GreenRope CRM: Focus On Integration

Welcome to Lars Helgeson, the founder and CEO of GreenRope. I’ve been watching what CRM vendors are doing with integration; it’s important to helping SMBs get the most value from their applications. We’ll be talking about that with Lars. But first, Lars, give me some background on yourself, the company, and why it’s called GreenRope.

Lars

I started my business in 2000 after leaving the Air Force. We started as an email marketing company. We wanted to make it easy for people to build an email, send it, and track it. We were generating all this data, but on its own it didn’t really connect the dots between the messaging and the performance of that messaging.

Lars Helgeson, the founder and CEO of GreenRope

That was why we switched gears in 2008 to focus first on CRM. Email marketing is an important part of that, but CRM is the core and it’s what formed GreenRope. We used open architecture to integrate different components into one platform without requiring external integration work. We felt that was addressing the biggest need in small business. We save our customers over 90% total cost of ownership compared to other platforms because of the integration costs, primarily.

“GreenRope” is tied into that theme. “Green” is for revenue and sustainability. And the “rope” is that many strands make a rope strong. If you have all of these strands all bundled together tightly, your business is strong.

Laurie

Where is the company located?

Lars

We’ve never had an office. We are entirely virtual. The actual official headquarters is in San Diego, but our people are scattered all over the world.

Laurie

What makes GreenRope different?

Lars

That integration. We set out to create software that would work for most small businesses.

With the development, we wanted to focus on the key elements that most businesses have to do. One is websites and web analytics. Then email marketing — having an easy-to-design, professional builder that lets you track who opens, who clicks, who unsubscribes, who bounces. We have a support ticketing system. Filling out a website form creates a case, then you resolve that case and keep track of the conversation. That’s an important part of customer service.

Those are just three common elements. But we also have a survey engine, event management, project management, learning management, knowledge management. We’ve got accounting and invoicing. We do text messaging, telephony, video tracking, and online storage of media assets. We have a full automation system that integrates all components.

Laurie

Small, medium businesses are your target customer. What size is that for you?

Lars

We scale everywhere from startups to mid-sized companies and even some enterprises. The City of Phoenix and Pacific Life are clients. We scale all the way from very small to very large, from very simple business models to very complex. Different roles use the same system. Marketing, sales, customer service: they’re using the same platform and they can access the data in real time. They don’t have to worry about synchronizing or APIs.

We do have an API for people who really want to use something else and link that in. We are on Zapier. But all of these other components are built into the platform.

Laurie

You founded the company with integration at the heart. What’s your strategy — what you’re going to build yourself or do through partners?

Lars

It really comes down to what can we do ourselves versus what other businesses have already done and built well. We’re never going to be another Zoom I don’t want to be. But I love having our integration we built with Zoom because now people can go and give webinars, they can have their meetings. Attendees and registrants can automatically sync back to the CRM and marketing automation tool. All you have to do is create the events, let the system run on its own, and set up your automation workflows.

Say you give webinars. Someone registers or attends. That data will automatically be pulled into GreenRope. That can kick off a whole marketing automation sequence where you can send emails, text messages, recorded messages, and keep track of when people land on your websites.

We’re more than just marketing automation, we’re sales enablement. We have integrations with Stripe and authorize.net as a way to bring the payments into the platform so you can do automated invoicing and other things.

Laurie

How do you decide which applications to integrate directly and which to leave to third parties?

Lars

It depends on the complexity and what the advantage is to having a built-in integration. Zapier is a very effective way to do a fast, easy integration. With Zoom you have to create a separate Zap for every single event; people don’t want to do that. With our built-in integration we make it easy — all you have to do is create the event in GreenRope and the synchronization happens automatically.

Laurie

Stripe is directly integrated?

Lars

Exactly. You send the invoice. Or you set up an online storefront where you collect money from forms. All of that runs directly through Stripe on the back end. All the user has to do is enter their credentials and we’ll do the transactions for them. That saves time. If we can do that with a platform that’s fairly ubiquitous, like a Stripe or a Zoom, then we save users time and energy.

Laurie

Are there other direct integrations?

Lars

QuickBooks, DocuSign. We also work through PieSync to do some other integrations. Zapier and PieSync have two different applications. Zapier is for the automation around people taking an action. If you have WooCommerce, Shopify, or Magento, you would use Zapier to automatically pull those transactions into the CRM. Zapier is more transactional; someone is buying something from you. PieSync is better for synchronizing data back and forth. Accounting generally is more of a PieSync thing. You can use different tools for different things.

Laurie

How do you charge for direct integrations?

Lars

Our role is to provide an easy way for clients to do business. Part of that is not having to calculate whether to pay more per month for an additional service you will likely need. We don’t charge for features built into GreenRope and we don’t charge for our integrations.

The only exception is text messaging and voice and telephony work because we have to pay a third party for network cost. We pass that cost on to our customers. But everything else we can do, we absorb.

Laurie

How do you determine which integrations to do?

Lars

It’s based off user requests. We have an open forum with customers. If only one customer is asking for an integration, we probably won’t do that one next. We’ve got over a thousand customers.

Laurie

The challenge is to make the maximum number of customers happy without bloating and complicating the platform, right?

Lars

That is the continual balance. But I think we’ve done a pretty good job with that. We’ve got some really good designers who keep the system simple while still having all the power under the hood if someone’s an advanced user.

Laurie

Lars, thank you so much for talking to me. Those who want to learn more, check out GreenRope’s website.

© SMB Group, 2021

Source: Laurie McCabe’s Blog

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