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S.M.A.R.T. Sales Management | S.M.A.R.T. Article 2

The Best Applications to Manage your Sales Cycle and Marketing Productivity for Small Business Owners

How can I do things better, faster and more efficiently using innovation and technology wherever I can? This is a question I’ve been asking myself for as long as I can remember. As a CEO, tech entrepreneur, and mother, I’m the type of person who wants to make smart choices with the technology I use, and I’m constantly looking for ways to improve. 

Over the last two decades, I’ve used a LOT of applications. A handful of these have really made an impact on my work and personal life. These applications do not impede processes for me, they simplify my life. They make it easier for me to communicate with my team, to work with my clients, to conduct business, to manage my time, and also to take care of my health. 

In this blog series, I am sharing my own take on some of these technology applications in hopes that this information might enlighten fellow entrepreneurs and work-from-home professionals in their own journey. 

In this post, I’m going to focus on the tools that have helped to manage our Sales Cycle & improve our Marketing Efficiency.  These tools fall into the following categories:

  • CRM / Prospect Management
  • Email Marketing
  • Lead Generation
  • Project Management
  • Personal Productivity
  • Cloud Document Management
  • Application Integrations
  • Password Management
  • Document Scanning


Staying in touch with your customers and prospects is vital.  A good CRM system helps to aggregate and automate the lead generation to client management processes.

Zoho CRM

I switched from Salesforce to Zoho CRM this past year because they have made great strides in improving their user interface and are extremely price competitive.  We’re still working out a few kinks, but it’s been easier for us to adopt that Salesforce which we used for over 10 year.

Why I like Zoho CRM:

  • Web lead capture is easy and intuitive with excellent email template creation tools
  • Love their Blueprint capabilities combined with Workflow to really automate some functions within our Sales operation
  • Great integrations into Gmail, Chargebee (through Zapier) and Quickbooks
  • Allows me to create custom objects to track specific information for my business
  • Gives me the ability to add custom fields and values to forms (like leads, contacts, and accounts)


I used Salesforce in one form or another for over 10 years, so they are still worth mentioning.  While not the cheapest on the market, they have mastered some things in CRM that are note worthy and why we stay with them for as long as we did.

Why I liked Salesforce:

  • Provided exceptional custom reports and dashboards
  • Offered a web2lead feature for capturing leads from our website directly into Salesforce
  • Delivered great workflow features for email automation and task creation
  • Allowed me to create custom objects to track specific information for my business
  • Gave me the ability to add custom fields and values to Salesforce objects (like leads, contacts, and accounts)

Email Marketing

Most of us hate the volume of email that we get daily, but email is still one of the best ways in business to communicate with a targeted audience.  Subject and message are key and knowing how often to reach out, and what is too much matters A LOT! But we know we’re going to send emails to our prospects and clients, so we use Emma.


Emma is a great email marketing platform that manages the entire email process for us.  From audience creation (import, signup or manual add), to campaign creation and delivery monitoring, Emma has been our platform of choice since 2007.

Why I like Emma:

  • Provides great templates for ease of email creation
  • Has a very user-friendly email creation tool
  • Offers triggered / event based scheduling of emails
  • Allows me to easily manage my audiences and create custom searches for targeted reach
  • Collects and aggregates valuable data about how our prospects and clients interact with every email we send – Did they open it? Did they click on something? What did they click on?

Lead Generation

This is the magical secret sauce for company success.  How do you generate leads? We have used multiple methods over the years, but have found that two continue to stand out for us.  Google PPC and SEO and LinkedIn.

Google PPC and SEO

These are acronyms that are thrown around frequently and often aren’t explained.  PPC is Pay Per Click and is the advertising side of Google where you buy advertising presence (links) for targeted words that your prospects are searching for.  This is not a science for newbies or the faint of heart. It can get very expensive, very quickly. So pick an expert and pick them wisely.

SEO is Search Engine Optimization and is the method by which a company’s website is ranked on a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Firefox, Bing, etc.).  There is also a lot of science behind this, but it is vital for any company with an online presence to pay attention to this.

Together, PPC and SEO for my company account for over half of our new leads.  The other leads come from other digital channels as well as good old-fashioned (never to be underestimated) networking and relationship building.  


One of the digital channels that is garnering a lot of leads for us recently is LinkedIn. It is also a great way to stay connected with business connections.

Why I like LinkedIn:

  • Makes it easy to import existing contacts when getting started.
  • Allows me to easily find people and connect with them.
  • Delivers good information from people within my network in very concise feeds.
  • Gives me access to groups with similar interests to connect with and follow.
  • Has a tool – Sales Navigator – which helps to automate the lead generation aspects of LinkedIn.

These are just a few of the apps that have helped to help manage our Sales Cycle & improve our Marketing Efficiency.  I’ll discuss apps to improve your Personal Productivity and several personal and lifestyle applications I like in upcoming blogs.  If you missed my blog about apps I use for more efficient communications – go check it out.  

About the Author

Karen Perkins is CEO and Co-Founder of Vault Rooms, an online document storage, sharing and tracking platform.  She is also champion of Super S.M.A.R.T. Women – Smarter Choices.

Super S.M.A.R.T. Women – Smarter Choices

Super Smart women model S.M.A.R.T. behaviors (Serve – Motivate – Applaud – Reflect – Teach).  

Super S.M.A.R.T. Women is Karen’s platform for showcasing super smart women and to highlight the knowledge they’ve gained through their choices. Follow Super S.M.A.R.T. Women as they mentor the women of the next generation through their shared collective experiences.