12 Must Have Tools for Managing Leads & Contacts


6165Question: What do you use to share leads and contacts seamlessly among virtual team members?


“I use an SaaS software product entitled WORKetc. This software is customizable so all team members, or only a select portion of your staff, can have access to leads.”

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance


“I love Act!; it stands the test of time. It is a very easy interface; the search functions are great, and the ability to convert the customer data to Excel to do direct mail or constant contact campaigns is very attractive. Most of our customer data is from organizations looking to book our CEO clients for events, and Act! allows us to keep organizations updated on our clients and activities.”

Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group


“We live in our email inboxes at work, so it makes sense to have a CRM system that seamlessly integrates with our email. Since we use Google Apps for Business on the Poshly team and Gmail is our preferred email provider, Streak is a phenomenal resource for us to share leads and contacts with ease among all of our virtual team members. Our correspondence and contacts are in one place. “

Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.


Salesforce.com seems like one of the “big guys” now, but it’s still a nimble tool that allows companies large and small to organize leads. The product forces your team to be disciplined in tracking, and following up with, sales opportunities. We now have a much clearer idea of the sales funnel, and we don’t let opportunities fall through the cracks, which is pretty critical to any startup!”

Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches


“We use the 37signals software program called Highrise. It’s great because everyone on our team can collaborate from wherever we are. We share a database of contacts and can constantly see an up-to-date snapshot of each team member’s outreach, share notes, and assign tasks. The mobile app is especially helpful for on-the-go access. It has helped streamline our CRM efforts in a big way.”

Brittany Hodak, ZinePak


Zoho is a fully customizable CRM solution that allows our team to organize and track leads to convert them into clients. The full functionality of Zoho allows our team to effectively optimize sales through customized reports on the success of leads by source, industry and other indicators. Best of all, it’s free for up to three users, and you can integrate/sync it with Outlook. “

Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC


Close is a new tool that makes it very easy for our sales and accounts teams to seamlessly share info. The beauty of Close.io is they’ve integrated literally every key feature you can think of to make sure other team members know exactly what’s happened with any given contact. Close.io has been a complete game changer for us, and it has increased our efficiency substantially. “

Sunil Rajaraman, Scripted.com

Google Docs

“It’s old school but it works. We don’t claim to have a fancy CRM, and I expect a salesperson to call me after this article gets published, but we’re perfectly happy sharing an Excel spreadsheet and taking copious notes. We can also download segmented email lists from Mailchimp and import customer data from PayPal, Google Checkout, and Eventbrite. All the information is there for us. “

Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences


ConnectWise is a customizable system that allows us to manage all of our resources in one location, facilitate collaboration, and ensure streamlined operations. It serves as a database for sales leads, opportunities, and contacts and is an efficient tool to track status and time on tickets and projects. Most recently we are integrating ConnectWise into a new quoting system for seamless end-to-end workflow. “

Dave Smith, TekScape

Salesforce and MailChimp

“We use MailChimp for all our email campaigns directed at new community members, and we use Salesforce as a CRM for potential ad sponsors. Both solutions work well with our virtual team members.”

Patrick Curtis, WallStreetOasis.com


“I’m a big fan of Dropbox. Being able to access documents, spreadsheets, contacts and more without having to email back and forth has made our business more efficient. We share certain folders in Dropbox. The documents and files within the shared folder are updated whenever a user makes changes to the original. Also, access to the folders is easy to obtain and can even be done off Dropbox’s mobile app.”

George Mavromaras, Mavro Inc. | Praetor Global LLC.

Ruby on Rails

“We’ve created a built-from-scratch CRM in Ruby on Rails over the last five years that allows us to seamlessly allocate leads among virtual employees. We have 35 full-time and 35 part-time employees and 1,800 tutors — all operating from home. Building a system for our own very specific needs was far more expensive, but has been far more powerful than any CRM we’ve ever tested, such as Salesforce.com. “

Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutor

4 Principles of High Productivity

productivityIn a time of constant movement, constant communication, continual achievement and an ongoing list of to-dos, at the end of the day we feel we’ll never get ahead. It seems like our days are controlling us, rather than us controlling them. This constant busyness can actually take you off course from your high-value goals; hurt your physical, psychological and emotional system; and even damage or destroy relationships. I have been studying some of the top executives, CEOs, authors, and millionaires in the past couple of years and wanted to share a couple thoughts that might help you work at your productive best.


This is called Pareto’s law. It can be summarized as follows: 80 percent of the outputs result from 20 percent of the inputs. Out of 10 tasks and activities you want to accomplish, two of them will produce more results than the other eight combined. This is a proven fact. Sometimes when we get busy we feel we must get more done rather than focusing on the tasks that create bigger results. I’m often challenged to really think intelligently about what 20 percent of my work I can do with absolute focus that will yield huge results.


I remember Tim Ferriss stating that “most things make no difference.” Being busy is a form of laziness, lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective and taking more intelligent action is really the path to high productivity. Focus on the important few and ignore or delegate the rest.


Activities that are not connected to an outcome or purpose are the drain of all fortune. Understand that what you do is a lot more important than how you do it. Effectiveness is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things. There are a handful of things you could be focusing on that will create exceptional outcomes for your goals. It’s easy to get caught in a flood of trivial matters.

The key to not feeling rushed is remembering that lack of time actually means lack of priorities. Take time to stop and re-focus your priorities as often as needed. Intelligent thinking, combined with the right action will get your productivity to a level few attain. Remember what Jim Collins stated in his best seller Good To Great: “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”


Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will become of larger importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. I have personally found high value in deadlines. If I give you 12 hours to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focus on execution, and you have no choice but to do only the essentials. If I give you a week to complete the same task, it will most likely be six days of validation, excuses, and procrastination and one day of rushed work. If I give you a month, it usually becomes a mental monster. The results of deadlines are always of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.

Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines. If you haven’t identified your critical tasks and set aggressive start and end times for their completion, the unimportant becomes important. Even if you know what’s critical, without deadlines that create focus, the minor tasks forced upon you will raise to consume time until another minuscule task jumps in to replace it, leaving you at the end of the day with nothing accomplished.

I spent months jumping from one interruption to the next, feeling run by my business instead of the other way around. Don’t make the same mistake — instead, adopt these four strategies in your life and business today.

A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog.

Peter Voogd (of RealVipSuccess) is an entrepreneur dedicating himself to excellence in every area of life so he can better serve others. He strongly believes the more people you help to succeed, the most successful you become. His mission is to inspire 1,000,000 people through his movement, and has a deep understanding of what it takes to inspire, motivate, and train at the highest level.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons. 

How to Ensure Your Employees’ Productivity

Productivity, startup, startup tips, guest postThe last thing any employer wants is to have a workforce that puts procrastination over productivity. Unfortunately there are just some employees who are going to push against that envelope at every chance they get. It’s one thing if you have someone who works best under pressure and can still turn out a fantastic product reliably in a short time frame. It’s another if that someone is simply easily distracted or doesn’t mind producing a lackluster product and would rather spend time playing games on Steam.

So what do you do? How do you make sure that your employees stay on track?

1. Monitoring Software

Some companies will install monitoring software that will allow them to “log in” and see what any employee is doing at any given time. If you have some particularly problematic employees, this might be a good way to “catch them in the act.” Another good way to go is to use Network Monitoring Tools that track and record details like traffic, resource allotment, etc. This way, even if someone minimizes a window when you walk by (or in case you “log in”) you can see how much bandwidth they are using. If you know the volume of resources they should be using, telling who is spending more time surreptitiously watching YouTube will be obvious.

2. Regular Reviews

Performance appraisals (some employers choose to call them, simply, Performance Reviews) are a great way to improve employee productivity (nobody wants a bad review!). The trick is to have them regularly. Most employers will only do them once every twelve months because, frankly, most employers hate doing performance reviews more than the employees! It’s better to have them at least every six months. If you have the time or your employee pool is small enough, having them every three months can keep productivity levels high. It also helps you maintain contact and keep tabs on how your business as a whole. It is helpful, particularly if you are going to have them more often, to strive for an informal and conversational style. Encourage feedback from your employees as well as asking them to accept the feedback you give to them.

3. Provide Helpful Tools

There are lots of different productivity apps out there that you (and your employees) can use to help manage time, stay on task and increase productivity. Embrace the technology and implement it on all of your work-related machines. Foot the bill for the better, and more expensive, apps so that your employees don’t have to.

4. Offer Great Benefits

In addition to basic health care benefits, other benefits like company cars (or gas allowances), free childcare (or as close to free as you can offer it), paid kid sick days and allowing employees to telecommute when they need to can all help improve your employees’ productivity. Why? Who would want to risk losing a job with all of those sweet benefits? Further, those benefits help your employees relax while they are on the job. That relaxation feeds into their desire to give their best performance at work. Everybody wins.

There are lots of ways to incentivize your employees to stay on task and to be as productive as possible. The hardest thing is not deciding whether or not to offer those incentives but which incentives you want to focus on.

Kelly Jane Brown is an aspiring writer, entrepreneur and student at UCLA.