Digital Marketing Agency Custom Creatives Increases Sales With PipelineDeals

Custom Creatives ( is a boutique Digital Marketing Agency for small to medium size businesses. Based in Agoura Hills, California just outside of the greater Los Angeles area, Custom Creatives uses PipelineDeals to understand their sales pipeline and manage ongoing projects. We spoke with their CEO, Rahul Alim about how they’re using PipelineDeals to grow their business.

Tell me a little more about your business


Custom Creatives was founded in 2004 to provide integrated digital marketing services to small and medium size businesses and to partner with other Traditional and Digital marketing agencies on a flexible, ongoing or as-needed basis to service high volume accounts or provide specific skill-sets (like banner ad designs, landing pages, WordPress websites, UI/UX design and custom solutions).

Custom Creatives offers a range of services, including web design and development, branding and search engine optimization and marketing.  We are a full service marketing shop providing a single point of contact for our clients.  Customers are busy and no longer is it convenient to have several vendors or partners to grow your business in different directions, Custom Creatives solves that problem for our clients and agency partners.

Rahul Alim is CEO of Custom Creatives and an expert in SEO and Business Development.

Rahul Alim is CEO of Custom Creatives and an expert in SEO and Business Development.

Repeat and referral business has been really important to our growth. Our clients include real estate, financial, digital marketing agencies, entertainment, lifestyle, public relations and insurance firms, amongst other industries.  We pride ourselves on service and quality, which results in successful execution and ROI for our customers. It’s critical for us to be able to effectively track our relationships and understand our deal pipeline. That was one of the primary drivers in our decision to purchase a CRM system.

Did you look at other CRM options before PipelineDeals?

I’ve used a variety of project management and CRM systems.  We tried to implement SalesForce and Microsoft Dynamics in the past, both of which were expensive to purchase and rollout, and difficult for our team-members to use. We struggled to adopt these and ultimately decided to look for an alternative CRM system that would be simpler to use.

As we were evaluating CRM options, we discovered PipelineDeals. What stood out to me initially was how intuitive PipelineDeals was to use. And, when I saw how much money we could save by implementing PipelineDeals, I was sold. Then, just as expected, our team was using the system very quickly.

How are you using PipelineDeals?

We’re looking to increase our sales 50% in 2014 and PipelineDeals has been critical to our success thus far. We use PipelineDeals extensively to keep track of all of our activities, and to plan our follow-up tasks. Because we offer an extensive menu of marketing services, we have a lot of recurring deals with our customers and need to have the complete picture of our client’s needs and potential opportunities.

Custom Creatives uses PipelineDeals to manage sales for their digital marketing services.

PipelineDeals helps us to manage our recurring business, upsell, and cross-sell to our customers. The activities feature in PipelineDeals and the agenda truly help us stay on top of our deals pipeline.

The mobile app is convenient too. We get quick access to our accounts and ongoing deals on the mobile app while out and about. It’s useful to be able to quickly reference an ongoing deal, record information from a meeting, just stay in touch with our clients to say hello, happy birthday and see how their family is doing. The text messages that we receive about upcoming events are also very helpful to ensure we never miss a potential opportunity or appointment – in fact the text messaging is one of our favorite features.

What kind of tips do you have for companies using PipelineDeals.

I strongly encourage that people take full advantage of the agenda features on PipelineDeals. PipelineDeals makes it easy to manage the sales cycle for ongoing deals like a project, and simply move agenda items forward as appropriate. For example, if we’re scheduled to call someone and we do not connect with them, we record a short activity noting the call (like “left message” or “LM” for short). Next, we postpone the entire series of tasks or events so that we are able to reach out to people in our marketing cycle for follow-up. 

Another time-saving feature is bcc (blind carbon copy).  If you have a new lead and you bcc your PipelineDeals email address, it automatically creates a new record in seconds.  You don’t have to go through elaborate data entry.  You receive an email that a new record has been created, edit it and add your relevant data.  Your entire email will already be logged in the system for easy reference.  This is also relevant for existing customers, simply bcc your PipelineDeals email address, and your email is instantly recorded.  This is a MAJOR time savings. 

Additionally, if I’m helping my colleagues with deals, I make sure to use the collaboration features in PipelineDeals to notify them with tips or relevant updates. I can add activities, tasks, and events, and tag people so that they receive an email from PipelineDeals notifying them. 

Finally, make sure that your team knows when to move things forward in your pipeline. For us, we attempt to make connections via email and over the phone several times. If we’re unable to move a deal forward through our pipeline, we add someone to our list of people to nurture.

Any other things?

PipelineDeals offers an incredible knowledge base with blogs, forums videos and their customer service is excellent.  You feel like you work with a family-owned company that cares about your success and needs. 

I’d recommend PipelineDeals to other marketing companies and agencies for its simplicity, which makes it easy to rollout and use immediately, its features, which are comprehensive enough for most businesses, and at a great price.

PipelineDeals is a simple and useful sales CRM in the cloud. Try PipelineDeals free for 14 days.

5 Goals Your LinkedIn Profile Should Achieve

By Chris Carlson, President of Sales Talent Inc.  (

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a series of three blogs targeted at building your online brand.  Parts 1 and 3 will benefit B2B sales professionals, hiring managers and companies looking to differentiate and sell their services.  Part 2 of this series will be dedicated to Glassdoor and the impact that company and job reviews are having on recruiting.  All three will speak to building your company’s online hiring brand as it relates to attracting the best and brightest candidates to your team.  Today’s blog (Part 1) is devoted exclusively to Linkedin, the king of B2B social media.

I’d like to start with a few stats that should motivate you to pay attention to your LinkedIn brand.  

“93% of buying decisions start with online research.” - Marketo

“57% of the decision-making process is made prior to any direct interaction with a sales person.” - Harvard Business Review

“People do not treat Business or Career Decisions any differently.” - LinkedIn

Whether you are discussing a candidate that’s considering joining your company or a buyer considering your service, 93% of the time their first impression of you will be delivered online. That’s actually great news because you have the opportunity to be intentional with that impression.  

Before I dig into the hows of crafting a fantastic LinkedIn presence I’d like to share some basic tips to help you better understand the LinkedIn platform.  

  • 76% of page views on LinkedIn are members viewing other members’ profiles and 40% of that traffic is mobile (write with mobile viewing in mind).  Creating a strong LinkedIn brand begins with you and your fellow employees’ personal profiles.

  • LinkedIn is an extremely visual medium (profiles with pictures get 7x more views) which means that you have to pay as much attention to how your page looks as to what it says. 

  • An effective Company page on LinkedIn will fall short if its employee profiles disappoint. After all, a potential hire will ultimately be interviewing with a hiring manager and your customer will be buying from one of your sales reps.  Done right, a Company page and its employee profile images and messaging will reinforce each other.  

What goes into a polished profile or company page? An effective LinkedIn profile and company page should achieve 5 goals:

  • Be Likeable

  • Differentiate You

  • Provide External Validation

  • Establish You or Your Company as a Thought Leader

  • Gain Followers

Likeability - In the book Enchantment, by Guy Kawasaki, the author gives a straight-forward formula for influencing others.  Central to that formula is “achieving likeability”.  A perfect visual LinkedIn example of likeability (in my opinion) is shown below with the full LinkedIn profile found here.  

Full disclosure, Sarah works with me at Sales Talent but that’s not why I give her as an example.  Her profile picture simply radiates likeability.  Just to verify my point, if you scroll down to the “Skills” portion of her profile you’ll see that she’s been endorsed over 30 times for her “Friendly Personality”.

Differentiate - to properly differentiate yourself, your company and/or your services it is critical that you understand exactly what it is that you do better than anyone else.  You will fail if you try to be everything to everyone.  Studies have shown that the average online user has an attention span of 8 seconds.  Yes, 8 seconds.  A very clever (and short) example of what to and what not to do online when trying to gain your customer’s attention can be found here.

The company page for ConversionLab (the people who wrote the example in the link directly above) does a fantastic example of conveying exactly what it is that they do better than anyone else.

External Validation - Establishing credibility with your audience is a critical ingredient for your company or personal profile.  According to extensive surveying by the Nielsen Group less than 20% of consumers trust companies’ claims.  Conversely, 92% of consumers trust peer reviews.  This is the genius behind eBay, Amazon and Yelp’s success.  Fortunately, Linkedin gives you several tools to establish credibility with your personal profile.  I’ll focus on a few:  Skills, Awards and Recommendations.  

I gave an example for the Skills section above with Sarah’s “friendly personality”.  The Skills section is actually a very important component in your profile’s effectiveness as it has a second purpose beyond allowing viewers to see what Skills you’ve been recommended for.  It is actually part of the algorithm that Linkedin uses when determining the order to display member profiles.

Recommendations are arguably the most important way that you can establish credibility on Linkedin.  I believe it is critical to be intentional with who you ask and what strengths of yours or your company’s you ask to have endorsed.  I’ll discuss this and Awards in depth in Part 3 of this series when the conversation shifts to building and/or repairing your online brand.

Thought Leadership - Volumes have been written about using Linkedin as a tool to establish yourself as an expert in your field.  Google the experts and take their advice.  Before you write off this step in the process, understand that contributing valuable and authentic content that benefits others is the fastest way for a company or person to gain Followers on Linkedin.  To see an example of a company that does a great job of sharing valuable content please follow the company updates from ConversionLab (the same company from the example shown above).

Followers - I have three stats for you regarding followers that demonstrates the value of establishing followers on Linkedin.  

1.  79% of Linkedin members are interested in updates on job opportunities from companies they follow.  These are ideal prospects from which to find your next hire.

2.  Your followers are 95% more likely to respond to your sales team or recruiters’ InMail.  Our own experience with this at Sales Talent has convinced us to make gaining followers a priority.

3.  Members are 61% more likely to share information as a result of following your company.  (all 3 stats courtesy of Linkedin).  From the beginning, the promise of Linkedin was access to the networks of your connections.  Followers help fulfill that promise.  

With over 100M members in the U.S. alone it’s hard to under-estimate the power of Linkedin. The challenge is staying relevant and in front of those members that you’re trying to reach.  I hope that the three stats above show the potential of growing your follower base.  

Now that you’re hopefully inspired to polish and perfect your online presence we’ll be shifting gears in next week’s blog.  The topic will be Glassdoor and online company and job reviews in general.  If you’re a hiring manager or HR Leader, it’s one medium that you can’t afford to ignore.

Chris Carlson is the founder and President of Sales Talent Inc, a Seattle based National B2B sales recruiting firm. You can click through to sign up for and follow his Blog or view Sales Talent's current Sales Openings.

Bring CRM to Your Inbox With PipelineDeals Chrome Extension for PipelineDeals

By David Baars, Marketing Manager at @PipelineDeals

Salespeople spend a significant amount of time working in email. According to the Huffington Post, the average salesperson spends 13 hours per week reading, writing, and forwarding email. Given all the time we spend in email, it’s important to maximize your impact while you’re emailing. With the PipelineDeals Chrome Extension for Gmail, you can bring your sales pipeline to life in your Gmail and Google Apps account.

The PipelineDeals Chrome Extension is designed to provide intelligence and context from PipelineDeals into your email account. The extension appears below your email in Google. Add and manage your contacts and leads, view related deals, and add activities, tasks, and events. Also, you can file your email as an activity in PipelineDeals by clicking on the PipelineDeals icon that appears in the header of your email.

The PipelineDeals Chrome Extension is ideal for:

  • Salespeople that use Google Apps or Gmail.

  • Referencing past deal activities, including phone calls, emails, and appointments, to provide context for your email follow-up.

  • Scheduling follow-up tasks with your leads or viewing upcoming todo items

Save time and get a handle on your sales pipeline within Gmail and Google Apps. The PipelineDeals Chrome Extension is another way that PipelineDeals helps you stay organized and close more deals.

For support on installation of the extension and more information, please review our support article and video.

David Baars is a math teacher turned marketing nerd. He runs marathons, exploring the outdoors, and learning how to build things.