I started my Business Brokerage/M&A career in 2005 after earning my MBA. At the time I was new to the country, with no connections in the business world. I had, however, a strong determination to generate a lot of leads through blogging and article publishing through the Internet.
This strategy worked and I built a good lead generation system for both business buyers and sellers. I soon realized that I was doing a very poor job of following up with those leads. As a result, despite working very hard meeting buyers and sellers, I was hardly closing any deals. I was very disorganized, spending most of my time looking for documents, attaching and emailing documents, filling out an endless number of paper forms and then misplacing them.
I knew I needed a computer system to manage my business but I didn't know of any that was serving the Business Brokerage profession at the time. My initial experience was with Office 2007 Outlook with Business Contact Management. Since cost was an important criterion to me at the time, I decided to use this free program that was attached to Microsoft Outlook.
After spending hundreds of hours customizing this program to Business Brokerage and entering my customers and listing information, I discovered that the system was getting slower every day. The system was asking for database backups and other technical maintenance that I had neither the time nor the interest to perform. Eventually, the database crashed and I lost one year worth of work.
Since organizing my business was a priority, I swallowed my loss and decided to give it another try. Open source projects were getting a lot of buzz at the time, so used an open source CRM system called VTIGER, which I decided to integrate with another open source website system Called Joomla. While the idea of having a completely integrated website and CRM system was interesting, the technical implementation was very hard. I eventually had to abandon the project and look for a commercial solution.
Salesforce at the time was getting prominence, I identified a solution for business brokers built on top of salesforce called PowerBroker. The solution looked interesting and after multiple phone conversations with the Owner and his assistant, I signed a contract to use their system. I provided my credit card information and started using the system, uploading my contacts and all my listings. At the end of the month, I received an email from Salesforce advising me that my account would be shut down because I hadn't paid the monthly subscription. When I called them and explained that I was subscribed by PowerBroker and I had to pay a salesforce subscription separately on top of what I had paid to PowerBroker. After multiple calls made to PowerBroker with no response, Salesforce suggested keeping my account for a monthly payment that was higher that my initial agreement with PowerBroker. In addition, I had to reconfigure Salesforce to customize it to Business Brokerage.
Needless to say that this took months and hundreds of hours. After all that work I became an expert at configuring CRM's. I could not understand how could most business brokers deal with all this work and still manage their practices.
I used Salesforce for 2 more years and it definitively helped me organize my relationships with Buyers and sellers. However, I realized that I still had to do a lot of work manually. I had also to use many other services such as mass emailing, email integration and others. Each service needed a new subscription with additional monthly cost, which I could not afford.
Furthermore, the customization wasn't flexible enough to implement a deep level of automation and integration with my website. While definitely better than not using a system at all, the end result was definitively short of my expectations.
Finally, I decided to build a CRM system from scratch with the help of a few programmers and that is how DealRelations was born.