12 Ways To Increase Productivity

I was rebranding my Pinterest page this weekend when I received a notification from the social network that I could upgrade my account to Pinterest for Business. I came across this very interesting infographic titled “12 Ways to Increase Productivity”. As a content marketer, I was immediately inclined to share it with my readers:

productivity infographic


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Browsing through the methods for increasing productivity, number seven was the first one to stand out from the crowd. I am a proponent of the Pomodoro Technique and this technique is at the heart of my strategy for staying productive at work everyday.


What is Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that assists users, like me, with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less interruptions and little exhaustion.

The process is simple. For every project throughout the day, you allot your time into short intervals and take breaks in between. Essentially, you work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes. Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, Italian for tomato. After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a break (15-20 min). The technique encourages its users to use a timer to ensure maximum productivity.

Every time you finish an interval, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had a tendency or push to switch gears to work on  to another task. Your goal is to eliminate  or reduce those tendencies as time goes by.

Try it for yourself or perhaps you want to know more about InfoFlo’s Task Management feature?

InfoFlo’s Task Manager allows you to create and manage your tasks or ‘pomodoros’ as the Italians like to call them.  Users can easily attach files, set email and pop up reminders, share tasks, set priority levels, tag by type or status, and more. Check out our video for more information on task management.


About Carmel Vision

Carmel Vision, a Toronto based CRM software development company, is focused on delivering a powerful management infrastructure that is designed to collect, search, and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in a typical office. We understand and listen to all of our customers’ needs and strive to give excellent quality at affordable prices.

Our flagship product, InfoFlo – is a central management system specifically designed to combat one of the biggest technical challenges facing any professional organization, how to efficiently organize, archive, filter and search the vital information that bombards our desktops on a daily basis. Our infrastructure allows all office activities to coexist together under one umbrella, making all critical information readily available at your fingertips.


4 Secrets to a Stellar Business Presentation

One of the best ways to succeed at owning a business is to acquire top-notch presentation skills.  Use these tips to get your next stellar presentation well underway.

1. Creatively Transfer Enthusiasm

It goes without saying, the boring presentations are often the ones that convey the least enthusiasm. Presenting a monotone, or overly wordy Power Point can leave an audience feeling their valuable time has been wasted. If you’re thrilled about your business strategy or product, find creative ways to transfer that enthusiasm to your audience, so that they can be, too.

2. Use Impact Stories and Anecdotes

Of course, this doesn’t mean spewing lengthy historical run-downs or sharing company quips that really only make sense to employees and co-workers. What it does mean is submitting relevant background that makes powerful impact and succeeds at bringing presentation points home.  These will serve to illustrate your position in a practical and down-to-earth way.

3. Bring in Meaningful Props or Statistics

That perfect photo or even a product prototype never hurts to spruce up an otherwise mediocre business presentation. Props give presenters a chance to be creative and to give their presentation personality. They also help visual learners in the audience identify quickly with the subject matter. Plus, they lend a degree of variance to what the audience eye beholds, keeping things interesting and on-point.

4. Use Natural Delivery Techniques

Relaxed body language and simple diction convey a sense of everyday charm to audiences – even in business.  The corporate world is full of formal stiffness and robotic sound-bites. Make a difference and stand out with a delivery style that’s both natural and professional. By rehearsing several times before the presentation, this style can easily be mastered in no time.



What Are the Long Term Benefits of a CRM?

Since the latter part of the 1990s, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become a buzz term especially among business practitioners and enterpreneurs. Companies, both big and small, have invested or are hoping to invest huge amounts to implement CRM strategies, tools and infrastructure in order to win the battle in the increasingly competitive economy. However, many executives are struggling to determine how their organization will balance the business value of CRM against its costs to determine CRM return on investment.

Many businesses in search of solutions and opportunities for increased sales and productivity may also be wondering, what are the long term effects of CRM.  CRM software can have a number of positive long-term effects worth exploring. In the short term, business relationships improve as a result of better behind- the-scenes organization and progress tracking, but even later down the line, CRM can prove to be a great return on initial investment.

For starters, companies can expect to see long-term improvement in sales. Due to the increase in valuable productivity time, sales teams spend less time manually compiling business relationship data and integrating complex information with other lines of communication. This means more freedom and flexibility for compiling evaluative reports such as sales forecasts and tracking progress over time – key ways to get ahead in today’s competitive markets.

Lasting cost-savings is also one of the long-term effects of CRM software.  Of course this benefit depends on making the very best selection possible when it comes to choosing the right solution for your company. If you decide to to get a hosted package be prepared to pay a set monthly cost for as long as you are own the software. On the other hand purchasing an on-premise package can save a company a lot of money in the long term since there is only a one-time cost. Be careful though some companies force you to pay yearly maintenance packages or charge you for upgrades so be sure to do your homework before making a choice.

Effective CRM software provides users with the tools to conveniently oversee business relationships from start to sale and even continuing on to regular follow-up. Without CRM, the task of tracking customers and their expectations can become enormously difficult.  With the right CRM software in place, companies can ensure clients and customers stay with them even beyond the critical first sale for lasting success even in the long-term.


The Differences Between Outlook & CRM Software

What is CRM?

The easiest way to define CRM is to call it customer relationship software. It describes a wide variety of software programs, both on and off the web, that promote better customer contact via a complete, well- organized data system. It can greatly enhance any organization’s administration since it links contact information with a large number of data points, including emails, relevant documents, purchase orders and more.

What are the differences between CRM and Outlook?

At first glance it may seem as though there are very few differences between CRM software and Outlook. Both are email clients that also have unique ways of storing client contact information. However, the difference become most apparent when one considers all that CRM software enables users to do above and beyond mere contact and email management.

CRM Goes Beyond Outlook

Even a basic contact management system is able to increase the capabilities of most businesses, and with additional features called add-ons, many software companies take the level of sophistication even further. For instance, the project management add-on allows users to coordinate project organization strategies with contact information, creating numerous ways to cross-connect information for perfect project completion.

What About Companies Reluctant to Abandon Outlook?

Outlook is perhaps the most popular email client around and has a great reputation as a solid contact manager, but companies should keep in mind that there are numerous Outlook alternatives that are highly capable of doing the job. For those who are reluctant to part with their tried and true Outlook configurations, but would still like to partake of the versatility a more advanced CRM system has to offer, it’s important to note that most contact management software s are compatible with Outlook and fairly easy to integrate.

Get the Best of Both Worlds

One convenient way to get around the fact that, as an Outlook reliant business, there’s plenty of progress your company could be missing out on, is to consider investing in an Outlook compatible CRM system.

The CarmelVision Infoflo Outlook Alternative & Contact Management System, for instance, offers all the flexibility of a genuine CRM system, and it’s easily integrated with Outlook. With the INfoflo system, all Outlook data can be imported hassle-free. This means you never even have to think about starting over from scratch.  Let Infoflo, with its affordable and customizable contact management software, do all the work for you. Find out more here.



14 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts For Quick Navigation

Unlike with search engine marketing, Windows desktops and laptop computers are equipped with hundreds shortcuts. Unfortunately, more than 50% of Windows PC users don’t use them. Some just don’t remember the keys they need to press, while others are so used to doing it manually that changing habits is often harder than reducing two to three clicks.

Whatever the reason may be for not using shortcuts, we are here to educate you about them and how they offer you an easier and quicker way of navigating and using computer software programs, such as CRM Tools. For instance, did you know that highlighting text with the keyboard and pressing Ctrl + C is much faster than taking your hand from the keyboard, highlighting the text using the mouse, right clicking copy from the file menu, and then putting your hand back in place on the keyboard? Below are top 14 keyboard shortcuts we recommend everyone print out and use with their Windows PCs and laptops.

Shortcut Keys                               Descriptions
Ctrl+z or Ctrl+y  Undo or Redo previous text change
Esc  Close a record, dialogue box or cancel a command
Ctrl + (+) Zoom In
Ctrl + (-) Zoom Out
Shift+F10  Display the Right Click Menu
Tab or Shift+Tab  Move to the next or move to previous option or option group when working in a dialogue box
Ctrl+s  Save a record
Ctrl+Shift+s  Save and then open a new form (Save and New)
Shift + Arrow Up orShift + Arrow Down Select multiple rows in a list sequentially
Tab + Space Bar Select multiple rows in a list non-sequentially
Ctrl + Backspace Delete full work instead of a single character
Ctrl + Home Move cursor to the beginning of the page.
Ctrl + End Move cursor to the end of the page.
Ctrl+Shift+5  Minimize ribbon

Using the above mentioned keyboard shortcuts can significantly increase your staff’s productivity, reduce repetitive keystrokes, and help keep you focused on the important tasks at hand.

About InfoFlo

Did you know that Windows Shortcuts is not the only thing that can improve the way you run your business, streamline your operations, and enhance your service offerings without the need to hire more resources? Let’s us introduce to you InfoFlo, the most powerful, affordable, and user-friendly CRM Software on the market today. InfoFlo offers more than 40 integrated features including automatic linking of all emails to contacts, document management, collaboration, social media integration, email marketing and much more. By providing users with 360 degree visibility into all activities linked to specific contacts and shared projects, users can easily improve the efficiency of their customer facing processes, while decreasing their software costs through InfoFlo’s revolutionary pricing model. You’re just 30 Seconds away from your free 30 Day Trial of InfoFlo! Download your free trial here.


What is the Difference Between CRM & Contact Management Software?

We currently live in age where short attention spans and busy schedule lead us to make poor assumptions and differentiations about certain technical terms. A good example is the use of “CRM” (Customer Relationship Management) to describe all Contact Management Systems out there on the market today. In fact, there is a big difference between a CRM Software and a Contact Management system. Many software vendors use these two terms interchangeably and 85% of business owners in Canada and USA aren’t able to tell the difference.

This post explains the differences between Contact Management and CRM systems in hope that it will help you make the right purchasing decision for your business.

What is CRM Software?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and can be used to describe the way organizations handle their customer interactions. One example of a common CRM strategy is the rewards card program offered by Starbucks, the popular coffee chain in North America and Europe. The store gives its customers a free card that gives them access to points and discounts when they swipe the card during checkout. Many CRM software and/or service packages exist to help companies manage customer relationship processes. Computers have greatly enhanced the customer relationship management processes because the key to a good CRM is uncovering and storing information about customers. The more a company knows about its customers, the better it can manage those relationships.

What is Contact Management System?

A contact manager is a software system that enables its users to store and find contact information, such as names, addresses, birth dates, and telephone numbers. Sophisticated contact managers such as InfoFlo provide calendar sharing features and allow several people in a company to access the same database. Essentially, Contact Manager Systems are focused on building relationships with individuals, such as your contacts, while CRM systems are typically focused on selling to or servicing a company.

About Carmel Vison

Carmel Vision, a Toronto based CRM software development company, is focused on delivering a powerful management infrastructure that is designed to collect, search, and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in a typical office. We understand and listen to all of our customers’ needs and strive to give excellent quality at affordable prices.

Our flagship product, InfoFlo – is a central management system specifically designed to combat one of the biggest technical challenges facing any professional organization, how to efficiently organize, archive, filter and search the vital information that bombards our desktops on a daily basis. Our infrastructure allows all office activities to coexist together under one umbrella, making all critical information readily available at your fingertips.


How To Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive in Customer Service

The default approach to resolving issues relating to customer service is to respond to problems when they arise. This reactive approach may satisfy the customer, but it most likely will not enchant them. In fact, many unhappy customers will not call to complain,they will simply take their business elsewhere.

Instead, imagine resolving problems before they take place. Or better yet, think about being able to address the issues before customers become aware that there is a problem in the first place. This approach, which is a proactive approach, is not only viable but possible as well. A recent survey conducted by Enkata found that being productive and proactive can reduce call volume by as much as 30%. As well, the survey found that this approach increases customer retention rates by 3-5%.

So how do you go about in being productive? What actions will you have to take in order to employ a successful, proactive customer service strategy? Here are 5 tips to follow.

customer service

1. Create Content That Answers Common Customer Questions

Many customers hope to find answers to their inquiries on their own, as opposed to them having to call or email a company for support. This means that if you make helpful information difficult or impossible to locate, you’re depriving yourself of a valuable opportunity to satisfy customers. A good place to start – create an FAQ page on your website. Include a link to the page below your signature in every correspondence you have with customers and prospects.

2. Pay Attention to Every Word Customers Say

If you’re not paying attention to what your prospects and customers are saying about you online, you’re missing out on the opportunity to resolve conflicts before they escalate. Reaching out to customers who mention your company, be it good or bad, allows you to pre-emptively address their needs and enhance their experience and satisfaction.

3. Integrate CRM Software – Empower Front Line Employees

Anyone who spends a day in an office environment knows you’re almost guaranteed to hear at least one staff member complain about the limitations of their tools, whether it’s a slow desktop PC or an application that doesn’t have the features they expect. Today, it’s much easier to give employees more choice about how they do their tasks without compromising on company policies. All you need is a powerful CRM that documents every conversation, every job order, or customer request.

4. Collaborate in the Cloud

The ability to access the most up-to-date information is essential for employee productivity. Adopting cloud solutions gives employees access to key applications and the most recent versions of documents, no matter where they are located.

5. Break Down The Barriers

You more than likely hired people for different functions, such as technical supports, sales, customer service etc. But if these people don’t collaborate, your customers may not receive the service they expect. Imagine how much better your products and services could be if sales tells technical support agents what customers are asking for and customer service shares the most frequent customer complaints with the rest of the staff. Such cross-functional collaboration could result in new productivity that boosts sales and increases customer satisfaction, which translates to more streamlined operations, increased productivity, and increased profits.


How To Use Hashtags and Twitter For Prospecting

Do you find it hard to find quality prospects on Twitter? Do you want a better way to engage you followers in order to increase your Twitter ROI? Twitter is an ideal social media platform that gives you access to a targeted audience and relevant conversations but first you have to cut through the line. Collectively, its home to more than 500 million active users and 1.6 billion search terms every day. That’s a lot of people and some of them simply have to be potential buyers.


Why use Hashtags as a Prospecting Tool

Twitter is a noisy platform that relies on real-time news and information for growth and engagement. As a business owner who wants to stay afloat in an ultra-competitive industry, you know how important it is to have conversations with the right people. But finding the right people and starting those meaningful conversations on Twitter is challenging when there are millions of tweets being sent every hour.

The principle of hashtags is to create a clickable link to a threaded conversation around a certain topic. They also are used when searching social networks, so you can track such things as conferences and events. By using Twitter wisely, you can take part in the most relevant conversations as they happen, spot opportunities before your competitors do, build relationships, deepen customer trust and make a name for yourself.

Finding Relevant Hashtags

There are as many hashtags as there as tweets but the difference is that you can use hashtags to filter out the tweets that aren’t relevant to you. How do you know which hashtags to use and follow? Does your research using quality Twitter marketing tools, such as HashAtIt.com and Hashtagify.me .

Spend some time talking to experts who know your customers best; that is customer service reps, sales representatives and account managers who have Twitter accounts and are actively using it to find prospect. Make a list of the most commonly asked questions or challenges voiced by your customers and other individuals interested in your services/products. If you notice that your current customers and prospects have the same set of questions or challenges, create an FAQ page on your website and share it on Twitter. It is likely those issues are common throughout your industry. It is a safe bet there are more than a few Twitter conversations around those issues.

With your list of pain points typed up and pinned to your office wall, you are ready to find relevant hashtags. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are hundreds of hashtags already in place that you can watch and use. To discover relevant hashtags, search for keywords related to the conversations, questions and issues you want to find. The easiest way to do that is by using the search function at the top of your Twitter homepage.

Carmel Vision, a Toronto based CRM software development company, is focused on delivering a powerful management infrastructure that is designed to collect, search, and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in a typical office. Customers are drawn to our InfoFlo software because they are tired of spending effort trying to “figure out” the complexities of traditional Customer Relationship Management software products. Traditionally customers are stuck deciding between an overpriced, feature rich CRM or a cost conscious CRM with very limited functionality. With InfoFlo contact management system you can have the best of both worlds and get a feature rich CRM at price point that is fair and also includes free upgrades for life.

Share this article on Twitter by hashtagging #CRMSoftware. Don’t forget to also follow us on Twitter.


6 Tips to Boost Email Marketing Campaigns

Yesterday, I was talking with a good friend of mine about email marketing and our conversation wandered into the topics of email, spam and why people don’t read your emails. Now sitting at my desk writing this blog it got me thinking… what would change this?

Here are 6 tips, tricks and points of advice to reengage your bored and tired email marketing recipients.

email marketing

1. Stop speaking about your list. Stop speaking about who is subscribed to your lists. Write as if you’re emailing one person only. It instantly makes your email marketing campaigns more personal.

2. Be practical. Don’t email only when you need something from your readers. Be helpful. Be generous. Be friendly. Offer them tips, advice, and anything that can help them become informed decision makers.

3. Be trustworthy. Let people know what to expect. Yes, sales messages should be part of your email marketing, that’s fine. Just be clear about it what happens when they sign up. Many times businesses include these messages in the fine print and customers often learn about them after they’ve signed up; frustrating them as a result.

4. Establish success criteria. This is an important aspect of an effective email marketing campaign. Write down a couple of goals you would like to achieve at the end of the campaign. Monitor these goals using metrics and analytics. Before you send the next email marketing blast, go over the success criteria of the previous blast, see what has worked and what has not, and adapt your future campaigns based on the results.

5. Give, Give and Give More… without Expectation of Return. Members of your email list have gifted you with their attention. Honor that attention. Your responsibility is to ensure they receive value from your email. When you focus on giving useful, relevant and actionable advice you’ll be gifted with more of their attention in the future.

6. Think about mobile. If a campaign doesn’t show up on mobile devices, it’s not going to perform well and you will not be able to attain your success criteria. Everything you send should be mobile-friendly. According to the study, 63 percent of Americans and 41 percent of Europeans would either close or delete an email that’s not optimized for mobile. Might be time to start using a responsive template, if you have not done so already.

Create, Run, and manage email marketing campaigns with the click of a button. InfoFlo CRM Software will allow you to drill down into each email campaign and provide you with real-time analytics.


How To Use InfoFlo CRM Software to Increase Staff Productivity

task managementIf you use the Internet for most of your work day and have yet to adopt task and project management tools into your workflow, or if you’re a business owner and haven’t set up your employees on a task management system, it’s time to seriously consider doing so. In a study done by University of Hamburg researchers it was confirmed that the focus afforded to our flighty minds drops from minutes to seconds when afforded with the opportunity to surf on the internet. According to statistics verified by The Associated Press, our ability to pay attention while online has dropped to less than 8 seconds in recent year.

The first step to making productive use of your time is to find out how you and your employees are presently spending it. Keeping a time log is one effective way to do this. After trying it out for one week, you’ll immediately gain insight into where your time is actually going. The act of measuring is often good enough to lift you and your staff’s unconscious habits into your conscious, where you then have a chance to dissect and examine and then change them.

Here’s how to keep a time log. Throughout the workday keep a record of the time whenever you start or stop a task. Consider using a stopwatch to keep track of the intervals. At the end of the day, sort all the time chunks into categories, and find out what percentage of your time is being spent on each task. If you want to be thorough, do this for a week, and calculate the percentage of your total time that you spent on each type of activity per week. Be as detailed as possible. Note how much time you spend emailing customers and prospects, reading industry-related news, making follow-up phone calls, eating, putting out fires, etc. If you get up out of your chair, it probably means you need to make note of that in your log.

You may not be surprised to know that you’re spending only a small fraction of your working time doing what you define as “work”. Studies have shown that the average employee does only 1.5 hours of “work” per day. The rest of the time is spent talking to co-workers about non-work related things, taking coffee breaks, eating, shuffling papers, and sometimes even texting on the phone. The average full-time office worker doesn’t even start doing real work until 10:30 am and begins to shut down and get ready to go home at around 4:00 pm.

InfoFlo CRM Software allows you to attain and maintain optimal productivity levels with its Task Management feature. It allows you to create time-sensitive tasks and organize them into lists. As well, it enables you to create sub-tasks, add notes or files, and delegate tasks to other members of your team with ease. Download your free trial today.