In the beginning of June, we decided that our new product was ready to be shown to more people other than the few already involved in the alpha version.

I started talking and meeting with people to pitch to them, and give demos of our software.

I soon realised this could become a giant mess if I didn't define a framework to organise the whole process. I can't call myself a professional salesman, but I've worked with a lot of them and have seen all kinds of techniques to keep track of their interactions with leads, prospects or customers.

So I did what all of us entrepreneurs would do when they need a new tool - I checked what was available, and asked around.

There's a lot of CRM and sales pipeline solutions out there. From platforms aiming at freelancers, to SaaS targeting sales teams. Most of them look good and could have probably worked for our tiny team.

Although, being a pretty convinced Trello user already, I decided to give it a try for managing my sales pipeline.

Here is how I'm doing it. I hope this will be useful.

the foundation

It seems obvious, but I'll say it anyway - we use a dedicated Trello board for this purpose.

On this board, we have nine lists:

  • Contacted us
  • Ideas
  • Contacted
  • Leads
  • Meeting arranged
  • Negotiation (pitch / demo done)
  • Won
  • Contact again later
  • Lost

The Trello board

You guessed it! The goal of this "game" is to move cards from the left to the right, and stop on Won.

Note: I didn't put this nice background for your own benefit. That's actually the one we currently use! Pretty inspiring, isn't it?

The labels

On this board, labels are used for:

  • Keeping track of who brought the lead
  • Indicating the state of a card

Yellow (we need to take action) is the label that has most of our attention.

The labels

The lists

Ideas

The list named "Ideas" contains every contact, hint, or actual idea that could later turn into a lead.

For example, my current Ideas list includes four cards with names of companies, four with people's names, and three cards with ideas of communities or groups of people to reach out to.

When necessary, I write - the name of the contact; who suggested that I should approach this person / company; an URL; etc. at the back of the card.

Every time I decide to start working on business development, I pick a card from the Ideas list and start making it move into this pipeline.

Contacted

A card is moved to this list once an initial contact has been established. This step can also imply updating the back of the cards with information about the medium you used to reach out to said contact, the date you did it, etc.

We simply use the comments in order to do so.

When an answer to this first contact hits your Inbox, it's time to decide if this contact is a lead, if it needs to be contacted again later, or if you won't be able to make a sale with them.

The way to use the next lists is kind of self-explanatory.

Leads

Cards that become leads are moved into this list. New information at the back of the cards are usually related to the activity of the lead and how your product or service could help them. Anything that could be useful to make the sale later on.

Meeting arranged

In my selling process, the next step is to arrange a meeting. This could be a virtual one. During this appointment, I'll run a demo and offer the lead to use a free trial account.

I usually create a checklist at the back of the card, listing everything I need to get done prior to the meeting like getting the slides ready, setting up the demo account, etc.

Card checklist

Negotiation

Right after the meeting, I move the card to the Negotiation list. I update the back of the card according to the discussions with the leads (feedback about the product, etc.)

Won

Finally, when the sale is made, the card is moved to the Won list and the deployment team (me ;-)) takes it from there.

Bonus

You probably noticed the first column titled "Contacted us". This is a trick I borrowed from Stealth Lion's blog and that I'm currently implementing for us.

Trello as a feature allowing you to create a card by sending an email.

In your CRM board menu, click on Settings -> Email Settings, and grab the Email Address generated by Trello. Select the "Contacted us" list (or whatever title you decided on).

Add this email address to the recipients list of the contact form on your corporate website.. et voilà!

--

I hope this will help you design your sales pipeline and the process to keep track of your leads.

I'll probably spend some time adjusting the way we use Trello as a CRM in the coming months.

If you're interested in everything related to entrepreneurship, you should definitely sign up to my newsletter using the form on the left.

See you there!