Entrepreneur Bryce McDonnell describes the benefits of using free open-source CRM software
Herb McDonnell/Courtesy Subject
I started using free customer relationship management software called Fat Free CRM to organize sales leads a few months ago. I got hooked on Fat Free because it is an open-source application, which means I can download it, install it, and customize it to suit my needs as my start-up Web development business grows. I also like the fact that I can put Fat Free on my internal server instead of depending on a third party for security. Plus, it's free.
Right out of the box, Fat Free does just about everything you'd expect from CRM software. I use it to track leads generated by my advertising campaigns on Facebook, Google, and Craigslist. When someone clicks on an ad and fills out the contact form on my website, the information is automatically imported into my CRM database. I spend about an hour each day managing the roughly 1,000 leads I've accumulated so far, making status updates and inserting notes. Ultimately, I hope to hire a sales manager. When I do, I can simply add him or her as a user.
One word of caution: Installing Fat Free is a bit tricky, especially if you're not comfortable with software code. But once the application is installed, you don't have to be a Web developer to use it.