marketing advisor, inside sales, etc. While we don't have the time nor the patience to explain all of these, we are going to take a look at exactly what is inside sales. What is inside sales? Ed Lateef, chairman at sales software company Intelliverse, has a simple yet effective definition of inside sales: “Inside sales is essentially a technology-driven selling practice, carried out mainly through remote communication," he says. “It is different from the traditional face-to-face sales model, i.e., the outside sales, as it does not require sales personnel to visit the client's location to make the deal." However, while you may think you now completely understand inside sales and can explain it to your colleagues/children/anyone that will listen, the proliferation of sales and CRM technology has sparked changes. “Inside sales means something much different today than it did 20 years ago," says Jason McDonald, founder and CEO of sales consultancy “With the advent of technology like GoToMeeting, Join.Me, and Uber Conference, sales reps can now do a lot of their selling from an office; sharing your monitor with a remote prospect means they can see your software or your slide deck, something that in the past required face-to-face selling." How does it differ from outside sales? To further complicate matters, with these communication and collaboration solutions becoming the norm in industries from sales to marketing and beyond, the line between inside and outside sales is becoming blurry. Bryan Miller, SVP of Sales at Caliper, a talent management company, explains: “While I would define inside sales as selling via a remote sales process that involves identifying new sales opportunities, qualifying and nurturing leads, and closing sales using technology such as CRM software, email, and communication services, it's becoming increasingly true that more outside sales people are sitting in front of their computers, working in an office. The major difference is usually the size of the deals they work on and the fact that outside sales professionals will still go and see customers." Is inside sales right for my business? While GetApp primarily caters for the small business market, we also understand that different sales teams selling different products have varying needs. So - while there are clear benefits that we'll cover below, focusing on inside sales may not be right for your business. McDonald explains: “Inside sales is highly productive and has a very good cost/revenue ratio. In other words, for every dollar you invest in inside sales, you have a much higher ROI than you would using outside sales. However, there are some enterprise sales with very high costs that require outside selling. Thus, I always consult my customers to first start by building an inside sales model, and then when the time is right, start adding outside sales territories. This is all with the assumption that the product can actually be sold using inside sales." Benefits of inside sales At a glance, here are some of the main benefits of inside sales according to Miller (we'll look at some benefits in more depth below): Effectiveness at penetrating SMB and mid-sized markets Increased activity levels (call volumes, selling time, etc.) Increased sales productivity - no drive or travel time is required to get from meeting to meeting Flexibility to quickly and affordably scale up or down the size of the sales team based on changes in market conditions or business strategy Better predictability and forecasting of revenue Flexibility to work different hours and adapt to customers schedules. Better data Inside sales also has the benefit of data and analytics to help salespeople understand who they are targeting, how they should target them, and to measure the success of previous campaigns. “Data provides a drawn out map to success--including preferred touchpoints, best time to engage, and how often," says Manny Medina, CEO of sales automation platform Outreach. “It allows a rep, when armed with the right tools, to target a specific prospect who's known to be looking at similar services they're selling (perhaps they've been to the product's website), and contact them according to their preferred channel -- which more and more today, is virtual." Convenience and efficiency Lateef says that while the phone has always been an essential part of the inside sales process, the technologies that can be given credit for creating it are web conferencing products such as Webex and GoToMeeting, and this is where salespeople can reap the benefits. “The expediency of demonstrating the products remotely to the clients through web conferencing makes inside sales much more convenient and efficient," he says. “The same feature has also made it the fastest growing industry in all of sales and marketing across different industries. Moreover, low customer acquisition costs and significantly accurate revenue predictability are the primary advantages of Inside sales." Improved customer experience The buying journey has undergone a transformation in the last few years, with the linear pattern of salesperson selling to customer a thing of the past, instead channel hopping, informed customers shop in completely new ways. “With the advent of online, digital and social media marketing, key decision makers prefer remote/online interactions with the Sales Team as compared to traditional face-to-face meeting which are seen more intrusive & time taking during initial engagements," says Amit Sharma, CEO of consulting firm Dishah Consultants. “Moreover, with the explosion of information online, customers often prefer to contact sales teams instead of salespeople proactively connecting with customers. These changes in buyer behavior and the buying journey pave the way for inside sales, outshining field sales in delivering a better customer experience." Inside sales challenges However, given that in recent research almost half of respondents rate 'in person' as the method that provides the highest quality leads, the lack of face to face meetings with customers is a challenge. “It takes longer and is harder to build trust and relationships over the phone (i.e. customers buying bigger ticket items still want “personal" relationships with their sales representative)," says Miller. Matt Stanton, VP of Sales at sales dialing solution ConnectLeader, adds: “Face to face meetings are focused as attendees are not distracted; they allow sales reps to cover more ground by meeting with groups of people and to “read the room" by observing body language, facial expressions and power structure within the client group. However, inside sales teams make up for this by extensively researching customers before engaging. Additionally, what inside sales reps lack in face-to-face meetings they make up in volume as they are able to attend to many more customers as their travel obligations are drastically reduced." Finding and developing talent As inside sales staff overtake outside sales staff in many companies, the challenge becomes in hiring enough talented salespeople and in finding the time to develop these staff. “Hiring of sales personnel in inside sales has outgrown outside sales, as such,the challenge is in the high demand of recruiting and hiring inside sales professionals," says Sharma. “Businesses also have to incur the cost of having proper recruitment and onboarding infrastructure in place to effectively on-board inside sales reps." “The challenge is in finding time to coach and develop reps because they are doing a higher volume of work, and at a faster rate," says Miller. Picking the right tools A major challenge for businesses is also to invest in the right tools that can simplify the connectivity and communication with the prospects. “Sales acceleration tools and analytics can help in streamlining the process and maximizing productivity," says Latiff. Why choose inside sales software? The market is full of sales tools, all promising to do the same thing, but better than their competitors, to the point where sales reps could easily spend all their time updating these tools and not doing much work. So why should a company invest in inside sales software. According to research firm Gartner (content available to clients), inside sales technologies offer one or more of the following capabilities: Contact sourcing/augmentation Predictive analytics Data quality Dialers/automated voice mail/presence Email templates Auto follow-up Content engagement/email tracking Playbooks/scripting tools Appointment setting/augmentation Coaching/training Social listening. Inside sales software also allows companies to track how well reps are doing, and identify areas for improvements. “Technology has greatly enabled us to better track and report what I call the "intermediary metrics" of sales - bookings is obviously the key metric, but before that, there are questions about how many calls, how many visits, how much face time, talk time with the customer, how many demos, etc," says David Howard Director of Marketing and Sales Operations at visualization platform N3N. “This is all highly trackable nowadays with SaaS and other telephony solutions that integrate with CRM and marketing automation tools, so the inside sales manager can better understand, from that intermediary metric perspective, who the performers are in the sales organization, and who needs more help and motivation." What to look for in inside sales software As we've mentioned, many tools promise to do the same thing, so it's important to determine what you are looking to get out of any tool. Howard recommends choosing: “an integrated solution that ties telephony to CRM and marketing automation, includes some predictive analytics capabilities to help prioritize outreach, and includes tracking and reporting across the intermediary metrics that reflect activities that ultimately close in a sale. Certainly there are still software solutions that require field sales making face time with customers, but it's no accident that inside sales has grown along with SaaS acceptance." Medina says that the solution needs to serve all members of the team - not just reps. “An ideal software solution should also have assets for all members of the selling team--from account executive all the way up to sales managers who requires insight into their individual team members' performances in order to identify the top sellers who can act as mentors, and the lower performers who may need additional coaching." Sharma recommends looking for these four key attributes in any inside sales solution: Simplicity and use of integrations Remote and mobile access Integrated analytics and actionable insight Customization options How can cloud software enable inside sales According to the research from Gartner cited above, almost all inside sales software is cloud-based, and Howard believes that the SaaS delivery model has really enabled the inside sales model, particularly for corporate B2B software. He explains: “The cost of entry for business is lower, the vendor has to constantly work to continually earn SaaS renewals, and the deployment / turn-up model is vastly different from classic on-premise perpetual use license models. This means that SaaS products can be sold differently, i.e. inside sales." Top inside sales software There are some solutions that our experts recommend our use themselves that provide good starting points if you are looking for software to help you better manage your inside sales processes. “What to look for is dependent on what problem customers are trying to solve," says Stanton. “To generate intelligence before engaging, companies look to data providers like HG Data and ZoomInfo to deliver organizational and individual information. Once the prospects are identified, Salesforce or Zoho CRM help track, organize, and analyze prospects and opportunities. To take action in the sales process, companies look to sales acceleration technologies." McDonald also provides recommendations on inside sales software to use for the different parts of the inside sales process: Hubspot Sales because it includes a full CRM, click to dial which allows you to click a hyperlink which then calls your prospect and even records the phone calls, and online appointment scheduling which syncs with your calendar. It also allows prospects to self schedule with you, and email sequences which can send to one or more emails to prospects based upon a pre-designed template. Uber Conference for conference calls because it's free, and it lets you share your screen etc. Just as importantly, it allows you to share a static URL with your prospects which means you can quickly/easily paste it into calendar invitations. Apptoto to send prospective customers text and email appointment reminders the day before an appointment. This reduces no-show rates which are a huge problem for sales reps. If a prospect doesn't show-up for a phone appointment, it's really hard to close a deal with them. Zapier for automation between multiple inside sales platforms. Zapier allows different technology platforms to easily send and receive data from one another. For example, if you want to have Hubspot CRM automatically send out a contract using an online contract management software company, you could use Zapier to help them communicate with one another. Next steps If you've decided that you're ready to invest in inside sales software, or just want to find out more about the options available, we have some resources to help: Inside sales software with a free trial, so you can try before you buy Independent reviews of inside sales software.

One step at a time: Software to manage your dance studio

By Matt Mullarkey-Toner, 23 June 2017

You might be the best ballet, hip-hop, or Paso Doble instructor this side of the Mississippi, but that doesn't mean you know how to set up automatic billing, customize an email marketing campaign, or provide a safe and secure place online for your students to register. If you already are comfortable with all of that, then you are likely already familiar with dance studio software. If all of that sounds as difficult and dizzying as Batman frantically spotting, don't worry-- this article will act as an introduction to dance studio apps and how they can help you manage your studio. (more…)

HR Software Features guide: What to look for in a human resources solution

By Deeksha Malik, 23 June 2017

No matter how efficient you are or how much money you have if you don't have a competent and happy workforce, your business is doomed to fail. But juggling many HR tasks can take its strain and leave your human resources team too tied up with processes to dedicate time to taking care of staff. If you have a powerful HR software in place petty tasks like adding new hires to the employee portal, keeping track of administrative forms, and updating the employee directory, can be done effortlessly. The question is how to choose the best tool that offers all the features that you need for your business? Its not that tough. If you know what features to look for, you can easily pick a tool that best suits your business' needs. (more…)

Microsoft Planner vs Trello vs Asana: Small business project collaboration apps compared

By Vanessa Rombaut, 23 June 2017

The recently launched Microsoft Planner is the latest project collaboration tool to hit the market, and if you’re an Office 365 subscriber, it’s worth a look. With Planner, Microsoft has finally caught up with the ongoing digital trends by offering an intuitive project collaboration tool based on the kanban-management style, popularized by other project collaboration tools such as Trello and Asana. Microsoft appears to have developed Planner as a tool for those who find Microsoft Project to be too complex, and Excel not complex enough. Many of us have turned to other tools such as Trello or Asana to fill the gap of easy project collaboration and organization. (more…)

How to Choose the right Food Service Software for your catering business

By Abhishek Singh, 22 June 2017

If you run a restaurant or catering business you'll know there's plenty more to your job than just frying some meat and putting it on a table. Food service businesses need to maintain quality while also planning menus, managing inventory of food stocks, handling staff, marketing the business, and all that other fun stuff. With all these factors in mind, how do you ensure that your customers enjoy a perfect dish - or that Gordon Ramsey doesn't walk in and start throwing dishes at the wall? (more…)

Top 5 Procurement management tools to automate purchasing functions

By Rhian Davies, 22 June 2017

Selecting and onboarding suppliers, contract negotiations, purchase order approvals – procurement processes are often large, unwieldy, and chaotic when many stakeholders are in the mix. Procurement teams are faced with the task of managing, but also simplifying the process in order to reduce expenses and deliver timely results. If your team is struggling under piles of complex manual workflows, procurement management tools could be the automated solution for your procurement ills. (more…)

Accounting Software Features Guide: What to look for in a finance application

By Ankita Singh, 22 June 2017

Keeping finances in order is an eternal headache for all small businesses. A good finance and accounting software can help you automate bookkeeping tasks and track all of your financial activities. Some of the core functions that are present in all accounting software include the ability to manage accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger, invoicing, billing, and more. Within this, there are features such as automated reports, analytics tools and expense management. But how can you be sure what you need from an accounting solution? With so much to choose from, it can get confusing and overwhelming to decide upon a particular accounting software for your business. It is, therefore, important to understand every feature and what it stands for before making a buying decision. Here's a compiled list and description of the basic and niche features of accounting software. For each feature we've included links to software solutions that support that feature, listed in the GetApp project management software directory. After educating yourself on these features go try out our accounting software scorecard tool, which recommends to you the best finance apps based on your company's specific needs in terms of features, pricing, and the devices you use. Core accounting software functionality Functionality Description Accounts payable Helps you keep a track of the amount that a company owes to its suppliers and creditors. Accounts receivable Keeps a tab on the money that others owe to your company for the goods or services offered. Analysis and tracking Allows you to evaluate, report, and analyze financial activities to help you keep track. Cash management and expenses Reconciles bank statements, check, and credit card transactions to help you track your finances. Job management Aids management of work performed on a particular project and prevents lost billable hours. Integration Integrates with various third-party apps and facilitates data synchronization with other solutions in your company's software stack. Payroll Tracks and helps in payroll process for employees. You can print checks, calculate tax, and get tax reports. Permissions and security Ensures protection against common risks for critical and confidential financial data. Also allows you to control access to information for users. Accounts payable features Accounts payable software is used to deal with money owed by a company to vendors and creditors. Account payable within a bookkeeping software include summarizing amounts owed, handling partial payments and vendor credits, managing vendor terms, and taxes payable. Feature Description Purchase order management Right from the time of acquiring orders till the time of payments and delivery, you can track crucial information about vendor, purchases, item purchased, delivery, payment, product order histories, supplier requirements, and more. Purchase orders Lets you prepare, email and track purchase orders. Sales orders Processes sales orders for products and services, starting from order entry to invoicing. Important for organizations outside manufacturing/distribution (such as software companies) that need to process sales orders frequently. Order processing Manages the inputting of orders and preparation of invoices when orders are shipped. Accounts receivable features Accounts receivable functionality within accounting software can be a real stress-buster. It maintains a centralized and accurate record of pending payments for you so that you can send out timely reminders and get paid faster. Feature Description Billing and invoicing Handles invoice processing, including recurring billing, contract-based billing, and subscription billing. Credit card integration Connects to credit card accounts directly and makes card payment possible. Customer accounts Saves information about a customer including name, order data, billing information, and credit. Electronic payments Lets customers pay electronically directly from their bank accounts in a secure way and helps schedule transactions. Recurring billing Generates repeat invoices automatically, saving you from the time and effort required for repeat entries. Sales tax management Automatically updates applicable sales tax rates on invoices and helps you file sales tax returns accurately Analysis and tracking features Analysis and tracking features let you not only monitor your company's current financial status, but can also help you evaluate and foresee impact of financial activities that you've undertaken in the past or the ones you'd take in the future. Feature Description Budgeting and forecasting Helps budget planning by forecasting revenue, expenses, and cash flow and consolidating department-level budgets. Business intelligence Facilitates data analysis and collection, presentation, and distribution of business information. Fixed asset management Tracks location, quantity, condition, maintenance and depreciative value of fixed assets. Thus helps in terms of financial reporting, maintenance, and prevention of theft. Inventory tracking Helps in tracking orders, sales and deliveries to maintain optimal level of product supply, avoiding any kind of shortage and surplus. Monitoring Allows you to monitor revenues and helps to manage investments. Cash management and expense management features Cash management features allow you to keep track of cash requirements, perform automatic bank reconciliations, and ensure that payments are delivered efficiently and securely. Expense management features help you ensure that employee-initiated expenses are managed effectively and processed in a timely fashion. Feature Description Bank reconciliation Records the account holder's information, ensuring that organization's own accounting records match the bank balance shown in the organization's bank statement. Cash flow statement Records the flow of money in and out of your business to prepare you for the future. Keeps you informed about debts and payments due for staff and suppliers. Expense claims Allows you to add receipts to record your expenses and submit them further to be reviewed by users. Time and expense tracking Enables you to track time spent on a particular task. You can track, submit, and approve all expenses to manage costs closely. Payroll features If you are still making payments to your staff in a manual way, it can be a tedious and time consuming process. Payroll feature helps you save time with online tracking and managing of pay runs. It lets you print checks and get accurate tax calculation as well. Feature Description Payroll management Allows you to make direct payments to employees, update tax codes, manage employee attendance, and more. You can print checks, calculate tax and get tax reports. Timesheet management Records time spent on tasks for error-free calculation and complete accountability. General ledger and reporting features General ledger and reporting is the spine of your accounting system. It keeps a thorough record of your business accounts online and helps balance all your accounts. General ledger and reporting features allow you to total expenses, calculate your income, get financial statements, print and email reports whenever you need. Feature Description Account reconciliation Helps you match your business's records of financial accounts with those of banks, credit card or any other financial institution. This feature ensures error-free transactions and prevents duplicate charges and fraudulent activity. Activity dashboard Shows the entire financial activity for your business, like budget summary, recent expenses, open invoices and more, in a comprehensive format. Balance sheet Summarizes the assets, liabilities, equity for your business at a given time without the need for manual calculations. Denotes the financial health of your business. Customizable reporting Lets you generate and export customized financial reports about profit-loss, sales tax, balance sheets, and more. General ledger Records business's financial transactions (like accounts payable, accounts receivable, equity, revenue, and expenses), used to prepare financial statements. Profit/loss statement Gives you complete profit and loss statement for your business, helping you identify trends and make financial predictions. Job management features Whether you're a one-person army or you have an army to lead, job management features help you manage the workflow for both and help you prioritize. As a result you can maximize the revenue of your business by scheduling better and utilizing your resources in the most optimum way. Feature Description Collaboration tools Allows stakeholders to collaborate with finance teams via the accounting software. Project accounting Tailored for project-oriented businesses. Tracks costs, project status and earned value for you to understand the profitability of the projects Project budgeting Helps in planning, managing, and controlling of costs and revenue to ensure that the project is completed in a specified budget. In some cases, it allows accountability of fixed and repetitive costs in projects. Project tracking Helps you track specific projects and see their progress over time. Quote management Enables the sales team to generate and send accurate quotes/invoices to customers; facilitates storage of these invoices as well. Permissions and security features Security is one of the most critical concerns for business owners when it comes to their financial data. In certain countries, there are strict security requirements as per certain legal regulations. So, permissions and security feature should meet those and offer more control over confidentiality of information. Feature Description Access control Allows access to critical data with controlled permissions, only for authenticated users or groups. Approval process control Lets you create rules for different types of approvals that may be required to control access and permissions for particular financial information. Audit trail Traces every financial transaction from start to finish, detecting errors and potential fraudulent activity, and ensuring compliance. Automatic backup Backs up all your finance and accounting data automatically. Multiple user accounts Allows multiple users to use the tool at the same time. In some cases, every user is required to have a license while in others, multiple users can work on the software without having to pay extra. Integration features Accounting software integration features allow you to accentuate your accounting software's capability. The centralized data within your finance and accounting software can be synced with other apps to make financial processes simpler and more effective. Feature Description API Stands for Application Program Interface. Makes it possible for different applications to communicate with each other, helping your IT/development team integrate your finance tool with other third-party software. Data import/export Helps to transfer information to and from the accounting system easily. Should support a wide range of different file formats. Email integration Integrates the accounting software with your company email, directing accounting-related alerts to your inbox and improving communication. Mobile integration Allows you to access your key financial information from your mobile device via an app. POS Simplifies bookkeeping and accounting by facilitating real time updates for inventory, accounts receivable/payable, and customer transactions. Third-party integration Includes custom integrations with other business software within your stack. Additional features There's a bunch of other tools you can find in an accounting software solution. Here are some other important features that you can expect to see: Feature Description Custom fields Allows you to create custom fields for storing data that does not fit into the standard fields available through the software. Document storage Facilitates storage of critical documents such as invoices, purchase orders, agreements and more, making all the information available for use in future. Multi-company Offers support for invoicing, tracking and consolidating financial data for multiple companies in case of multi-entity businesses. Multi-currency Lets you generate invoices and process payments in different currencies. Multi-language Allows you to operate the software in multiple languages. Multi-location Offers support for invoicing, tracking and other financial operations to businesses at multiple locations. Next steps Hopefully this set of definitions of accounting software features has given you more of an idea of the features you need within your solution before you start shortlisting and testing apps. Here are some handy GetApp resources to help you with your accounting software selection: Compare the top 25 solutions in our Category Leaders ranking of accounting software Read independent user reviews of accounting software Use our accounting software scorecard to identify the most suitable apps for your company based on your pricing and feature requirements.

King Kong-tacts: The best MailChimp CRM integrations

By Suzie Blaszkiewicz, 21 June 2017

Many CRMs have an integration with MailChimp, but not every integration is worth its weight in bananas. As one of the most popular email marketing solutions for businesses both big and small, having a functional and seamless integration between MailChimp and your CRM can make the difference between a successful marketing campaign, and one that'll trip you up faster than a banana peel. (more…)

How to effectively measure the impact of eLearning on business goals

By Nikos Andriotis, 16 June 2017

Organizations spend up to $13million a year on training. That's a whopping eight-digit figure dedicated solely to the growth and development of people. Even more interesting is that the responsibility for this fantastically large training budget rests more often with the organization's executives than it does with their human resource department. But this all makes a lot of sense. Because why wouldn't organizational leaders prioritize the advancement of knowledge, skills and abilities in the workplace? (more…)