Close.io: Effective Sales Lead Tracking

As any business owner will tell you, keeping track of your sales leads is one of the most important ways to sustain revenue. Yet this really is no easy task and requires an awful lot of maintenance and reporting, especially when the company is quite large. One company I worked for in Germany kept track of everything through a giant Excel spreadsheet, and keeping this up-to-date was an absolute nightmare, especially as only one person could view and edit it at any one moment in time (and yes, I did get shouted at quite a lot for not maintaining it!).

However Close.io, from developers Elastic Inc, believes it can change this. In short, it has a simple vision:

Never again should a great company fail because of a lack of sales.

Close.io may not be the cheapest offering on the market (plans start from $59 per user monthly) but if it helps a company keep track of all its sales targets, then I think this is a small price to pay for such a useful service. Let’s dive straight in and see what it has to offer.

Introduction

Close.io comes in both a web version and a desktop version for Mac and Windows. Although the web-based version offers pretty much all the features of the desktop version (apart from calling, which we’ll come onto in a bit), I’d go for the native app (which is completely free) as personally I prefer working from an app rather than my web browser.

The main interface of Close.io.

The main interface of Close.io.

 

The main screen of Close.io shows you your sales opportunities for the team and any tasks that need completing. In my example, as you can see in the screenshot above, I’ve got 2 sales opportunities worth potentially $3,500, both of which require a date estimate (as you can see in the blue bar). From the main screen, I can also filter opportunities by assigned user and their status (either In Progress, which splits down into Active and On Hold, Won or Lost).

Filtering your opportunities by status.

Filtering your opportunities by status.

 

Close.io features an in-built notification system which alerts you to new events within the system, such as incoming calls, e-mails, tasks due and missed calls. Adding new sales leads is fairly simple — just click on the New Lead button in the bottom-right hand corner and give it a name.

Adding a new sales lead.

Adding a new sales lead.

You can enter all the information about the sales lead, such as a contact telephone number, an e-mail address and a postal address. Close.io will also let you assign tasks and possible opportunities to that lead as well — opportunities can be customised by status, confidence (on a sliding scale from 0 – 100%), value, estimated closing date and the sales rep responsible for it.

Calls and Emails

One of the nicest features within Close.io is the ability to call your sales opportunities from directly within the app. With the Professional plan, which costs $99 per user monthly, you get a U.S. based number (mine is in the 650 area code, but you can also set up international numbers if you get in contact with the developers) and unlimited calling minutes, which if you make a lot of international calls can save you a considerable amount on your phone bill.

Calling a contact using the built-in phone function.

Calling a contact using the built-in phone function.

With the Enterprise plan (which costs $149 per user monthly) you can also record calls (which are saved within the Close.io system) and forward calls to a different number and route them through a PBX system.

Close.io allows you to choose your own number, along with a few other options (such as call recording and voicemail).

Close.io allows you to choose your own number, along with a few other options (such as call recording and voicemail).

Another fantastic feature within Close.io is the integration of e-mail right into your sales leads. This helps avoid endless folders and flags in your inbox or (in my case) endless Post-It notes stuck around your monitor. The app supports both SMTP and IMAP e-mail systems (I noticed, however, that as of yet there is no native Exchange support, which may be a disappointment to businesses looking to implement this software) and Close.io will automatically import all of your e-mails and associate them with any sales leads already created within the app.

Sending an e-mail to a sales lead within Close.io.

Sending an e-mail to a sales lead within Close.io.

 

As long as a contact’s email address is set up within Close.io, you can e-mail them directly from the app and all e-mails related to that sales lead will be kept in one place. I found this feature incredibly useful as I (like probably all of us) have wasted plenty of time hunting through my sent messages trying to find that one e-mail (note to self: be more organised). It’s probably worth pointing out here that e-mail is standard on all of the Close.io plans and you can integrate the service with your existing e-mail client — meaning you don’t necessarily have to import all of your e-mails into the app.

Searching Within Close.io

One of Close.io’s most touted features is its smart search function. There are very few apps out there nowadays that allow you to ask what I call “natural questions”, or questions that you would ask another person, but Close.io is one of these. So, instead of putting in weird search requests with loads of operators, booleans and all that malarkey, just ask it what you want to know — the answer will be displayed straight away.

Search results within Close.io.

Search results within Close.io.

 

So, I could ask it questions like:

  • Who have I sent e-mails to in the last week who haven’t responded yet?
  • Show me leads in California with a 70% or more chance of closing who I haven’t called or e-mailed in the last week.

Close.io will display the results instantly — it’s that smart. For sales teams who don’t want to mess around with complicated search functions, I can see this feature being a real plus to anyone using the service.

Activity Reports

To help keep track of every employee’s activity and individual sales goals, Close.io features a useful activity report which tracks the number of leads (both created and contacted), opportunities (by the number created, won or lost), calls made and e-mails sent and received. The reporting section is very easy to use and if your company works off commission, then the detailed reports can make it extremely easy to calculate.

Activity reports are filtered by user.

Activity reports are filtered by user.

Reports can be backdated but one thing I didn’t spot was an export feature — the easiest way I found was to take a screenshot of it for further use. There is also a useful “pipeline” report, showing any upcoming projects and the total number of leads and opportunities, which is extremely useful for project planning.

Conclusion

Close.io may not seem the cheapest piece of software out there on the market but it is certainly one that does its job properly. Although aimed at businesses, I found the interface extremely well designed and a breeze to use, something which I really appreciate as a reviewer. It seems to be that because software is business-orientated, the developers feel the need to slack on the design front, but the developers have kept this in mind and designed a very pretty and functional app.

Yet the one thing I most appreciated about Close.io is that it can find its way into almost every single business activity. Sure, it’s meant for sales departments but it doesn’t matter what you are selling — from aardvarks to zucchinis, the app will help you keep track of all those leads without the need for extra software.

The app gains a solid out of 10 rating for this very reason, and because Close.io is developed by salespeople, the creators really know their stuff and want to mirror their experience in this great little app. Sure, you could probably find a better deal elsewhere, but you’d probably be compensating on a lot of useful features. And if a little piece of software helps you drive up sales targets and gets your product out there more, whilst still helping you keep track of everything from the (dis)comfort of your own office, then I’d say that’s worth paying for.


Summary

An easy way to keep in contact with your sales leads with integrated calling and e-mails.

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