4 min read

How to make a CRM for Developers

A little background on why I set out to build Pickle CRM and three reasons it's important.
How to make a CRM for Developers

When I set out to build Pickle, I noticed something: there are a lot of CRM tools out there. It’s a busy market.

Though despite all the other CRM products, I wanted something different. I wanted something that was for me. First, let me tell you about myself:

I’m what some people call a serial entrepreneur. I’m not super fond of the term, but it makes sense. I build, market, and design products for startups and launch new companies myself. By all definitions of the word, this fits.

Back to CRMs…

The more and more I dug, the more I found that almost every CRM tool was sales focused or spam focused. But they both have something in common: they both do things their way.

The sales focused CRMs seem to be focused on generating leads, moving people through pipelines. They want you to get a bunch of “leads” and help convert them into paying customers. This is their focus.

The spam focused ones tend to build auto dialers, email campaign integrations, and mass text messaging. They are more marketing automation platforms with some contact management sprinkled on top.

Neither of these CRMs solve the problems that I was originally trying to solve.

When I first dreamt up what my ideal CRM tool would look like, it was a bit different. It was something that would help me stay in touch with people across the globe. It would be easy to integrate with.

If I’m in a different city, it’s hard to remember who I should reach out to – and if I do, how do I catch up with them if I haven’t seen them in a year or more?

It’d help me know more about my customers. Be able to know how they like the product. It’d tie everything together from issues they’ve faced, times they’ve upgraded, feature suggestions and notes. Right now, I do this in a dozen different places. The data is fragmented.

There are also a lot of tools for communication. Slack is great for a streaming list of messages, but not great if you want to know things about a person. Sure you could search history, but Slack won’t give you a profile based on a customer or a friend. It’ll give you a stream of messages.
Facebook let’s you know about a person, but not in the context of your product. Twitter and LinkedIn are the same.

The desire is to help you know your customer and to act on that information.

I noticed a common problem with each product I or a team started to build. We always had to build some sort of admin dashboard. When it’s just you it’s pretty easy to get away without one. You can easily write sql queries to manipulate the data and view results. But as you begin to grow and sign up customers, you become more busy and writing those queries gets a bit more difficult. You’re busy doing marketing, sales, customer support, and development. Eventually the chaos needs to be contained.

It’s repetitive and time consuming to build a dashboard for your new or existing product. It’s not what your product/company is about. You wanted to build a platform for live event merchandise but you end up spending a ton of your time building a dashboard to manage customers. Chances are, you’re not in the dashboard building business — you’re in the business of building your product and you’d rather focus on doing that.

Life is short and you’d be better off building your product.

Salesforce is a tremendous example of a CRM that I do not want to build. They spend a lot of their time advertising “No Software,” but really it’s a hoax.
Salesforce works, and it’s great for those who can afford it, but it’s not for everyone and it’s not for me. Salesforce came out in the 90s and their original claim was that you shouldn’t have to install anything. Your IT department would be freed up from this. No more dealing with the desktop software headache, you could pop open your browser and be ready to go. No more software patches, updates, and accessible from anywhere (the “cloud”). But, it’s not quite that dreamy.

Most companies do two things when using Salesforce: they hire people to manage it and they hire consultants to customize it for you.

It’s claim is that it’s simple. As simple as hiring people to manage your Salesforce (average salary around $74k each). Then hiring consultants to customize it ($$$). And to top it all off, paying a small forutne each month. Yuck.

People don’t build their own blogs anymore, they use Medium or Wordpress. They don’t build their own email marketing systems, they use Mailchimp. There are tools for the job and these tools free your time so you can build your product.

So this is exactly what we strive Pickle to be.

  1. A tool to help you stay in touch with people (being customers, family, friends or partners).
  2. A developer friendly experience.
  3. And an admin dashboard so you don’t have to build one every time you build a new product.

If we focus on these three things, people will be able to focus on building the best product they can.

This is the future of Pickle.