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Please advise how I can set up clients and customers in CRM, Suggest how separate accounts in crm

Would anyone please advise or suggest how I can set up my crm. My company is an online travel company. We deal with companies who sell their hotel rooms on our platform. We also deal with customers who book the rooms from our platform.
I need help on how we can use the CRM.
We are constantly looking for more hotels to sign up so when we get a hotel contact information, we follow up with it until we finally sign them to our platform. Some might refuse but most agree so the outcome is either won or lost.

Then we have customers who usually call, email or chat with us. We like documenting every customer interaction. We get a lot of repeat customers so it helps to always pull the customers interaction history with us. There is no wining or loosing of accounts. its just for interaction purposes.

My question is, would anyone in here have a suggestion of how best we can use the CRM system. We connect customers to suppliers so we need both customer and supplier account information in the CRM. What is the best way to separate the two in CRM.

Should they be leads, deals, companies.... please help. Your suggestion is highly appreciated.
Can anyone please suggest... please
Dear Tiza,

I'm sure others have better insights than me but these are my comments for what it's worth.  I've been using Bitrix24 for a little over a year and while it can be immensely frustrating at times, it's probably the best on the market at the moment.

Whilst the points below appear to be criticism, I think overall Bitrix24 is great and worthwhile, particularly if you put in the effort to work out how it works.  It lists some of the simple pitfalls beginners experience and, in many cases, no one explains.

Bitrix24 has some great and simple customisation ability, although not without some odd needless quirks.

1.   A  lot depends on what you have already, which might determine both how you set it up and also how you import existing data.

2.  Don't rush to import your contacts and companies.  It is quite likely that they will need to customised before they are imported, which will save you massive headaches later (I imported my c10,000 contacts in from Outlook only to find that it did not respect any categorisation naturally; I needed to have set it up first.)  Bitrix24 has no bulk edit facility.  Its "duplication facility" is quite primitive based on on exact matches of name, telephone and e-mail address.  You cannot "merge" companies or contacts.  Bitrix24 only has 1 address for each company or contact, but as the address facility doesn't work well I would advise setting up custom fields for street, city etc.  This will also allow other addresses (e.g. home) etc.  Despite what it claims, Bitrix24 does not have a functioning export/import facility whereby you think you can expert contacts and companies to Excel, bulk edit then re import.

3.  I recommend that you import a few contacts/companies initially to see what you need and how it works before you import the lot.

4.  You seem to have two lines of business, with either hotels or punters as customers.  To me that implies that you might have two different types of "deal stages" to progress each potential piece of business.  You can either combine the stages or pay for the professional version ($200/month) to allow different analysis.

5.  If you stump up for the professional version, you can create unlimited online forms which integrate well directly with "leads".  In theory, other, externally created forms can do the same but I haven't yet done that.

6.  In theory, it has great telephony but I've been working at it a month and still haven't got it working properly.  Customer support and online help, whilst polite, are not very useful (they should look at Mailchimp if they want to get some ideas on good online help).  I've been paying 3rd party consultants to try to get it to work, so far without success.  It also has a transcription facility, which I've signed up for but still not seen in action. That could be great if I can get it to work.

7.  E-mail also leaves a lot to be desired.  You can get blindly copied in but you don't see the recipient and have to guess from the salutation (e.g. Dear Fred).

8.  There is, again in theory, e-mail integration with existing systems (e.g. gmail).  I have subscribed to this but nothing has happened.  The lack of a help desk does not reduce the frustration.  The same with the domain name.  You just think, what is the point?

9.  There are also, in theory, some great external apps but I haven't got a single one to work well within Bitrix24.  Take Mailchimp, it appears almost impossible to use it properly within Bitrix24; I have to create my list, export it then import to Mailchimp.  It works but it means you have effectively to manage two CRMs.  It would be so much easier if they worked together.  Both sides claim it's the other's fault.

In short, you need to work out exactly what you're trying to do and my suggestion is to try to use the system on a small number so you can see how it works in practice before moving completely.

If only Bitrix24 could deal with these simple issues, it would sweep the market.  There's an open goal.

Good luck.  It should be worth the effort and frustrations.

Hi Charles,

Thanks a lot for the great information and insight into Bitrix.. I have been using it with the few hotels so that I can test the system.
I import the hotel information into leads...
But I kind of get stuck because once we work the lead and the hotel signs up, we close the lead as Deal + Company. But then when we close it like that, we still have to go into Deals and bypass all the stages to close the deal as either won or lost.
So I guess I am kind of confused. Should the hotels be imported into leads or into deals? At the end of it, do we still close it out as Company?

I have not started adding our customer information yet. So was wondering if we can import customer information as CONTACTS. There is no deals with our customers. We just need a track record of all our interactions with them in notes so i am wondering if the customers can remain as contacts forever...

Yes, we have a two line business. We are the middle person. So we are really hoping Bitrix can help us separate the two in the CRM system.

Your further help or suggestion will be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot for taking the time to help.
1. "Leads"

The use or otherwise of "Leads" is a philosophical question linked in to how you run your business.  It seems like we have similar structural issues.  The approach I have taken is as follows (no doubt others would use another approach).

a)    Ignore leads for some time (see below).  Set up your database as contacts and companies.  Make sure your notes get put into a field (you can create custom fields then allocate them on import).  Also, I understand Leads only works on individuals not companies.

b) As a tip, clean up your database before importing, e.g. eliminate duplicates, make spelling consistent, make sure e-mail addresses only are in the right column, breaking out categories.  This biggest one for me is creating custom address fields and then duplicating for other addresses.  It's a lot easier to edit pre-Bitrix24 than when you are in. (You can once in but it's time-consuming; I also find it's much quicker to edit in Opera; Chrome can be ultra-slow for Bitrix24).

c)  The advantage of using Leads first is that you can create (by conversion) Contact, Company and Deal in one go.  I'm not yet at that stage because most of the people I'm doing business with are already in the system.

d)  It's my intention to use leads for new external approaches fr om potential customers from website forms.  If they've approached, then I think they should also be in deal as there is a likelihood they will buy something, so a conversion from leads to contact, company and deal seems correct.  I'm not sure yet how to deal with existing customers who approach via the website form.

2.  "Deals"

The way Bitrix24 is that you go to "Deals" to manage a sale so it is normal to be there when it closes.

I still don't know what to classify as a "Deal":  is it when I want to approach a potential customer, have approached that customer or when that customer has shown interest?  This I think you have to answer yourself.

For example, if I e-mail 30 contacts to buy a product (as at present), do they all go in as 30 deals?  In theory, yes but it would be very time consuming, especially when the number gets into the 1,000s, which I'm hoping will happen.  It might work when when I've understood automation, which seems great but I want to get a good functioning system first, all of which takes time and I'm not there yet.

P.S.  I've not yet fully understood the intended link/difference between "quotes" and "deals", which seem to have similar functions. It would make more sense if you could link the two.

3.  "Contacts"

Yes, I think that they remain as contacts forever.  I'm still trying to think of a way to record all product approaches to each customer (I'm expecting a low % take-up but still want to know what they've been sent).  Perhaps 1,000s of "deals" is the answer.

4.  "Deal stages" / pipelines

I have multiple products types wh ere the sales process is very different.  Starting on the free version, which only has one series of "deal stages" ("pipeline"), I merged all the stages of all the sales processes into one list, which seemed to work but is really a fudge.

The $200/month plan allows multiple deal stages.  I'm presently using the Professional version but haven't yet incorporated different "pipelines", mainly because I'm not sure I'll keep on this plan.

I also use "deals" and the pipeline for non-revenue business, such as signing up a new distributor.  I'm not sure this is right but it works for me for the moment.

Good luck,  I'd be interested in your comments/experience

Hi Charles,

Thank you so much. That fully answers my question and I think now it will work well for us.
Companies we already are working with will be in contacts and companies.
Then the new companies we are approaching will go into leads, once they show interest, they will be converted to deals, contacts, companies.
We can then start with deal negotiations and in the end, close as won or lost.
Since we initially converted them to company, there is still future opportunities of starting the deal again..

And I guess customers will be in contacts as well. I see contacts has a TYPE field so we will add fields to differentiate between customers and individuals contacts for companies.

Thanks a bunch.  
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