1. The Next Generation in Online Lead Management Software

    January 14, 2013


    As a web development company, it’s no surprise that we attract clients primarily through our website and other social media channels. Very early on in my business, I researched CRM providers in attempt to find the best lead management software for our kind of business. After trying out a few services, I was left feeling pretty underwhelmed with what was on the market, which was mostly convoluted software that threatened to eat more time than it would save, or half-cooked websites with truly atrocious user interfaces. The answer was simple, build my own.

    In a few weeks we created our first version of RainLeads, an online lead manager that streamlined inquiries from our website and various targeted microsites. No manual data entry, all the details were right there to set lead statuses, check off milestones and assign to my sales staff. Over the years new CRMs have come onto the market, but our home-brewed CRM has stayed the test of time for our business. Never having to rely on my staff to manually enter the many online inquiries we receive from prospective clients ensured that no lead was misplaced and that I would have an accurate view of what was happening in our sales pipeline.

    This year we followed through with a long-time goal, to adapt our lead management system and offer it to other businesses at an affordable price point. This month we launched www.rainleads.com as the first cloud-based lead management software that provides custom form creation and integration, bringing website, microsite, blog and social media leads into one central location. We were careful to include all the features that have been most vital to our own sales process as well as several more that our clients have requested over the years, including lead and user statistics to track progress, an interactive sales calendar with reminders and iCal/Google calendar syncing,  proposal management and pipeline tracking, just to name a few!

    One of the most complex and exciting features about this version of RainLeads is the form builder. You don’t need to be a developer to create simple or lengthy contact forms to collect all the information you need to convert a lead to a client. Account holders can generate interactive forms, style them to match their existing website or branding, and easily embed them onto their website, microsites, blog or Facebook page. This brings online inquiries directly into your RainLeads dashboard, but also tracks valuable information about where the form was submitted so you can gauge the success of your various online channels.

    We are just scratching the surface with cool features that we plan to roll out to our RainLeads customers, and I’m excited to keep enhancing our packages, which range from $9 to $49 per month. If you’re looking for a CRM change, or simply looking to start organizing your sales process with a simple but smart lead management software, I encourage you to sign up for a free, no commitment 30-day trial and decide if RainLeads could work for you. We also welcome any feedback and suggestions, so let us know what you’d like to see as well!

  2. Have No Fear, Depend on No One

    August 8, 2012

    Photo by James Jordan

    “The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one.” –Gotama Buddha

    Wow, it has been a busy summer. I’ve spent the past few months enjoying some much-needed downtime with the family, and between the usual work stuff, I’ve seen through many new plans for the handmade jewelry business. A friend recently told me, “I think you start businesses as a form of stress relief.” I had to laugh, because it’s a pretty absurd thought. Sadly, it’s true, but it’s not exactly stress-free.

    While I’ve achieved several milestones, including creating the Miladee brand, designing an e-commerce website and product packaging, and even hosting my first jewelry party, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. There have been a few moments where I’ve very much felt like throwing my hands up and reverting my jewelry business back to an expensive hobby. It’s such a small venture compared to my web development business at Pearse Street, that I frequently question how I can justify spending any time on it at all. After seven years, Pearse Street is now a well-oiled machine, with client demand, systems, and a great team making each step of the process happen. By comparison, Miladee is a little dinghy in a big ocean, and I’m figuring out how to row all by myself again. (more…)

  3. Start Up Gumption

    April 5, 2012

    “A good goal should scare you a little, and excite you a lot!” – Joe Vitale

    I hate when people talk in hypotheticals, so I’ll spare you the mystery of my new little venture, which is actually more of a hobby. I’ve been making jewelry for a little over a year, for a creative outlet that doesn’t require a computer screen. I enjoy it and it saves me buying a lot of poorly made jewelry to match my wardrobe when I can make my own. And they make great gifts!

    I started getting a little more serious about it last month, taking some nice photos of my pieces and posting them on Etsy just to see if there might be any interest. Immediately I realized that the process of staging the pieces, photographing and editing the photos, and then describing each piece was incredibly time consuming… and hard. How do I become my own ear model for photos? How do I name these beads? They’re blue, and I made earrings out of them! What else can be said? I felt so… inadequate. After working at the top of my work pyramid for so long, I felt strangely vulnerable not knowing more about this craft, especially if I had any hope of monetizing from it. When my cousin said she connected with a local shop owner about possibly selling my jewelry, which should have been really exciting news, I was petrified. No! I’m not ready! I’m not sure if my stuff is good enough! Why do our brains tell us these things? Perhaps a little bit of self-criticism can drive us to do our best, but in a lot of cases, it can leave us stuck in the mud going no where.


  4. How to Pick a Winning Domain Name

    January 20, 2012

    On our social network development travels, we are occasionally tasked with helping our clients research and choose a domain name. This is a serious effort, as it will represent not only the website but the over-arching business brand as well. Below are some quick guidelines on how to start this process and our general rules of thumb.

    Business & Domain Name Compatibility

    When choosing a business name, with very few exceptions, it’s very important to make sure that you are picking a name that can be represented well as a domain as well, ideally a .com. It’s not like putting your name on a business card anymore. Most businesses now require a web presence, and easily locating that URL should be considered. An example would be our own business name, Pearse Street Consulting, Inc. Thankfully Dublin’s Pearse Street was still pretty underdeveloped when I took my first entrepreneurship plunge, so the domain www.pearsestreet.com was available. If it hadn’t been, I would have likely looked elsewhere for name inspiration.

    Short and Sweet

    The next challenge of course is finding a viable domain that is easy to remember, i.e., short and sweet. For example, www.pearsestreetconsultinginc.com is not what I would consider short and sweet, so you won’t find our website there. Finding catchy domains is easier said than done with dwindling free domains, and you may find better luck purchasing domains from sites like Afternic and BuyDomains, but expect to pay more than a few dollars for them. When recommending names, I try to go with two words or less, words that are not commonly misspelled and combinations that roll of the tongue easily.

    Get Even Shorter with Extensions

    It’s always a good idea to buy up the common extensions to your domain, including the .net, .org and if you are feeling ambitious, the .us and .biz. It ensures that someone else won’t snatch it up and try to sell it to you when you start making your millions. Another cool trend is to explore tiny URLs as secondary domains, utilizing international extensions. For example, we have pearse.st, which we haven’t done anything ingenious with yet (wait for it!). The .st is the Internet country code top-level domain for São Tomé and Príncipe. Go figure! A few things to consider here is that these domains are typically a little more expensive than regular .coms and .nets per year, they take longer to purchase and activate, and there is always a level of uncertainty with how reliable or stable the country of origin is, which is why it’s good policy to have his as a secondary versus primary domain.

    Here are some helpful sites for your domain name search, and I’ll add to these as I come across more:

    -Yahoo Small Business: Great site for researching available domain and related suggestions and purchasing domains in bulk at good prices

    -Panabee.com: This is a fun site to find unusual names using word combinations

    -Afternic.com: My go-to spot to find premium domains

    -101domain.com: One of many sites that sell international extensions

    Happy hunting!

  5. Operation Indecision

    October 17, 2011

    Not long after my stomach declared war on my two old friends, stress and spicy food, I started to think about how I could potentially alleviate some stressors at work by adding to our team. If you’ve ever grown a small business, you know that you start out typically by yourself, wearing all the hats, and slowing but surely begin to delegate those hats to others who can be trusted with those responsibilities. I’ve managed to make really good progress with this over the past year, so I decided to continue the trend and dive into the interviewing process to fill a new position.

    This was the first time that I had interviewed for an entirely new position in a long time. I am used to hiring designers and developers, which I have down to an exact science at this point. Interviewing for a management role forced me to assess different backgrounds and qualities in the candidates, and with each interview I found myself forming the position around that person for the moment, imagining each person’s potential for growth in our small, growing company. (more…)

  6. The Perfect Client

    October 8, 2011

    One thing that makes our industry very unique is that our clients are also that, very unique. Unlike some service providers, we don’t work with the same type of vendor or business owner or consumer demographic time after time. We work with a broad range of clients, from accredited universities to established businesses to start-ups. I would say that start-ups are our most frequent type of client, but among those, we have doctors, military members, college students and small business owners to name a few. Whether this is a first website endeavor or if the client has plenty of entrepreneurial experience, there are certain qualities that we love to see in the people that we work with! (more…)

  7. My Journey to Venture Capital: Part 2

    April 26, 2011

    I can’t believe that I wrote Part I of this series over a year ago. How time flies!

    So, what has happened? Well I had a baby, that sort of ate up a few months of my time. Back on track now, we’ve been noodling through some new venture ideas lately, with the hope of acquiring investors to fund them. This has thrown me back into the “To Get VC or Not” journey. As I mentioned in my last post, our structure and approach is a bit unorthodox, coming at ventures with an established team and business, with the hope of building out not just one great idea, but many. It’s not a model that you really see, so instead of wasting my time and anyone else’s time moving in this direction, I made a really good decision. I asked for some advice.

    I decided to reach out to some of the connections that I’ve built up over the past six years and ask some pointed questions on what could work and what definitely won’t work when it comes to attracting investors. I had the opportunity to connect with a former client, who also happened to be a serial entrepreneur, tech start-up CEO and angel investor based in Silicon Valley. He was gracious enough to answer some of my questions and offer some valued advice. (more…)

  8. The Growth Balancing Act

    March 29, 2011

    Took a little break from my posting to visit one of the greatest cities in the country, New Orleans! Had a great time and enjoyed some long overdue R&R. Three hours back at the office, I was thinking, give me sandals, 80 degree weather, some strawberry beer and fried green tomatoes, please and thank you!

    Anyway, back to reality! Every day now I am faced with a new wonderful challenge: growth. How could this possibly be a bad thing, right? Especially in this only slightly improved economy, it’s hard to see this kind of problem as a real problem, but unfortunately poorly-managed growth can be debilitating. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a high-growth market and the phones are ringing, good for you! Now, how do you turn a growth spurt into long-term stability? (more…)

  9. How to Hire Good Talent

    March 11, 2011

    For the past few weeks we have been interviewing for entry-level positions in the company. The first quarter has blown our socks off in terms of new projects, so we’re now charged with the task of growing our Pearse Street family ever so carefully! Hiring is a time where, as a business owner, I pull from lessons learned more than ever. Who we are as a individuals, essentially, is who are as a team and as a business. One bad hire can really affect our group dynamic, not to mention throw a wrench in our project schedule if someone doesn’t live up to standards.

    In this industry, it is actually pretty tricky to hire someone who is qualified for what we specifically do, so I have a few methods that I employ for hiring everyone from designers to programmers. Here goes.

    Love what you do.

    This is an absolute requirement. Code for fun? Design in your spare time? Guess what, we do this all day long and strangely enough, what do we do in our spare time? Well, most of us work on fun side projects, from mobile apps, to hobby networks, to design projects for friends and family. To us, this is more than work. Remember those sports shirts that were so 10 years ago reading “Golf is Life”? Well, we need some that read “Code is Life” and “Photoshop is Life.” Seriously, someone get on that. (more…)

  10. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

    February 26, 2011

    I’m the first to admit that when I want something, I don’t like to wait too long to have it. Nothing was more satisfying than embarking on my search for office artwork on Thursday, only to have a collection in hand on Friday afternoon. That, however, was a nearly cosmic sequence of events. Not everything can always come together so quickly. Building a house, starting a business, even having a baby. All things happen in due course.

    With websites, it’s not like running to the store and getting immediate satisfaction from a purchase. I’ve had clients liken their website-building experience to being “pregnant” with their concept, with the end goal of “delivering” a beautiful website (they say these things, not me, I swear). As much as I can relate to the seemingly never-ending gestational process, I’d say website construction is more like house-building. I haven’t personally built a house but I was heavily involved in the remodel of half of my house, from gutting to finishing touches, and I know how much planning, design, shopping and patience a project like that takes. While the home improvement shows make it look easy, they’re also squeezing weeks and months into a 30-minute show.