The Best Business Relationship Management Tools for Freelancers8 min read
A freelancer has a lot to remember in their day-to-day life. There are phone interviews to be scheduled, emails to be followed up on, client leads that need to be clinched, and projects that need to be finished. Fortunately, there’s also a number of great tools that can help with a variety of tasks, all designed to make your working life easier, your decision making better, and your future brighter.
Here are some tools any freelancer should consider using:
FollowUp.CC: Keep Communication Flowing
Have you ever had a project stall because you were waiting for a response from someone and forgot to follow up? Or because you weren’t sure whether your email had been read at all, but you thought it was rude to ask whether it had been?
What about because you forgot to answer that email you glanced at when you were only half awake at 4 a.m.? Or the one you glanced at during half time of the Super Bowl party…nevermind, let’s not talk about that Super Bowl party. FollowUp.CC takes care of all of these problems, and more: You can set reminders to email people, track how often and when your emails are read, and set automatic follow ups to emails that you never received a response to.
Those are only some of the great features, though: Let’s say you work with a client in Hong Kong, but you live in New York and you want to send emails during your client’s working hours Then use FollowUp.CC to schedule those emails for later, so those emails will be firing away while you’re sleeping and you can rest easy.
Most importantly, tools like FollowUp.CC save you a lot of time: And time is your most valuable asset as a freelancer.
Yesware: Data to Help You Take The Next Step
Everyone needs to know where they’ve been to know where they are going, unless you’re the guy in Memento. In which case, good luck.
In sales or landing clients, knowing where you’ve been means analyzing what works, what doesn’t, and what you can change to make sure you hit (or ideally exceed) all of your goals.
With Yesware, not only do you get the data in an easy-to-digest way, but you also get prescriptive analytics. Their website describes it best: “Prescriptive analytics combs through a variety of data sources to give actionable advice on how to get where you want to be…The true power of prescriptive data is in unearthing practical findings that you can act on immediately.”
Yesware tracks engagement with emails, including how many were opened, how many led to clicks, and number of responses. What if those thousands of emails you sent over the years were not as effective as they could have been? How many opportunities could you have been missing? Yesware allows you to assess exactly that, maximizing the value of you and your staff’s efforts.
Yesware can not only help to make your business thrive, but also can help you learn how to be a better salesperson.
Drag: Organize Your Inbox
Touting itself as the Trello in Gmail, this app will organize your inbox in a cinch.
With Drag, officially launching Summer 2017, you simply head to the site and add the tool as a Chrome extension where you then sign into your Gmail account and your inbox is *magically* transformed into the columns “To Do” “Doing” and “Done”. Your e-mails will all start in the “To Do” phase and then based on your own preferred workflow, you’ll be able to effectively toggle through each phase and get the hang of each stage pretty quickly and adapt it to your personal needs.
Want to get back to your old inbox? You simply turn off the Drag feature and your inbox will be back to its original state, which is a pretty great feature for comparative reasons and to get used to the new and improved workflow Drag will provide you.
This tool will not only clean up your inbox, but by organizing all e-amils into simple to-do lists, it’s one less list you have to worry about during your hectic workday!
Streak: Do It All In One Window
The name of the company, Streak, tells it all: It conjures up images of speed, something whizzing by in a flash. And that’s what they aim to let you do.
With Streak, you’ve got mail merge, the ability to schedule to send emails later, receive notifications when a proposal is opened, and much more. You can organize your inbox depending on the type of project: For example, if you’re hiring new employees, you can sort them into subjects like phone interview, first round interview, second round interview, and offer made. Each of these subjects are big, bold, and colorful, and you can move the email addresses of each possible candidate for the position from one step to the next. That way you don’t have to remember which John Smith was the one you wanted to hire and which was the one that never made it past the phone interview!
You can use Streak to keep track of who you have followed up with, showed a demo, or started negotiating with. The possibilities are endless: Anything that requires corresponding via email and that requires multiple steps, whether it is selling a house or raising funds, can be organized and made more efficient by using Streak.
This tool can definitely ensure that very little falls through the cracks, helping you to keep yourself organized—your clients will thank you for being so on top of everything.
Rapportive: Get to Know Whoever Emails You
How nice would it be to get a snapshot of the people who email you? With Rapportive you get more than just that: You get their entire LinkedIn profile right inside Gmail. That way it’s easy to know that, hey, it just so happens that your newest client lives in the town you grew up in or, hey, your oldest client just changed jobs. Knowing these things can lead to a better rapport (yes, I had to use the word) with that client.
Or what if you see that the CEO of your old company (who you are still on outstanding terms with because you don’t burn bridges) is also in the LinkedIn network of someone you want to hire to help you with a project. How much easier is it to get a reference when you can then simply pick up your phone and shoot off a text to your old buddy?
Not only does Rapportive allow you to make connections that you might not have otherwise made, but it saves you a lot of time. Each minute spent Googling someone’s history is a minute you’re not billing a client or generating a new lead.
All those minutes add up, but thanks to Rapportive, now you’ve got a whole lot more of them.
Insightly: Great for Small Businesses
Insightly is designed for small businesses. Even if your business is only you, there are a lot of features that could help propel your freelance career to the next level.
There’s mass emailing, email templates, and an automatic address book that updates as you save emails so that you don’t have to enter them manually. There’s unique reports like the “Reasons for Losing Opportunities Report” and the “Opportunity Funnel Analysis.” There’s lead management that can help you follow through with landing new clients or making sales, depending on the type of business you’re in.
Insightly also offers tiered pricing, from free to Enterprise ($99 per user/month). It all depends on your needs and your budget. So, if you’re just starting out you can give the free option a try and see how it can benefit you. If you’re well established, you can spring for one of the higher tiers and see how it can benefit you even more.
Nimble: Learn About Customers and Clients Quickly
Here’s another tool with an emphasis on speed. By using social media, Nimble gathers data about prospective clients, customers, or colleagues from dozens of sources. Like Rapportive, having this information quickly at hand can have many benefits, some of which might not be apparent until you start to see the connections between yourself and the people you are working with.
Nimble’s focus is also on social selling—by providing you with people who have demonstrated a need for your services or product, or who have some connection to you or your company, it makes starting a conversation that can lead to a new client or sale easier.
One of the most interesting features is Nimble’s “Today Page,” which is a daily update that provides your to-do list, personalized engagement opportunities based on your network, and other important information like that it is your biggest client’s birthday. Better stop for a card on your way to that meeting.
All of the above tools have great potential to benefit your career (and your bottom line), depending on your needs, the type of business you run, and your goals. Take some time now to test some of them out—a few minutes now might save you tons of time later. You’ll thank yourself for giving it a shot.