An independent review of Pipedrive

by Richard Boardman on October 19, 2015

As products like and Microsoft Dynamics have increased in functionality and moved up the food chain in terms of target market, opportunities have inevitably opened up for new entrants in the CRM market.

One of the most successful has been Pipedrive. Set up in 2010, and based in the US and Estonia, the company has majored on developing its CRM software to be as easy for salespeople to use as possible.

This is hardly a unique value proposition of course. Ease of use is a selling point touted by many vendors. However Pipedrive genuinely delivers something different, evidenced by the company quietly accumulating over 10,000 customers for its cloud-based offering.

Before I get into some of these features, let me try and position Pipedrive as a product. It certainly isn’t, and doesn’t try to be, a Salesforce or Microsoft. There’s no attempt to have the same breadth of functionality. What Pipedrive does is focus on one key area – the sales pipeline – and looks to do this better than anyone else.

Sales opportunity management is important. Control of the sales process allows companies to more accurately predict the volume, make up, and timing of future orders, and resource themselves appropriately.

A well-defined and managed sales process also guides salespeople more efficiently through the sales cycle and helps their managers identify where deals are off track enabling them to initiate corrective action. Visibility also allows managers to identify points of friction in the process itself, allowing them to optimise it over time.

This level of control is potentially highly beneficial. Small changes in lead to sales conversion rates can have a hugely leveraged impact on the bottom line. The problem however is that while opportunity and pipeline management have long been capabilities of CRM systems, they’ve been awkward and time-consuming to maintain, and salespeople have often resorted back to Excel to manage their forecasts.

This is the problem that Pipedrive looks to address, by making it as easy as possible for salespeople to track the pipeline. In terms of how it does this, the system is built around five main entities: people, organisations, deals, associated products, and activities such as emails, meetings, and phone calls.

As you would expect these records are related to each other, so a person would be associated with one or many deals, and one or many activities, a company to one or many deals etc. There are both standard fields as well as the ability to quickly add custom fields to these records.

At the heart of the system is the pipeline view (see screenshots) which displays the deals. This allows you to see the pipeline broken down by the stage in the sales process depicted in a series of deal tiles. Visual indicators on the deal show if there are any related activities, and if they are overdue. An activity can be closed or updated without leaving the pipeline view.

The sales stage on an opportunity can be changed just by dragging and dropping the tile. A similar view depicts opportunities over a defined timeline. Again, deals can be dragged and dropped from one month to another.

These views exemplify the whole ethos that Pipedrive has applied to the product. Everything is set up to minimise mouse-clicks and key strokes. Other examples include:

  • Addresses are suggested based on what’s being typed into the address field, and also allows you to auto-populate the address based on postcode
  • Searches are predictive suggesting values as you type
  • There’s the ability to edit records in a list view, so that instead of going into each one to edit, say close date, it’s possible to edit within the view rather like updating a spreadsheet
  • It’s also possible to edit several values at once in a view for example changing the due date on a number of activities at the same time
  • The system will let you add a new person, organisation, and deal in one go, removing the needs to create these records separately
  • Streamlined creation and completion of activities and notes
  • When you complete an activity a follow on activity is automatically generated, which you can dismiss if it’s not required

This is what Pipedrive does very well. It’s a genuinely quick and easy to use product, designed to reduce the time it takes a salesperson to add and maintain data, thereby increasing the use of the system while maximising sales productivity. Other key capabilities include:

  • The ability to display a list of organisation locations on Google Maps
  • A timeline depiction of activities
  • The ability to manage multiple different sales processes
  • Integration with Google Drive for document storage
  • Multi-currency and language support
  • Synchronisation with Google Calendar
  • Ability to send emails from, and save them to, the system
  • iOS and Android mobile apps with offline support
  • The ability to follow records and receive alerts
  • The ability to filter records based on and/or statements, for example deals at stage X, with a value greater than Y
  • Dashboard views of deal and activity data

So who is Pipedrive right for? The answer is probably smaller businesses looking for contact and opportunity management capabilities at a competitive price point ($12 per user per month at the time of writing), though I can see the speed and simplicity suiting many larger business too.

In terms of cautions, the product’s focus is pipeline management, and it doesn’t provide the range of functionality you might see in other offerings. For example, there’s no case management or marketing campaign management functionality. There’s also limited scope to customise the system (beyond adding additional fields) if your requirements aren’t met by the ‘out of the box’ capabilities.

For organisations with straightforward needs – which is probably most – Pipedrive’s innovative interface makes it worthy of careful consideration. While many CRM vendors have positioned themselves as easy to use, Pipedrive really does deliver on the promise.

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An initial assessment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

by Richard Boardman on September 13, 2015

Microsoft released their Dynamics CRM 2016 Preview Guide this week (here) and a one minute fifty two second release overview video (here) , which set out what new capabilities will be available later in the year for both CRM online and on premise versions.

Microsoft release documents aren’t the easiest to interpret, (lots of impenetrable phrases such as ‘end-to-end, outcome-focused journeys’, ‘automated triage and adaptive sentiment’, and, my personal favourite: ‘ubiquitously connected’) but I’ve had a good run through it, and picked out what I felt appeared – based on my initial interpretation anyway – some of the more interesting enhancements.

So here are the ten that caught my eye:

SMS Marketing – will give marketers the ability to send and track the performance of SMS campaigns. I’ve worked on a number of projects recently where SMS messaging was a key requirement and we’ve had to use third party apps to facilitate it, so anything that works more natively within Dynamics looks a big step forward.

Excel Integration – new Excel integration appears to let users work in Excel directly within the CRM application, including making changes and committing them back into CRM. There also seems to be the ability to export to predefined Excel templates. It’s difficult to envision exactly how this will work without seeing it first hand at this stage, but if it gets over the thorny issue of sales people preferring to manage their forecasts in Excel rather than CRM, it’s a big step forward.

OneDrive for Business – Microsoft have added OneDrive for Business, so that users can access OneDrive documents within a record alongside data held in SharePoint, and Office 365 Groups.

Simplified document generation – looks a big one for me. A number of my customers are heavy users of the mail-merge function to generate the paperwork that supports many of their business processes. Generally this is effective, just very long-winded. If, as it appears, documents can be generated with a few mouse clicks, this will make a huge difference.

Surveys – Another interesting one. CRM 2016 will let users create and send questionnaires, and store the results back in the customer’s record in CRM. So much information gets gathered about customers in apps such as SurveyMonkey that never makes its way to the CRM system. Having something that’s integrated with the potential for automated follow up actions (perhaps if feedback was particularly poor) looks very appealing.

Customer service enhancements – this relates to what Microsoft describes as the interactive service hub, with CRM 2016 now shipping with new dashboards specifically set up to support the needs of tier one and tier two service agents.

Social listening capabilities – Microsoft’s social listening capabilities are built on its purchase of NetBreeze back in 2013. It allows users to monitor social conversations and associated sentiment relating to specified topics and keywords, and then assign follow up actions in CRM such as cases, leads, and opportunities. These capabilities are being extended in 2016 to include more sources, including internal sources such as Yammer, as well as 14 additional languages. Additional intelligence is also being added to allow users to be presented with what interests them i.e. cases for the service team, and leads for sales.

Mobile offline support – will give users access to mobile apps when offline, and allow them to add, update, and delete records, and have these changes synchronised when next connected. This capability seems to be restricted to CRM online users with 30 or more Professional or Enterprise users however.

Mobile management – in order to manage the security concerns posed by increasing mobile CRM usage, particularly where users are using their own devices, Microsoft has added mobile management capabilities through integration with Microsoft Intune, and appears to support policies such as PIN enforcement, encryption, and data wiping.

Bulk data loader for CRM online – is a new feature for CRM Online which will allow administrators to upload data to a cloud staging area where light data quality changes can be made before completing the migration to the CRM system. The service will also support ongoing data import/export. This would seem to have the benefit of allowing users to perform more complex data migrations to CRM Online without the need to use third party tools.

Anyway, those are the areas that stood out for me, based on, I emphasise, my interpretation of the September release document. Doubtless we’ll understand more as we approach general availability, and I’m assuming there will be capabilities in the final release relating to the recent acquisition of the FieldOne services management application. However if anyone has more first-hand exposure to what’s coming up, then please feel very free to comment on anything I’ve missed, glossed over, or misinterpreted.

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Eight entirely plausible beliefs about CRM that don’t stack up in reality

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I’ve been involved (at the time of writing at least) in the CRM industry now north of twenty years, eleven of which have been spent as an independent CRM consultant. Over that time I’ve been involved in, or a spectator to, hundreds of CRM projects, involving a wide range of CRM technologies, across the full [...]

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Getting people to use CRM software – two key foundations

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