As much as I love pen and paper, I must confess to a slight obsession with technology. The pace of change and the fantastic business apps we have at our fingertips – and for free – is simply incredible and changing the way we work.
But it’s a double-edged sword. Some technology makes life easier, others can turn it into a struggle (doing my admin in Salesforce literally sucks the life force from my body)
So how do you know?
Why not start with this list of my favourite free business apps every Account Manager needs? I’ve road-tested each and every one and I promise they will help you manage your clients, your work and your life!
I also share a few of the ways I use them and would love to hear from you what your favourite business apps are and how they make a difference to your day.
Download your copy of the Best Free Business Apps eBook.
Productivity & Planning Apps
If you’re a visual thinker, you’ll love MindMeister. It’s a great way to visually organise your thoughts and ideas into groups and look for ways they connect. When you’re ready to turn your ideas into reality, with features like commenting and voting it’s simple to invite your colleagues and clients to collaborate with you too.
WHY: Great for creating relationship maps – who’s who in your client’s organisation and how they interact with the buying and decision-making process.
One of my favourite planning apps with a beautiful interface and some powerful add-ons. You start by creating a board, then adding lanes based on how you want to organise your activities. Then add cards for each idea, task, topic or whatever.
WHY: Create strategic account plans in seconds and invite your client to collaborate on them. It’ll encourage engagement and accountability. Copy my strategic account plan board.
A great multi-purpose app that eliminates distractions using the power of white noise. You can choose from a variety of background sounds that are proven to help your concentration. The “FOCUS” mode includes a timer which is based on the Pomodoro technique – do any activity for 25 minutes straight then take a break.
WHY: When you need to concentrate this app will help you crush your to-do list
Email & Calendar
4. Microsoft Outlook
I’ve tried so many different email apps but I keep returning to Outlook. Seamlessly integrate your calendar and email into one app and the “send availability info” feature makes it a breeze to schedule meetings (watch this quick video to see it in action). It does a great job of sorting emails by learning from your past interactions to decide which are priorities.
WHY: Simple way to schedule meetings with your client and the fact that you don’t have to jump in between email and calendar apps is going to save you a huge amount of time.
Doodle takes the pain out of diary management thanks to its unique meeting planning approach. Just set up a few options for your meeting with various dates, places and other preferences and send a poll to participants and invite them to vote (no account needed). Once the votes are in, just pick the final option.
WHY: If you want to coordinate a meeting with multiple participants you know what a nightmare it can be to find a time that works for everyone. Doodle makes this so easy and all in one simple email.
GoPro’s video editing app is something special. Create beautiful videos in seconds – vertical, horizontal and square formats. Choose from some slick templates and add photos and video along with a soundtrack and you have a stunning clip that is social media ready in no time. They have a desktop app but it’s terrible, so stick with your phone.
WHY: Have you ever attended a conference, trade show, road show, workshop, training or done any client entertainment? Take a few snaps during the event and you’ve got a great video to share with your client. The videos are hosted by Quik so you can share directly from within the app by email or post to social media.
Loom is screen recording software that works from within your browser. It’ll film your screen or your web camera or both. Organise your videos into folders and you can password protect them too. Videos are stored on Loom’s servers or you can download it.
WHY: Easiest way I know to record a demo or to quickly show how something works. Record your screen while you explain what’s going on and securely share it with your client.
The swiss-army knife of note-taking. Capture and organise your ideas, projects and to-do lists across devices. Record audio notes take pictures, reminders and more. Arrange your information into notebooks. Powerful search tools help you find what you need fast. Download the browser extensions to clip web pages.
WHY: Create and organise all your client-related notes and activities into one easily searchable place. So much easier than having bits and pieces scattered across CRM, Word, PDF and email.
9. Genius Scan -PDF Scanner
Use your phone or tablet to scan documents on the go and export them as JPEG or multi-page PDF files. It detects the page frame and removes any unnecessary background. Batch scanning allows you to scan dozens of pages in seconds. Add tags and titles for powerful search. File sizes are small so easy to share and also send directly to applications like Google Drive and Dropbox. Batch scanning makes it fast.
WHY: The single best application for scanning receipts for your expenses. The text enhancement features make even the most crumpled receipts readable. Also great to quickly copy handwritten notes and add them to your CRM.
Save articles, videos and images you find while browsing the web with one click. Add tags to stay organised and easily find information when you need it. Works on all browsers and devices so it’s incredibly useful to capture articles and posts you discover when you’re on the go and want to read later. The pocket button is included by default in Firefox.
WHY: Great when you’re doing research on your client. I’ll typically do a blitz on the research for an hour or two, save any interesting articles to Pocket and then read them later when I have time to digest them properly and make notes.
Awesome news reading app lets you organise, read, search and share articles. Keep up with the news that matters to you from publications, blogs, YouTube channels, keyword alerts, tweets and more. All in one place. The magazine-style layout makes it easy to organise your interests and makes reading a pleasure.
WHY: Staying up-to-date with what’s going on in the world, your business and your client is practically impossible. Feedly will monitor mentions of your client on the web and twitter, you can subscribe to your clients’ blog and monitor industry-specific keywords to stay informed.
What are your favourite business apps? How do you use them? Let me know in the comments.