I was initially introduced to GreenRope CRM in 2021. I interviewed its founder and CEO, Lars Helgeson, about the company’s focus on sustainability and its unified platform for sales, marketing, and operations in this blog. In fact, the GreenRope brand name reflects this strategy— “green” is revenue and sustainability, and “rope” underscores the company’s premise that integrating the many “strands,” of customer-facing applications provides a strong rope for businesses to build on.
Recently, I had an update briefing, which delved into GreenRope’s strategy and plans for AI, as well as updates on some other areas.
Laurie: Can you tell us about the new AI features incorporated into GreenRope?
Lars: We built a tight integration with OpenAI’s ChatGPT to help our users be more efficient and gain insights that aren’t necessarily obvious. We focus on three separate functions that are helpful to people in sales and marketing:
- Personality assessment. We automatically build a prompt from a combination of standard contact data fields, custom user fields, social media profiles, website tracking, email interaction, and data appending services to give AI the information it needs to write a short summary of the contact’s personality. We also do the same things for companies and add competitor information.
- Content generation. You can use AI to generate content specifically for messaging someone in your CRM, and we will fill in the prompt with contact-related information to help ChatGPT write something more targeted and relevant. You can choose the number of words, reading level, and creativity you want the AI to use, and then we present three independently generated options. You can then mix and match how you like and, with a single click, add the content to your email, website, or blog.
- Buyer personas from data. You can choose an arbitrary group of contacts and generate up to three separate personas that represent the contacts in that group. We feed the statistics of standard and custom user field data to the AI and let it summarize that information to generate the personas. Marketers understand the importance of buyer personas, but typically they are built from empirical, qualitative data rather than quantitative data, which introduces bias from the focus groups working on them. This data-driven approach provides a more unbiased view of your target audience.
Laurie: How are your customers using this data in their sales and marketing efforts?
Lars: AI is not the end-all-be-all of data interpretation, but it can provide new ideas and generate insights that may not be readily apparent. Each of the features above helps our clients by saving time, so users are working smarter and more efficiently. It’s much easier to edit existing content than it is to come up with new material from scratch. AI provides that starting point based on real data.
Laurie: Do you provide guidance to help your customers use AI effectively, and ethically? If so, what advice do you give them?
Lars: I think it’s important to remember that AI is a language model and can’t do the real thinking for you. The key is how to structure the prompt and be careful to make sure it matches your writing “voice”. We have all seen AI-generated content now and it has a certain feel to it that may come across as disingenuous if you rely too heavily on it for communicating a message.
Since GreenRope generates prompts automatically based on actual CRM data, providing short summaries about a person or a company doesn’t raise ethical issues. As a productivity tool and a time-saver, AI embedded within CRM allows each person to be more efficient and get more done.
Ultimately, it is up to each user of AI to make sure the content generated by the AI is appropriate and conveys the message you want to convey. This is one reason why our content generator provides 3 different versions, allowing you to mix and match elements of each “pass” the AI makes at writing your content for you.
Laurie: How do GreeRope’s AI-powered contact analytics work?
Lars: When the AI tool generates content or develops an assessment of a contact or company, it does so based on data. Removing the personal bias of the user makes it more likely to be accurate, or at the very least, start the assessment process from a neutral perspective. This increases accuracy, which then influences the buyer’s journey and improves the chance of conversion.
Laurie: GreenRope has built its solution as a unified platform for sales, marketing, and operations from the ground up. What are the different applications that are under the hood?
Lars: We endeavored to pull together the functions that would be most commonly used for small and mid-sized businesses and non-profits in a way that is easy to integrate and use by the whole team. The key tenets to making a complete CRM work are security and interoperability. It isn’t enough to list out a long feature list, you have to be able to share data between functions efficiently.
We built these tools into GreenRope, so all of our users can take advantage of them out of the box, with no additional cost: CRM with sales enablement; marketing automation; email marketing; surveys; SMS and MMS messaging; voice (click to call, inbound call management); calendaring with event registration and payment; websites and landing pages with e-commerce, recurring payments, and downloadable content management; project management; knowledge management through a Wiki tool; support ticketing; chat integration with Olark; and a learning management system.
Each of these functions shares the same contact and company (account) data between them, meaning that all of the information is kept up to date and can be used for targeting and personalization.
Laurie: And how does GreenRope’s unified platform help all of these different functions to integrate smoothly?
Lars: When you jump to marketing-related functions, like building marketing automation flows, sales enablement resources, or customer service functions, all of the information needed to design efficient workflows is at your fingertips. Rules and personalization are all accessible, and with drag-and-drop tools, the only limit is your imagination.
Beyond this, we include some features that a lot of businesses need but are typically not directly integrated into a CRM, such as a survey tool, support ticketing, case management system, learning management system, project management system, and knowledge management system. All of these being directly integrated makes sharing data between them easy to pull data into contact and company records, as well as easy to trigger automation around actions within those systems.
Laurie: What types of customers are the sweet spot for GreenRope?
Lars: Many of our clients are small businesses ($1-$50 million revenue, 10-1,500 employees), but that doesn’t mean we are only for small businesses. We also service enterprise and government organizations with hundreds of users and hundreds of thousands of contacts and companies. We also work with nonprofits and even have a program where registered 501(c)3 organizations can use our platform for free.
We also know we can’t be everything to everyone, and there are some businesses with specific requirements that we may not be able to meet. I believe it’s important to communicate if you are unable to do something vital for a lead so they can find the best solution for them.
Laurie: GreenRope’s pricing model is a little different than the norm—it’s based solely on the number of contacts imported. What made you choose this model?
Lars: Many CRM platforms have really complex pricing models. When you have to balance increases in cost based on contacts, users, usage (like APIs or emails), and features, trying to figure out what is best for your company gets in the way of the software you need to grow. The only additional costs we have are around messaging since we use Twilio for sending and receiving text messages and phone calls and pass those costs on to our clients.
Our vision is to create a simple way for you to understand your total cost of ownership with your CRM and marketing automation platform. Since we include all of our features at every subscription level, there’s a predictable cost to using GreenRope. We want to make it a no-brainer to adopt every function we offer, so our clients get the most out of their subscriptions.
Laurie: GreenRope is organically funded. How and why did you choose to go this route?
Lars: GreenRope has always been organically grown, by design. I made the decision early on to keep everything in-house so that we could focus our energy on our customers. There are always pluses and minuses to every approach, and being organically driven has limited the resources we can spend on things. But in the end, I prefer the focus on growing a sustainable business that is determined to always provide the best customer experience.
Laurie: Do you work with partners?
Lars: Yes, we have a value-added reseller (VAR) partner program, where our platform can be white-labeled and branded as the partner sees fit. Since our platform can be customized to fit almost any business model, our target audience is very broad.
Laurie: How many partners are in the white-label program, and how do they typically customize GreenRope?
Lars: We have over 40 now, with more coming in every month. We recently restructured our pricing program to remove the upfront setup fee, which has provided an attractive way for our partners to come on board with very little risk or financial outlay to start.
The GreenRope platform is very flexible, and the wide variety of businesses and partners reflects that. Some of our partners focus on a niche, such as shipping, accountancy, legal, or even mobile detailers. Some of our partners work like a marketing agency or sales consultancy, approaching their target market with services as broad as our capabilities.
One feature that our partners enjoy is setting up model accounts, so they apply a template to various different kinds of businesses they work with. Since many focus on a similar approach to helping their clients, they will set up custom fields, automation, and email templates in their model accounts, making the creation of new accounts streamlined and fast.
Laurie: CRM is a hyper-competitive market with lots of vendors vying for it. What do you think most differentiates GreenRope?
Lars: I believe the breadth of our offering (the many features, the ease of integration), the simplicity of our model, and our outstanding customer service set us apart from the field. There are literally hundreds of CRM companies out there, but the company has been here for over a decade–demonstrating our staying power as we grow and continue to provide industry-leading technology. I am confident that we provide the most value in our industry. While we aren’t for everyone, I think our clients would agree that we go the extra mile for all of them, and our reviews reflect that.
Laurie: What has been the key to the company’s longevity in such a crowded market?
Lars: I believe it’s been our focus on providing great customer service and our dedication to continuous improvement. We have never sat back and been complacent, and it shows. Our user experience is always evolving, finding new ways to make things more efficient and building features our users request in a way that keeps the system from being overwhelming and complicated. The team we have assembled is small but mighty, with a broad range of experience and positivity, while truly caring for our customers and giving 100% to help them solve their problems.
Laurie: Lars, thank you so much for talking to me. Those who want to learn more, check out GreenRope’s website.