How Alexa Can Integrate With A CRM for Your Small Business

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Amazon is making headlines in the business world (again) just a year after Alexa for Business was launched in November 2017. Echo’s lineup of smart speakers proved a commercial success with tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices sold and over 50,000 skills (and counting) developed for Alexa by a growing community of users and developers across the globe.

Forward-looking companies have already seen the potential of deploying Alexa for Business particularly in customer service, productivity, and workflow. Companies like Air Canada, Telus Corp, Manulife, and TD Bank are working with Amazon in building company-specific skills for Alexa to create a seamless experience for workers and customers alike.

Alexa Skills in a Nutshell

Skills are essentially apps designed to work on Alexa to fulfill specific tasks. Amazon made it open for partners and third-party app developers to build skills which can either be used exclusively by the company who made them (private skills) or publish the skills  for everyone to use (public skills) after being certified by Amazon.

Skill engagement has grown by 75% in 2017 and continues to grow by 50% year over year. This is key to Amazon’s success, outperforming tech giants Google, and Apple in terms of smart speaker sales during the 3rd Quarter of 2018.

Building a Smarter Workplace

Amazon goes beyond consumer electronics for smart homes to voice-activated workspaces for small businesses by adding a layer on top of Alexa’s basic features. Small businesses can do a lot more by configuring Echo devices to work with room profiles, calendars, conferencing systems and by creating custom skills to fulfill specific tasks.

Here are some examples of use cases of Alexa being used in the workplace.

Hands-free Conferencing

Conde Nast and Propel Insurance were among the first to use Alexa for Business to schedule and conduct meetings with co-workers. Alexa helps eliminate cumbersome steps when looking up for available rooms, scheduling meetings, and so on.

For instance, you may ask Alexa to schedule a meeting and it will pick a date for you, or have Alexa pull out your company calendar and choose one yourself. Join meetings on the fly by simply talking to Alexa to patch you through – no dialing in or typing passwords.

Owners of small businesses also like the fact that Alexa supports third party conferencing apps like Skype for Business, Cisco, WebEx, and Zoom, making it much easier to transition from screens and keypads to voice-activated systems (or have both at the same time).

Smart Offices

Wouldn’t it be great to have an AI who could tell your way around, pull out specific information for you, or ask maintenance to fix things around the office? Valence and General Electric were able to accomplish this feat by building Alexa skills and configuring Echo devices in a certain way.

What’s really interesting is how these companies came up with these ideas. Normally, they’ll have everything printed out on inch-thick corporate manuals/inventories or have them posted in their company website and people will have to search through them for answers.

But what if they can simply ask and have just the information they want from a voice-activated smart device like Amazon Echo? Using cutting-edge technology in conversational AI and voice recognition, businesses are able to build company-specific skills for Alexa, anything from answering specific questions, providing technical guidance, to sending out requests in a more natural way which is through spoken language.

Voice-enabled CRM

One of the best use cases of voice AI (which also feels more natural to use) is being able to interact with CRMs by speaking to it. Although there are some kind of voice-enabled CRM in the past, it’s nothing close compared to what Alexa for Business has been able to achieve.

Small businesses can now create their own custom skill or API for Alexa to interact with existing CRMs like Small Businesses Dream using their own voice. This can save them a lot of time looking up through each list or typing in new leads. So instead of switching back and forth making calls, typing customer information, inquiring about their leads and prospects, and taking notes on their last call, sales people can stay on their smart speakers and have Alexa and Small Business Dream do the rest of the job.

Stonehenge NYC is a perfect example of how a private real estate company was able to deploy Alexa for Business to create a seamless experience for their employees and rental customers by linking Alexa with their database and CRM service. They have over a hundred skills for Alexa and are continuously building more skills as they go.

Choosing the Right CRM for Alexa

Alexa’s extensibility makes it an ideal choice for a lot of third-party software solutions like Small Business Dream. It has been successfully deployed to work with some CRMs with a little help from the CRM providers, app developers, and Amazon.

Small Business Dream allows first time users to experiment with its email autoresponder, sales funnel, survey setup, landing page editor, and analytics. It’s especially important for small startups who need sales and marketing automation they can easily work on without spending too much on trainings and onboarding new employees. Small Business Dream will guide you through the whole process one step at a time, or you may reach them for consultations and mentoring on the best practices of using sales and marketing automation for your business.

Learn more on how you can successfully build your small business at and start using our suite of tools to increase your sales and profitability like never before.

Creating Systems for Your Business – Grow Your Business by Working ON It

“Work on your business, not just in your business.” We’re all familiar with the phrase. But what does it really mean?

Getting your business off the ground is no easy task. As a business owner, you need to be able to transform your business from a fledgling startup to a more stable, self-sustaining source of income.

What it means to work ON your business

If you’re in the habit of checking on your employees and micromanaging every single task, you’re working IN your business. However, if you devote most of your time planning and implementing changes to maximize your profitability, then you’re working ON your business.

Small businesses usually start off by working in their business during the first two years, but ultimately, they should be able to work on their businesses on a strategic level. We can tell if a business has already matured if the CEO spends most of the time growing the company instead of getting invovled in the day to day operations.

To put another way, if you can take a month off on a holiday without fear of losing your business, then you’ve already succeeded working on it. As simple as it sounds, the process of getting there doesn’t come easy. Most business owners start out working in the business before getting off the ground.

The Two Levels of Leadership

There are generally two levels every CEO must lead and manage his or her employees. The first is necessary but the CEO should strive to spend most of his or her time on the strategic level.

  • Operational Level – deals with routine tasks such as maintenance and upkeep, customer engagement, production, distribution, and sale of goods and services.
  • Strategic Level – deals with the higher level of managing your business with some long-term planning. Strategic level planning usually includes such activities as marketing strategies, customer acquisition, customer retention, brand awareness, promotion, ads,  allocating resources, and acquiring new assets, all of which are geared towards expansion or getting ahead of the competition.

Steps on how to start working on your business

Some of the best practices to ensure your business is successful include hiring the right people, delegating tasks, creating systems for your business, managing cash flows, and using technology and innovation to fast-track your business and keep up with a constantly changing environment.

Hiring and training the right people. Getting the right people on board can be very difficult and costly, particularly during the initial stages. You’ll probably start off with just a handful of inexperienced undergrads doing mostly clerical jobs and other minor tasks at minimum rates. Some start-ups cut the cost even further by outsourcing some of these tasks offshore, usually from developing countries. As your business gains momentum, you can start hiring and training the big guns and take bigger steps onwards.

Delegating and managing tasks using the 80/20 rule. Business owners are often amazed at how much tasks they can get rid of using a simple technique also known as the 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle). List down all the tasks in your daily routine and cross out the ones that can be done by people other than you. In most cases, you’d be left with only 20%, or less, of all the tasks, usually the ones you alone can do. Identifying these tasks is the first step in delegating and managing most of your routine activities. Hiring and training the right people will take up all of the tasks you’ve left out.

Creating systems for your business. Standardizing your business process in such a way that anyone can run the business in your absence is the real essence of working on your business. Your systems serve as the “blueprint” on how to properly run your business. Think of it like a franchise where licensed owners can run the business using the company’s playbook.

Attention to detail is key, from job descriptions, assigned roles, workflow, timetables, product specifications, the whole nine yards – everything must be properly documented and serve as your company’s operations manual.

Managing your cash flow. Careful use of resources is vital to business growth and survival. Most businesses, even the big ones, go out of business for putting their money in the wrong places. Cash flow management should be part of your business plan at the outset, and continuously work on it as you grow your business. As a general rule, you should aim at speeding up the inflow while slowing down on your outflow. Running out of cash can quickly put you out of business.

Using technology and innovation. Technology enabled businesses to automate most of their routine tasks, hence cutting labour costs and speeding up the process dramatically. In today’s highly competitive environment, it’s the only way you can have hope of growing your business. Much have already changed on how we do business nowadays, and we need to innovate our strategies more often.

Take your business to the next level through sales and marketing automation. Visit and start using our suite of tools to increase your sales and profitability like never before.