Introducing Collabspot for Office 365

Imagine this scenario:

You’re a sales rockstar who who uses Collabspot for Gmail to maximize your productivity. Your sales manager absolutely loves you because she knows that she can count on you to keep your data up to date and accurate, so when she hands off forecasts to the executives, she can be confident in its accuracy. Being the productivity enthusiast that you are, you efficiently add contacts and sync emails to your CRM while Collabspot automatically syncs your Calendar and contacts.

Great right?

That is until your company switches from Gmail to Microsoft Office and POOF! There goes your status as a sales rockstar.

Well don’t lose another second of sleep worrying about your Collabspot extension because now we’re available on Office 365!

Collabspot for Office 365 offers the same great core features including complete access to Sugar from Office 365, email syncing, contact syncing, and the ability to edit any Sugar record.


1. Complete Access to Sugar from Office 365

 
Access any Sugar record  without ever having to leave outlook so your reps can see important prospect information in context.

2. Email Sync

With one click you can archive any email to Sugar and relate it to any record. So all of your most crucial customer interactions are in Sugar.

3. Create and edit any record

Easily edit OR create a contact, lead, account, opportunity or task without leaving Office 365.

4. Calendar Sync

Ensure every meeting and phone call gets logged into Sugar with Collabspot's calendar sync.
5. Mac & Browser Support

The Collabspot Office 365 Add-in supports many versions of Outlook including Outlook for Mac and in browser. So no matter what version of Outlook your team uses, you can maximize data accuracy and rep productivity.

How A Marketer Uses Collabspot

As Marketing Coordinator at Epicom, a CRM consulting firm, my favorite kind of software tools are the ones that provide benefits for both marketing and sales teams. Collabspot is one of those tools. While we originally adopted it for our sales team, our marketing team uses it as well. Here are three ways I use Collabspot as a marketer:


To Pass Leads to Sales


When a new lead is created in our CRM, a member of our marketing team is sent an email alert to let them know they need to take a look at it. They then make sure the lead is “marketing qualified” and should be passed over to a member of the sales team. Instead of having to switch back and forth from email to Sugar, we use Collabspot to assign the lead out from our inboxes. Within the Collabspot panel, we can change the assigned-to field, add in additional data we found while qualifying it, or create a follow-up task for the rep. This allows us to pass only the warmest leads to sales without much extra effort.


To Automate 1:1 Marketing


We all know about marketing automation and the benefits it has on an organization. But what about one-on-one marketing? This is when sales or marketing employees need to reach out or respond to people on an individual basis rather than a mass email. Collabspot allows you to create templates for various uses and use them to craft one-off emails quickly. You can pull from fields in your CRM to personalize the email (e.g. Dear ++First Name++). I used this functionality today to send out customer satisfaction surveys to customers I work closely with. I knew that if I sent emails that came from me personally, rather than our marketing automation platform, that the survey response rate would be higher. Besides using it for myself, I can also craft templates for sales to use so I can make sure messaging across the company is consistent. 


To Fill in Gaps in the Customer Journey


While our marketing automation system captures almost all of our contacts activity along their customer journey, there is some activity it just can’t capture. An example is when a lead sends an email to an employee of our organization. Previously, emails like this would only have been saved in the CRM if the rep went out of their way to search for the record, create and email record to associate with the contact, and then copy and pasted the email content into the CRM. Now, emails can be saved to a contact record with the click of a button, and all outgoing emails sent by reps can be automatically saved if there is a matching contact. This adds more detail to our view of each customer’s journey than our marketing automation system alone would provide. 


What are your favorite tools that benefit both marketing and sales? Let us know in the comments below, or reach out to katie@epicom.com if you have questions about CRM and Collabspot. 
 

Collabspot now enables integration of Xero inside Gmail

 

Bring Xero inside Gmail to better track your suppliers & customers

 

Collabspot with its continued visions to deliver productivity in Gmail Inbox, has teamed up with Xero to provide Xero Integration with Gmail . Xero is an easy to use accounting software that is used by thousands of small businesses and individuals globally.  The Xero integration with Gmail will enable Xero users to an instant view of accounting data from partners and suppliers inside Gmail.

 

With the Collabspot enabled Xero-Gmail Integration, Xero users can access a lot of different data from Gmail sidebar such as;

 

  • View summary of unpaid sales and purchase invoices
  • Xero invoices & contact information automatically displayed based on email address of your contact
  • Open Xero Sales & Purchase invoices in 1 click
  • Use Collabspot shared Gmail templates in one click

This will result in minimal switching between Gmail and Xero for tracking and updating accounting data from business partners and associates. Accounting and Bookkeeping staff can save time and are quick to find accounting data for a contact.

Download and use Collabspot Chrome Extension for Xero and Gmail Integration

Free until 31st March 2015.

 

Collabspot now Integrates Freshdesk in Gmail

Resolve Customer Tickets Quickly- Access All Customer Information in your Gmail Inbox

 

With its continued mission to deliver productivity in Gmail Inbox, Collabspot has partnered with Freshdesk to provide Freshdesk integration with Gmail. Freshdesk is a leader in delivering cloud based customer support software with its exhaustive and robust set of customer support features. With the integration, customer support staff and teams using Freshdesk, can quickly respond to and resolve customer support tickets.

 

The Collabspot powered Freshdesk-Gmail Integration enables you to access customer tickets history and all contact information right inside Gmail. Customer support staff can

  • collabspot-freshdesk-integrationsAccess all customer data and tickets history
  • Create and edit tickets
  • Quickly send email through Gmail shared email templates-

all from their Gmail sidebar.

This means there is minimal switching between Gmail and Freshdesk and quick resolution of support tickets. Customer service staff can save time, are quick to respond to customer tickets and improve their productivity.

Download and use Collabspot chrome extension for Freshdesk and Gmail Integration Free until 31st March 2015.

 

How to use Email Archiving for Salesforce through Gmail

 

With the ever growing number of emails received in your Inbox daily, it gets difficult for Sales Reps and Staff to keep a record of important emails and synching those emails to clients. With Collabspot email archiving solution for Salesforce and Gmail, you will never lose an email again. Organize and archive each customer email you ever sent or receive for timely review and followup.

What is our Email Archiving solution about?

 

Collabspot enables in archiving both incoming (received) and outgoing (sent) emails messages from Gmail. Using simple chrome powered native Gmail email archiving features, users can quickly archive any email to any Salesforce Contact, Opportunities and more.


 

How can you archive Incoming Emails from Gmail to Salesforce?

 

Collabspot enables Sales Staff and Users to quickly archive incoming emails from Gmail to Salesforce. Users can add and archive against the email address in the FROM, To, CC and BCC fields directly to Salesforce. Collabspot will use the email address to find and identify the contact in Salesforce and archive the email along with it.

 


 

Users can also specify and customize where the emails can be archived. (Account, Contact, Opportunities, Cases, etc.)

 

 

How to Archive Outgoing Emails?

 

 

As with incoming email archiving, you can archive any outgoing email message by simply selecting the option to copy any email to Salesforce. Based on the email address in the To, FROM, CC and BCC fields, the email will be archived in the salesforce against records for that email address. There are two ways to archive outgoing emails. The other default entry options enables you to select where that email will be archived i.e. account, contact, opportunities, cases etc.

 

 

 

Using another default feature, email reminders, users can set preset reminder notifications on the email archived. This enables you to follow up on the email archived on a pre set time.

 

 


 

How Email Archiving in Salesforce benefits Sales?

Our email archiving email solutions on Gmail provides a number of benefits to  Salesforce users such as;

  • Save emails to Salesforce without copy pasting email in between Salesforce and Gmail.

  • Saves time since you don’t have to switch from Gmail to Salesforce just to save emails.

  • Reduces human error of manually adding

  • Extract past email correspondence from Salesforce instantly.

 

Integrate Salesforce in Gmail

November’s Happiness Report!

 

It’s time for November’s Happiness Report!

 

Can you believe it? It’s almost the end of the Year! So many things have happened over the past few months. It’s about time we do a quick summary of how we improved the quality of service for our customers.

 

Brand New Website Interface

We’ve improved our website to cater the different products we support. We’ve also added a quick video to help you understand how Collabspot can help you save time and close more deals!

1 - Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand New Features

 

You asked for it and we listened to you! Here are some of our major releases:

 

  1. Real Time Email Tracking notifications
  2. Converting leads to contacts via the sidebar
  3. Archiving attachments to the Document module
  4. Improved email tracking and template interface.
  5. And so much more!

 

2 - New Features

 

Click this link to view the Release Notes.

 

Improved Help Center

 

We released a new Help Center for Sugar 6, Sugar 7, and Salesforce. This contains updated features, images, and instructions on how to use Collasbpot.

 

3 - Help Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workflow Efficiency (Support, Developers, Admin, Sales)

We improved our workflow integration between our Support, Sales, Admin, and

Developer Teams. This helped us resolve issues, implement new features, and develop the sidebar more efficiently.

 

 

 

4 - Team Collaboration

 

 

 

 

Improved Ticket Resolution Process

The Support and Development team worked hand in hand to improve the way we resolve Technical Support related concerns. After months of trial and testing, we can definitely say that we’re confident in handling any question or concern you have.

 

5 - Improved Tech Process

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Collabspot Team Members!

 

This year, we hired a bunch of people to help our Support, Sales/Marketing, Admin, and Developer team.  Please welcome Abbas, Jasper, Jean, Joem, Jhules, Lee, Maria and Carlo!

6 - New Collabspot Team Members

 

Support Report for November

We’re proud to say that Collabspot has been working to provide great \ customer support experience. Just give us a buzz at   support@collabspot.com and a friendly Customer Success Manager will be happy to help out.

 

8 - Support Report

 


New Product, New Features

We’ve got new products and new features that will be released this December and early next year. Stay tuned to learn and see how Collabspot can help you save time and close more deals!

 

 

It’s amazing to see how Collabspot has grown to what it is right now. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned: It’s very important to have collaboration between the employees, processes, and software. The same can be said with Collabspot’s Goal: To help you collaborate and integrate your CRM within Gmail.  

 

If you have any questions on how to make this possible, email support@collabspot.com for more information.


 

Cheers,

The Collabspot Team

 

Ten Tips to to avoid being Rude in your Emails

 

In your emails, do you sound like a soulless sociopath? You’re not alone. You may be a warm and friendly person in real life, but there’s something about composing an email that makes the message sound sterile– or downright rude. Perhaps, you’ve opted for excessive smiley faces and Internet slang, like lol or omg, to make your emails sound friendlier. Repeat after me: smiley faces are not the answer. In fact, smiley faces can backfire, and make you sound less professional.

 

The problem is that emails just aren’t a natural form of communication. They’re not like face to face interactions, where you rely heavily on body language to understand context. Emails are sent minutes, hours, sometimes days before the other person reads it. And, because of that, you can’t edit your tone or direction based on the other person’s response.

 

When we communicate face to face, we normally feed off of the other person. In fact, laughter is a social cue. You rarely laugh out loud when you’re home alone, or when you’re composing an email– but you do when you’re engaging with another person face to face. It’s all a part of how we relate to each other.

 

In the solitude of our minds, we’re far less social. We’re almost incapable of re-creating the rich social interactions in the body of the emails that we can with body language and verbal cues. That said, all hope isn’t lost. There are a few email etiquette hacks to help you sound more natural and less rude. Let’s get started.

 

Tip # 1 – Be Descriptive with Your Subject Line

 

Your subject line can make or break you. If you’re cold-emailing, it’s especially important to craft the right subject line. A recent statistic shows that 69% of people will mark an email as spam based on the subject line alone. You want your subject line to be clear and explanatory– it should be a teaser about what’s in your email. It’s rude to leave your subject line blank.

 

 

Subject Line - Descriptive

 

Another reason why a blank or undescriptive subject line is rude? It makes it difficult for the other party to file it.

 

Subject Line - Non Descriptive

 

Tip # 2 – Use a Greeting and a Closing

 

Have you ever sold an item on Craigslist that required you to sift through incoming emails? Some (most?) of those emails don’t even acknowledge you as a human being. It’s as if they’re replying to a computer or a robot.

 

Don’t let that be you.

 

Instead of disregarding a person’s humanity, start with a hi or hey. It’s a small token of respect. If you know the person’s name, it’s also great to further personalize it. This automatically takes away some of the sterility.

 

 

Greeting and Closing

 

Similarly, be sure to use a closing. You don’t want to end an email abruptly without wishing the person well, or thanking them for their time. Courtesy goes a long way.

 

Tip # 3 – Get to the Point

 

Don’t dawdle. An email that meanders around without a clear objective is a waste of the recipient’s time. Email is not the place to hammer out all the tiny details. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be precise. Sometimes, it’s useful to add bullet points in the body of your email to help streamline your message.

 

 

Get to the Point

 

 

Here’s some stellar advice from author Tim Ferriss: if you’re negotiating a meeting, add several meeting times instead of endlessly shooting emails back and forth. That’s also considerate.

 

Tip # 4 – Don’t Overshare

 

If you don’t want to be rude, don’t share what you don’t want others to know. You never know when your sensitive email can get into the hands of another party. Writing negative thoughts  about a colleague or team leader over email can backfire. Not only do you run the risk of exposure, you can also damage your own reputation with the recipient.

 

Tip # 5 – Mind Your Language
 

Profanity is definitely taboo, but that’s not the only thing you have to look out for. Find different ways to say the same thing. For example, there’s a difference between:

 

Don’t call me after 5pm. AND I’m available until 5pm.

 

You’re sharing the same information, but one sounds rude and the other one sounds more open and affable. Instead of using the negative, find a way to make it sound positive. Here’s another example:

 

Why didn’t you respond to my email?! AND Have you gotten a chance to review my email yet?

 

It’s always possible to find another way to say the same thing.

 

Tip # 6 – Include the Previous Email

 

If you’re replying to an email, make sure that it is copied below your reply. Don’t make the recipient try to remember what they sent to you, especially if you’re referencing it in your reply.

 

Tip # 7 – Spell Check Like Your Life Depended On It

 

Not everyone is going to get this, but there’s a typo in that header. And, if you caught it, you can see how a typo is the equivalent of see your colleague with spinach in his teeth– it’s embarrassing and uncomfortable.

 

 

Spell Check

Everytime you spell a word incorrectly, a little part of your credibility dies. No one is expecting you to be a spelling bee champion– that’s what spell check is for. All you need to do is click on the spell button and a little red squiggly line will magically appeal on all your faults. However, some email programs automatically spell check– even better.

 

But you can’t rely on the computer to proofread your email. Sure, spell check is great, but it can’t tell you when “I hate bread” should be “I ate bread.”

 

Tip # 8 – Don’t Blind Forward

 

Sometimes, you have to forward your email to another party. Perhaps you need to get another party into the conversation. When you’re faced with this, make sure that you don’t just forward the email blindly without first sending a (brief) note explaining the situation to the recipient. You don’t want them to have to dig through the email to figure everything out. Instead, give them a head’s up like, “Hey John, can you help me out with the below? I’m having an issue with…”

 

Tip # 9 – NO CAPS

 

TYPING IN ALL CAPS ARE RUDE. First of all, it’s the text equivalent to screaming. That’s because the reader must read each letter instead of consuming the word whole.

 

 

NO CAPS

 

 

Of course, there are times when you need to emphasize or exclaim. In this case, utilize italics or bold typeface to get the message across. But, by frugal with this type of formatting. If overused, it weakens the emphasis.

 

Tip # 9 – Reply Within 24 Hours

 

Nothing’s worse than sending an email and waiting for someone else to respond. Did they receive the email? Are they ignoring you? Should you send it again? When it comes to email replies, you should aim to respond within 24 hours, and sooner if you’re replying to a colleague who you actually see in the office.

 

 

 

24 hr 2

 

Tip # 10 – Bonus: Get an Undo

 

Many email programs, GMail included, allow you to reverse a send within a few seconds of pressing the send button. In case you’ve a mistake, forgotten to add a crucial detail, or had a change of heart, you can undo the email easily.

 

 

Undo Send Labs

 

Final Thoughts

 

You can avoid rudeness in emails by following these simple rules. It only takes a second to find a better way to say something, or to quickly reply. It’s the little things that make email a friendly exchange.

 

What’s the rudest email you’ve ever received?

 

 

 

 

Image Coutesy Free Digital Photos

 

What Made Richard Branson So Successful? Read His Secrets

 

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson has lived a life that many of us would consider a dream. He’s the founder of the Virgin Group, which consists of over 400 companies. His estimated net worth as of 2014 is $5 billion. According to the Forbes 2012 billionaire list, Branson is the sixth richest citizen in the United Kingdom.

 

It’s no secret that Branson struggled in school and eventually dropped out when he was 16. He went on to create Virgin Records and many other business ventures including:

 

  • 1993 Virgin Trains

  • 1996 Virgin Express

  • 1999 Virgin Mobile

  • 2000 Virgin Australia

 

Moreover, on September 25, 2004 Branson signed a deal to create Virgin Galactic to take passengers into suborbital space.

 

Branson has broken world records with his Virgin Atlantic Challenger 2 in 1986 when he beat the fastest Atlantic ocean crossing by two hours. In 1987, he crossed the Atlantic in a hot air balloon named the Virgin Atlantic Flyer. Branson has gone on to set many other records over the years in amphibious vehicles, sailboats, and more.

 

 

Branson said, "When I started Virgin from a basement in west London, there was no great plan or strategy. I didn't set out to build a business empire … For me, building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that's going to make a real difference to other people's lives."

 

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson can teach us a few things about how to live a successful life. Here are 14 of his secrets or rather philosophies that made him so successful:

Secret # 1 – Help others


Richard+Branson+Holly+Sam+Branson+30th+London+4lsSr1HtjgJl

 

Whether it’s business or personal life, make sure you have a positive impact on other people’s lives. In the business world, create a business that will allow you to help others. Branson also recommends uniting employees using charitable works. This is how Branson gets groups of Virgin employees to run marathons to raise money for charity.

 

“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” – Richard Branson

 

Secret # 2 – Get involved in life and follow your dreams

Branson believes in following your dreams. If you’re going to put in the effort to build a business, make sure you’re passionate about it and that it’s something you will enjoy.

Don’t just pick something simply to make money. You deserve a better life than that. Many people come up with an idea that they’re sure will make money, but the test comes when you put it to practice. Will you stick to it?

 

Secret # 3 – Never give up

Whether he is breaking world records on sailboats or building a commercial airline, Branson seeks out difficult challenges to overcome. You’re going to have times in life when the odds are stacked against you and you must overcome. Sometimes failure happens as a result and you have to deal with that failure and not let it get you down. Of course, the key is doing everything possible to avoid that failure.

 

 

Secret # 4 – Create lists of new challenges and then strive to meet them

I make copious lists because I think it's the little details that make for an exceptional company over an average company. Details are very important and I think it's important to keep setting yourself new challenges and targets,” according to Alison Feeney-Hart at bbc.com.

 

Branson likes to use the beginning of the year as a good time to write down his goals. If you don’t write down your goals and organize what you want to achieve, you’re more likely to let time slip by and you won’t achieve your goal.

 

Secret # 5 – Enjoy life

Whether it’s sailing, flying, or running businesses, Branson makes the time to have fun and enjoy life. According to Branson, if you’re not having fun in your job, it might be time to move on. When you create the type of environment where people enjoy working and have fun, it trickles down and makes it pleasant for everyone.

 

Sir_Richard_Branson_photo_by_Priory_Studios

 

When you pick leaders that genuinely care about their employees, it makes all the difference.

 

"Fun is one of the most important — and underrated — ingredients in any successful venture. If you're not having fun, then it's probably time to call it quits and try something else," says Branson.

 

Secret # 6 – Believe in yourself

If you have passion and believe in yourself, it is going to make people feel good about what you’re doing and you’ll be proud of it too. Passion will allow you to inspire others and create desire in them as well.

Branson believes that in order for an idea to be a good one, you should be able to pitch it in 2 to 3 sentences, which can also fit easily on the back of an envelope.

 

"A passionate belief in your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure. If you aren't proud of what you're doing, why should anybody else be?"

 

 

Secret # 7 – Learn how to delegate

"The art of delegation is one of the key skills any entrepreneur must master," Branson writes. The most successful leaders know that they do not have the time or learning capacity to excel at every aspect of their company and thus hire people to take care of things they're either not good at or should not be wasting time on,” says Branson.

 

Secret # 8 – Make time for family

Learning how to delegate also frees up time for your family. Whether spending time with your wife and kids or taking time out for your parents, learn to enjoy the time you have.

 

British_Polo_Day_Morocco_(13964591115)

 

Secret # 9 – Become a better listener (and talk a lot less)

Branson always has a notebook that he carries with him. He developed this habit as a child with dyslexia so he could write things down and remember them. As a businessperson, he has gotten in the habit of writing down what others say and jotting down great ideas that pop into his head.

 

“Some salespeople focus exclusively on presenting statistics and accounting-based arguments to make their points, forgetting to put passion into their pitches. They lose their listeners immediately – there are few things less interesting than a PowerPoint presentation, and hearing someone read the points aloud is one of them. When you are selling something, you do need to present evidence illustrating why it is a great idea to buy it, but you should speak with feeling rather than figures.”

 

Secret # 10 – Encourage employees to express themselves

 

According to Branson, "This may sound like a truism, but it has to be said: It takes an engaged, motivated and committed workforce to deliver a first-class product or service and build a successful, sustainable enterprise."

 

In order to build this type of workforce, you need to remove any rigid confines and allow employees to express themselves openly so they can make the right decisions.

 

“A company is people … employees want to know… am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted,” says Branson.

 

Secret # 11 – Answer your phone

"The quality of business communications has become poorer in recent years as people avoid phone calls and face-to-face meetings, I can only assume, in some misguided quest for efficiency,” says Branson.

Many of us are caught up in texts and emails when we should pick up our phone. While modern communication is useful, some problems are easier to solve when you talk to someone.

 

Secret # 12 – The second impression is just as important as the first

Most people focus on making a great first impression. Always keep in mind that the second impression is just as important.

“The second time a customer usually contacts Virgin, it’s because he or she is having problems with the product or service. How you present yourself and your brand in these situations says a lot about how your brand maintains good customer relationships and handles obstacles,” says Branson.

 

 

Secret # 13 – Be seen

Sir Freddie Laker, the British airline entrepreneur, gave Branson the following advice,

“Make sure you appear on the front page and not the back pages. You are going to have to get out there and sell yourself. Make a fool of yourself, whatever it takes. Otherwise you won’t survive.”

 

800px-Richard_Branson_(pic_4)

 

Branson frequently travels to meetings where he talks and listens to people. According to Branson, this can be a great source of ideas and suggestions for his business endeavors.

 

 

 

Secret # 14 – The customer is always right… unless they are wrong

 

Always remember that your customers are human. While their opinions are important, “you should not build your customer service system on the premise that your organization will never question the whims of your clients," says Branson.

 

Some entrepreneurs believe if they use the philosophy that the customer is always right, it will improve business. According to Branson, this doesn’t always work. Be careful and put relationships with customers above your customer service policies.

 

 

Finally, I’d like to end with some immortal words from Branson, “Screw it, let’s just do it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

October Happiness Report

It’s time for October’s Happiness Report!

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you will tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”

 

Stability = Happy Customers

For the first time, the number of users complaining about bugs within Collabspot lowered down to ~14%.

 

 

User tickets are questions about the functionality while Admin tickets are Billing/Sales concerns.

 

How did we do it? This October, we decided on focusing on stability. Our Developers focused more on improving the integration with SugarCRM and Salesforce instead of developing new features. The result was  a huge improvement in our statistics that determines if our customers are satisfied with Collabspot.

 

October Statistics.

 

 

We’ve finally reached the 100% satisfaction rating with a response time of 1.9 hours. So how did we do it?

 

It’s stability. Instead of creating new process, products, or features, we focused on improving the current process and product we have.  We’ve improved the way we forward or report bugs/feature requests/updates to our Developers.  In Support, we found ways to simplify the troubleshooting or isolation process. As a result, it was much easier for us to get to the root of the issue compared to before.

 

What our customers are saying

So what do our customers have to say with the improvements we’ve made this October? Here are some of their reviews:

 

Everyone I interacted with was fantastic! Thanks again.

From Chris (Big Nerd Ranch)

 

Super quick response time with very fine problem-solving advice. Thanks!!

Kristin (Conducive Tech)

 

Jasper was very professional and guided me to a rather simple workaround until the bug is resolved. Keep up the good work.

Nick (Aerotech)

 

Nori has been fantastic. She is a tremendous asset to Collabspot!!

Paul (Property Wealth)

 

I worked with Jasper and after some back and forth everything work ed out….Nice Job

Kevin (CMF)

 

Excellent support – Nori was very helpful her quick responses were greatly appreciated!

Robert (Tool and Cutter)

 

As always, let us know if there is anything else we can help you with. We’ll just be here to help.

 

Need to Make an Impression in Two Minutes or Less? Keep These 13 Handy Tactics In Mind

 

In the same way that I tend to make up my mind about people within thirty seconds of meeting them, I also make up my mind about whether a business proposal excites me within about thirty seconds of looking at it.” – Richard Branson, founder Virgin Group

Mr. Branson echoes the viewpoint held by many sales prospects. How will you impress me in the first two minutes of meeting you? Sales professionals have to make a good impression in order to close business. In many cases, you only get a few minutes to grab a prospect’s attention and persuade them to consider what you have to offer. Whether you call it an elevator pitch, cold call or instant presentation, you’ve got to be prepared to make your case in a short period of time!

As you prepare to impress a prospect in a two-minute window of opportunity, consider these 12 tactics prior to and during your initial sales encounter.

 

# 1 –   Research Your Targets

 

Preparation is critical in many situations in life; this is true when you get a shot to impress a prospect. You’ve got to know ho you’re pitching – both the individual and the company. What is your target’s background? Do you know the company history? Even if you cannot get a confirmed meeting with a prospect, you should spend time researching your target so when the time comes, you’ll be prepared to show him you’ve done your homework.

 

# 2 –   Understand Their Needs

 

Understand their needs 

Your objective is to fill a need, right? Then explain briefly how you and your solution    (specifically) can fill that need. What benefits will you provide? What advantages do  you  present? How long will it take? Show your prospect you understand what she  might be    looking for. Then come in with the reasons why your involvement will be a  good fit.

Needs analysis is a critical step in preparing for a successful first-time encounter.    Without understanding your prospect’s needs, you will likely get an empty stare and a lost  opportunity. Try to find out as many specifics as possible about her current situation and work your pitch around solving unfilled needs.

 

# 3 –    Organize Your Pitch

 

Too many unsuccessful salespeople enter pitch situations without a solid framework for what they will say. Bid proposal experts will tell you that you’ve got to divide your pitch into five parts:

  1. Problem statement – “I understand you may be looking for a software product that will automate your email marketing.”

  2. Proposed solution – “I’ve got an answer for the amount of time your salespeople are devoting to email distribution.”

  3. Benefits – “With our solution, you’ll find a 30% drop in time required to reach out to your database.”

  4. Pricing – “Our pricing will fit into your budget, and we offer easy monthly payment options.”

  5. Call to action – “May I call you next week to set up a time to discuss how well our solution will fit your needs?”

This organized flow allows you to smoothly cover the key considerations your prospects will be concerned with. While you should leave out specific pricing during an elevator speech, the other four components are important. The key is to distill each segment into one to three sentences each. Remember, your elevator pitch should simply cover the basics. The call to action should be a simple step, such as obtaining a business card or getting an email address.

 

# 4 –   Take a Casual Approach

 

You don’t have to be super-aggressive to win at the elevator pitch. Although it may be important to you to make a good impression, avoid showing your prospect how important it really is. Present yourself in a casual yet professional manner. Conduct your pitch as more of a conversation between peers, not a pushy sales call.

 

# 5 –    Be Genuine

 

Be Genuine

 

Prospects will recognize when you’re not being authentic. We’re all familiar with the phrase “be yourself”.  You’re more likely to be successful at creating a good impression if your target feels you are making your pitch in a genuine, authentic way. Think about it: you are looking to gain a level of trust in two minutes or less. Avoid trying to fit into a mold or reflect a certain posture; offer your prospects the real you and they are more likely to seek more information.

It starts with selling a solution you stand behind. You’ve got to believe in what your selling, and believe you are the one to close the deal. If your prospect recognizes you as a genuine person, she will engage with you in a genuine manner as well.

 

# 6 –    Ask a Few Questions

 

Most people dislike a pushy sales strategy and prefer a more conversational approach. That approach should include questions that will help you get the answers you need and lead to a more fruitful conversation. Start out by asking a couple general questions to show you have interest in your prospect and his work. Then follow up with one or two questions specific to the solution you are approaching him about.

 

# 7 –    Prepare for Questions

 

Sales agents may often prepare their two-minute pitches by focusing only on what they want to explain in a tidy format. However, prospects that may be interested in your solution will likely have a question or two, and you’ll need to prepare responses. Sure, you’re not going to be able to plan for every question out there, but you’ll have more success if you prepare for some commonly asked questions.

Prepare for questions such as “how does it work?”, “what is the onboarding process like?” and “how will your solution improve our business?”, among others. The more prepared you are for such questions, the more polished you’ll come across, leading to a positive impression.

 

#  8 –    Start With a One-Liner

 

Conversations among strangers start with an opening line. Open the conversation with an interesting, funny or topical statement. Humor usually works well to “break the ice”, but if you’re not a comic, make a remark about something that you and your prospect are sharing at that moment. For instance, if the weather outside is frightful, comment about it. Or say something about the location you are at. Your opening line should be a comment that cannot be misinterpreted or misunderstood, so stick with a simple remark to get the conversation going.

 

#  9 –    Observe Your Target

 

We’re not encouraging you to stalk your prey, but observing body language, mannerisms, attire and other details prior to opening the conversation can help you to understand the person you’re targeting. Try to complement his mannerisms with similar gestures (but stay authentic!).

Observe your target

 

Avoid mimicking your prospect, rather act in a manner that makes him feel comfortable and makes you seem relatable. Pay close attention to how he behaves around others if you’re in a crowd. Take a few moments to get an idea of his mindset, preferences and speech patterns before you launch into your introduction.

 

# 10 –    Focus on the “Why”

 

We often get caught up in explaining what we do when we’re trying to impress a prospect. Shift your pitch from boasting about your experience to explaining why you do what you do. By shifting the focus, it gives your prospect a chance to understand what you are all about a little better. You’ll have time after your pitch to get into details about your career, etc.

 

# 11 –    Make Your Pitch About Them

 

All too often, we have an inside-out perspective about what we’re trying to pitch. We have a solution we want to sell. It may seem natural to launch your pitch with first-person terms such as “I”, “we” and “our”. However, if you are trying to make a good first impression, start by turning that perspective around. Craft your pitch using terms like “you” and “your”.

By focusing your approach on your prospect and her needs, it creates a stronger level of trust because she will feel as though you are providing a solution that is in her best interests. 

 

# 12 –     K-I-S-S

 

You may not have enough time to get into a deep discussion with your prospect, so plan to be concise and to-the-point. Keep it simple, stupid (no offense intended). Even if you are selling the most complex software or complicated engineering solutions, you have to make your initial pitch one that is easily “digestible” for your prospect. Focus on the most important points about your solution in a way that that even a 10 year-old would understand (but don’t sound condescending).

 

# 13 –     Keep Your Eye on the Prize

 

 

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

 

 

 

 

Remember, nearly every impression that leads to a sale requires multiple  contacts. Don’t expect to convince your prospects completely in the first two  minutes. Rather, use the opportunity to discover if there is enough interest on his  part to further the conversation. Most prospects will be more impressed when you  quickly follow up with a call, email or other contact. You can make an excellent i    impression by showing tenacity, professionalism and follow-through.

So there you have it. When you incorporate these ideas into your two-minute pitch, you’re much more likely to create a favorable first impression. While it is difficult to prepare for every scenario, without preparation you may encounter prospects who will kindly nod, say goodbye, then leave without accepting any further contact. But if you prepare to make a good impression, you’re more likely to get approval for a follow-up call. Good luck!

 

What Behaviors are Common Among Successful Salespeople?

Many would-be salespeople complain that “sales is tough”.  They argue that dealing with prospects and customers is a losing proposition. Well, do you ever notice that some sales professionals really stand out among the crowd? How do they become so successful while many do not?

It might be true that training, coaching, skills and a reputable product or service can all make a difference in whether an individual is successful at sales. But, more importantly, it takes a focused approach to developing behaviors that will enable more effective sales situations.

When we talk with sales professionals, we have found seven common behaviors that have enabled their success.

 

Behavior # 1 –  Selling value over price

All too often, sales agents become focused on price. Sure, buyers have to pay a specific price in return for your solutions. But often salespeople find themselves battling price concerns when they should be convincing their prospects of the value they will receive for that price.

 selling value over price

According to Tom Reilly, author of Value-Added Selling, “two-thirds of sales managers feeling that selling value is the most perplexing problem facing salespeople.” Although price can be a significant hurdle, the cost of acquiring a solution is not usually the only objection buyers present. It can be a smokescreen used to get certain concessions or added features. To be effective at overcoming price objections, successful sales professionals refocus their prospects on the value being delivered.

 When price is addressed (which should come towards the end of the sales process!), you should reinforce the value that your solution brings to the table. Your first objective should be to make sure the solution you’re offering addresses their recognized needs. Once you’ve gained agreement that the solution will solve those needs, keep hammering the point that you can easily eliminate her need, right here, right now.

 

Behavior # 2 –  Being flexible and creative

Okay, there will be times when you can only offer a specific price. Today’s consumers feel empowered because of the abundant access to information. Even in the most commoditized industries, you can achieve success by creating options that can satisfy the most resistant buyers.

 Most companies look to salespeople to hold the gross margins built into their pricing. You can do this by offering more attractive payment terms or include add-ons which increase the value of the solution.  Successful sales agents act as consultative problem solvers, holding the line on price but exploring options that can close the deal.

 Effective tactics include:

  • Offering a trade-up – “I can offer you an additional month of service at the original price.”
  • Offering a discount in exchange for a longer commitment – “If you agree to a two-year commitment, I can offer you 10% off the original price.”
  • Offering additional service options – “We can provide platinum-level technical support at this price, which typically includes silver-level support.”
  • Offering a more attractive payment schedule – “If you sign today, we can accept a four-payment plan rather than a one-time payment.”

 

Behavior # 3 –  Spending adequate time with prospects (and customers)

Sales teams are often conditioned to get the sale and move on to the next conquest. However, this can be counterproductive to long-term sales objectives. Most consumers want to be sold a solution then ignored, right? WRONG! Today, buyers expect to feel a connection with the companies they do business with.

Spending adequate time with prospects (and customers)

One of the keys to sustainability as a sales pro is to engage with your buyers on a consistent basis. This doesn’t mean you have to be making weekly follow-up calls, but you should set a schedule to discuss issues that are relevant to their business or relevant to the solutions you offer. This is true for both prospect and customers.

An often quoted statistic claims that only 2% of sales are closed on the first visit. That means 98% of your opportunities require multiple engagements! Tenacity is a critical behavioral characteristic that most effective sales agents possess. Unfortunately, salespeople have a bad habit of giving up early in the game. Although we found conflicting numbers on multi-touch sales,

  • 44% of sales people give up after one “no”
  • 22% give up after two “nos”
  • 14% give up after three “nos”
  • 12% give up after four “nos”

or

  • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
  • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
  • 12% of sales people make three contacts and stop
  • 10% of sales people make more than three contacts

we know that customers are not typically going to buy on the first contact. Successful salespeople commit themselves to appropriate follow up activities.

You’ve got to put in the time with your buyers to get the payoff. The trick is to make each contact a valuable and productive engagement. Don’t simply send company sales collateral; help your prospects out by showing you understand their challenges. Provide helpful information. Ask more questions. They look for you to establish trust, concern for their well-being, and reliability, which can only be accomplished over multiple touches.

 

Behavior # 4 –  Building relationships across customer organizations

When you think about who you’re selling to, do you only consider the decision-maker(s) in your target’s enterprise? Yes, the decision-makers are crucial to successfully closing a deal, but there may be others who can influence the buying decision. For example, in many high-cost situations, such as industrial heavy equipment, there are end-users who may impact the success of a sale. This can also be true for less expensive items like medical supplies, where hospital staff may influence which products are used in their organizations.

Allow your focus to expand to other individuals in your prospect’s company. Spend some time reaching out to those who will ultimately use your solutions. It can also be beneficial to connect with finance staff and/or purchasing agents to ensure that the acquisition of your solution fits within their team objectives. Those who are successful at sales over the long run understand that there may be many players who contribute to a buying decision.

 

Behavior # 5 – Having well-developed networks within your own organization

This one might not be obvious, but we have found that those who have developed solid networks within their own enterprises are more successful than those who don’t. Why would it be important to establish an internal network? Because there are likely coworkers who can help sell to a specific customer, share insights into how other salespeople have found success, or suggest tactics that can help improve close rates.

Having well-developed networks within your own organization

Large companies that sell technical solutions may often have others who participate in the sales process, such as technical support staff or product managers. These individuals (and others) can provide valuable assistance with closing the deal. Get to know coworkers who can help you convince a prospect that your solutions is the one they should go with. It can be a key differentiator against competitors. Internal networks can be a valuable asset to your sales toolbox.

 

Behavior # 6 –  Spending time with senior internal people

Again, this one might not be obvious, but successful sales pros typically have good reputations with their sales managers and C-level executives. Spending time with your manager and other senior people can benefit your sales career in four ways:

Alignment with enterprise goals – ensuring that your productivity, tactics and other elements match the overarching objectives of the company

Recognition of achievements – leveraging your accomplishments for a higher sales position or executive role

Access to undisclosed information – receiving “inside information” that can help in your sales activities

Deeper sense of purpose – having a clearer vision of how your activities affect the company as a whole

Spending time with senior internal people

Getting in tune with company leaders can also help you forecast more effectively, improve your understanding of your role within the organization, and support others on your sales team (such as inside sales reps). [Tweet “Expend some energy engaging with upper management and you’ll find advantages that other people in your sales organization won’t have.”]

 

Behavior # 7 –  Continual skills improvement

Now, this one might be obvious to sales success, but it is a behavior that few salespeople focus on. Successful sales agents understand that selling skills are difficult to perfect. They may encounter any number of situations as they move through their territories, therefore, it is necessary to study and practice their craft on an ongoing basis.

Continual skills improvement

Here are two examples of skill-building needs that many sales agents neglect to address successfully:

  • Handling objections, complaints, roadblocks and negotiation. In order to advance the buying process, salespeople must be able to overcome sticky situations and sales-killing objections. While some scenarios may be common among purchase decisions, each scenario brings unique obstacles. A product demo gone awry. A problem with a recent purchase. You should continually consider how you would approach unusual circumstances and/or firm rebuttals to your offers.
  • Recognizing the stages in the buying cycle for each prospect. These days, buyers are empowered to do their own research, which can affect where they are in the buying cycle when you contact them. You have to recognize how far into that cycle each individual decision-maker is as you engage them. For example, you have to know when to avoid uncovering needs when a prospect has completed their information search. And just as critical, successful sales agents know how to interpret post-purchase behavior to make sure there are no unspoken issues that could put the next sale at risk.

Your sales skills are likely not going to be at their peak when you are hired. Therefore, to be successful over the long haul, you must pay attention to your shortcomings, and find ways to improve. Whether you attend training classes, read books by successful sales pros or spend time talking with other salespeople, your desire to improve your skills will pay off.

When you adopt these behaviors, you’re more likely to have the successful sales career you envision. Even if you experience early success, there can be unforeseen challenges that will impact your monthly, quarterly or annual goals. Take some cues from the most successful salespeople and the results will probably be surprisingly good!

10 Simple Ways to Get More Customers Using Psychology

Once upon a time shop owners knew all of their customers by name. As businesses have grown and become digital, those days are now over. While in most cases it’s no longer possible to know each one of your customers, you can use consumer behavior research to learn more about your customers.

Once you understand your customers, it will be easier for you to resonate with them and get more new customers.

Here are 10 simple ways to get more customers using psychology:

 

1. Knowing the three types of buyers

Regardless of the industry, consumer behavior research shows us that there are fundamentally three types of buyers. Knowing which type of buyer you are dealing with can help you reduce purchasing pain and maximize potential sales.

The three types of buyers are:

 

 

Get Customer Through Psychology

  • Spendthrifts (15%)
    • These people are able to spend the most money before reaching maximum purchasing pain.
  • Unconflicted (61%)
    • These are the average spenders.
  • Tightwads (24%)
    • These people spend less than average before reaching maximum purchasing pain.

Knowing how to sell the tightwads is critical because they can potentially make up a decent part of your customer base. Using the right words can help reduce their purchasing pain.

 

Minimizing purchasing pain for tightwads requires three strategies:

Focus on the small stuff: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that using a single word had an impact on conversion rates. They changed the phrase for an overnight shipping charge from “a $5 fee” to “a small $5 fee” and they were able to get a 20% higher response rate among tightwads.

Reframing perceived value: Using reframing can be effective for all buyer types. However, breaking down a product into a smaller daily value, decreases purchasing pain.

Saying the cost of your service is only one dollar per day (cheaper than most cups of coffee) is better than saying it is $30 per month.

Bundle your products/services: All consumers, but especially tightwads, like to have their purchases in one easy process rather than purchasing multiple times. By bundling your product, you can reduce purchase pain.

 

2. Getting past analysis paralysis

You’ve probably heard the term analysis paralysis where we spend too much time analyzing a situation so that no action is ever taken.

A professor of psychology at Arizona State University, Dr. Robert Cialdini, researched the American Cancer Society donation process and found that adding one short phrase can dramatically alter results.

When members of the American Cancer Society went door-to-door, researchers tested a small change in the wording of their donation request.

Group A asked, “Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?”

Group B asked, “Would you be willing to help by giving a donation? Every penny will help.”

This subtle change in the question made twice as many people donate. 28% of the people in group A donated, versus 50% of the people in group B.

In the end, researchers concluded, “people are more likely to take action when minimal parameters are set.”

When some people are asked if they have $20 to donate, they may hesitate while they determine if they have $20. They may also ponder if they can afford to give away the money. By clarifying that even a penny makes a difference, it makes it clear that any amount, no matter how small, is really appreciated.

Using a small action or amount can make people more likely to make a move. When you clearly define the minimum, it can help people overcome analysis paralysis.

 

3. Label Your Customers

How many times have you used a preferred customer card at a drug store, grocery store, or other shop?

 It turns out labeling your customers is a powerful strategy. Research has shown that customers actually like being placed into groups.

 

When a group of researchers studied the patterns of 133 adults, the researchers told half of the participants they were more likely to vote because the researchers found them to be more politically active. The other half was not told this during the interview.

The so-called “politically active” group actually had a 15% higher voting turnout as a result of being told they were part of a special group.

The brain likes consistency so much that when we’re told that we are part of a group, we will be more receptive to that message. This is why the foot in the door technique works so well.

Labeling your customers is actually a good idea. One way is to create a gold status customer loyalty program. This will allow the group to feel like a superior consumer who spends more than the regular customers do.

People like being part of a superior group, especially when it meets their approval. People in that group will spend more because they feel like they belong to that exclusive group that spends more.

 

4. Using urgency to your advantage

Copywriters have been creating a sense of urgency for a long time and the reason is simple: it works. The key here is not to push people into making a purchase, but rather to use appropriate pressure to keep them from procrastinating.

By giving people a logical, well thought-out reason why they should make a purchase now, more people will.

 

5. Creating anticipation

Every time Apple launches a new product, people line up waiting in anticipation to get it.

[Tweet “Creating anticipation before your product release can be a powerful way to pique people’s interest”].

You can start with a press release and then use social media and your website to build interest.

By building a mailing list, you can keep people up-to-date and build anticipation before your product finally arrives. This can also be a great way to determine interest before new the product is released.

 

6. Restrict the number of choices

Giving consumers too many choices can be crippling.

When you are selecting between 2 to 3 pairs of sneakers, it’s easy to create a definitive opinion about which ones you should buy. However, when you’re faced with 20 different pairs of shoes, analysis paralysis can creep in. Giving your consumer too many choices may lead to negative emotions and confusion.

In order to resolve this issue, only show them one product at a time. The best number of overall choices is six. If you have to present more than six options, use a decision tree to help the consumer organize the information.

 

7. Give the user a trial

Consumers everywhere like to try goods before making a purchase. Whether you are sampling produce at your grocery store or trying on a pair of shoes before you buy them, a trial is a great way to get proof of quality. This is also true for consumers online. They want proof of quality that will give them the trust necessary to purchase a product or service from you.

If possible, try to give a free trial of your product or service to build trust. This free trial will allow them to test the quality of your product or service.

 

8. Use social proof to your advantage

If your potential customers believe that your product or service is well-liked by others, they are more likely to approve of them themselves. By building a list of product ratings, customer reviews, and social media metrics you can help build trust with your potential clients, which will ultimately help improve conversion rates

 

9. Show them what you stand for

[Tweet “64% of consumers stated they have a strong relationship with the brand because they shared values with the company.”]

Make sure you share with consumers your company’s values in a clear and concise way. While most of your customers will enjoy your products, the loyal customers will also resonate with what you stand for and how you can help them achieve their goals.

 

10. Focus on strengths and admit your deficiencies

According to social psychologist Fiona Lee, admitting your shortcomings is an opportunity to also show your strengths. By admitting your honest errors in judgment, you can help your customers appreciate your honesty and it shows you are in control of the situation. This is a much-preferred tactic than making excuses.

 

Conclusion

Using customer behavior research, you can get a better understanding of your customer.

 

Now let’s recap:

 

  • Knowing your buyer type will help you know the right strategies for each type.
  • Analysis paralysis will become a thing of the past when you establish a minimum commitment.
  • By putting your customers in an elite group, you can market to that group and increase their overall spending.
  • Creating anticipation will help people get excited about your new product or service.
  • Once it is ready, use urgency and a restricted number of options to get consumers to make a choice.
  • Build trust by giving consumers a free trial and providing social proof.
  • Share with your consumers what you really stand for. If you’ve made mistakes along the way, admit them and use it as an opportunity to show how strong your company really is.

By using these simple strategies, you can get more customers and increase sales. Why not start using them today?

 

 

Collabspot publishes whitepaper, Close more deals with 1:1 Marketing automation – a new and effective approach to automation in the sales

The sales department is the backbone of any organization regardless of their size and business nature. They drive the business, earn customers and ensure that the business keeps moving forward. In the current digital powered era where a large proportion of businesses have shifted to e-commerce, sales team is equipped with a myriad of tools to automate their processes and in doing their job more effectively.

From marketing automation system, CRM and Web Analytics to standard email & calendaring solutions- your sales team need all of them to be at the top of their performance.

 

Why standard marketing automation is not enough?

 

It’s no brainer that converting a website visitor into a qualified lead requires a potential lot of effort from your marketing department. They go through a series of marketing processes from writing blog and landing page copies, search engine optimization, social bookmarking to online advertisement in extracting out potential leads.

[Tweet “Marketing automation can convert visitors into lead but they lack abilities -later in sales funnel”].

Your sales team has to resort to use multiple different tools to work around with the lead and is mainly left with their personal abilities to convert leads into customers.

This practice is time consuming, inefficient and don’t deliver results as expected!

 

What is 1:1 Marketing Automation?

 

whitepaper-img

However, if somehow, we bring the email inbox and the CRM together to create a 1:1 marketing automation system, your sales team is better at doing their job. The email inbox is the playing ground for your sales team to communicate with their leads; integrating it with the featured rich abilities of CRM enable them to be on top of their game.

 

Sales team requires data at their hand to be more effective in their processes and the 1:1 marketing automation approach delivers exactly that. It not only saves potential time for your sales team end but also helps in gaining wider intelligence about customer from previous experiences data- right in their inbox.

 

 

 

How 1:1 Marketing Automation is implemented?

 

Collabspot, “Closing more deals with 1:1 Marketing Automation” whitepaper defines and provides the roadmap to how organization can leverage the power of Collabspot to extend marketing automation right to the bottom of sales funnel. With its ability to bring and integrate sales CRM right into the Gmail Inbox, your sales team’s key tools and data of the trade comes right in a central location.

 

Your organization can integrate their popular CRM solutions into the Gmail Inbox including Salesforce, Sugar CRM and High Rise and can go about improving their sales processes and performance. It’s the perfect model of 1:1 Marketing Automation that automates the sales lifecycle and empowers your sales team with result oriented data to work with.

 

How 1:1 Marketing Automation help sales?

 

This whitepaper defines and demonstrate that why bringing the CRM into Gmail Inbox to deliver a 1:1 marketing automation platform has many benefits for sales professionals.

  • The combination of your CRM + Gmail Inbox delivers sales empowering and generating data right where your sales team needs it; they don’t have to spend time and effort to dig in and find customer information.
  • They can synchronize the lead’s data automatically with the data stored on CRM.
  • The ability to add and use email templates enables sales professionals to communicate the best and targeted message to the prospect.
  • Past performance records available right in the Inbox helps sales professionals in evaluating which email template performed best in which condition.
  • The native email tracking feature provides notifications on the statistics of email viewership and click through rate – another way for your sales team to gauge the effectiveness of their performance.
  • Moreover, [Tweet “by just having the CRM integrated into the email Inbox, the CRM utilization rate increases.”]

 

 

The ultimate goal and objective of this whitepaper is to guide businesses, sales professionals in particular, that how 1:1 Marketing Automation approach not only saves them time but also amplifies their performance. Where the sales team feels that they are left with little to work on the leads, Collabspot bridges the gap and extend marketing and sales automation right till the deal is closed!

 

Click here to download and read the complete whitepaper:

 

Download Button

 

September’s Happiness Report!

It’s time for September’s Happiness Report!

 

 

Header

 

 Why our customers are important

We believe that our customers know what is best. That is why we set a goal last March to deliver Legendary customer service. We’ve listened to feedback, added new features, and fixed some bugs. The result? Collabspot is better than ever!

 

collabspot

 

What we worked on last September

  1. Improved the task priority
  2. Properly assigned roles to people
  3. Fixed bugs
  4. Added new features.
  5. Improved processes within Support and Development team
  6. Hired a new Sales member who is customer-support focused! Welcome Jules!

 

 

Thank you, Anna!

After staying with Collabspot for two years, Anna, currently our Sales manager, will be leaving this October. We thank her for all the time and effort she’s given to Collabspot.. Thanks, Anna!

 

Customer Feedback

 

Customer Feedback

 

Top-notch customer service. Timely, professional and friendly. A+.

Mike from Power Tower

 

Your support is amazing, probably the most important thing which is keeping me interested in your product

Lary from LP Solutions

 

Fantastic help everytime with your Support team. Responsive and friendly.

Kit from InetProcess

 

[Tweet “So far the response has been good, like the way Collabspot helps me save time! Jerry from Little Mountain Printing”]

 

Super responsive and helpful with all my questions. Very satisfied.

Jake from Sococo

 

Collabspot Support is fast and effective. Our issue was solved and we always felt like we are in good hands

David from Inman

 

Went above and beyond in helping me this week. She was patient and qualified and taught me how to do things instead of just doing them for me (at my request). Awesome – thanks

Kit from InetProcess

 

As always, just give us a buzz if there is anything else we can help you with. We’ll just be here.

 

Cheers,

The Collabspot Support Team

Release notes (August 01 – 29 2014)

New Feature:

1.) Birthdate field issue – Users can now type the date manually into the field.

2.) Improved notification email sent to users when saving attachments fails – Notification email now includes the email subject when it is available and more clearly states which attachments failed.

 

Released August 6, 2014

( Salesforce version no. 2014.8.6.855 )

 

New Feature:

1.) Support for Multiple Currencies – User can now see all the currencies that they’ve set in Salesforce.

  • Users will now have the option to choose what currency he wants to use when creating an opportunity to a contact. (As long as those currencies are available in his salesforce instance.)

RN3

 

2.) AutoEnable Email Tracking option in Settings – By default, email tracking feature needs to be manually turned on every time a user sends an email.

  • When this feature is enabled, email tracking is enabled automatically. Users don’t have to worry about turning the email tracking on every time they send emails to customers.
  • When users no longer need to automatically track all outgoing emails, they still have the option to disable the feature in settings.

RN4

 

Released August 1, 2014

( Version no. 2014.8.1. )

Fixes:

– Fixed issues regarding ext

 

Released August 29, 2014

( Salesforce version no. 2014.8.29.958 )

Fixes:

1.) Fixed issue that asks users to re-activate Collabspot every time the Chrome browser restarts.

 

Mods:

2.) New Team Management – Can be accessed via Collabspot Portal

 

New Options from Collabspot Settings:

RN1

 

Released August 26, 2014

( Salesforce version no. 2014.8.26.1242 )

New Features:

1.)  Email Templates Modal – Instead of a Menu box, we now show the list of email templates in a window.

 

Now, Users who have a long list of email templates can:

a. Search for templates within the list

b. Has a larger view and template preview

RN2

2.) Email Reminders will now have equivalent tasks in Salesforce

Pending Reminders and Active Reminders will no longer be available to Salesforce users. All reminders will be under Active, Upcoming or Overdue Tasks.

 

Since Salesforce has its own reminders feature, Collabspot uses Salesforce’s reminders for email reminders so users will get notifications from Salesforce itself.

 

3.)  Users will now be able to use Collabspot without logging in to chrome

 

4.) Options toLogout to Salesforce and Collabspot Account is now available under Accounts in Collabspot Settings

R

 

Users now have the option to switch to a different salesforce account and switch to another Collabspot account

 

Released August 8, 2014

( Salesforce version no. 2014.8.8.643 )

 

Fixes:

– Fixed a bug in creating opportunities on the sidebar.

 

 

Released August 7, 2014

( SugarCRM 7 version no. 2014.8.7.643 )

 

New Feature:

1.) AutoEnable Email Tracking option in Settings – By default, email tracking feature needs to be manually turned on every time a user sends an email.

  • When this feature is enabled, email tracking is enabled automatically. Users don’t have to worry about turning the email tracking on every time they send emails to customers.
  • When users no longer need to automatically track all outgoing emails, they still have the option to disable the feature on the settings.

RN4

Bug Fixes:

– Fixed Issues with “Read-Only” fields in Sugar that are still editable on the sidebar.

 

Released August 6, 2014

( SugarCRM Version no. 2014.8.6.716 )

Fixed full name for SugarCRM6 and 7, Highrise and Salesforce due to Google’s Recent Update.

Release notes (July 14 – 24 2014)

Scheduled July 24, 2014 (2014-07-24)

( SugarCRM 7 Version no. 2014.7.24.1247 )

 

New Features

Implemented Load More function in the sidebar

  • Users will now have the option to show all the items under each section in the sidebar. (except History and Activities, we excluded this feature for those sections)

RN01

Note: The limit is 5 items per section, exceeding this limit will trigger the Load More button to show up and will load the remaining items.

 

Support for other date format in Gmail

  • Previously, the Language settings on GMail must be set to English (US) for the archived emails on Sugar to show the correct date format. Now, it will show the correct date format when an archived email is viewed on Sugar regardless of what language is set in GMail.

RN02

 

Bug Fixes

Added new timezone (San Francisco) for Send Later Feature

  • You may now use San Francisco as one of the available time zones on this feature.

 

Improved User Experience in Setup Flow

  • New and improved installation process
  • Auto disabled other Collabspot Extension when Salesforce Connector is installed.
  • Improved notification message to users when chrome account mismatches the GMail account used with Collabspot.
  • Added a reminder (screenshot and guide) when user clicks the Activate button.
  • Setup modal should not close when you click outside the modal.
  • After downloading the CS extension, if a user already opens his GMail, same GMail account will be opened in a new tab and setup modal will pop-up directly on that page.

 

Opening Collabspot Portal in new tab via option in Collabspot Settings

  • When opening the Collabspot Portal, it should open on a new tab instead of a new window for both Collabspot for SugarCRM 7 and Salesforce.

 

Define Collabspot’s config based on the user’s CRM configuration

  • Previously, Collabspot is using its own default configuration as basis on which modules, sections and fields to load and display on the sidebar. Now, Collabspot’s config is based directly on the user’s CRM configuration.

 

For example,

  • If a user doesn’t have access to the description field of a Lead, it doesn’t populate on the extension.
  • If a user doesn’t have access to Opportunities and Cases, the sidebar only displays related Activities, Histories and Notes when viewing a Contact.

 

Scheduled July 22, 2014 (2014-07-22)

( Salesforce Version no. 2014.7.22.1232 )

 

New Features

View Tracked Emails button in Contacts/Lead’s View

  • Users may now see all tracked emails related to a specific contact/lead. We have added a View tracked emails button under the Info section when opening a Contact’s detailed view on the sidebar. When the button is clicked, a new page on the sidebar will open to show all tracked emails related only to that specific contact/lead.

 

Users don’t need to go to Collabspot portal just to filter tracked emails for a specific contact.

RN03

 

Implemented Load More function on the sidebar

  • Users will now have the option to show all the items under each section on the sidebar. (except History and Activities, we excluded the feature for those sections)

RN04

 

Note: The limit is 5 items per section, exceeding this limit will trigger the Load More button to show up and will load the remaining items.

 

Bug Fixes

Added new timezone (San Francisco) for Send Later Feature

  • You may now use San Francisco as one of the available time zones on this feature.

 

Improved User Experience in Setup Flow

  • New and improved installation process
  • Auto disabled other Collabspot Extension when Salesforce Connector is installed.
  • Improved notification message to users when chrome account mismatches the GMail account used with Collabspot.
  • Added a reminder (screenshot and guide) when user clicks the Activate button.
  • Setup modal should not close when you click outside the modal.
  • After downloading the CS extension, if a user already opens his GMail, same GMail account will be opened on a new tab and setup modal will pop-up directly on that page.

 

Opening Collabspot Portal on new tab via option in Collabspot Settings

  • When opening the Collabspot Portal, it should open on a new tab instead of a new window for both Collabspot for SugarCRM 7 and Salesforce.

 

Define Collabspot’s configuration based on the user’s CRM configuration

  • Previously, Collabspot is using its own default configuration as basis on which modules, sections and fields to load and display on the sidebar. Now, Collabspot’s config is based directly on the user’s CRM configuration.

 

For example,

  • If a user doesn’t have access to the description field of a Lead, it doesn’t populate on the extension.
  • If a user doesn’t have access to Opportunities and Cases, the sidebar only displays related Activities, Histories and Notes when viewing a Contact.

 

Scheduled July 14, 2014 (2014-07-14)

( Highrise Version no. 2014.7.14.1035  )

( SugarCRM 6 Version no. 2014.7.14.1038 )

( SugarCRM 7 Version no. 2014.7.14 )

( Salesforce Version no. 2014.7.14.1053 )

 

New features, tweaks, modifications, redesigns, etc:

Quick Fix forSugarCRM 6, SugarCRM7, HighriseandSalesforce:

  • Fixed extraction of Full name since it had issues due to Google’s Recent Update.

 

Hot Fix for SugarCRM 6

  • Start date and Priority fields are now displayed when creating a task. Previously, those two were not included as default fields on the sidebar. These fields should now be available every time a user creates a task on the sidebar.

 

Scheduled July 07, 2014 (2014-07-07)

( SugarCRM 7 Version no. 2014.7.7.854  )

New features, tweaks, modifications, redesigns, etc:

Bug Fixes

Issue when Creating Contacts/Leads: Email Addresses

  • Issue: Email addresses were not saved when creating a new Contact or Lead. Users needed to manually enter the email address after the contact or lead has been created.
  • Fix: Email addresses are now automatically saved to a newly created Contact or Lead.

 

July Happiness Report

It’s time for July’s Happiness Report!

It’s been five months since we aimed to provide Legendary Customer Service. It’s about time to ask: After all the changes we implemented, are we one step closer to providing legendary customer service?   Here’s a brief rundown of our goals:

  1. Response time should be lowered to 1 hour.
  2. Satisfaction rating should be at 98% – 100%.
  3. Create more documentation.
  4. Improve our internal process.

Without further ado, here’s June’s stats:

1-p18un24sf68ioudnsm1r0e4

During the course of five months, we’ve added new features, fixed some bugs, improved internal processes, and created new documentation. We’ve also improved the way we respond to our customers by being professionally friendly instead of being stiff or overly friendly.

 

We’ve learned that Customer Service is an Art.

“Providing customer service is really easy. Providing REAL customer service is an art.”

Typical customer service processes make a customer feel that a robot is processing their concerns. That should not be the case. A customer must feel that a live human being, who cares for him/her, is resolving the issue. As customer service agents, it’s easy to resolve concerns. The question is: will you be able to make the customer feel that you went out of your way to help? If not, then you might have just been another robot created to fix things.

The trick to real customer service is the ability to make a customer feel that you went out of your way to save the day.

2

And here’s the cool part: Great customer service can save the day!

3

So how do we save the day? Start by understanding that the customer needs you to help them. You have the knowledge and tools – they don’t. Take advantage of your resources. Make things as convenient as possible for the customers.

4

Treat them as best friends.

5

It’s also important that we provide consistent quality customer service. This means: We have to save the day, everday!

6

 

The Summary

The past five months was a huge challenge for us – but we did it to save the day. Whether it’s billing, admin, feature request or tech concerns, our Support, Tech, and Dev team will always be there.

Feel free to give us a buzz at support@collabspot.com if you experience any issues. We’ll  be happy to help.

Cheers,

Nori

Release Notes

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” James Cash Penney

The Collabspot Dev Team have been pretty busy creating new features and fixing bugs! Here’s the result of their effort:

 

Enhancements and New Features

1. Contact Sync in the Sidebar – Added a ‘Sync to Google Contacts’ button in the sidebar when in Contact/Lead’s detailed view. This button is used to sync the associated contact/lead to Google Contacts. This will populate the google contact with contact name, email address, company name, title, phone and address.

  • If Contact Sync is not Enabled: Users have the option to sync a specific contact to Google, even for a contact not assigned to the user.  ( Users need to grant API permission first in order to use the function, an error message will prompt the user if they haven’t granted permission yet. )

  • If Contact Sync is Enabled: Immediate Sync, without waiting for the auto update to take place or to do the manual/force update in the portal or in the settings which takes some time to finish.

  • If Contact Sync is Enabled: Sync of contact not assigned to the user. This would be impossible with only the Contact Sync enabled.

 

release notes

2.  Export Button – Sugar 7 and Salesforce Version only

Users can easily get their configuration and send it to support whenever they have issues. This will help the support team to better diagnose an issue.

  1. Click on the Gear icon on the sidebar.

  2. Click on Settings > General Tab

  3. A new file named “collabspot_config_<date>.json” will be created.

  4. Send the file to Support.

 

release notes 2

3. Sign in to Chrome

The message will only appear when users want to activate Collabspot but haven’t logged in to their Chrome yet. Provides a reminder for users that they need to be logged in to a Chrome session with the same credentials as the Gmail account that Collabspot will be installed in.

 

release notes 3

4.  Indicator for required fields when creating/updating an entry.

When a user creates/updates an entry, all required fields will be preceded by a red color indicator. Users can now identify which fields are required before saving an entry.

release notes 4

5. Import Salesforce Templates

Added ‘Import your Salesforce templates’ button in the Collabspot portal when

in Email Template’s page. When users click the button, it will launch a new page that will display the list of existing templates from user’s instance. Users need to manually select the templates that they wish to import.

 

release notes 5

Bug Fixes

  1. Currency Symbol in Reference Modal – User reported that the currency symbol

being displayed on a modal is in USD even when users are using a different currency for an opportunity.

Fix: Users should now see the correct currency of an opportunity displaying under “Related

      entries” tab.

  1. ‘Undo Delete’ feature in Gmail – User reported that he is no longer prompted to “Undo Delete” recently deleted emails in gmail.

Fix: Users should see the ‘Undo Delete’ tooltip after deleting an email in Gmail.

3. Google’s Update – Fixed the following issues after Google’s updates:

  • Extraction of Full name

  • New UI notification – Gmail’s recent updates with their notification caused issues with Collbaspot’s notification. To solve this issue, we implemented our own UI to fix this. The notifications will pop-up on top of the sidebar.

 

release notes 6

4. Sidebar Continuously loading – The sidebar continuously loads when a user does not have access to one of the default modules ( Contacts, Leads, Accounts, Opportunities and Cases ).

Fix: The extension will still proceed with the search and will give results or none even the user doesn’t have access to any of these modules.

  1. Removed Invalid custom fields in Contacts[Sugar 7] – Custom fields that are not found in Sugar 7 instance are appearing and duplicated in our extension. Some of these duplicated fields are also showing the wrong type of field.

Fix: Removed invalid and duplicated fields.

6. Collabspot Notification in Google Calendar – Notification message ‘ Refresh Gmail to get the new version of Collabspot ’ keeps on popping-out every after a few minutes in the Calendar ( although no new update was released ).

Fix: Collabspot’s UI notification will no longer show-up in Google Calendar.

7. Unable to login SugarCRM 7.2 instance and Collabspot at the same time– Previously, users were unable to login to both Collabspot and Sugar 7 at the same time despite the temporary fix we provided.

Fix: Users can now login to Collabspot and their instance at the same time.

8. Unable to scroll when viewing large Emails in Gmail –

If an email contains a large content, an option to view the entire message is

available. The option gives the user to view the email in a new window and the ability to

scroll to see the rest of the message. A user reported that when enabling Collabspot,

this is impossible.

Fix: Users should now be able to scroll when Collabspot is enabled.

 

If you experience any issues or concerns, please mail support@collabspot.com.

 

Cheers,

 

The Collabspot Team

 

June Happiness Report

happiness 1

It’s time for June’s Happiness Report!

This June, we decided to feature a customer’s feedback. Why? It’s because we’ve had such a busy month and the last thing we expected was a lot of positive feedbacks – and yet we did.

That was why this particular feedback was very interesting – how did we do it with such a small staff? June’s happiness report will be an analysis of how quality customer service can be achieved as long as there are dedicated people working together to help our customers.

What happened in June – from the backend

After releasing Collabspot for Salesforce and Sugar 7.x, we became really busy. Here are the three challenges we focused on.

  • The Backend

Having a new product means being able to track information from the back end. We spent weeks developing methods to distinguish different CRMs from each other.

  • New Issues

Having a new product means having a new set of issues to resolve.

  • New Processes

We had to develop, from scratch, new processes on how to resolve new issues that emerged after releasing our new products.

Given that there were many things to manage, it was hard to imagine customers giving us positive feedback. To our surprise, the positive feedbacks kept coming.

What happened in June – what the customers saw

happiness 2

“You have been awesome! Love it when people care about their products.Thank you so much, love your support!”

– The Trainers

 

WOW! I’m very impressed with your fast turn-around. I will evaluate and get back to you.

– Mike Woller

 

Fantastic service! Thanks for your help always a good experience with your support

– Neo Technology

 

Nori was excellent, very helpful, as well as Gino. Got the problem solved without a hitch.

– Trade Motion

 

It was great! Y’all fixed it quick and kept me updated. I appreciate it!

– Contemporary Art Group

 

The update worked like a charm. I appreciate your customer service and the team’s diligence in updating the extension.

– Print Giant

 

It is all working great. Thank you very much for your attentiveness and follow up.

– AVS Medical

 

The Takeaway – What we learned from June

Based on our customer’s feedback, we learned some pretty important stuff on how to provide quality customer service despite the numerous challenges we experienced.

  • Be Transparent

Being transparent means you’re making your customer feel that you’re doing something

to solve their concerns. Always tell them what’s going on.

  • Keep it short and simple

Customers don’t need to know all the techy details – unless they ask. Customers are

busy people. The last thing you want them to do is waste their precious time reading a

very, very long email.

  • Keep them in the loop

Keep them updated with their concerns.  What we usually do is update our customers

after the weekend. We say things like “We hope you had a great weekend! Here’s the

status of your concern…”. By doing this, customers know that we’re working on their concern as soon as the week starts.

  • Show you care

Showing you care is very important. Its starts from answering emails within a few minutes or hours from the time they sent it. It’s about being professional and friendly in every conversation. It’s about knowing that customers are important – and making them know that they’re important.

 

We’re here to serve you.

Don’t forget that you can always give us a buzz if there’s anything we can help you with.

We’ll always be here.

 

Cheers,

The Collabspot Team

 

 

New Collabspot Feature: Click to Hangout

Here at Collabspot, our mission is to make closing deals faster for you. If you already contacted our support, you probably noticed that we are a big fan of Google hangout. So today, we are very happy to release this integration with Google Hangout.

 

How will this new feature help you close more deals?

  • It will allow you to call your customer directly from an email.

  • You can use this feature to give technical support to your customer.

  • You can do product presentations to your prospects or leads.

 

open sidebar

Check out our Hangout Integration video on Youtube.

If you have questions about our new feature, please let us know through our comment section below or contact us anytime.

Customer of the Week: Dan Michael

customer_of_week_dan_michael

Envato, a company based in Australia, started operations in 2006, launching its first product on August 2006. Envato has an ecosystem of sites that include digital marketplaces, an educational platform, a group of blogs, a design gallery and a freelance network. These services help millions of people around the world get creative, earn an income online, and learn new skills.

Envato helps clients learn skills on Tuts+ so they can make DIY websites, or learn photography so they can sell stock photos, create graphics and video effects to make commercials, film or television.

 

1. What is your role and how long have you been with Envato?

I sit in a 6-person Marketing team at Envato. I look after the Elite Author program and manage a community of over 650 high value, highly skilled digital designers and developers, across eight online Marketplaces. I’m responsible for designing and implementing reward programs and marketing campaigns that provide value for both author and company.

 

2. What products or services does Envato offer?

Envato run digital Marketplaces with a global community of designers, developers, photographers, illustrators and producers all learning, building, designing and earning online.

 

3. What was your biggest challenge before installing                         Collabspot?

Gmail! Gmail is not my favorite email client, let’s just get that out of the way! But as a lean startup company we use lots of Google products for free collaboration. We also use Basecamp and their CRM, Highrise. So, managing all of my clients over email globally was a bit of a hassle before I found the secret of Collabspot!

 

4. What was your initial impression of Collabspot? Why do you       love Collabspot?

I couldn’t believe that someone had discovered exactly what I needed in the form of an extension! Immediately, I knew that this was going to make my workflow a lot easier.

 

5. What are your favorite features in Collabspot and why?

First, the seamless integration with Gmail and Highrise. Bringing what is important to me on a daily basis with an easy and intuitive UX, right up front. I also like the ‘BCC for future emails for this contact’-feature. This is important as I don’t want to BCC everyone I deal with (internally not at all, but I email internally a LOT). So, being able to easily identify a client, then check this box, I know that Collabspot will then BCC all future interactions with this client and I don’t need to think about that again. I’m also really keen on the super quick ‘add to Highrise’ feature. New clients in the Elite author program are almost doubling annually so of course I receive lots of email from new authors who are not in Highrise yet… with Collabspot on the scene, I can quickly tick a box to add someone.

Integration with the web app. It’s great being able to see at a glance exactly what I said, the last time I communicated. Or if they are a new client whom I need to add into Highrise, I can do this with a few clicks, without leaving my train of thought, or current email.

 

6. What was your biggest achievement with Envato?

When I started with Envato, the processes in the Elite program were typically ‘lean’. Now, I am a process freak, I have to admit! I like things to be nicely wrapped in a process and cocooned in a spreadsheet. So I think my biggest achievement to date was taking the whole program on myself, from admin to email outreach, marketing and budgeting until I could finally step back and go ‘ahhh… that’s better!’. Now it’s a smooth running program with loads of slick processes in place to track, measure and report on our progress. I’ve streamlined things from multiple spreadsheets and reports to a single spreadsheet that tracks everything (including merch!) and a streamlined way of doing things that makes sense.

 

7. What was the biggest challenge that you experienced (with           Envato) and how were you able to overcome it?

For me, it was the move from corporate life to startup. My previous experience in a large corporate company meant that I had a great head for all of this process and due diligence, but that doesn’t translate well to a  lean startup! So I really had to change my way of thinking.

Being very output driven, I like to be able to see outcomes from my actions and this is quite different at Envato, where everyone is encouraged to work flexibly to suit themselves, and no one is chained to a desk and a mobile phone taking calls Monday through Sunday 24hrs a day dealing with crisis. So I guess my biggest challenge was learning to relax first and trust my own capabilities. It’s been a fantastic transformation and personally I have grown and developed loads in the last 12 months!

 

To experience Collabspot for yourself, you can start a free trial here. Or you can contact us  for more information.

May Happiness Report

It’s time for May’s Happiness Report!

Ask yourself, what is customer service? Is it about serving the customer? Is it about being nice to the customer because they are the best form of advertisement? Is it about profit?

Christopher McCormick has the best answer of them all: customer service

I’m very lucky to be part of the Collabspot Team. It’s easy to see that everyone here has a desire to make sure our customers are happy. We weren’t trained to think that way. Everyone just wants to go that extra mile.

It’s amazing how our Tech and Dev team are willing to go overtime just to fix a bug. The Support Team answers tickets on weekends even if they’re not required to. We spend hours talking about the best way we can track and resolve concerns. No one asked us to – we just want to help. Period.

Go the extra mile for anyone who needs help.

Looking back…

Here are some of the things we did last month:

1. Escalation Process.

We experimented different escalation processes. In the end, we decided that the escalation process would be from Support, Tech, then Dev Team.

2. Tagged Tickets.

We started tagging tickets that had out-of-the-ordinary issues. Hopefully, we can organize all those tickets by June.

3. Getting a new member!

Our goal is to get another team member who will cover the morning shift (EST). This way, we can help people almost any time of the day.

4. Improved communication between Support and Tech.

One of the issues we had was communicating updates to each other. Solution? We created a chatroom for Support and Tech to keep everyone updated.

 

May’s Stats

collabspot

What people notice when you go that extra mile.

We don’t expect anything in return when we go out of our way to help. This is why we feel really happy when the people we help comment on how happy they are with the way we helped them.

Here are some of the things they’ve said:

 

Thank you. You’re always so helpful!
I feel very satisfied and ready to conquer the world. You’ve been wonderful, thank you.”
~ Lila Carpenter

 

I guess you are the quickest Zendesk Agent around (:
5 stars!

~ Jia Liu

 

Seriously, you deserve a trophy for how fast you answer my questions.

~ Janis Grevins

 

In the course of the last five days I have had bad customer service from two firms, and great customer service with two firms. Happy to report that Collabspot is in the latter category. The thing that makes it great is that you listen to what I was saying and gave a precise answer rather than a general corporate framework that might or might not apply

~ John Hannon

 

Good service!!! Keep up the good job, quick in the support, friendly staff, a recipe for a winning team!

~ Jan Kristian Stroemsnes

 

Great. Fast. No nonsense process. Love it.

~ Cindy Pfos

 

We’ll do our best !

 

With the release of Collabspot for Salesforce and Sugar 7.x, things will become very, very busy. We are determined to keep if not exceed the level of service we are providing you. Please know that our Support and Dev team are working very hard to resolve your concerns as soon as possible.

 

We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve your concerns. Just give us a buzz if there is anything we can help you with. We’ll always be here to help.

 

Cheers,

 

The Collabspot Team

 

Customer of the Week: Pétur Ísfeld Jonsson

 customer_of_week_peter_jonsson

1. What is your role and how long have you been with ISNIC?

I am the sales manager for the .is domain registry in Iceland and I have been in this role for 3 years and 8 months.

 

2. Can you tell us something about what ISNIC offers?

The company has two departments, one is the .is registry ISNIC and the other is Modernus which develops and markets several value-adding web services such as web analytics and web chat.

ISNIC is the Registry for .is which is the top-level domain in Iceland. The domain .is has been included in the list of McAfee’s “Mapping the Mal Web” as one of the top 10 most secure TLDs in the world in the years 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Modernus on the other hand, is the operator of the Icelandic coordinated web traffic measurement system. They maintain their customers’ database of web statistics and send them the report. Modernus also designed other software like Watchdog (web monitoring tool) and Svarbox (communication/chat system).

 

3. What was your biggest challenge before installing Collabspot?

I get a lot of email addresses, contacts, and accounts, in my inbox. Before I had Collabspot, adding those to Sugar CRM was wasting a lot of my time.

 

4. What was your initial impression of Collabspot? Why do you like Collabspot?

The first thing I noticed was the simple setup. Collabspot has a clean and intuitive interface, perfectly placed within Gmail for greatest ease of use and maximum productivity. I love Collabspot because it makes me so much more productive and simplifies my data collection from email. I also like the template and tracking functionality.

 

5. What is your favorite feature and why?

The feature I use most is check to see if the contact is in SugarCRM, what client information I have and if not, add them to SugarCRM.

More Info on Creating Client Information:

Collabspot users can create or edit a client’s contact information while they read their client’s email. Users can add their client’s company address, email address, and contact number on SugarCRM right from inside their Gmail. Collabspot can also check if their client has social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so they can check their profile or add them. Find out more about this feature here.

 

6. How has Collabspot made things easier for you and helped you close more deals?

Simplified data collection ensures that I always log the account, contact, and email.

 

7. What is the best sales tip you can share with other salespeople?

Listen, learn, and solve a problem.  And of course, support should be absolutely first class.

 

To truly experience Collabspot, you can start a free trial here. Or contact us  for more information.

 

Customer of the Week: Jim Hetzel

 

customer_of_week_jim_hetzel

 

FlightStats, Inc. was formed in 2001 as Conducive Technologies 2001 (renamed FlightStats in 2005) because they saw an opportunity: that there was no provider of worldwide real-time and historical flight performance data.

They source, refine, and aggregate data from over 300 data points including:

  • airlines;

  • airports;

  • civil aviation authorities;

  • flight positional sources;

  • weather and global distribution systems;

  • etc.

All this data add up to the most reliable flight status and performance information from anywhere in the world.

Quality customer service is very important to FlightStats. They overcame early challenges in this area by using Collabspot to integrate Gmail with SugarCRM.

Jim tells us how Collabspot helped them to use SugarCRM to its fullest potential and help manage customers on a day-to-day basis. It kept administrative overhead to a minimum.

 

1.  What is your role and how long have you been with Flight Stats, Inc.?

I am the Vice President for Business Development of FlightStats, Inc. and have been with the company for over a year.

 

2. Can you tell us something about what Flight Stats, Inc. offers?

FlightStats, Inc. is the leading global provider of flight data services and applications to the travel industry and traveling public. We deliver reliable, relevant, and resourceful airline, airport and traveler information.

We are the first global provider of flight information in the marketplace. FlightStats now serves over 500 of the leading airlines, online travel providers, airports, travel agencies, and travelers through our B2B and B2C products.

 

3. What was your biggest challenge before installing Collabspot?

The value of using a CRM solution like SugarCRM is undisputable, however, using CRM does create some additional overhead that takes away from actual selling and engagement with the customer.

 

 4. What was your initial impression of Collabspot? Why do you love Collabspot?

When we began using Collabspot, we were looking for a way to reduce the overhead of using CRM, for myself as well as our sales team. We wanted a way to reduce the friction of using CRM so that our team can focus on customer engagement while still having all of the power of the CRM to manage, track and measure leads, opportunities and accounts.

Collabspot addressed all of those needs and then some. It allowed us to stay focused and work in our e-mail client. That is where we spend 90% of our time, while bringing all of the CRM history on the same screen. This is a big help. It keeps us from having to switch back and forth between email and CRM. This can save us hours of time per week.

 

5. What’s your favorite feature and why?

I love how Collabspot integrates CRM history and social media information  into my email display. When I receive an email from a customer or prospect, Collabspot shows the contact history right next to it.

Also, it brings to bear social media information on the contact such as their LinkedIn profile or Twitter activity. This enables me to interact better with the contact.

 

6. How has Collabspot made things easier for you and how did it help you close more deals?

Collabspot has made managing customer engagements in CRM much smoother. It is easier to create leads and opportunities directly from my email. Collabspot brings to bear my contact’s critical history and details right inside my email, making it easier to build strong customer relationship and closes deals faster.

 

7. What is the best sales tip you can share with other salespeople?

I often send useful content to engage to my prospects. If I see an online article or blog post written by or mentioning the prospect and their company, I often send emails regarding the piece to better connect to them. Using Collabspot’s email tracking and analytic features, I will know when my email is read and if it’s been forwarded to multiple people within the organization. From that I can infer some level of interest. This allows me to time my follow up call or emails when interest is at its peak.

 

8. Anything else you would want to share?

Collabspot is a natural extension of SugarCRM. Any small time investment of evaluating Collabspot should help your sales team quickly see the benefits.

 

To experience Collabspot for yourself, you can start a free trial here. Or you can contact us  for more information.

 

Customer of the Week: Hugo Levasseur

 customer_of_week_hugo_levasseur


1. What is your role and how long have you been with Spundge?

I am an Account Manager at Spundge. I am the bridge between our customers and the company. I support customers whose account I am in charge of, and I establish a good relationship with them.

 

2.Can you tell us something about what Spundge offers?

We offer an all-in-one Content Creation, Delivery and Monetization Solution. Customers can create notebooks, with a title and specific keywords. Spundge will then filter content or articles based on those keywords, and deliver it in your notebook. It can even track content on various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

 

3. What was your biggest challenge before installing Collabspot?

Before Collabspot, I needed to maintain email threads manually in SugarCRM. But Collabspot helps me save time; I can now dedicate more hours to serving our customers.

 

4. What was your initial impression of Collabspot? Why do you love Collabspot?

Collabspot is great! It let’s me focus on core activities rather than tedious maintenance tasks.

 

5. What’s your favorite feature/s and why?

The email integration. Collabspot simplifies my work.

More Info on SugarCRM and Gmail Integration: Collabspot users can save 5 hours of work each week which would otherwise be spent on switching and the manual input of client information from Gmail to SugarCRM. Now, you can view your client/prospect’s information straight from your Gmail. It is now easy to update vital information to SugarCRM, right from your Gmail inbox. To see what else Gmail integration can do, click here.

 

6. How has Collabspot made things easier for you and helped you close more deals?

Collabspot has made my use of Sugarcrm simpler. I can update my client’s information on SugarCRM through Gmail. I can also view my client’s information and the history of our interaction straight from Gmail. It couldn’t get any simpler than this!

 

7. What is the best sales tip you can share to other salespeople?

Use the tools that will help you focus on your customers while maintaining detailed accounts on them. And Collabspot is a really helpful tool that can help you save time and helps you give your customers  world-class service, and of course, helps you close more deals!

 

To experience Collabspot for yourself, you can start a free trial here. Or you can contact us  for more information.

New Collabspot release for Salesforce

Our robust CRM integration in Gmail is now available for Salesforce.

With Collabspot for Salesforce, all Salesforce users can now close more deals while saving time.

Collabspot provides a unique bundle of 3 sets of features:

1/ Optimized 1:1 Interaction with Customers Helps Salespeople Close More Deals, using:

  • Email Templates
  • Email Tracking
  • Send Later email
  • Create & Follow-up Tasks
  • Instant Email Notification
  • Analytics to find best practices

2/ Sidebar Integration in Gmail Helps Salespeople Save Hours of Time per Week:
They can view, create and change all available customer information in Salesforce from their Gmail inbox at the click of button. No more switching back and forth between Gmail and Salesforce.

3/ Calendar and Contact Synchronization + 1-Click Email Archiving in Salesforce:
Managers are guaranteed that all information is available and accurate in both systems, while giving salespeople the freedom to choose where they prefer to work.

Collabspot is the only provider bundling this unique set of features in one application:

  • Avoid the burden of using two chrome extensions – Don’t slow down your browser unnecessarily – Don’t loose time switching between extensions.
  • Avoid the cost of two applications. Pay for only one application, starting at $15/user/month, rather the $39 for Cirrus Insight and Yesware. We believe that our application should not cost more than 15 to 20% of the price of Salesforce’s.

Discover Collabspot for Salesforce, and Install our 15 day free trial.

Contact Laurent for more information: sales@collabspot.com

April Happiness Report

We Understand…

…That the most important part is to show you that we care. Collabspot is all about collaboration – and it’s not a simple collaboration between us and your company. It’s about creating a strong relationship with you.

We wanted to personalize the experience.

It all started when Anna wanted to reduce the average response time to one hour and Ela wanted to resolve the technical issues as fast as possible. We tried out a lot of ideas. It was really fun because everyone, including the Dev team, were working together to find ways to improve the way we resolve your concerns. Below are some of the things we did:

  1. View the status of a ticket at a glance (Tagging system)
    We created a system to help us see, at a glance, where the ticket is and who the ticket should be assigned to.
  2. Escalation Process
    We determined when and how to escalate an issue from customer service to technical support to the development team.
  3. Internal Knowledgebase
    Since there was so much to know, we created an internal knowledgebase to help us keep track of the standard policies and procedures.
  4. Troubleshooting Steps
    Collabspot deals with numerous applications like Google, SugarCRM, Salesforce, Highrise, and many more. We started having meetings with the Dev and Tech team to find out the most systematic way we can troubleshoot a customer’s issue.
  5. Be professionally friendly
    Since Collabspot is growing, we knew it was time to start replying in a professional manner; however, we wanted to keep a friendly tone. The result? We started changing the way we reply to emails by being professionally friendly in every conversation. 🙂

The Fruit of our Hard Work

Did we make our customers happy?

The ultimate question was: After all the changes we made, did we make our customers happy? The great new is, we did!

“It just plain works. We are using Collabspot for ~100 users who are never happy (sales). But with Collabspot, everyone is finally happy! Support is fast, responsive and flexible. Thanks! ”

Jill (Aerotech)

“Thanks so much for all the help you (Ela) and Nori and Anna have provided. You have gone so far beyond the normal support that I have received from other organizations.”

Craig (Academy of Interactive Entertainment)

“Woow, that was fast 🙂
Thank you so much.
All the best, Mark”

Mark Valentini

“Thanks so much, you guys are the best!”

Chelsea (Real Estate Concepts)

“Great, thanks Nori! Keep up the great work.”

Chris (President and Founder, Landscape Leadership)

“Excellent! You’re wonderful.”

Emmy (Blank Spaces)

“Also many thanks to you, it was great you took the time and will further look into our improvement requests!”

Michael (Weburi)

“It works! Thank you so much for all the work that went into this!”

Justin (Technology Advisors)

These kind words are the reason why we’re finding ways to serve you better. It gives us the motivation to improve the way we handle your concerns.

Feel free to give us a buzz for just about anything. We’ll always be here.

Cheers,
The Collabspot Team

SugarCon 2014: A Sweet Event

We’ll Be There

An exciting event is going to happen this coming Monday, April 28, and Collabspot will be there, and so should you!

At SugarCon 2014 software providers and developers gather together with industry stakeholders. It is the perfect venue for SugarCRM customers (or those who wants to try or shift to SugarCRM), as they will see an exclusive glimpse of how CRM will evolve in the decade ahead.

We participated in last year’s Sugar Conference and we will join again for this year’s conference, which promises to be even better and more fun.

Our Newest App

SugarCRM and their partners, Collabspot included, will introduce new solutions that will change the course of customer service. During the conference, our CEO Laurent Gasser and Founder Jeremi Joslin will launch Collabspot’s newest application, the 1:1 Marketing Automation Tool.

At the Collabspot booth which we put up just for you, we will hold a demo on how effective our software is at helping you close more deals. Not only that, we will also give out a free 6-month upgrade to our 1:1 Marketing Automation Tool App when you sign up. This also applies to our existing customers who visit our booth.

CEO Gasser will also give an insightful talk about our new app and how it will help salespeople in creating powerful, personalized marketing communications to their prospects in the blink of an eye. Our new app features notifications and calls to actions. These and other features will enable you to close more deals.

SugarCon 2014 is expecting 1,000 other attendees who will have the choice of dozens of interactive sessions, tracks, panels and training courses.

Attendees will also be networking with fellow salespeople and entrepreneurs. They get a chance to have a casual chat with industry experts during evening receptions and fun companion events.

All of these and more are rolled into one if you join SugarCon 2014. Block your calendar from April 28 to May 01 and head out to San Francisco. But first, don’t forget to register here. We’ll see you there and together, let’s enjoy the ride.

Customer of the Week: Michael Loveless

Customer of the Week: Michael Loveless

Michael Loveless: Has LOVE for Collabspot

Being in the online media industry since 2001, updating and managing his growing database is very important for Michael Loveless, Founder and President of Loveless Media Corp.

Loveless Media Corp. caters to clients around the globe, offering services such as Web Design, eMarketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Hosting, and IT Systems Management. His company also sells collaborative web-based tools such as WebERP.

Before using Collabspot, Loveless spent too many hours entering client’s data from his Gmail into SugarCRM.

He recalls that he only used SugarCRM when sending invoices and quotes. At the time there was a disconnect between entering and accessing the client’s email from his Gmail.

“Collabspot made me use SugarCRM more than I was previously – which has made me more organized – and is making me close more deals” Loveless adds.

Loveless’ Favorite Collabspot Features

He maintains that his work is made easier because Collabspot immediately recognizes an existing contact and displays related information like the client’s company address, contact number and even social media accounts.

“The system worked like a charm! I love Collabspot because it keeps me in Gmail with a high degree of interactivity with Sugarcrm from a sidebar location”, he said.

Collabspot can also track emails sent to a certain client. It also enables the user to track email interaction or history. This will enable users to check or confirm past details.

With Collabspot’s Email Tracking feature Loveless and other users can also:

  • Instantly know when the recipients open their email
  • Find out where the email is opened
  • Find out the device used for reading the email
  • Find out if the links are showing up from your recipient’s view
  • Find out when the links in the emails are clicked

Loveless Gives Loving Advice

As an entrepreneur, Loveless believes that taking the time to enter the entire client’s data into his CRM will reap significant rewards. “You must plant the seeds before you can harvest,” he explains.

He added that he no longer needs to spend too much time entering significant data because Collabspot does it for him and a lot more.

For him, “Support is first class”.

Customer of the Week: Lewis Yildirimturk

Customer of the Week: Lewis Yildirimturk

The never ending changes in web development are an ongoing challenge to [Affordable Web Design and Marketing, Inc.](http://www.affordablewebdesign.com/), a company that provides website design and web marketing services.

“The biggest challenge is to keep up with the changes in search engines. But we always go the extra mile to make our clients happy and satisfied with our work,” Lewis Yildirimturk says, Founder and President.

However, the company which uses Google Apps, had a hard time integrating Highrise and Gmail. It was also difficult to go back and forth between Highrise and emails, recalls Yildirimturk.

To further ensure excellent service to its customers, his company now uses Collabspot. Collabspot integrates CRM tools like Highrise into Gmail and lets users save a lot of time and close more deals.

When asked about his initial impression of Collabspot, Yildirimturk said that their company “really liked it a lot.”

“This is a great add-on for Highrise CRM uses. Collabspot is the main reason we are using Highrise. Without this add-on, we would not be using Highrise,” he said.

Yildirimturk said that Collabspot makes it easy to view contact information, upcoming and recent activities, among other things, even without opening Highrise. He can also view the previous messages, create new contacts and leads, and log emails within Gmail.

This saves the company a lot of time. “It is much easier to follow up with leads or answer client’s questions,” he adds.

Because of its edge over the competition, and with the help of Collabspot, Affordable Web Design and Marketing, Inc. now has over 400 satisfied customers.

When asked to share his best sales tip to others, Yildirimturk suggested that they find a way to integrate CRM and email, which is the backbone in communicating with clients.

“Your best option is Collabspot. Trust me. I tried a lot of systems since 1998,” he says. “In all honesty, a lot of people use Gmail. Collabspot makes the integration between Highrise and Gmail so much easier. It saves us a lot of time. We love it and highly recommend it.”

The winner of the Collabspot New Year Competition!

In January we ran the Collabspot New Year Competition, to find the most efficient emailer of 2013. You might remember that all participants got a free analysis of their email skill.

Those who worked in sales positions were competing for the title and a Nexus 5 smartphone!

We measured email efficiency as the rate of customers and suppliers who respond to a salesperson’s emails within 24 hours.

Today we are happy to announce the winner: Tamás Szatmári, Head of Business Development at Doctusoft Ltd in Budapest, Hungary. Tamás has already received his prize, a new Nexus 5 smartphone.  

winner

We asked Tamás a few questions about email efficiency. He was so kind to share the secret behind his email success. Now we can all use his ideas to get better at converting prospects into customers and close more deals.

Collabspot: How do you use email in your sales process? How does it fit in with face-to-face communication and phone calls?

Tamás: As an IT company with a focus on Java, Google App Engine and Cloud Platform development we do consultative sales. So we have to offer a solution parallel to the sales process before creating the official bid. In this process we use Google Apps, so Gmail and Google Drive have critical importance.

In our target audience – the Enterprise segment –  the sales process is long, because it involves many different people, in different phases, on both their and our side.

We use email as part of cold call campaigns, or simply for cold mailing. In this case we ask our recipients – if the topic is not relevant to them – to forward the mail, or to simply offer someone else instead of them to connect with.

In cold call campaigns and in the whole sales process we almost always send memos. Not just after face to face meetings, but after a longer telephone call as well. This is also true for the ongoing projects.

These emails are saved to our CRM application (Highrise) and we can easily track the latest activities with the Collabspot “info” extension in Gmail. This also helps us to collaborate with the whole sales team, because it makes the information transparent to everybody, even when you are not on the project.

Collabspot: Our readers can learn a lot from your success. What is your secret? What can salespeople do to have customers and suppliers respond to their emails quickly?

Tamás: Be as concise as you can. No one likes long emails with traditional sales blabla. Offer something valuable for the potential client, and that is what makes him even read your mail. So, write short, draft-like emails with bullet points, short terms, and keywords.

In summary:

  1. Be short and concise.
  2. Mark your email somehow, whether it needs any action on your part or not.
  3. Focus on consultative sales, offer value.
  4. Be transparent to your team, because this helps to make collaboration faster and more efficient.

Email processing tips:

Tamás: I’m an advanced user of Gmail’s priority inbox and I apply the “zero inbox”-policy in my working method. I check my emails once a day, but I reply to all the messages. Then I close the “unread” section. If I have to wait for something before replying, I star that message, and only get back to these later. This helps to make my day less fragmented and more focused.

If I can answer a letter in 2 mins, I do it, if I can’t, I send the message to Asana (our task managing tool). So I’m using “Getting Things Done”, but a bit modified.

Happiness Goal Report

“The goal, as a company, is to have customer service that is not just the best – but legendary.” Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

Reaching our Legendary Dream

We have a dream of providing you, our customers, the Legendary Customer Service. We know it will be tough. It will be a huge challenge. But we’re here provide you something better than the best – legendary.

Following the idea of Buffer, we started our own Happiness Report. Only this time, our goal is to not have the best customer service – we want to provide legendary customer service. We’d like to share with you, our customers, how the Collabspot team is working hand-in-hand to reach our Legendary Customer Service Dream.

The Happiness Goals

Goal # 1: Quick Response Time
Description: Tickets should be replied to in an hour.
Status: We’re getting there! We jumped from 6.5 hours in December, 3.10 hours in January to 2.9 hours in February! One hour response time, here we come.

happinessgoalreport

Goal # 2: Improve our Tech Support
Description: We understand how frustrating it can be to have tech issues.
The issue is: We spend so much time setting up a date for a
Hangout or getting more information about the issue when we could have used the time to resolve a concern. We’re currently
planning on adding a Video Capture or Booking software.
Status: Ongoing

Goal #3: The Knowledge base
Description: The best way to help our customers is to have a Knowledge base.
This way, we have our standard operating procedures in one place.
Each member can add their SOPs for everyone to see. The easier it is for us to find a solution to your concern, the faster we help you!
Status: 25% Complete

Goal # 4: Updates and Fixes
Description: Our Technical and Dev team are working hard to give you juicy new features.
We respond to customers who request for much needed features. At the same time, we fix the bugs.
Check out this blog to see the status of all our bugs.
Status: Ongoing

Goal # 5: Monitor our Growth
Description: We need to monitor if we are improving. We want to improve the way we handle the service while making our customers happy.
Status: Ongoing

happinessgoalreport

happinessgoalreport

We’ve set our goals. Now, we’re ready for March!

Help us reach our Dream!
If you have ideas on how we can improve the way we serve you, leave a comment! We’ll be more than happy to be one step closer to this dream.

Release Notes Collabspot for SugarCRM Version 2014.02.25

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” James Cash Penney

Our team has been working hard to create new features and some fix for current bugs.

Enhancement or New Features:

  1. New look: Collabspot Portal and Setup, I hope you will like it.

    releasenote

  2. Updated error message for clients using an unsupported SugarCRM version

    Customers using an unsupported SugarCRM version will receive an error message whenever they
    enter the credentials in Collabspot. The error message will now display as: “You’re in an unsupported version of SugarCRM”.

  3. Tasks with no due date are now displayed on the Homepage Task List

    It is now possible to view tasks in the Tasks List without a due date.

  4. Email Templates: Validation

    In previous versions, users are not able to identify what was causing the errors on their email templates when using dynamic fields.
    In this new version, an error message will pop up if the template fields were incorrectly filled.

Bugs and Fixes:

  1. Currency

    Bug: The amount in Opportunities are displaying as “USD $” even if the set currency is in Euro on SugarCRM.

    Reason: The currency will set to the default currency (USD $) if:
    The user doesn’t have a currency symbol set in their current currency
    The user doesn’t have a currency symbol after updating the currency of an amount in the extension

    Status: Fixed

  2. The old format is used when a page is redirected from Collabspot to Sugar

    Bug: This fix is specific for 7-7.1.5 users. This version of Sugar shows a new interface that includes
    dashboard layout and new navigation features. Previously, when a user clicks on a Contact or Account or an entry from
    their Collabspot sidebar, they were being redirected to an old url format, which was causing some display issues on their SugarCRM.

    Fix: We have updated the links to the new url format of Sugar which shows the upgraded UI of Sugar 7 and above.

    Status: Fixed

  3. Custom fields with checkboxes

    Bug: When users try to enable or tick the checkbox, the said field will return to default (unchecked) after it is updated.

    Reason: Some type of checkbox fields like “Sync to look” and “Converted” are disabled by default

    Status: Fixed

    “Sync to Outlook” are for Outlook users; however, all of our customers are using Gmail. No one should be using this field.
    “Converted” fields should not be set using checkboxes. To convert leads in Sugar, click the “Convert to Contact” button on the lead’s detail view.

  4. Sidebar overlaps Google Chat’s right-side display

    Bug: Due to Google’s changes, the Collabspot sidebar overlaps the chat area when “right-side chat is enabled” and the drawer is opened.

    Status: Fixed. The sidebar is placed before Google Chat.

  5. Subject name of emails are not shown when saved to sugar

    Bug: When viewing the emails that were added to Sugar, the subject name is not displayed.

    Reason: Google’s recent changes

    Status: Fixed

To report an issue found in this release, please email support@collabspot.com.

Collabspot Release Notes

This document describes the changes made in Collabspot.

Collabspot Version 2014.02.06

Enhancement or New Features:

Collabspot now supports decimal (.) as currency thousand separators and comma (,) as decimal separators.

US and UK are one of the few countries in the world that use a period (.) to indicate the decimal place and comma (,) as thousand separators. Some countries, mostly in Europe, use decimal points (.) as thousand separators and comma (,) to indicate decimals.

Collabspot now supports using any of these values in your currency fields.

Bugs and Fixes

  1. Task Lists in Inbox
    • Bug: Task list in Inbox was not showing tasks due for current date and recently overdue tasks.
    • Fix: Task list in Inbox now shows tasks that are due for today and tasks that are recently overdue. This makes it easier for someone who is working on a daily task list to check on what needs to be done for the day.

To report an issue found in this release, please email support@collabspot.com.

Prove your email efficiency

nexus5

Are you an email champion who gets fast replies and answers in a heartbeat? Now you can prove it!

Collabspot starts the new year with a competition to find the most efficient emailer. All participants get an automatic analysis of their email performance. There is no room for vagueness. Use Collabspot Performance to measure your email performance with simple metrics that tell everything about your efficiency.

Are you ready to see your email performance in the clear light of day?

How We Measure Email Efficiency

Email is a communication tool. It helps you collaborate with customers and suppliers to get things done. And a job well done is even better when it’s done quickly. Efficient email is about speed: the best mailers give quick replies and compel others to reply quickly to them.

Email performance is especially important for salespeople. In sales, the best close is a fast close.

Every participant can use Collabspot Performance to get an objective analysis of their email. You get a report that shows various metrics. Collabspot Performance is always objective and will give insight into your email behavior.

This competition is part of a global research program into email behavior. The combined data of all the participants will give valuable insights into the way businesspeople communicate with others outside the company.

How We Spot a Winner

Test yourself and compete for the title of “most efficient emailer”. The winner will get a Nexus 5.

The competition spans a period of two weeks until February 4th. If you sign up for Collabspot Performance during that time, you compete for the title of “most efficient emailer”.

For this competition, we will evaluate each participant on one simple metric: what was the response rate of customers and suppliers, 24 hours after you sent email. We will look at the reply rate of all the emails outside the domain of your company.

    Conditions for participation:

  • Your company must have Google Apps
  • You need to have sent over 100 emails in 2013 and got a reply.
  • We keep the right to withdraw your participation if we think you cheated.
  • You must be in a sales position.

Sign up now
to assess your email performance and compete for the title of
“most efficient emailer of 2013”.
If you win, you will get the new Nexus 5 smartphone!

btn

Collabspot has a better memory now

Your Collabspot’s browser extension is now able to remember to which opportunity, contact or
lead you saved your email to.

Before, for every email in a thread, you had to select again the list of objects you wanted to
associate your email with. Now this is not needed anymore. Collabspot remembers them. For
every email in the thread, the opportunity, contact or lead will already be populated, so
you don’t have to search for them.

I’m really excited about this feature, and I hope it will save you as much time as it does for us.

Collabspot goes to DevFest Bacolod to give 2 talks

GDayX, a community-organized event supported by Google inspired by Google GDays celebrated the first time where both GDG and GBG have been merged into one last Sept. 28, 2013 at Bacolod City, Philippines.

More than the delectably and sumptuous Chrome Cake, the event had really brought the GDayX experience closer to the members of the GBG, GDG and GSA communities. A full day of learning and showcase of cool tech. Loaded with fun and the awesome Google experience.

Our very own Collabspot developers Gino Tria and John Louis del Rosario were invited to be Guest Speakers for the event.

Gino doing a presentation about building Google Chrome extensions.

John showing the audience how to get started using Google App Engine, a hosting platform for web apps from Google.

We’d like to thank everyone who attended DevFestBCD and the organizers for accommodating us in the said event especially Ms. Anne Olvido for the invitation and who made it a great success!

Also among the attendees who accompanied our developers are Collabspot’s QAs Melissa Bautista and Ela Honoridez.

Collabspot menu changed of place

In our recent product release, we have moved your Collabspot Menu from the top Gmail Menu to the lower right side as a button (logo) as seen in the image below.

We have made this move as a response to the recent changes Gmail is doing in their design.

Please contact us at support@collabspot.com if you have any questions.

Change of payment for our customers using Paypal

Collabspot is currently undergoing a change in its online payment gateway to enable payment by Visa, Mastercard as
well as Paypal.

We are closing our paypal account tomorrow, Sunday the 25th of August 2013. Existing customers who have
subscribed before May 20th 2013 will need to register with our new payment gateway. We contacted by email each
of the impacted users.

If you did not do it by that time, no worry, no data will be lost, you will just need to re-subscribe with the
new payment gateway.

If you are on monthly payment and you haven’t received our notification with the guidelines on how to proceed,
please contact us at support@collabspot.com.

If you are on yearly payment, don’t worry, this does not affect your current subscription. We will contact
you before your subscription renewal to give you guidelines on how to proceed.

New presentations of Collabspot for SugarCRM

We are happy to share with you that we finally have a new slide deck and video presentations – Collabspot for
SugarCRM. The presentations will quickly show you Collabspot’s main features including the latest most important
updates that we have launched. Check them out here:


As always, we welcome your feedback on our product and encourage you to suggest more features for Collabspot
here.

Collabspot is now a certified SugarCRM apps

SugarCRM, one of the world’s fastest-growing customer relationship management software company has certified a few
select applications. Collabspot is proud to be a part of the list as the only Google Apps integration to be
certified
. In order to get certified by SugarCRM, they needed to validate a number of important factors. Let’s
look at why Collabspot got the certification:

  • Security: Customers are safe with us. We do not store any of your data and your credentials to SugarCRM
    are stored into your browser only. If you are using the calendar and contact synchronization, we will only
    store the hashed version of your password on our Google’s servers. As our backend is build on Google Cloud
    platform, you enjoy the same level of security as for your Google Apps.
  • Reliability: with our talented and dedicated team, not only Collabspot offers you a very stable app, it
    also offers you exceptional customer support with 24 hours guaranteed response time. And of course, you enjoy
    the fantastic reliability of the Google Cloud Platform, as for your Google Apps
  • Simplicity: with our simple user interface, users can easily find their way around the extension.
  • Usefulness: the increased productivity that Collabspot offers its users is simply invaluable.

Check out Collabspot integration of gmail and SugarCRM on the Sugar Exchange with the certified logo.

New Packages & More Features for SugarCRM Users, More Value for Your Money!

The word is out! We are excited to announce that we have now launched our new packages for SugarCRM users and they come with more features. Let’s quickly look at what it means for you:

  • Premium subscribers now get contacts and calendar sync features for free. This was previously only available to VIP package subscribers.
  • New Enterprise Package: Our enterprise package now comes with custom module features. Do you have custom modules created on your SugarCRM? You can now view them on your Collabspot extension, with the help of our resellers for the setup.
  • Get an admin panel with any package and have complete control over your account (add new subscriber, change an email address, switch a subscriber) as soon as you get a second subscriber license.

Check out our complete Collabspot for sugarCRM price list.

If you have any questions or want to know how Collabspot can help you achieve your sales goals, please contact us at support@collabspot.com.

Enabling collaboration: crossing over the imaginary integration line

This is a guest post written by John Mertic, Solutions Architect and Community Manager at SugarCRM.

I’m a big fan of the UNIX philosophy when it comes to software: build one tool to do one job, make it do that job really well and let it work with other tools to get the job done. I think this notion perfectly captures collaboration as well; it’s less about being intertwined tightly but more about being connected at the right points to help make what you are doing more effective.

How does the Collabspot Google Mail/SugarCRM integration makes this possible? Your sales team lives out of both their record keeping tool (CRM) and communications tool (Email). It’s obvious that having the ability to send emails from CRM is key, but I think the forgotten piece of the puzzle is going backwards from email to CRM. People need to know context of the sender and recipients of the email to know how to best respond. They need to be able to create tasks and reminders for later. And they want others to know what’s going on with the interactions with the customer, to give that context on what they’ve done to the others in the organization. Collabspot does all of this.

But the hidden challenge is doing it with ease. At SugarCRM we promote our mantra of “Every user, every customer, every time”, which means we want to promote the efficiency and usability of the solution to make sure the interaction you have with your customer is effective every time. To do this, you need your tools to work together. Switching browser tabs consistently, or building broad dashboards doesn’t help that. To be truly effective, you need those connections at the right points to really help your team, whether sales, support, or operations, drive more sales and customer success. This is the true value add of a well-connected integration.

So are you looking to make your organization more collaborative? Then look past the imaginary lines by looking at great tools like Collabspot that better enable you to make every connection count.

Collabspot now synchronize your Google calendar and contacts with SugarCRM!

So now you can see your SugarCRM meetings and contacts directly from within Google. You don’t even need to install anything into SugarCRM, simply give Collabspot access to your calendar, and we take care of the rest.

So now you will be able to access your calendar and contacts from your mobile everywhere google is.

If you are interested, get in touch with our support (support@collabspot.com), and our team will give you access to it.

Learn more

We’re going to SugarCon 2013!

Recently, our Gmail integration with SugarCRM made us the Sugar App of the Month for March 2013. We also successfully held a webinar hosted by the SugarCRM community that showcased how our sales email platform for Gmail provides a window to SugarCRM.

SugarCon 2013

In line with all these events, I’ll be joining this year’s SugarCon! I’ll be there to meet with our users and resellers. If you will be around and would like to meet, drop me an email at jjoslin@collabspot.com.

SugarCon is an annual gathering that includes a speaker lineup of CRM experts, thought leaders, and leading industry analysts. It will be held on April 8-11 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

For those who haven’t used Collabspot, just go here to install our integration of Gmail and SugarCRM.

Collabspot has turned Gmail into a fully-functional small business CRM – Gyi from AttorneySync

As a digital legal marketing agency, staying in contact with our clients, prospects and partners is critical to our ability to deliver effective results.

Over the last 5 years, our CRM dance card has been quite full. I can think of at least six CRM solutions that we tried unsuccessfully to make work. In fact, we even left one only to come back to it later.

The common predicament was that tools would always be close to, but still lacking, some key and deal-breaking functionalities or integrations.

But we finally found our perfect recipe: Collabspot + Google Apps + Highrise. I’ll briefly discuss how it works for us.

Email comes into Google Apps.

Our business uses Google Apps for business. For us, it just works. More importantly, it stays out of the way. However, at least as of now (without the addition of a variety of extensions), Apps isn’t a solid stand-alone CRM. That’s where 37signals Highrise comes into play.

Highrise was one of the first CRM solutions we used. We left Highrise and tried a variety of others. We were dumb. We were wrong. We came back. Highrise is the best CRM for us. And likely, if you’re a small business, it’s the best CRM for you (but that’s obviously a gross over-generalization, go check it for yourself).

Now while Highrise has dropbox functionality, for us, it doesn’t quite get the integration job done, at least not by itself. That’s where Collabspot comes in.

So now, whenever I handle my emails, my CRM is just about fully integrated with my email service.

Collabpost pulls Highrise into Google Apps.

With Collabspot, I can add a message to Highrise from within Gmail:

Add to Highrise

I can also auto-BCC my message to Highrise. This is a very effective “catch-all” to prevent messages being lost in the Gmail clutter:

Highrise BCC

But the real Collabspot coolness is the direct access to Highrise contacts, deals, and cases. Instead of having to learn all of the special dropbox addresses, I can add new tasks, deals, and cases associated with contacts with the click of a link:

Easy creation of entries in Highrise from Gmail

While there a several benefits to being able to access Highrise from within Gmail, for us, the most significant is probably the ability to set follow-ups. This way, we’re not bouncing back and forth between Gmail and Highrise, which not only streamlines the follow-up process, but has also greatly reduced the number of dropped balls.

We are also extremely excited about the recent addition of Collabspot email templates:

While we’re just getting started with email templates, I have already seen the impact on efficiency for getting out common quick responses to clients.

The Google Apps – Collabspot – Highrise mix is essential to our business. It has basically turned Gmail into a fully-functional small business CRM.
Balancing affordability with function, you’ll be hard-pressed to top it.

About the Guest Author:

Gyi Tsakalakis operates a web strategy consultancy called AttorneySync. He also writes for Lawyerist. His personal website is at gyitsakalakis.com.

The importance of solving CRM adoption for today’s sales

There is divided opinion whether investing in a CRM is justified and if implementing one does bring more sales for a company. According to a survey by Gartner, Inc., the world’s largest technology research and advisory firm, more than 50 percent of CRM implementations are considered failures from the company’s point of view. On the other hand, consider a recent study from Nucleus Research. It states that for every dollar a company invests in a CRM, they get a $5.60 return of investment. I believe that CRM implementations fail not because of what CRMs fail to offer in essence since they are helpful in themselves, but because of the difficulties companies face with CRM adoption.

A CRM, in its basic form, contains features that help salespeople take advantage of the unified information about leads and using these information to steer more of their leads into deals that are won. CRMs also encourage collaboration and seamless task management among sales teams. Through the use of a CRM, information is gathered in one place and can easily be managed. Delegation of tasks also takes seconds when using a CRM. These features can only be fully utilized when data is consistent between different areas where customer data is stored, and when customer communications are automatically being tracked.

Solving CRM adoption is all about increasing sales productivity, by removing unwanted steps in the workflow of salespeople. This makes salespeople close more deals faster and saves them time as a result.

When the problem of adoption is surpassed, then it’s only a matter of time before the positive effects of having a CRM become imminent for companies who have taken the leap. CRMs have been around since the 1990’s but only in the last decade have they been put into the tech spotlight due to recent advancements on the web. Take the notable growths of Salesforce (included in Forbes fastest growing companies) and SugarCRM (shooting for an IPO this year after they recently went cashflow positive) who are making full use of the cloud. Also, only recently have the problem of CRM adoption been addressed through integrations across various web-based services, e.g. CRM-email integrations like Cirrus Insight and Collabspot . Those in the enterprise world who took advantage of how the web is connecting the world in new ways have truly taken their sales productivity to another level.

5 ways Collabspot helps us work faster – MarkNet Group

Figuring out how to work fast and efficiently is always on my mind. As the owner of a fast paced web development company, MarkNet Group, my team juggles multiple projects, marketing activities, sales and operations. The faster we get things done without compromising quality means a higher profit margin.

One of our favorite tool sets is the seamless integration of Collabspot, Highrise and Gmail. We call them the trifecta at the office. Here is how they help us increase productivity and revenue:

1. Moving Over to Google Apps for Business

This was the best operations move we ever made. No more IT headaches dealing with the Exchange servers and remote access. We share our calendars, documents and take advantage of the Google Apps tool set such as the pre-canned emails that have improved our response time on inquiries.

2. Virtual CRM that is Simple to Use – Enter Highrise

We already had a CRM but people were not using it because the learning curve was too high or cumbersome to use. This all changed when we discovered Highrise. It integrates with our project management system, Basecamp, and everyone uses it to capture leads, customers, notes, etc. No more annoying calls from co-workers asking for customer details on something I already explained. It is all in Highrise or Basecamp and its easy to access.

3. Marrying Gogle Apps and Highrise – The Savior – Collabspot

I had one minor problem with my Google Apps and Highrise setup – I had to keep clicking between my Highrise browser tab and my Google Apps tab. This may sound like a minor issue but when you get 50 important emails an hour (like I do), this is an issue. When I am in a rush I would opt to not transfer information from my email to Highrise then waste time digging through my emails. Collabspot has solved these problems for me wonderfully.

Here is my trifecta workflow:

Sales Workflow

  • A prospect expresses an interest in our services.
  • Using Collabspot, I immediately add them to Highrise as a prospect without leaving gmail. A few simple clicks and presto, they are in Highrise.
  • I then click the Deals link in Collabspot and they are now added to my Deals/Pipeline with all of the details.
  • I reply and the email is attached to the prospect and deal in Highrise.
  • If I need to get input from a co-worker before I reply now they can see the same deal I added and read the details. They respond and I get a note emailed to me.
  • As I am exchanging emails with the prospect, using Collabspot, I can check off ‘add to Highrise’ and all of the communications are stored in Highrise under the deal.

Customer Support

  • Customers email us for support and without leaving gmail, we click on our Collabspot tab and create a Case and/or Task in Highrise.
  • I can even assign it to a specific person and they get an email notification. All this without leaving my gmail.
  • If I get a follow up email, I click on my Collabspot tab and this clients activity appears to the right. No more going through emails, I can view their Highrise activity without leaving gmail.

Collabspot has enabled us to increase our productivity and profits margins. Being able to do some without leaving our inbox not only helps us work faster in the moment but saves us time because now we actually use our CRM. Capturing all of the important communications and deals within Highrise means its easy to review case history and provide better support.

The seamless integration of Gmail, Highrise and Collabspot is now the “can’t live without” toolset in our company.

About the guest author:

Gina Nieves is an expert at getting increased sales through websites. Since founding MarkNet Group, she has overseen the design of 500 websites and $30 million in sales. She writes about how to increase sales through your website on her blog. You can follow her at Google+ or Twitter.

Tim from Cloudspace on using Collabspot

Collabspot is what Highrise should have built a long time ago. It’s the perfect tool for doing consultative sales — I end up focusing on small numbers of people, and being able to easily document our discussions and schedule followups are huge for me!

For my workflow, there are two killer features in the Collabspot plugin for Gmail:

  • The first is being able to automatically BCC my Highrise account so that important emails get saved into Highrise. There’s an option to BCC every email I send, but I tend to use the one-click option to choose which ones are saved so that I don’t clutter Highrise with things like scheduling calls and other minor back-and-forth emails.
  • The other thing is that I can add tasks without having to open Highrise in a separate tab and search for that contact to add a task. The time savings from this alone is worth the premium version of Collabspot (which is still only $9/month).

One thing that I really appreciate which isn’t usually talked about as much — the support. After I signed up, I found that when creating a contact through Collabspot, I ended up having to fill in some of the fields by hand, even though the information was in my contact’s footer. I emailed Jeremi to ask him about this, and he told me that it was already on their roadmap for the next release. When I reported a (small) bug in the new feature, it was fixed in days. Especially given the high-touch, collaborative sales that Cloudspace relies on, seeing another company that does this reminds me that they’re going to take care of me.

I went through the 15-day trial and immediately signed up for a full year of the premium plan. Everyone who uses Highrise and Gmail’s web interface should use Collabspot.

About the guest author:

Tim Rosenblatt handles business development at Cloudspace, a full-stack web and mobile software development agency.

We’re joining JFDI.Asia’s startup accelerator!

JFDI.Asia

You might have noticed in tech news this week (TechCrunch, TheNextWeb, e27, WebGeek.ph, SGEntrepreneurs) about the announcement of 8 startups who made it out of the 262 teams that applied for the 2013 JFDI.Asia accelerator program. We’re one of the accepted ones!

For those who don’t know, JFDI.Asia operates the longest-running, most successful seed accelerator program in South East Asia, and we’re very pleased to announce our participation in their 2013 accelerator. The bootcamp will start on February 21, and the Collabspot team is all set to fly to Singapore next week.

We’re looking forward to work with awesome mentors that will guide us to grow our business in full speed and bring it to the next level. As promised, we’ll keep on improving our extension and continue to increase our following of happy customers. The goal of Collabspot is to solve problems surrounding CRM adoption.

For all those who assisted and supported us during the application process in any way possible, thank you! Let’s keep the ball rolling.

6 tips to increase CRM adoption

Start with the basic features

At the start, your sales team does not have to adopt the full spectrum of features that your CRM offers. Let them start using the basic, intuitive features of the CRM such as creating or importing leads, logging customer correspondences, and creating tasks specific to prospects. These features are usually those that have similar counterparts in traditional customer relations management.

Offer training and tutorials that are easy to consume

According to a Neochange survey, only less than 10% of CRM users reach an acceptably effective usage of a CRM. This shows how CRM adoption can introduce a steep learning curve to any adopter. Offering training can be overwhelming for early CRM adopters. We all know that the easier to consume the training is, the more fluid it is for trainees to learn the skills offered. One example of an easy-to-consume CRM tutorial is this one by Grovo for Highrise (21 minutes total, containing 15 lessons) or the getting started resources upon first login to SugarCRM. Only after the early CRM adoption stage can you offer training that involves more technical aspects of the CRM, or training that’s steered towards how the CRM specifically fits in your company’s marketing and sales.

Separate doing customer relations from managing customer data

The process of doing sales requires personalized engagement for salespeople, i.e. their mindset needs to be in the shoes of a certain prospect so they can be conditioned to write emails that are within the prospect’s context. When you’re interrupted by customer data management when in the heat of doing customer correspondence, you will have to regain your interaction mindset. To avoid such a fallback, separate time allotted for customer relations in the email from time allotted for data management tasks in the CRM.

Use built-in social media integrations

It’s undeniable that the way of doing sales have changed in recent years due to social media. Early CRM adopters are probably familiar in using social media, or have probably used it to deliver some promotions and to attract sales prior to using a CRM solution. By using built-in social media integrations, you are giving your sales team and potential customers a form of communication they’re familiar in. Social media integrations also enable them to interact with prospects in a more casual manner outside of normal (and oftentimes formal) forms of engagement, such as emails.

Use an import contacts feature or automate importing of already existing data

One of the most time-consuming activities in the early stage of CRM adoption is migrating the data of pre-existing contacts to the CRM. Almost all CRM solutions these days provide an extensive list of contact importing options. Use these features to easily leverage your CRM adoption and to start doing sales earlier using the CRM without leaving out any already existing data.

Use plugins and extensions

Integrations are important towards completing an ecosystem that specifically fits the way your business does sales and handles customer relationships. These ecosystems not only include the CRM itself, but also mailing lists, social media accounts, and most importantly your email inbox.

Salespersons and business developers spend a lot of time in their mailbox. To ensure good adoption among users, it is important to lower the barrier to access information that is in the CRM and to update this information. For Highrise and SugarCRM users, there’s Collabspot to bring the CRM to work in Gmail or Google Apps. For Salesforce users, they now have an Outlook side panel to integrate with the email client, and Cirrus Insight offers another integration that brings Salesforce to Gmail. These CRM-email integrations give the best bang for the buck for people spending a lot of time in emails, because time saved translates to money saved.

Save yourself from repetitive writing using email templates!

Today we’re happy to introduce our extension’s new feature: email templates.

Salespeople can now save time from doing repetitive emails by using the email templates feature in Gmail Labs. This also removes the stress associated with writing the same thing over and over again, so that salespeople can focus more on personalization rather than repetition.

The email templates can be accessed when composing a message in Gmail, using the button with an email icon.

It will show you a list of existing email templates that you can use. Selecting a template will load it in your Gmail compose form.

To create a new template, just click on the button found under the list of existing templates. This will bring you to the template editor page. Clicking on the pen icon beside each existing template’s name will also bring you to the template editor page, as seen below.

The template editor page contains a text editor where you can fill out the title and body of your template. It also contains the dynamic fields that can be included in the template and automatically extracted from the current email that’s opened.

Know others who are also using Highrise CRM and Gmail / Google Apps? Recommend our productivity extension to them by using the “Recommend Collabspot” email template!

Top 5 Gmail Labs features for marketing and sales

Gmail Labs is a feature of Gmail wherein you can use experimental features before they become officially launched. Most of these potential features are developed so that the average user can save time and be more efficient in using the mailbox. This gives a better overall experience with email, as it’s now one of the most widely used forms of communication.

Aside from being built for general purposes, Gmail Labs features can also be useful for marketing and sales processes. This stems from the fact that people involved in marketing and sales nowadays are constantly interacting with leads and prospects through email. In this article, I discuss 5 Gmail Labs features below that are suited for marketing and sales. You can enable any of these features by going to the “Labs” tab in your Gmail settings page.

Gmail Labs - Auto-advance

Auto-advance

A common behavior in Gmail is that upon archiving or deleting an email, you are automatically redirected back to your inbox. As salespeople, we regularly have to reply to dozens of emails per day. By using the auto-advance feature, you can reply to leads in your inbox in succession and archive those threads of conversation at the same time. This saves you time from going back to the inbox and selecting the next email you have to attend to. It also removes inbox clutter from emails that you’ve already replied to, i.e. inactionable emails (not unless you need to do a follow-up).

Gmail Labs - Quote selected text

Quote selected text

Turning leads into customers requires pointing out what’s important for your contacts as you interact with them, so you can ultimately turn them into paying customers. These valuable snippets of information are found as part of a contact’s email as you engage with them through every stage of the sales funnel. It’s useful to be able to easily reply to a specific part of a message. Also by outrightly quoting what your leads or customers just said, you can show that their messages have your genuine attention.

Gmail Labs - Canned responses

Email templates

It’s true that personalization is becoming more essential for every email that’s meant to be for marketing or sales, but there are inevitably still some parts of an email that can be reused. Salespeople can now save time from doing repetitive emails by using the email templates feature in Gmail labs. This also removes the stress associated with writing the same thing over and over again, so that salespeople can focus more on personalization rather than repetition. In order to use email templates in Gmail, you have to enable the “Canned responses” in Gmail Labs.

Shameless promotion: If you’re using Highrise CRM along with Gmail or Google Apps, you should use our productivity extension. We will be rolling out an email templates feature within the week!

Gmail Labs - Undo send

Undo Send

Possibly one of the most important features in this list. One incomplete or unorganized email that’s mis-sent can result to losing a potential customer. So if you’ve accidentally pressed the “Send” button before finishing to write an email, or if something immediately came up in your mind that you want included in the email you just sent, you can still do so by pressing “Cancel” within a few seconds after hitting the send button. Undo send is an indispensable safety feature, it’s like having insurance for your emails!

Gmail Labs - Multiple inboxes

Multiple Inboxes

If you’ve written drafts of follow-up emails in advance, you may want to have a separate inbox for them, apart from all your other draft emails. This can be done via multiple inboxes. It adds another layer of customization to your pre-built categories such as drafts, starred messages, and labeled emails. This feature allows you to classify emails into buckets of work, which proves efficient for marketing and sales people interacting with various sorts of emails throughout the day.

How we use Highrise with Gmail and Google Apps

I’m very delighted to bring you the final post for the Highrise series of blog posts! It’s about how we effectively use Highrise alongside our Gmail or Google Apps (GA) mailboxes as we communicate with our customers. The key ingredient here is our very own extension which brings Highrise in Gmail/GA, saving us time from all the window-swapping and customer data management between CRM and email.

Collabspot UI

Increase your sales team’s CRM adoption

Our sales team undeniably spends most of their time doing emails. On top of that, using a CRM such as Highrise requires additional work for them to be able to organize data found in their emails. With Collabspot, CRM adoption is improved and this has led us to a more streamlined sales workflow:

The extension’s way of displaying information allows contacts to be easily recognized and other CRM data faster to navigate. It uses different colors to designate different types of data in Highrise. The extension also behaves like a drawer, so it is unintrusive when we’re using other extensions or when we just need the basic Gmail interface. We are continuously making CRM adoption better for salespeople.

Simplify data entry into Highrise

Having easily accessible data have encouraged our sales team for quicker engagement, which is a plus since customers are always delighted and feel valued upon receiving quick replies.

The extension allows you to easily capture contact details found in an email into Highrise. This means that upon creating a contact, fields such as phone number and address are automatically extracted from the email. This simplifies data entry into Highrise.

Improved data quality

As a marketing/sales representatives and business developers, we need to constantly keep customer information up-to-date. We also need to keep a record of what needs to be done per contact. Collabspot prevents new leads from falling through the cracks by displaying correspondence history of any contact found in Highrise. It also allows you to create tasks while composing an email.

Get started in using Collabspot – Highrise for Gmail / Google Apps

Interested users can install the extension through this page. If you’d like to be convinced more, you can check out our success stories page containing people who have beared witness on how the extension has given them sales productivity boosts. Finally, we have a product tour page which contains a getting started video and a brief rundown of some of the extension’s most important features.

How to create and manage Highrise tasks


Note: This is the sixth of a series of blog posts on how to use Highrise to better manage customer data and efficiently serve leads and customers. Here are the links to the previous posts:

Whether it’s sending a follow-up email, or doing preparations for an upcoming meeting, or scheduling a call, it’s always a good idea to keep track of them as task items. Our brains are not very adept in remembering everything that needs to be done, this is why storing them in some list is very handy. For users of Highrise, this is where tasks come in.

Add Highrise task

To add a new task, just use the “New Task” button on the top menu of the Highrise interface (see image above). Every task has four attributes: title, due, the person assigned to the task, and category. One notable feature about tasks in Highrise is that you can associate a task to an existing contact or company in the CRM (see image below).

Create Highrise task for contact

To view all the tasks that are assigned to you, just go to the tasks page in Highrise. The link can be found on the left sidebar of the Highrise interface. Here you will be able to view all your upcoming tasks and even those that are already overdue.

Highrise tasks

Do you use Gmail to interact with your Highrise contacts? If yes, have you ever wished you could create Highrise tasks from within your Gmail inbox? This can be done through our productivity extension for Highrise and Gmail users: Collabspot. If you have a contact in Gmail that’s also existing in Highrise, Collabspot allows you to create a task that’s associated to that contact, without having to leave Gmail! To get started right away, you can install it from the Chrome Web Store.

How to use your Highrise email dropboxes

Note: This is the fifth of a series of blog posts on how to use Highrise to better manage customer data and efficiently serve leads and customers. Here are the links to the previous posts:

Highrise has this cool feature of giving you specific email addresses that you can use to 1) attach emails to existing Highrise contacts, and 2) create tasks in your Highrise account. To find these email addresses, simply click on the “My info” link on the top right of the Highrise UI. The email dropbox is the first tab in that page.

Setting up the sender addresses

Before anything else, let me note that Highrise email dropboxes only work when you’re sending from an email address that’s registered in Highrise. To register additional email addresses, scroll down under the email dropbox tab until you see the form shown in the image below. Use this form to add other email addresses as authorized senders for your Highrise email dropboxes.

Highrise addresses

Use your personal email dropbox to attach emails to Highrise contacts

Highrise personal email dropbox

When you’re composing an email to an existing contact in Highrise, you can BCC that email to your Highrise account using your personal email dropbox. The result is that the message will not only be sent to the contact, but will also be attached to the contact’s page in Highrise. To do this, simply BCC any email of interest to your personal email dropbox in Highrise (as seen above).

Use your “Create a task” dropboxes to create tasks in Highrise

Highrise "Create a task" dropboxes

It’s a fact that we need to spend time doing emails and turning leads into customers more than spending time managing data in Highrise. This is where “Create a task” (CAT) dropboxes in Highrise become very useful when it comes to immediately keeping a record of what needs to be done.

Let’s say you’re doing emails in your mailbox when at some point you have to create a task in Highrise regarding another matter. Instead of switching to another browser tab, logging into Highrise, and creating a task, you can instead create a task right from your mailbox. To do this, simply compose an email whose subject line is the name of the task you want to create, and send it to one of your CAT dropboxes. Each email address pertains to a due date for the task, e.g. for tasks that are due tomorrow, send an email to the address that starts with “task+tomorrow”. After sending the email, a task will then automatically be created in Highrise. This prevents you from having to move out of your mailbox and to continue your usual email activities.

If you ever find yourself a frequent user of Highrise email dropboxes, I really suggest you try out our productivity extension for Highrise and Gmail users. It lets you BCC emails to Highrise with a click of a button. You won’t be disappointed!

Never forget to create that Highrise task again!

Let’s say you’re replying to a customer’s email who made an inquiry about your product. Making customers happy is always the top priority. So after replying, you plan to create a new task in Highrise to remind you to follow up on this customer to make sure that everything is going well. But while writing your reply, you get disturbed by more urgent tasks that you altogether forgot to create a task for that follow up email.

Tasks help you get things done. But sometimes the problem is when you forget to create task items on what needs to be done. If you highly depend on tasks list, chances are you’re going to miss listing some items when urgent things unexpectedly and continuously come up.

Today, we’re happy to introduce a new feature in Collabspot: creating Highrise tasks while composing messages in Gmail. This feature can be accessed by using Collabspot’s custom toolbar at the bottom of the Gmail compose view.

Collabspot task compose email

How does this feature work?

1. When writing an email, enable the BCC Highrise button, or choose an existing deal or a case in Highrise.

Collabspot BCC Highrise button

2. Choose an action category.

Collabspot task category

3. Choose a time frame when this task needs to be completed.

Collabspot task due

4. Check the “Create” checkbox.

Collabspot create task checkbox

5. Send the email and you should see your task created on your task list (right after Highrise receives the copy of your email).

Collabspot homepage Highrise tasks

What do you think of this new feature? Let us know through the comments below.

Write better emails and use Highrise effectively!

We’re offering a free 30-day course on how to write better emails and on how you can start using 37signals Highrise CRM effectively. You will receive exactly 8 emails over the course of a month about the following topics:

– How to write better sales emails
– What tools to use for email analytics
– A crash course on Highrise and how to use it effectively
– The importance of follow-up emails
– Why email subject-lines matter and email testing advice

To sign-up for this course, just use the form on the right sidebar of this blog. You can also sign up through the following page:

http://www.collabspot.com/free-course-write-better-sales-emails/

In case you’re already using 37signals Highrise, boost your sales productivity further by using our Collabspot extension. You can avail of a 15-day free trial by installing it via the Chrome Web Store (you must be using Google Chrome). Or if you first want to learn more about our useful extension, just go to our product tour page.

Here’s to a good sales productivity at the start of the year!

How to use deals and cases in Highrise

Note: This is the fourth of a series of blog posts on how to use Highrise to better manage customer data and efficiently serve leads and customers. The first three posts are here, here, and here.

In Highrise, cases and deals are used to group information based on a specific matter such as a project, a negotiation, a bid, or a contract. Each case or deal gathers a collection of notes, files, and contacts in Highrise so you can easily manage them in one screen. The main difference between cases and deals is simply that deals have a monetary value attached to them.

Deals
Deals in Highrise can be very useful for salespeople who are quantifying their performance and are expected to generate a certain amount of revenue within a given amount of time. Deals can also be used to manage small services, by and for the company, that have costs tied to them. These range from graphic design gigs to purchasing office materials. You also have the ability to specify who in your team can see people, companies, notes, and cases that are included in every deal.

Cases
As for cases in Highrise, use them to keep items related to the same negotiation, project, topic, or issue. Cases are essential when you need to have communications from multiple contacts together in one place. Specific uses of cases are searching for new hires in your company (this can later become a deal when a hire is found and salary negotiations arise), sales case studies, events, and communicating educational content.

If you’re using Gmail in corresponding with your Highrise contacts, our extension will allow you to quickly create cases and deals in Highrise. It also allows you to BCC emails into your already existing cases and deals.

A happy new 2013 to all!

Collabspot Team

In behalf of the Collabspot team, we wish you all a happy new year!

2012 has been a remarkable year for us here in Collabspot and we would like to thank everyone who made it all possible. As we hope for better things to come this 2013, let us not forget those who are in need of a helping hand. We believe that the true nature of the holidays is all about sharing and supporting each other.

Regarding plans for our extension, we have new features and integrations to be rolled out this 2013! We’re definitely looking forward to boost your sales productivity further this new year.

To all our customers, readers, supporters, and those who are simply passing by: Cheers to a great year ahead!

How to easily capture contacts for Highrise

Note: This is the third of a series of blog posts on how to use Highrise to better manage customer data and efficiently serve prospects. The first two posts are here and here. The current post is about how to easily capture contacts for Highrise.

With all the contact info that needs to be filled out, it can be quite tiresome to manually import new contacts from your email into Highrise. We need a way to create new contacts faster and less tediously. This is one of the reasons why we built Collabspot, an extension that makes contact creation much easier by capturing already existing contact info in Gmail into Highrise fields.

Upon creating a contact in Highrise using Collabspot, the extension will automatically fill the first name, last name, company name, and email address fields. Now if there are also additional contact details in the an email’s signature, such as the sender’s physical address and phone number, then the extension can also fill these out automatically when you create a new contact.

To view this feature in action, check out this short video.

Now that you know how to capture contacts into Highrise without difficulty, let us know through the comments below on how you’re able to handle new contacts in Gmail and create them as Highrise contacts.

How to use custom fields in Highrise

Note: This is the second of a series of blog posts on how to use Highrise to better manage customer data and efficiently serve prospects.

In Highrise, custom fields allow you to customize your Highrise data beyond the standard fields that are given by default. Use custom fields to create filters for subcategories, e.g. category is software, subcategory is iOS developer. Custom fields can be used for both contacts and companies in Highrise. For those not yet familiar with custom fields, 37signals has a useful article to get you started.

For fields having a wide range of subcategories

In a previous blog post, I talked about how to use Highrise tags. Some categorizations of contacts in Highrise may have a range of subcategories that requires more specification than what’s possible with tags. This is one of the ways custom fields become useful.

Some categories that custom fields can be used are industry, subscription type, and preferred products. Industries can be further subdivided into specializations. For instance, if the mobile app development tag is used for companies or contacts under that industry, then we can make the filter more specific by using an industry custom field and filling it out with values such as iOS game development, Android task management apps, or iOS finance apps.

For Highrise API integration

If you have a team of web developers in your company, they can import and sync data from your pre-existing service to Highrise’s database via its API. These data can be represented as custom fields in Highrise. There are certain types of customer data that can aide your sales team towards better sales. I actually believe that you can only truly optimize your sales by making use of your customer data. By having access to such data, your salespeople are encouraged to make data-driven decisions for your company and to improve the quality of their interactions with your customers. Customer data such as date of sign-up, number of cupcakes bought, last transaction, total amount paid, can be automatically updated and shown in Highrise as custom fields.

How does your company use Highrise custom fields? Let us know through comments below!

How to use Highrise tags

Note: This is the first of a series of blog posts on how to use Highrise to better manage customer data and to better serve prospects.

In Collabspot, we use Highrise tags to create instant or one-click filters of your contacts by categories. Here are five (5) relevant categories that tags can be grouped into.

Tags by title/profession

Whether the contact is an engineer, a blogger, or a designer, it’s a good idea to assign tags based on profession. This helps us easily determine who among our users can be appropriately contacted for specific needs. For example, if we plan to write a guest blog post for our marketing efforts, then we’ll filter our contacts for bloggers. Another example is when we need a new logo, we can filter our Highrise contacts for designers and then check who among them are capable of designing logos.

Tags by industry

Industry categories are important so you can keep track of which markets your business is performing in. Filtering contacts or companies by industry can give you a quick overview of customers that are coming from a certain industry. They can come from food, software, clothing, or medical industries. Now if you want to filter by subcategories per industry, then you will have to use custom fields. I’ll discuss custom fields in the next blog post of this series.

Tags by location

Some businesses, such as shipping companies, operate by relying on the location of their customers. In this case, it’s a good idea to use Highrise tags to quickly filter contacts based on geographical location. Such tags can be used to group contacts by city, state, or country. Highrise orders its tags in alphabetical order. To avoid having a messy list of tags, use a convention like “{location-type}-{location-name}”, e.g. city-newyork, country-japan, state-california. This means that all your city and country tags will be under the letter “C”.

Tags by sales pipeline status

Among other things, Highrise is a CRM system that’s popularly used to organize sales prospect data and to increase sales productivity. This leads us towards assigning tags based on where your prospects are in the sales pipeline: waiting for reply, pending order, under negotiation, won, lost. Some salespeople are specialized in handling contacts who belong to certain stages of the sales pipeline. Use sales pipeline tags to have them quickly find their target prospects. This creates a more seamless workflow for your sales team. Again, to avoid difficulty in browsing tags in this category, use a syntax such as sales-prospect, sales-pending, or sales-won so they’re all located under the letter “S”.

Tags by customer preference

Let’s say you’re selling cupcakes and some customers have solely bought chocolate cupcakes from you during their whole transaction history. If your business can send these customers with emails promoting new chocolate cupcake products or chocolate cupcake discounts for the holidays, then you can optimize your sales with respect to their preference. Use customer preference tags to instantly find customers by the preferred products or services that your business provides. By doing so, you can easily find targets for your future promotional campaigns or special offers.

Got other ideas on how to use Highrise tags? Share them with us through the comments below! Also, check out our extension that integrates both Highrise and Gmail to increase your sales productivity.

Extracting more contact details from emails

We released a new update today that introduces capturing more data from an email.

Earlier, when you were creating a contact using Collabspot, we would automatically fill the first name, last name, company name, and email address. Today we are adding two new fields that are extracted from the email: phone number and postal address.

To see it in action, view this video:

This new feature will save you even more time when creating new contacts. No more extra copying and pasting!

You can now search and view Highrise contacts from Gmail

I’m happy to announce that we just released a feature that will make your use of Collabspot even more productive. From the sidebar, you can now search and view Highrise contacts from Gmail.

Here are a few use cases that will be improved:

A customer is calling you while you have Gmail open.
You just need to type his name and you’ll get access to his details. You can then enter notes and tasks as you would usually do with Collabspot.

When writing an email and you need to find a customer’s email.
Do you remember his name, but not his email address? Just search for his name, and you will then find his address.

Got an existing user that contacted you from another email address?
Just search for his name, and you can then add his new email address using the + at the bottom of the sidebar.

New UI, new video, and other updates

As promised a few days ago, we now come back with some big updates for the extension.

New UI design and new logo

Collabspot new UI

The new UI is a result of our effort to make all the information displayed by the extension easier to recognize and to navigate. We used different colors to designate different types of data in Highrise. Users can now see an overview of how many tasks, deals, and cases they currently have. Also under the Activities section, the time between now and the earliest message listed is displayed. e.g. “2w” means 2 weeks.

On the bottom of the sidebar, we put a “+” button that unifies all the data entry features: add info, new task, new note, new deal, and new case.

New introduction video



In our new video, we will guide you through all of the essential features using the new UI.

Drawer-like sidebar

We wanted to avoid our extension from overlapping with other Gmail plugins, so we made it behave like a drawer that can be displayed or hidden by clicking the Collabspot icon on the right edge of the screen. This improves compatibility with other extensions for Gmail such as Rapportive

We can now see participants in a deal/case

In addition to displaying the info/activities/tasks in an existing deal, participants are also now displayed. By clicking on any participant, the extension loads the contact info in Highrise for that participant.

There you have it! We hope that you’ll enjoy these new updates as much as we do!

Ready to start saving time in your inbox? Click here to install Collabspot.

New website, new logo, and happy users

This has been an incredible week at Collabspot. We just won the Google Apps Developer Contest in the business category earlier this week. And today, we are changing our website, our logo, and our name. So here is our new logo :

New Collabspot logo

Collabspot Insights will now be renamed to Collabspot. The development services we were offering previously will now be available at dev.collabspot.com

We also created a new page that showcases our happy customers.

In the coming days, we are also going to update all our properties with the new design. These include our Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages. If you’ve been following the CollabSpot Insights Twitter account, we’d like to ask you to follow the Collabspot Twitter account instead.

Stay posted! We will have another important update in our extension at the beginning of next week.

8 ways to write better emails

1. Promise value in the subject line and deliver exactly what you promised in the email body.

A typical internet user gets around 30-50 emails per day. Only a handful of these emails will actually be read, and most will go to the trash. An email’s subject line is the first, and can possibly be the last, point of contact you will have with the recipient. Subject lines determine open rates. So make sure you put a lot of effort in the subject line and craft it in such a way that it promises value. Then in the rest of your email, deliver exactly what that promise is. It’s already a huge privilege for a recipient to be able to read more than your email’s subject line. Don’t waste the chance by delivering on the promise that initially caught his/her attention. Refer to Kalzumeus and Copy Hackers for more guidance in crafting better subject lines for your emails.

2. Aim your messaging at a target market, not at everyone.

If you try to make everyone happy with your email, you end up saying nothing compelling enough for anyone to do something your email wants. I got this from Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers.com, applying her advice on website messaging to emails. Each market has values and needs that only a few messages can reach. Write for those people that will most likely reward you for your service, whether it’s by buying your product or by referring you to people who carry problems that your product can solve. Write for a lesser number of people who have an authentic need for your product, instead of a bigger group who were just merely interested or just passing by. Furthermore, tell customers honestly if they are not the right customer for your product and use the trust that this generates for them to successfully find people seeking your solution.

3. Start fast and get to the point.

The part that will most probably be read in any message is the first sentence. Most readers don’t make it past the first one or two sentences, so make it count. Make your introduction as short as possible (or if it can safely be omitted, do so) and start telling the recipient what your email is all about. Make them feel right from the start that reading your message won’t be a waste of their time. Doing this is also beneficial for email clients such as Gmail or Outlook that preview the first few lines of every email.

4. Write content that can be consumed in less than 5 minutes

Be as brief as possible and keep your message to 3 paragraphs or less. Upon first glance, people can instantly determine whether the content and length of your email can easily be consumed or requires more of their time than necessary. Make their email reading experience a breeze.

5. Features do not sell products, benefits do.

Explain in your email how their lives will improve by reading its contents and, ultimately, by buying your product. Find their pain points and use these to write about how your product or service can solve their pains.

6. Prove yourself whenever you can.

Most probably, your email recipients haven’t heard of you and will never bother to find out if you’re credible or not. You must avoid them from thinking that you’re not just pulling stuff out of some magic hat. In order for them to gain confidence in what you have to say in your email, back them up with proof. These are usually presented as existing data or by referring to what the experts are saying.

7. Personalize, be human.

Make your email sound like it really came from a human instead of some automated emailing system. Don’t make your message sound too sales-y, spammy, or corporate. Also, write as you speak. Reading the email should sound like you were actually speaking to the recipient. In some cases, put your phone number to gain their trust and to show that you’re serious, just like what David Marcus, CEO of Paypal, did in his response to Andy McMillan (after generating a huge buzz on the internet when Paypal withheld 40k British Pounds from him).

8. Experiment, experiment, experiment!

Even with all the ways written above, we can never be sure how effective an email is without experimenting with different messages. Use split tests to determine which version of your email is getting more open rates or click-throughs. I recommend using Collabspot for this. It lets you create different email templates as well as providing tracking and analytics (coming soon!) to determine which of your emails convert better than others.

Further Reading:

A lot of the advice written above are indebted to Patrick McKenzie (popularly known as patio11) and Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers. Here are references to training courses, articles, and books that provide valuable information in writing better emails:

Why do most CRM implementations fail?

Companies that are going for web-based services now have a variety of customer relationship management (CRM) systems to choose from. These range from the 800-pound gorilla such as Salesforce, to the simple offerings of 37signals Highrise. But the problem is not only choosing the right CRM for the company but also other aspects such as CRM adoption, ease of data entry, and integration with existing email services. This blog post will discuss some of the essential CRM implementation issues and give suggestions on how to lessen the burdens of each.

The first issue among CRMs is that there are numerous features that exceed those that are only needed for some sales teams. This makes the interface cluttered and the pricing more expensive than usual by paying for features that aren’t needed. Having a cluttered interface gives a more difficult user experience and as a result lessens the ease of CRM adoption for the company. What one could do is to choose CRMs that are widely known for their simplicity. The most popular ones are 37signals Highrise, PipelineDeals, and Base.

Another issue, and probably the most overlooked one, is hidden implementation costs. The costs that the company expected in the beginning balloons to twice or thrice when the actual implementation occurs. Trying to underestimate CRM implementation budgets is oftentimes the source of hidden costs and may result to the most expensive drawbacks. There is still no substitute for detailed planning and to give excess buffer budgets that are about twice or thrice the expected costs.

The last issue is that some CRMs are implemented by companies who skipped considering important 3rd-party integrations. Integrations are important towards completing an ecosystem that specifically fits the way your business does sales and handles customer relationships. These ecosystems not only include the CRM itself, but also mailing lists, social media accounts, and most importantly your email inbox.

As a lot of communication is now happening over email, salespersons and business developers spend a lot of time in their mailbox. To ensure good adoption among users, it’s important to lower the barrier to access information that is in the CRM and to update this information.

For Highrise users we built Collabspot to bring Highrise to work in Gmail. For Salesforce users, they just released an Outlook side panel to integrate with the email client, and Cirrus Insight offers another integration that brings Salesforce to Gmail. These CRM-email integrations give the best bang for the buck for people spending a lot of time in emails.

Do you know other notable CRM implementation issues and how to address them? Let us know by posting in the comments below.

Setting up PHP and WordPress on Nginx

Introduction

In this post we’ll install PHP5 and WordPress and serve it with Nginx. This post assumes we’ve already set up Nginx.

For our PHP projects, we want the same structure as our Python projects:

/var/www/
`- php-project/
  |- src/
  |- conf/
  |  |- php-fpm.conf
  |  `- nginx.conf
  `- logs/

Install PHP and FPM

We wanted to use uWSGI, but getting PHP running on it was too much trouble, so we settled on FPM.

$ apt-get install php5-fpm php5-cli

Let FPM know about our .conf files living in each of our project directories. Open up /etc/php5/fpm/php-fpm.conf and add the following line at the bottom:

include=/var/www/*/conf/php-fpm.conf

Sample PHP project

We can now try to create a new PHP project and see if it runs. Prepare our project directory:

$ cd /var/www
$ mkdir phptest
$ cd phptest
$ mkdir conf logs src

conf files

FPM provides a template for its conf files in /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/. Let’s copy one into our conf/ folder and modify it for our project:

$ cp /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/www.conf conf/php-fpm.conf

Set the conf’s pool name on the first line to the project’s name (default is [www]) and set the listen var to /tmp/$pool.sock ($pool holds the pool name which you set on the first line).

Here’s the full php-fpm.conf file with comments removed:

[phptest]
user = www-data
group = www-data
listen = /tmp/$pool.sock
access.log = /var/www/$pool/logs/php-fpm.log
listen.owner = www-data
listen.group = www-data
listen.mode = 0666


; kept at default values (unmodified) pm = dynamic pm.max_children = 5 pm.start_servers = 2 pm.min_spare_servers = 1 pm.max_spare_servers = 3 chdir = / And nginx.conf: server { listen 80; server_name localhost; root /var/www/phptest/src; access_log /var/www/phptest/logs/access.log; error_log /var/www/phptest/logs/error.log;

index index.php index.html index.htm;

try_files $uri $uri/ @rewrite;

location ~ .php$ { fastcgi_pass unix:///tmp/phptest.sock; fastcgi_index index.php; fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name; include fastcgi_params; }

location @rewrite { rewrite ^/(.*)$ /index.php/$1; }

#include global/restrictions.conf; }

index.php

We are ready to test our PHP project. Let’s create the iconic phpinfo() page.

$ echo "<?php echo phpinfo(); ?>" > src/index.php

Restart Nginx and FPM:

$ /etc/init.d/nginx restart
$ /etc/init.d/php-fpm restart

Navigate to http://localhost:80 to see your phpinfo.

WordPress

Alright, we have PHP installed and running. Let’s set up WordPress in the same structure as our test project.
WordPress needs a bit of configuration to set up, but it is well documented in their Codex entry about Nginx.

First, let’s install MySQL for PHP:

$ apt-get install mysql-server php5-mysql

Then create a database for WordPress:

$ mysql
mysql> CREATE DATABASE my_wordpress_db;
mysql> exit

Global conf files

WordPress’ Codex entry for Nginx provided some conf files to be included for WordPress to work with Nginx. We are using the “single blog” rule (slightly modified) for our setup.

Place the following files in /etc/nginx/global/:

restrictions.conf

# http://codex.wordpress.org/Nginx
# Global restrictions configuration file.
# Designed to be included in any server {} block.
 location = /favicon.ico {
 log_not_found off;
 access_log off;
}


location = /robots.txt { allow all; log_not_found off; access_log off; }

# Deny all attempts to access hidden files such as .htaccess, .htpasswd, .DS_Store (Mac). # Keep logging the requests to parse later (or to pass to firewall utilities such as fail2ban) location ~ /. { deny all; }

# Deny access to any files with a .php extension in the uploads directory # Works in sub-directory installs and also in multisite network # Keep logging the requests to parse later (or to pass to firewall utilities such as fail2ban) location ~* /(?:uploads|files)/.*.php$ { deny all; }

wordpress.conf

# WordPress single blog rules.
# Designed to be included in any server {} block.


# This order might seem weird - this is attempted to match last if rules below fail. # http://wiki.nginx.org/HttpCoreModule location / { try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args; }

# Add trailing slash to */wp-admin requests. rewrite /wp-admin$ $scheme://$host$uri/ permanent;

# Directives to send expires headers and turn off 404 error logging. location ~* .(js|css|png|jpg|jpeg|gif|ico)$ { expires 24h; log_not_found off; }

wordpress-w3-total-cache.conf

# BEGIN W3TC Browser Cache
gzip on;
gzip_types text/css application/x-javascript text/richtext image/svg+xml text/plain text/xsd text/xsl text/xml image/x-icon;
location ~ .(css|js)$ {
 expires 31536000s;
 add_header Pragma "public";
 add_header Cache-Control "max-age=31536000, public, must-revalidate, proxy-revalidate";
 add_header X-Powered-By "W3 Total Cache/0.9.2.3";
}
location ~ .(html|htm|rtf|rtx|svg|svgz|txt|xsd|xsl|xml)$ {
 expires 180s;
 add_header Pragma "public";
 add_header Cache-Control "max-age=180, public, must-revalidate, proxy-revalidate";
 add_header X-Powered-By "W3 Total Cache/0.9.2.3";
}
location ~ .(asf|asx|wax|wmv|wmx|avi|bmp|class|divx|doc|docx|exe|gif|gz|gzip|ico|jpg|jpeg|jpe|mdb|mid|midi|mov|qt|mp3|m4a|mp4|m4v|mpeg|mpg|mpe|mpp|odb|odc|odf|odg|odp|ods|odt|ogg|pdf|png|pot|pps|ppt|pptx|ra|ram|swf|tar|tif|tiff|wav|wma|wri|xla|xls|xlsx|xlt|xlw|zip)$ {
 expires 31536000s;
 add_header Pragma "public";
 add_header Cache-Control "max-age=31536000, public, must-revalidate, proxy-revalidate";
 add_header X-Powered-By "W3 Total Cache/0.9.2.3";
}
# END W3TC Browser Cache
# BEGIN W3TC Skip 404 error handling by WordPress for static files
if (-f $request_filename) {
 break;
}
if (-d $request_filename) {
 break;
}
if ($request_uri ~ "(robots.txt|sitemap(_index|[0-9]+)?.xml(.gz)?)") {
 break;
}
if ($request_uri ~* .(css|js|html|htm|rtf|rtx|svg|svgz|txt|xsd|xsl|xml|asf|asx|wax|wmv|wmx|avi|bmp|class|divx|doc|docx|exe|gif|gz|gzip|ico|jpg|jpeg|jpe|mdb|mid|midi|mov|qt|mp3|m4a|mp4|m4v|mpeg|mpg|mpe|mpp|odb|odc|odf|odg|odp|ods|odt|ogg|pdf|png|pot|pps|ppt|pptx|ra|ram|swf|tar|tif|tiff|wav|wma|wri|xla|xls|xlsx|xlt|xlw|zip)$) {
 return 404;
}
# END W3TC Skip 404 error handling by WordPress for static files

wordpress-wp-super-cache.conf

# WP Super Cache rules.
# Designed to be included from a 'wordpress-ms-...' configuration file.


# Enable detection of the .gz extension for statically compressed content. # Comment out this line if static gzip support is not compiled into nginx. gzip_static on;

set $supercacheuri ""; set $supercachefile "$document_root/wp-content/cache/supercache/${http_host}${uri}index.html"; if (-e $supercachefile) { set $supercacheuri "/wp-content/cache/supercache/${http_host}${uri}index.html"; }

# If this is a POST request, pass the request onto WordPress. if ($request_method = POST) { set $supercacheuri ""; }

# If there is a query string, serve the uncached version. if ($query_string) { set $supercacheuri ""; }

# Logged in users and those who have posted a comment get the non-cached version. if ($http_cookie ~* comment_author_|wordpress_logged_in|wp-postpass_) { set $supercacheuri ""; }

# Mobile browsers get the non-cached version. # Wastes CPU cycles if there isn't a mobile browser WP theme for the site. if ($http_x_wap_profile) { set $supercacheuri ""; }

if ($http_profile) { set $supercacheuri ""; }

Configure WordPress

Alright, we’ve got our prerequisites ready, so let’s install and configure WordPress.

$ cd /var/www
$ mkdir my_blog
$ cd my_blog
$ mkdir src conf logs
$ curl -o latest.tar.gz http://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz
$ tar -xzvf latest.tar.gz
$ mv wordpress src
$ cp src/wp-config-sample.php src/wp-config.php

Open up src/wp-config.php and change the following lines to match your MySQL info:

// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define('DB_NAME', 'my_wordpress_db');
/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', 'root');
/** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'my_root_password');
/** MySQL hostname */
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');

Now all we need to do is set our project’s conf files.

conf/nginx.conf

server {
 listen 80;
 server_name localhost;
 root /var/www/my_blog/src/wordpress;
 access_log /var/www/my_blog/logs/access.log;
 error_log /var/www/my_blog/logs/error.log;


index index.php index.html index.htm;

try_files $uri $uri/ @rewrite;

include global/restrictions.conf; include global/wordpress.conf;

# Uncomment one of the lines below for the appropriate caching plugin (if used). #include global/wordpress-wp-super-cache.conf; #include global/wordpress-w3-total-cache.conf;

location ~ .php$ { # Zero-day exploit defense. # http://forum.nginx.org/read.php?2,88845,page=3 # Won't work properly (404 error) if the file is not stored on this server, which is entirely possible with php-fpm/php-fcgi. # Comment the 'try_files' line out if you set up php-fpm/php-fcgi on another machine. And then cross your fingers that you won't get hacked. try_files $uri =404;

fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+.php)(/.+)$; #NOTE: You should have "cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0;" in php.ini

include fastcgi_params; fastcgi_index index.php; fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name; # fastcgi_intercept_errors on; fastcgi_pass unix:///tmp/my_blog.sock; }

location @rewrite { rewrite ^/(.*)$ /index.php/$1; } }

conf/php-fpm.conf

[my_blog]
user = www-data
group = www-data
listen = /tmp/$pool.sock
access.log = /var/www/$pool/logs/php-fpm.log
listen.owner = www-data
listen.group = www-data
listen.mode = 0666


; kept at default values (unmodified) pm = dynamic pm.max_children = 5 pm.start_servers = 2 pm.min_spare_servers = 1 pm.max_spare_servers = 3 chdir = /

Restart Nginx and FPM then navigate to http://localhost:80/wp-config/ to run WordPress’ configuration process and start blogging!

Making CollabSpot Boards available to Gmail users via Auth

Introduction

CollabSpot Boards (CS Boards) is project management tool integrated with Google Apps. It was first offered only to Google Apps users. But months after the launch, it was also made available to Gmail users. In principle, opening the service to Gmail users wasn’t supposed to be difficult since it was already available for Google Apps users. But for someone like me who did not know much about OAuth, authorization, and authentication, things can get quite complicated. This post aims to introduce some of the terms and different ways for applications such as CS Boards to gain access to a user’s Google Account and possibly to get some feedback in those places that can still be improved.

Auth: authentication and authorization

The CS Boards back-end is written in Python and runs on the Google App Engine platform. It has the concept of cards that represent tasks in a project. Each card can have a due date set to them and CS Boards will automatically create Google Calendar event entry for all members assigned to that particular card. This is one of the examples of how CS Boards integrates with Google Apps.

This kind of access control demonstrated above, i.e. managing user’s calendar data, requires authorization and authentication. Authentication services allow users to sign in to an application using a Google Account, while authorization lets users provide an application with access to the data they have stored in Google Apps. Collectively, authorization and authentication services are often referred as Auth.

Google provides a number of Auth mechanisms:

  • OAuth 2.0 is a new and simplified authorization protocol for all Google APIs. OAuth 2.0 relies on SSL for security instead of requiring your application to do cryptographic signing directly. This protocol allows your application to request access to data associated with a user’s Google Account.
  • OAuth 1.0 requires cryptographic signing on Auth transactions. It provides authorization for all Google APIs.
  • Hybrid protocol provides both authentication and authorization for web applications, allowing users to log in and authorize access to their data in a single step. This protocol uses OpenID to provide authentication services, and OAuth to provide authorization to Google APIs.
  • OpenID authenticates users with their Google Accounts. This allows users to log in to your website without having to sign up for a new account.
  • AuthSub and ClientLogin – Google’s proprietary authorization APIs, available as an alternative to OAuth for most Google APIs.

CS Boards is using OAuth 1.0 2-legged protocol and GData-Python-Client library for Google Apps users (Installed Applications).

Google Data API vs. Google API

API Client libraries provide methods to help developers implement Auth mechanisms and data access (CRUD) simpler. I knew from the start that there are Google APIs for each of their applications, Google Calendar API, Contacts API, and the Drive API. All of these have detailed documentations on how developers can use them. I also knew that each API has older versions. What I didn’t know is that the latest versions of these APIs use different client libraries than the older ones. Different, not in terms of a newer version derived from older versions, but having a totally different library architecture.

These are GData-Python-Client and Google-API-Python-Client. The Google Calendar API, for example, already has three versions. Version 3.0, the latest among them, uses the Google API Client while the older ones use the Google Data Client.

The main differences between the two:

  • Google-API-Python-Client – for CalendarAPI v3, uses JSON data objects for CRUD methods and OAuth 2.0 for Auth.
  • GData-Python-Client – for CalendarAPI v1-2, uses GData Protocol and OAuth 1.0 for Auth. It has two main modules: GDClient and GDataService.

OAuth 1.0’s 2-legged and 3-legged flows

CS Boards uses the OAuth 1.0 Auth mechanism. There are two ways to do OAuth 1.0: 2-legged and 3-legged. The main difference between the two is that 2-legged allows domain-wide delegation of authority and is done only by the domain administrator during app installation. As for 3-legged, also known as the normal authorization flow, it is done per Gmail user where every authorization results to an ACCESS TOKEN which the application can save to the database for future and offline use.

OAuth 2.0 is the latest, simpler, and more convenient way of doing authorizations. It relies on SSL for security instead of requiring your application to do cryptographic signing directly as in OAuth 1.0. But at the time of writing, OAuth 2.0 still does not provide domain-wide authorizations which are needed for Google Apps users and installed applications. We ultimately chose to stick with OAuth 1.0 for now with CS Boards to ensure consistency of doing things both for Google Apps and Gmail users.

Conclusion

Integrating Applications with Google Services provided endless possibilities, we just have used Calendar, Drive, Contacts, and Mail. Yet there is still a long list of APIs that we can integrate with. We’re currently entertaining the idea of integrating CS Boards with Google Hangouts so users can manage their projects while having a live discussion. If you are both a heavy CS Boards user and a heavy Google Apps user, let us know of any ideas you might have to make your project management experience better.

How do you find your Highrise API token?

If you want to use one of our Highrise applications (the Google Apps Highrise Gadget or the Chrome extension), you will need to find your Highrise API token. You can find it by following the steps below:

  1. First, you need to log in to your existing Highrise account.
  2. In the upper right corner, click on the Account & settings menu, and choose My Info.
  3. Click the API token tab in the middle of the screen.
  4. You can find your authentication token here.

A/B testing with Google Analytics Content Experiments

Introduction

The Google Web Optimizer has recently been incorporated into Google Analytics and is now called Google Analytics Content Experiments (GACE). This blog post will show how we’ve set up A/B testing in GACE for our company homepage. Our goal for the experiment is to promote CollabSpot Boards to the visitors of our homepage. We’ll also show what the result of the experiment looks like and how you can proceed to other experiments.

Variation pages and experiment goals

Since we’ll be doing A/B testing for the CollabSpot homepage, then we need to have a variation of the original webpage that’s present in a separate URL. In our case the URL for the original version is at http://www.collabspot.com, while the one for the variation is at http://www.collabspot.com/home. We will input these two URLs once we start setting up the experiment within Google Analytics.

A variation webpage is not very useful unless we have a goal to consider for the experiment. A goal is simply an answer to the question “What do we want the visitors to do when they get in our homepage?”. The goal for our experiment is to promote CollabSpot Boards by making our homepage visitors to go to the CollabSpot Boards website. To consider this goal in our experiment, we made the CollabSpot Boards section in the original homepage more noticeable by putting a border around it. Alternatively, the variation page doesn’t have a border around the CollabSpot Boards section. We’re convinced to make only subtle changes in our variations so we can easily correlate those changes with the result of the experiment. It will be harder to pinpoint what factors lead to the winner of the experiment if there were so many changes implemented at the same time.

One can set up goals in GACE by clicking on “Admin” on the top right of the Analytics interface, selecting the “Profiles” tab, and then clicking on the “Goals” tab. You can create various goals for your experiments, but the simplest type of goal is the URL destination. Since our goal was to promote CollabSpot Boards, then the URL destination must be http://boards.collabspot.com. If a visitor lands on this URL during a visit to a certain variation of the homepage, then that variation scores a point for the experiment.

Setting up the experiment

You need a Google Analytics account to start using GACE, and your own webpage as a subject for A/B testing. In our case, the test subject is our company homepage http://www.collabspot.com. Log in to your Google Analytics account and on the left panel, click on “Content” then click on “Experiments”. From there, setting up an experiment is pretty much straightforward by simply following the instructions. We’ve named our experiment “www.collabspot.com to cs boards” to easily identify the goal of the experiment. The only potentially tricky part in the set up is putting the experiment codes in your website’s HTML source. If you have total control over the codes or if you have a webmaster to do this for you, then this part of the setup will be a no-brainer. But if you’re using a CMS like WordPress, then you may have to resort to GACE plugins (see below) to facilitate in your setup.

How to access the Content Experiments in the Google Analytics panel.

The last step allows you to start the experiment. Upon doing so, you can let GACE do its thing and wait for some time until an experiment winner is declared. Note that you cannot change the goals once you start an experiment. You can only change the URLs for the variation pages and the percentage of site visitors you want to involve in the experiment.

Results

The view when a winner is found in an experiment.

The experiment will automatically end once a winner has been found. This happens when there are enough visitors in the homepage who have participated in the experiment. We can easily check this by going to the GACE interface, seeing the experiment status as “Ended”, and the details as “Winner found”. In our case, the winner of the experiment is the original version, where we’ve put a border around the CollabSpot Boards section. Its visitors displayed a higher percentage of going to the CollabSpot Boards website. Since we now know this, we can iterate on the winning version and try out other experiments with other goals.

Content Experiments plugin for WordPress

Since GACE is relatively new, there are not many plugins available yet. But WordPress users will be happy to know that there exists a plugin to easily set up the experiments. You can find it in this link: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-content-experiments/. After installing the plugin, a checkbox will be present in the bottom part of every page editor. Checking this box will bring out a text area where you should put the experiment codes given during the setup in GACE.

A sample input via the GACE WordPress plugin.

So there you have it. I hope you’ll find the Google Analytics Content Experiments a valuable tool in optimizing your website for various goals. Its power lies in not having to rely with your gut feeling on what design works better for certain goals by applying a quantitative approach in determining which layouts or changes will work and which won’t.

Setting up Nginx + uWSGI Emperor to host Python applications on Ubuntu 12.04

This is the first of many posts on how our server is set up to serve Python web applications and others. For this post, we’ll focus on setting up Nginx and uWSGI and getting a bare-bones Django application running and served by Nginx.

Installing Nginx

Nginx is available in the Ubuntu software repositories, so installing it is pretty simple.

$ apt-get install nginx

Test your installation by starting Nginx:

$ /etc/init.d/nginx start

You should see a message along the lines of "starting nginx".

Check out Linode’s impressive library for a more thorough walkthrough on installing Nginx.

Installing uWSGI

uWSGI is available in the Ubuntu repositories as well, and also on PyPI. It’s up to you which method you prefer.

$ apt-get install uwsgi
# or
$ pip install uwsgi
Setting up our Django project

First thing we need to do is prepare some folders on where our project will live. We use the structure below for our projects:

$ mkdir /var/www/example.com
$ cd /var/www/example.com
$ mkdir venv conf src logs


/var/www/ `- example.com/ |- venv/ |- conf/ | |- nginx.conf (include in main nginx.conf) | `- uwsgi.ini |- src/ | `- example/ (django-admin.py startproject example) `- logs/ |- access.log (nginx access log) `- error.log (nginx error log)
venv/

This is where the virtual environment lives.

$ virtualenv /var/www/example.com/venv
$ source /var/www/example.com/venv/bin/activate
(venv)$ pip install django
src/

This is where the project’s source code lives.

$ mkdir /var/www/example.com/src
$ cd /var/www/example.com/src
(venv)$ django-admin.py startproject example
conf/

This is where configuration files for Nginx and uWSGI are stored.

conf/uwsgi.ini

[uwsgi]
# variables
projectname = example
projectdomain = example.com
base = /var/www/example.com
# config
protocol = uwsgi
venv = %(base)/venv
pythonpath = %(base)/src/%(projectname)
module = %(projectname).wsgi
socket = /tmp/%(projectdomain).sock
logto = %(base)/logs/uwsgi.log 

The .ini template above only works for Django >= 1.4. For Django < 1.4, check out uWSGI’s wiki for a template.

conf/nginx.conf

server {
  listen 92;
  server_name example.com www.example.com;
  root /var/www/example.com/src/example;
  access_log /var/www/example.com/logs/access.log;
  error_log /var/www/example.com/logs/error.log;


location / { include uwsgi_params; uwsgi_pass unix:///tmp/example.com.sock; } }

You’ll need to modify your main nginx.conf to include the project’s nginx.conf. Assuming Nginx was installed in /etc/nginx/, the main nginx.conf is /etc/nginx/conf/nginx.conf:

user    www-data;
# ...
http {
  # ...
  include /var/www/*/conf/nginx.conf;   
  # ...
}

That include statement will include any nginx.conf files in all projects following the structure outlined earlier.

We can now test if our application is being served on port 92 as specified in the nginx.conf.

# restart nginx
$ /etc/init.d/nginx restart
# run uWSGI pointing to our project's .ini file
# you can comment out the `logto` setting in
# uwsgi.ini to see log messages in the terminal
$ uwsgi --ini /var/www/example.com/conf/uwsgi.ini

Now open up a new terminal to your server and run:

$ curl http://localhost:92

If everything goes well, it should output the "Congratulations!" page from Django.

If not, check your conf files and/or the directories. Depending on your permissions, you might need to run uwsgi with sudo to allow uWSGI to create the /tmp/*.sock and /var/log/uwsgi/*.log files.

uWSGI Emperor

Emperor is a feature that monitors multiple uWSGI applications.

Let’s try running the app via Emperor:

$ uwsgi --emperor "/var/www/*/conf/uwsgi.ini"

What this does is it runs uWSGI’s Emperor mode looking for any uwsgi.ini files for all apps living in /var/www/ and starting/stopping/restarting them as needed. Any new additions will be automatically started, no need to restart Emperor itself. If an existing uwsgi.ini is modified, it is also automatically restarted.

Supervisord

We’re almost done. We just need a way to manage the uWSGI Emperor process. We use Supervisord to do this.

supervisord.conf

[program:uwsgi-emperor]
command=/usr/local/bin/uwsgi --emperor "/var/www/*/conf/uwsgi.ini" --die-on-term --master --uid www-data --gid www-data --logto /var/log/uwsgi/emperor.log
autostart=true
autorestart=true
redirect_stderr=true

Don’t forget to create the /var/log/uwsgi/ folder for the uWSGI logs. Again, depending on your permissions, you might need to change its user:group to www-data.

We use this init script to manage Supervisord.

Let’s test everything again.

$ /etc/init.d/nginx restart
$ supervisord
$ curl localhost:92

If you’re having trouble or if some part isn’t clear or incorrect, don’t hesitate to drop me an email or leave a comment below.

update: Changing so nginx run as www-data.

CollabSpot Boards in the GDG DevFest Philippines

The GDG DevFest

The first ever Google Developer Group (GDG) DevFest in the Philippines happened last August 4, 2012. It was held in the Asian Institute of Management in Metro Manila, a renowned business school in Southeast Asia. I, along with fellow CollabSpot developer Gino Tria, were invited to speak in the said event. We did a live demo of CollabSpot’s flagship product, CollabSpot Boards.

The GDG DevFest was full of interesting talks that were suited for both technical and non-technical people. The talks revolved around the different services offered by Google such as Google App Engine, AdSense, Android development, Google Maps, and Google Analytics. After the plenary talks came the “show and tell” portion of the event. In this portion, groups of people that were using Google technologies were invited to present their projects. The invited speakers came from a wide range of fields, from tech startups to government agencies. The CollabSpot team was one of the invited groups to speak in the event. So we decided to present a demo of CollabSpot Boards.

The CollabSpot Boards Presentation

CollabSpot Boards is a Google Apps project management tool based on collaborative boards. We spent the first few minutes of the talk introducing the team and the premise behind our product. We then gave a live demo of the app, showcasing some of its basic functionalities and popular usage. We experienced some difficulty with the internet connection during the talk, but we still managed to pull it off and enjoy the experience (with us smiling, as can be seen in the picture above). Since the event was about Google developers and Google services, we haven’t forgotten to spend a good deal of our presentation in explaining the Google technologies we use for the development of the app. Here’s a quick rundown of the technologies and how they fit in our development:

I think the list above is pretty neat when it comes to the range of Google technologies that’s being used. The final slides of our presentation contained our contact details and some of the future developments that we’re planning to implement in CollabSpot Boards. Since I still have some time left after the final slide, I went on to plug that the CollabSpot team is open for hiring. We are looking for exceptional Python web developers and project managers that can converse technically with developers. After the talk, random people came to chat with us for compliments and for networking, then Gino and I called it a day due to the ensuing heavy rain.

Scheduled Reports with CRON for App Engine

Introduction

It is important for web developers to regularly keep track of how their application is being used by their customers. This allows them to have sound decisions on what improvements need to be added for future releases. This post will show how to set up scheduled reports in Google App Engine running in Python. The scheduled reports will contain your application’s usage data, plus other stuff that you may want to measure and monitor over time.

Setting up a Reports Handler

In your application root, create a file that will contain our Python script that measures your application’s usage data. In the case of this post, I’ll set the filename to reports.py. This file will contain your reports handler and should import classes from your application model. Say we simply want to measure the total number of domains and the number of boards in all the domains, then we need to import the Board and Domain classes from our model. Let’s also import the Mail Python API so we can send our reports in the form of emails.

from google.appengine.api import mail
from google.appengine.ext import db
from google.appengine.api import namespace_manager

import tornado.wsgi
import tornado.locale

from script import BaseHandler
from model import Board, Domain

Writing the Reports Handler

After importing the modules and classes we need, we can now start writing the reports handler. Let’s call our handler ReportsHandler, which should inherit from the base handler in Google App Engine. Afterwards, we can write the code that measures the total number of domains and boards in the application. Let’s assume that our application model has set every domain to its own namespace, i.e. we can only access the Board class within a domain’s namespace. This means that we need to set the namespace for every domain iteration in order to count the total number of boards among all the domains. The code for these measurements are given below:

class ReportsHandler(BaseHandler):

    def get(self):
        namespace_manager.set_namespace("-global-")
        
        total_num_of_domains = Domain.all().count()
        total_num_of_boards = 0
        
        domains = Domain.all().run(batch_size=200)
        for domain in domains:
            namespace_manager.set_namespace(domain.name)
            total_num_of_boards += Board.all().count()

Now let’s set up the template for the email containing the reports. We pass the variables total_num_of_domains and total_num_of_boards in our template values and name the file of our email template as report.txt.

class ReportsHandler(BaseHandler):

    def get(self):
        ...
        # email address of recipient
        user_address = "user@email.com"

        if mail.is_email_valid(user_address):
            # email address of sender in the <>
            sender_address = "Your Reporter <reporter_email@here.com>"
            subject = "Your Report Subject"
            template_values = { 
                'total_num_of_domains': total_num_of_domains,
                'total_num_of boards' : total_num_of boards
            }
            body = self.render_string("templates/report.txt", **template_values)
            mail.send_mail(sender_address, user_address, subject, body)

After writing the ReportsHandler contents, we specify the URL that will trigger the report. Let’s use “root_URL/reports” for our example. Put the following code at the bottom of reports.py.

app = tornado.wsgi.WSGIApplication([
    (r"/reports", ReportsHandler)
])

Writing the Report Template

We use Tornado to render the template values in our email. Our email contents are located in report.txt, so let’s modify this to contain the following simple template:

This is the scheduled report for your application.

Total number of domains: {{ "{{ total_num_of_domains" }} }}
Total number boards: {{ "{{ total_num_of_unarchived_boards" }} }}

Your loyal reporter

Specifying the Schedule using CRON

Google App Engine uses CRON to run scheduled tasks. You can find the different scheduling formats here. Now create the file cron.yaml in your application root. Let’s say we want to run our report everyday at 8:30 am. Also note that the ReportsHandler is run through the URL “root_URL/reports”. The CRON file must then contain the following code:

cron:
- description: 
  url: /reports
  schedule: every day 08:30

We’re done setting up our scheduled reports via email! One can go ahead and customize further the reports handler to include many more measurements in our reports.

Creating PayPal IPN Handlers with Tornado

What is IPN?

Instant Payment Notification (IPN) is PayPal’s message service that sends a notification when a transaction is affected.

Basically, once a PayPal transaction happens, it sends a notification to a handler you specify, with all the information and variables you need to handle that event in your application.

Check out PayPal’s official docs on IPN for more information.

Preparing the PayPal buttons

Before we write our handler, we need a way to send the IPNs. The easiest way to do this is to use one of PayPal’s Payments Standard Buttons. For this article, we’ll be using the “Subscribe” button.

Follow the instructions here to create your button.

Writing the handler

Once we have the button in a page in our app, we can begin writing our IPN handler.

I’ll be using the Tornado web framework for this example, but it should be very similar for other frameworks. Also, I’m deploying on Google App Engine , so there might be some App Engine specific code.

First, determine the URL your handler will use. For example, http://example.com/ipn. You’ll need to modify your PayPal button so it knows where to send IPN messages. Just add

notify_url=http://example.com/ipn

to the “Advanced variables” textbox at the bottom of the modify button page. Don’t forget to update the HTML in your app’s subscribe page as well.

Once that’s set up, we can begin writing the code for our IPN handler. I’ll just show the entire handler below and explain the parts.

The code below is basically the code in this blog post , rewritten to work with Tornado.

import logging
import os.path
import urllib
import urllib2
import wsgiref.handlers


import tornado.web import tornado.escape import tornado.wsgi

RECEIVER_ID = 'xxxxxxxx' RECEIVER_EMAIL = 'name@example.com'

class IPNHandler(tornado.web.RequestHandler): def verify_ipn(self, data, sandbox=''): # prepares provided data set to inform PayPal we wish to validate the response data["cmd"] = "_notify-validate" params = urllib.urlencode(data)

if sandbox: # sends the data and request to the PayPal Sandbox paypal_url = 'https://www.sandbox.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr' else: paypal_url = 'https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr'

req = urllib2.Request(paypal_url, params) req.add_header("Content-type", "application/x-www-form-urlencoded") # reads the response back from PayPal response = urllib2.urlopen(req) status = response.read()

# If not verified if not status == "VERIFIED": return False

# if not the correct receiver ID if not sandbox and data['txn_type'] == 'subscr_payment' and not data["receiver_id"] == RECEIVER_ID: logging.info('Incorrect receiver_id') logging.info(data['receiver_id']) return False

# if not the correct receiver email if not sandbox and data['txn_type'] != 'subscr_payment' and not data["receiver_email"] == RECEIVER_EMAIL: logging.info('Incorrect receiver_email') logging.info(data['receiver_email']) return False

# if not the correct currency if not sandbox and not data.get("mc_currency") == "USD": logging.info('Incorrect mc_currency') return False

# otherwise... return True

def subscr_signup(self, data): # handle a 'Signup' IPN message # you can create a User object, for example, # or set a user's plan pass

def subscr_payment(self, data): # handle a 'Payment' IPN message # this message gets sent when you receive a recurring payment # you can re-set your user's plan here pass

def subscr_modify(self, data): # handle a 'Modify' IPN message # the Subscribe button has an option to allow users to modify # their subscription plan # you can upgrade your user's plan here pass

def subscr_eot(self, data): # handle a 'End of Transaction' IPN message # at the end of the subscription period, this message gets sent # you can disable a user here pass

def subscr_cancel(self, data): # handle a 'Cancel' IPN message # when a user cancels his subscription (either in his PayPal page or # in your website), this message gets sent # you can disable a user here pass

def subscr_failed(self, data): # handle a 'Failed' IPN message # sometimes something goes wrong while the IPN is being sent # you can log the error here pass

def post(self, sandbox=''): data = {}

# the values in request.arguments are stored as single value lists # we need to extract their string values for arg in self.request.arguments: data[arg] = self.request.arguments[arg][0]

# If there is no txn_id in the received arguments don't proceed if data['txn_type'] == 'subscr_payment' and not 'txn_id' in data: logging.info('IPN: No Parameters') return

# Verify the data received with Paypal if not self.request.host.split(':')[0] == 'localhost' and not self.verify_ipn(data, sandbox): logging.info('IPN: Unable to verify') return

logging.info('IPN: Verified!')

# Now do something with the IPN data if data['txn_type'] == 'subscr_signup': # initial subscription self.subscr_signup(data) elif data['txn_type'] == 'subscr_payment': # subscription renewed self.subscr_payment(data) elif data['txn_type'] == 'subscr_modify': # subscription plan modified self.subscr_modify(data) elif data['txn_type'] == 'subscr_eot': # subscription expired self.subscr_eot(data) elif data['txn_type'] == 'subscr_cancel': # subscription canceled self.subscr_cancel(data) elif data['txn_type'] == 'subscr_failed': # subscription failed self.subscr_failed(data)

return

settings = { 'template_path': os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), 'templates'), 'autoescape': None, 'debug': os.environ.get('SERVER_SOFTWARE', '').startswith('Development/'), } app = tornado.wsgi.WSGIApplication([ (r'/ipn', IPNHandler), (r'/ipn/(sandbox)', IPNHandler), ], **settings)

def main(): wsgiref.handlers.CGIHandler().run(app)

if __name__ == '__main__': main()

The “Subscribe” button sends 6 types of transactions (subscr_signup, subscr_payment, subscr_modify, subscr_eot, subscr_cancel, subscr_failed).
Each of those transaction types has its own handler. I’ve placed comments in each of them as guides on what you can do once you receive a specific transaction type.

When the handler receives an IPN (which is a POST request from PayPal), it stores the request’s arguments in the data dict.

We first verify the data by passing it to the verify_ipn method. What it does is resend the exact same arguments to PayPal in order to verify it. Once we receive a “VERIFIED” message (plus various other arguments checks), it is safe to proceed.

We then send data to the specific transaction type handler to make use of.

For a list of all the arguments included in data and the transaction types for other buttons, refer to PayPal’s docs on IPN variables.

Testing

Using the Sandbox Tool

PayPal provides a Sandbox tool which simulates sending IPN messages to your IPN handler. Visit http://sandbox.paypal.com to get started. You’ll need to sign up for a separate Sandbox account, then go to “Test Tools” > “Instant Payment Notification (IPN) simulator”. Fill in the URL to your IPN handler (use /ipn/sandbox since the Sandbox uses a different URL), select the transaction type you want, then click submit.

Unfortunately, the IPN simulator doesn’t have the option to send subscription IPNs. I resorted to testing it “live”, by actually clicking on the subscribe button and going through a full cycle.
This can be a pain, since you’ll have to wait for a full cycle to test the other transaction types (payment, eot).

Testing on localhost

You can also test you handler on localhost, but we’ll have to skip the verify_ipn() part, and jump right to handling the transaction type, just assuming the IPN was verified.

Check out my IPN-tester project. It’s a script which sends a POST to http://localhost:8080/ipn with arguments taken from logs from real IPNs.
It only has data for subscr_signup and subsr_cancel for now, but I’ll add other types soon (it’s open source, so anyone can add :P).

It’s the reason why the code above has

if not self.request.host.split(':')[0] == 'localhost'

so the script only works on the app running on localhost, by skipping the verify_ipn() check.