I am extremely hesitant to refer to Close.io as a CRM. In fact, so are they. The purpose of a Customer Relationship Manager is, not surprisingly, to help you manage relationships with your many customers. The natural solution for this is to take your address book and give it “software steroids.” If sales is a part of your job, then software solutions that beef up your contacts list are excellent news. But if sales is all of your job, you may want something a little more tailored to your needs.
Enter Close.io. (Pun loosely intended.) The company’s goal is not merely to close the gap between you and a potential customer, but to close the deal itself. Close.io would sooner call itself a “Sales Communication Platform” than a true CRM. Its whole aim is to enable users to make and receive more calls and emails than they could with any other piece of software on the market.
The team of six developers from Close.io had their beginnings at ElasticSales, where they sharpened their teeth by coding predictive telephone dialers, bulk email handlers, and entire phone systems for internal use within the company. Once they realized how invaluable these tools would be to any salesperson, they began to develop Close.io as a commercial product. Today, their expertise shines through the CRM cloud. Using unparalleled telephone capabilities, they have created for the salesperson what the scalpel is for the surgeon.
If your success on the job is based on the number of quality calls you can make, then this just might be the right tool for you. To find out more, read the full review.
Close.io offers a 14-day free trial. No credit card required. After that time, subscriptions are as follows:
- Basic – $65/User/Month, unlimited contacts and leads, mobile apps, email, API access
- Professional – $110/User/Month, bulk email, call tracking
- Business – $165/User/Month, call recording, call transferring, voicemail drop, custom reporting
- Enterprise – $(Market Price)/User/Month, personalized training and consulting
All plans include a 30-day money back guarantee. A closer view of the features provided with each subscription level can be found on their homepage.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
Close.io’s extensive use of telephone service requires something more than the usual browser-based dashboard. An app for both Mac and Windows is available for download onto your local machine.
- Mac OS: OS 10.7.5 or later, at least 4GB RAM, 8GB RAM recommended, at least 1GB of free hard drive space
- Windows: Windows XP or later, at least 4GB RAM, 8GB RAM recommended, at least 1GB of free hard drive space
Close.io comes in both a desktop version and a web version, though the web version does not support telephone service independently. You can use a third party phone service to make and receive calls, though.
Best Suited For:
Elastic, Inc Founder and CEO Steli Efti suggests that the ideal Close.io client is managing a pipeline with over 100 leads per year, using phone or email to do sales, and does not work for a Fortune 500 company. My findings suggest that this service is geared for medium sized business. It is likely that the company will continue development of their product to better serve more business types, but for now, those companies might do well to try out another Sales CRM solution.
Ease of Use:
Once I realized that Close.io was closer to the telephone than to the address book, I panicked a little. I’m glad that my job does not necessitate making phone calls as an integral part of my day. With irrational trepidation, I dove in.
Much to my surprise, I found the interface quite welcoming. Or at the very least, not unfriendly. The application will require some setup prior to use for each machine on which it is installed, but those settings are easily accomplished.
Setup can be a beast if you aren’t importing contacts from a previous CRM. You’ll need to map (or skip) fields for over fifty columns, so if this is your first time setting up a lead list, it’s going to be a bit tedious the first time around. Once you’ve imported all of your leads there shouldn’t be an issue, though.
Moving on from the setup process, I began to get a feel for how a daily workflow might go. The desktop version is identical in layout to the web version, making it easy to switch between the two as needed. If you import leads on the desktop, they’ll automatically show up on the web version and vice versa. The dashboard offers a birds-eye view on all the details of your deals. If I were in the middle of a conversation with a lead, I wouldn’t have to put them on hold in order to look up any related information. All the information relevant to the deal is either visible, or one click away.
I uncovered several setbacks as I moved through the software. These had to do with counterintuitive data dependencies. For example:
- New tasks can only be added while viewing a lead, and are necessarily tied to that lead. Apparently, you cannot create generic tasks.
- Clicking on “+ New Lead” forces you to create an entirely new company. The only way to add a new lead to an existing company is to find a lead that already exists within the desired company, and select “Add Contact.”
As for the primary feature of Close.io – telephoning – there are a few issues with call quality. I had sound when receiving calls, but not when making calls. I used the Help Chat feature to find out what the problem might be, and a support tech sent me an updated version of the software to download. After uninstalling the old version and installing the new version, the problem was resolved. It may be that the installation link after sign up hadn’t been updated, which is an easy enough fix, I think. Call quality didn’t improve much after the reinstall. I could hear very well, but the sound was not as clear for the receiver.
Close.io boasts an impressive list of features. Some of these can be found in other CRMs, but not with such a polished finish:
- In-app telephone support: Make and receive calls from within the program.
- Auto-logging: Calls and emails are automatically updated for each contact’s history.
- Lead activity information pops up as soon as the phone rings
- Sales workflow overview: All relevant information available at a glance.
- Built-in notifications: Alerts you to incoming calls, e-mails, tasks due and missed calls.
- Sales Tracking: keep track of every employee’s activity and individual sales goals
- Smart View Search: This system is setup similar to auto playlists, including frequently used searches like “recently created,” “never contacted,” and other status filters. These filters can be edited to better fit what you’re looking for.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
- Bedrock Data
Close.io does not offer much in the way of 3rd-party add-ons, but then again, it doesn’t need to. It already does what a lot of common add-ons are designed to do. However, several useful integrations are available through industry-standard Zapier. Among the most useful add-ons that Zapier negotiates are MailChimp, Wufoo, Google Apps, HipChat, Campfire, and ZenDesk. Clients also have access to the developer API.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Close.io offers nearly 24/7 access to engineer-staffed tech support. Phone support is only available for the highest subscription plan, but all other plans have access to email or chat support. The methods of communication are listed below.
- Support Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sales Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 1-855-CLOSEIO
- Knowledge Base: in addition to a searchable knowledge base and FAQs, you can click on “Email Support” to ask a direct question. A side bar will automatically populate with possible answers pulled from the knowledge base as you type your question into the form.
- A “Help Chat” is available within both the desktop and web applications.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Close.io still has some work to do to become a truly great product for sales teams. By their own admission, the company has neither mobile applications nor a mobile friendly website. Their price point is also fairly high considering what they lack in CRM features.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
There are far more positive user reviews to be found than negative ones. I have selected several to represent the most common feedback given by satisfied customers, including their criticisms of the software:
“I tried it out, and the interface is really slick. Calling worked great, and the ability to play with that on trial was pretty awesome. I was able to assign myself a local phone number very, very easily. Kudos to that! The pricing kills me. The ability to not embed images in the emails bugs me too. I see how it’s useful for selling to companies, but what about sales to individuals? You create a lead, and it’s an “entity” of sorts, then you add contacts. You could add a mobile phone as a contact, but that doesn’t feel right. Still playing with it, but it’s hard to justify the cost just for call logging. It’s certainly useful, but I still have to manually log call notes. Add a voice transcription for call recordings feature (like Google Voice voicemail transcriptions)”
“You would be insane not to give it a free trial. Have used everything – Salesforce, InfusionSoft, Pipedrive, Sugar, etc. At some level, they were all awesome, and at another level, all of them sucked at something important. After signing up for a free 14 day trial, I happily pulled out my credit card and signed on for $660/month for our (4) users after using it for just a few days. And we had just signed on for a competitive solution only 4 months earlier. Now, after using Close.io for a couple of weeks, the positive impact on our business has been profound. Since all calls and emails go through the system, the reporting is real-time and automatic for salespeople. Our sales staff loves it, I love it, and as long as it keeps working the way it is, we expect to be customers for a long time. P.S. Responses from support are typically within the hour. So far, I’m very impressed.”
“The straightforward email and calling integration in Close.io helped us solve many of our workflow issues and increased our outreach by over 30%. This has caused us to achieve huge growth in revenues while doing less work!”
Your email credentials are encrypted using 256 bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), with the data and keys stored on separate servers. AES is the same encryption used by the US Government. Of the few staff members at Close.io who can access your data, access is restricted to technical support and maintenance.
This software managed to overcome some significant personal predispositions of mine against using the telephone as a sales tool. I am refreshed by the company’s ingenuity and “rampant contrarianism” (as co-founder Anthony Nemitz would say), which separates Close.io from its relatively cookie-cutter counterparts.
This system is very cool. It makes me want to quit and go be a salesman so I can use this software. Ok, not true. But Close.io is the best tool I’ve seen for sales folks. I wouldn’t want to work without it.
It is not without fault, of course. There are a few things that I would like to see changed, but the functional capabilities can’t be denied. The benefit of buying a software subscription is knowing that improvements are always being made, and your money is making it happen.
At present, I can give Close.io a 3.5/5 star rating in good conscience, but I sincerely wish it were higher. Those stars are earned by the unique and powerful phone capabilities which are the backbone of the software, and the solid programming with which it is constructed. Close.io loses points for being so narrow in its CRM capabilities; only the purest salespeople will benefit from this software. Those for whom sales is only a part of their jobs will find Close.io too exclusive. The lack of mobility is also a strike against the software, given the increased need for on-the-go solutions, so Close.io definitely has room to improve.
Close.io: A tool so powerful that it needs its own category. Don’t look into it as a CRM option; it isn’t offered as such, and comes up short when held in that light. But if your sales team needs a pro-level telephone system, this is the tool for you. Give it a try by clicking here.