Discourse: Managing Customers, Deals and Beyond

In many organizations, the fine art of landing a deal is something still managed with an address book and some notes. There are plenty of customer relationship management tools out there, of course, but most come with very significant price tags. Discourse is a new web app that works in conjunction with your LinkedIn account, offering an easy to use deal and project management tool at an easy to bear price.

You can start a new Discourse account by logging in with your LinkedIn credentials. You can immediately choose whether to import your LinkedIn connections to your Discourse account. This doesn’t necessarily make them all into sales leads but does fill up your address book. Discourse’s use of your LinkedIn connections is logical because they are typically straight out of your business network and so are most likely a subsection of the connections that will wind up in any sales tool you use. Discourse also encourages you to import your Gmail address book (s goog): something I’m less inclined to do, since my Gmail account has many non-business contacts in it.

Once you’ve got your account set up, you’ll have access to tools to manage deals, projects and tasks. You’ll also have a fairly robust address book, and metrics on how your sales process goes. The most important of these tools is the “Deals” tab. Within that section, you can track the entire process for a given sales lead and decide the next best step. The initial set-up follows a path of non-qualified lead, qualified lead, price proposal, negotiations, and deal won or lost. However, you can change the ordering of the steps, add new steps or delete those that aren’t used in your organization’s sales cycle.

You can also automate the process of getting new sales leads from your website into Discourse. The web app allows you to generate forms that you can add to your website, allowing you to receive leads by email.

Pricing for Discourse comes down to choosing between four plans, based on the number of deals you need to track. There’s a free option, with just a handful of active deals,  but most organizations will need more. There’s a basic plan priced at $5 per month which allows you to manage 20 active deals at any given time. Both the intermediate and premium plans — $30 and $45 per month respectively — offer unlimited deals, but the premium plan includes API access.

Overall, Discourse streamlines the sales process., and while it may not be the right tool for organizations with a large number of staff dedicated to sales, but for a smaller organization, it might just be perfect.

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