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  • Robert Schneider 9:11 pm on December 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    I got spanked this week 

    Okay…so I got called out this week. By three different people. So, I must respond. I was asked, “Is Vision Pipeline still supported? Your last blog entry was over a year ago.” Doh!

    Truth is, yes. Very much so. If you’ve submitted a feedback or sent an email, you know that we are pretty quick to respond. And we occasionally fix glaring bugs. However, NEW development has slowed a bit as I will explain. This also may present and opportunity for you or someone you know.

    First, a little status update. Vision Pipeline IS going strong in many aspects. We have nearly 1000 users (more every day) and very few complaints!  Not for lack of active users, because a good percentage of people log on regularly. My guess is that Vision is easy enough to use, there’s nothing to whine about. That was my goal, since I use it regularly too!

    We’ve been in beta for over a year. That means you get a good tool for free, so that’s nice.  And keep in perspective, Gmail was beta for over five years…  Plus, we have a killer roadmap to make Vision more integrated with your daily activities so it’s more useful and proactively helpful.  See some here: (some are already implemented!)

    So, where are these amazing features? Well, we are a bootstrapping startup, probably like you. In fact, we had to steal other people’s bootstraps. That in mind, our development team fragmented a bit because, well, they LOVE Vision Pipeline, but they got a little hungry. And starvation, while motivating, can be distracting.

    So, here we are…a bit of revenue from some private label clients, but not enough to hire a team for future development. So, there is NO CONCERN that Vision will vanish into thin air, leaving you stranded on the interweb without your contacts.  That will NEVER happen.  It’s much to important for that. And…I love the tool. And one day would like to turn a profit.

    With that…here’s a potential opportunity
    There are two roles I’m looking to fill with the right person(s). Maybe you think you are that person, or perhaps know that person. Either way, these are not salaried positions (unless you live on bootstraps). Rather, they are equity based.  Which basically means you work for the promise of what could be (ie. free).  With a 23 million person potential marketplace and a small handful of comparable competitors, I think the promise is sweet. Otherwise, I’d be doing something else. Here they are:

    1) Chief nerd Actually, I’m that. But I need a sidekick. Someone who thrives on late nights coding web applications in PHP, AJAX, CSS, HTML, and jQuery. You should be MOST skilled at backend stuff, but decent at front end. If you don’t have dark circles under your eyes you don’t qualify. We’ve got some amazing ideas that will truly revolutionize the way people work.  This person will help make this ‘vision’ a reality.  The work is fairly independent but I’m also looking for real commitment, not just a hobbyist.

    2) Brand Ambassador Ooo…I love that title. This role is well-suited for a small marketing firm or individual who wants to build a more long-term income (through equity). Basically, this is getting the word out. Could be through web marketing, social media, banging on doors, industry relationship building, code-calling, making offers they can’t refuse, whatever. There’s also an element of business strategy and development. We’ve already got a good plan in place, just need a creative executer.

    There are more details to both of these roles…so contact me if you’re interested. I’m picky and serious, so I won’t pick just the first yahoo off the streets.  This is my baby. And I take it very seriously. With these two key partner roles filled, we can take this product to a whole new level.

    There’s your recent blog post.

    • Nick Carter 9:27 am on December 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for posting. I was wondering that myself. Glad to see a fellow bootstrapper still in the saddle! I actually just re-launched my own blog recently for the same problem: last post last year is worse than having no blog at all. You should check the 37signals job board. I think it’s free to post and could attract the right candidate for that chief nerd position.

      • Robert Schneider 4:17 pm on December 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah…blogs are cool but a pain in the butt to keep current! Thanks for the job board tip, I’ll check it out.

    • Don Dressel 9:49 am on January 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Robert, I just found Vision Pipeline and absolutely LOVE it. think there are many other users like me who would make donations to help you get over the hump.

      • Robert Schneider 8:39 pm on January 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        That’s a GREAT tip. Thought about it before but wasn’t sure if people would like it or be turned off…maybe I’ll do a trial run to see the response. I know a lot of people love the system like you. Maybe I could attach donations to certain features that users want.

    • Bob 3:23 pm on June 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I really like Vision Pipeline! Thanks for busting tail and making this thing work for us! Are the the two positions (Nerd sidekick and Brand Ambassador) still vacant? I know some great people that might fit the bill. I would apply for Brand Ambassador myself (I mean who wouldn’t want that title? I might start putting it on my business cards) except for the fact that I am already envolved in two startups. Let me know!

  • Robert Schneider 11:37 am on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Basics of Vision Pipeline – Pipeline Shortcuts 

    Hands down, the most powerful part of Vision Pipeline is, well, the Pipeline.  In fact, I love it!  And so do a lot of users. The Pipeline allows you to leave the future alone and think only in the moment.

    Imagine all the stress of the massive load tomorrow, vanished, obliterated, obscured by a light gray text.  Instead, just think about right now…well, and the 2 phone calls your naughty self didn’t do yesterday like you were supposed to.

    No worries! Vision Pipeline is truly your assistant when it comes to cleaning up your work load.  Here are a few shortcuts to make managing your Pipeline faster and easier.


    Filters help you sift and sort to find Contacts based on there “status” within Vision. The descriptions are self-explanatory but they don’t do a lick of good unless you use things like the Star.  So, come up with a simple method of ranking contacts for your business. For example, a Star may mean a Hot Prospect. That makes it easy to quickly find all your Hot Prospects.

    pipeline - filters

    Tag Cloud

    I love Tags!  They make life so much easier. Think of Tags like labels, categories, or divisions. But better.  Each contact can have multiple Tags. I usually Tag each contact like this:

    1. Where/How I met them (ie. Starbucks, Networking, Referral)
    2. What major business sector (ie. Finance, Media, Marketing)
    3. Something unique I learned (ie. Married, Golfer, Art Lover)

    The Tag Cloud displays all your Tags. Just click on a Tag in the Pipeline View to quickly filter your list to just those Contacts!

    pipeline - tag cloud


    Once you’ve filtered down and found the list you want to work with, you’ve got to DO something.  You can take action on contacts/activities in the Pipeline individually or as a group.  Look at the right side of the Pipeline for the action buttons and checkbox.


    Ever get behind?  I do! Problem with most CRM tools is when you get behind, it’s too much work to catch up. So you don’t. Then you never use the system again!  Not with Vision. Multi-Bump is one of the most handy tools.  Just select a group of Contacts, click Bump Dates in the Action Menu then choose the day. All your past due work will be moved to a future day so you can breath a little easier.

    pipeline - bump window


    Sometimes you need to take your Contacts somewhere else. Maybe you’re running an email marketing campaign, mailing a postcard, or just want to backup your information.  Export helps you do all of the above in just a couple clicks.  Once again, build your list using Tags and Filters.  Next click Export Current List on the left menu.  Then choose your Export Type.  Your Contacts will be downloaded to your computer as a .CSV file which can be opened in any spreadsheet program.

    pipeline - export

    Some of these screenshots will be changing since we are working behind the scenes to update the user experience to be smoother and more enjoyable.  Keep an eye out!

    • Mark Gibbons 8:22 pm on May 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I love it! Quick question, how do you delete contacts, I wanted to resort them by state and re-upload them. Or is their a way once contacts are loaded to sort by state? I a telephone pro..I’ll be calling and noting, no more pen and paper, woo hoo..

      • Robert Schneider 3:12 am on May 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Delete contacts by selecting the checkbox on the right and use the action menu on the left for multiple. Or delete manually from the contact profile — bottom left. If you imported them, you can Undo the import under Customize > Import. Though I’m not sure how re-importing them will help since the contact list is always sorted alphabetically.

        Sorting by state, no but we’re looking to add state to the search bar. If state is an important method of organizing, you COULD create a Tag for each state, then a quick click filters the list.

        • Mark Gibbons 6:34 pm on May 17, 2012 Permalink

          Thanks, I deleted undid the import, and imported only AZ leads for starters. Tagged them all AZ, no I can search by State as I upload, so I can be considerate of timezones.

          Now trying to figure out how to use with my gmail? Do I need an email client? or IE, Firefox, Chrome, is there a recommended browser for email for gmail?

    • Robert Schneider 8:09 pm on May 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Are you referring to Email Sync with your vision account? You can do it with just a Gmail account. Browser doesn’t matter.

  • Robert Schneider 11:56 am on October 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Basics of Vision Pipeline – Tagging 

    The ultimate way to organize your contacts in Vision Pipeline!  I already talked a little about Tags in this post.  But there’s a lot more.

    If you’ve used Outlook, you know Categories or Folders. With Gmail it’s Labels.  Many other Web 2.0 systems and you’ve used Tags.  Tags are basically a way to give order to your Contacts. The reason we love them so much is the flexibility.  You can use Tags to organize any way that makes sense to you.

    Here’s how I recommend to organize:

    1. Where/How I met them (ie. Starbucks, Networking, Referral)
    2. What major business sector (ie. Finance, Media, Marketing)
    3. Something unique I learned (ie. Married, Golfer, Art Lover)
    4. Status or Type (ie. Hot Prospect, New Client, Product A)

    Vision Pipeline comes with several standard Tags. Adding new Tags is easy as typing the words and separating each Tag with a comma. Like this: Golf Club, Financial, Married, New Prospect


    You can use as many or as few Tags on each Contact. And you can add them anytime from the Contact Profile, Contact List, and the Pipeline.

    In Contacts and Pipeline there’s a Tag Cloud. You can click on any Tag to quickly filter the list.  You can then Export, Schedule, or Log an Activity for that list.  It’s pretty cool!

  • Robert Schneider 11:15 am on October 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Basics of Vision Pipeline – Complete an Activity 

    So, you’ve scheduled a followup phone call.  Today when Vision Pipeline reminds you, you make the call.  Now what?

    Well, it’s pretty easy to make some notes and mark that followup as completed and move on.

    1. Find the Activity, click the Complete button

    You can look in the Pipeline or the Contact Profile. Once you find it, click the Complete Activity button

    complete - activity

    2. Fill in the details and Complete

    Sometimes I feel bad that there is nothing left to explain. But seriously, just enter the notes and you’re done. No explanation needed!

    complete - window

    We’ve also got some neat things around the bend for completing faster. Like auto reschedule the activity (like when you get a voicemail) or schedule something else (after a connected call).  Look for these and others soon.

  • Robert Schneider 11:15 am on October 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Basics of Vision Pipeline – Logging Activity 

    The most common “thank you” I hear from Vision Pipeline users is how they were able to recall specific facts about a prospect or client even months later.  That’s the power of a recorded history!

    I admit, it does take a little work but wow is it worth it.  I’ve made calls to prospects that go something like this: “Hi Joe, last time we spoke, early January, you said your manager would be ready to make a move first of March. By the way, how was your daughter’s dance recital?”  Wow!

    Wanna blow people’s minds? Do that!  It’s simple and anyone can do it.  Just jot down a quick note after each call, email, or meeting. Then Vision shows you the history when you are making your next followup.

    1. Click Log Activity

    This opens a simple window where you set the Date, Type, and Notes

    log - click

    2. Enter the notes

    The biggest challenge here is detail. Most people feel compelled to write down everything. Don’t Simple, bullet lists and short sentences are enough to trigger your brain. Keep it simple and you’re more likely to do it!

    log - window

    3. Recall anytime!

    Next time you work with the contact, the entire history is there!

    log - history

    We are quickly moving toward more automation of logging. We recognize that getting information INTO Vision Pipeline is the biggest barrier to regular usage.  The first automation is email. We will begin logging all your communication for each contact in Vision!  Look for this before Thanksgiving–another reason to be thankful!

  • Robert Schneider 1:18 pm on October 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Basics of Vision Pipeline – Schedule a Followup 

    The next most important step is Scheduling a Followup.  This is where Vision Pipeline really shines.  Even if you add a lot of Contacts into Vision, nothing really happens until something is scheduled.

    Vision Pipeline works on a simple philosophy: Every interaction should result in another scheduled interaction.

    If you don’t schedule a followup immediately after completing the last then you’ll end up with a pile of dead leads and an empty bank account. It’s pretty simple in Vision, just follow these steps:

    1. Find your Contact


    This search box at the top right looks for the contact’s name and company.  Or you can search other fields with a little extra. Just type in these search helpers before your search term:

    email: search term
    phone: search term
    city: search term

    Etcetera! You can search just about any contact detail this way. Once you find your contact, click on the name…

    2. Click Schedule Followup in the Contact Profile

    followup - schedule click

    A little “window” opens to enter the details…

    3. Fill in the details

    This is pretty self-explanatory. Be sure to take advantage of the easy entry Vision allows. Instead of typing out “3:00 pm” or “10/07/2009” you can just type “3pm” and “tom”.  Vision figures out what you’re trying to say most of the time.

    followup - schedule details

    4. Forget about it! The Vision Pipeline view reminds you when to followup

    followup - pipeline

    We are working on some neat improvements to lower clicks and speed up this entire process. Please send any feedback. It helps!

    • Chelsea Bradley 7:27 am on June 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I have feedback for the follow up system, I have not used vision yet so this may already be there but is there a way to set follow up templates? say I want to contact a lead every week for 8 weeks, could I chose a template version that will remind me every week for 8 or do I have to schedule them in there individually? This is one of the major features that I am looking for in a crm system. Thanks!

      • Robert Schneider 3:23 pm on June 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Sort of🙂 We don’t have a full-fledged reminder system yet. BUT Milestone Maps are a pre-defined sequence of activities like you’re describing. They work really well and are quite flexible to your work methods. A more robust reminder system is also in the works. Thanks for checking out Vision Pipeline!

  • Robert Schneider 8:08 pm on September 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , updates,   

    Vision Pipeline updates! Making it better and better and better 

    I love new stuff.  New is exciting.  In fact, I gotta be honest. Sometimes I get dissatisfied with something as soon as I get it. A few exceptions: my motorcycle, Pinkberry, and Carolina.

    That’s why Vision is always changing.  We are constantly talking about the next big thing.  Don’t get me wrong.  Vision Pipeline Assistant ROCKS as it is.  But we want to dominate the market with a tool that’s so helpful that you can’t put it down.

    So, this weekend while you were fast asleep, the elf geeks were stuffing Vision with a bunch of new updates and fixes. No major features were added in this update but there were some fixes based on user feedback.  So thanks!

    Here’s a partial list:

    • Better action icons (Bump, Edit, and others) – I hope you like them
    • Updated main navigation – Note the new + button for adding contacts
    • Fixed window scrollbars – I know this was majorly annoying
    • Some layout issues in the Contact Profile – Subtle, but useful
    • A bunch of little bugs behind the scenes – Helps with stability and performance

    We tell you?  Because it’s exciting!  I want you to know that we are constantly pursuing excellence with this tool and will continue to listen to YOU to make this a great tool that helps you make more money, save time, and have more fun!

    Log in to check out the new stuff.


    • JimmyBean 5:22 am on October 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work!🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

      A definite great read..Jim Bean

  • Robert Schneider 2:01 am on August 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , promotional, sales,   

    New promotion video posted…A tribute to Billy Mays! 

    Hey everyone,

    This is my first “real” promo video posted on the Vision website. Trying to spice it up Billy Mays style!  Love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

    Click here to get a free account

  • Robert Schneider 10:42 pm on August 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Basics of Vision Pipeline – Adding Contacts 

    I’m starting a short series on how to use Vision to build better relationships. Here’s the first step…

    Adding Contacts

    This is clearly the most important first step! No contacts, no nothin’.  Now, I know there are lots of slick ways to “sync” contacts from other systems. Believe me, this is our top priority right now! In a short time you’ll be able to sync with major email programs and maybe even social networking sites.  But let’s just add one…

    Click the plus button in the top left corner: add contact - launch

    With me so far?  Now fill in just the basics. This helps keep it fast. You can add a lot more details later if need. This is the information you’ll need to identify and find the person in Vision.

    So, you’ve entered Name and Company. Next is Tags. Huh?  Like a sale tag? No like a label.  Or a category. Call it what you will. Tag is the Web 2.0 term.  And it really makes a lot of sense.  Tags are totally flexible to how you think.

    add contact

    Just start typing. And separate each Tag with a comma. Be specific or general. Here are a few ideas: business, prospect, golf, friend, church, married, networking, influencer.  There are no rules.  How do you think about that person?  Those keywords are your Tags!

    If there are already Tags in your account, then Vision will give you a suggestion list to choose from so you don’t have to type each time. If not, each new Tag is automatically saved for later use!

    Now click Add Contact and your Contact is added. Next you’ll need to schedule a followup because that’s the most important next step in building good relationships. I’ll give you some tips on followups in a couple days.

    • BarbAnders 2:39 pm on January 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      This is very simple so far. I had already done this before the tutorial. It’s that simple!

    • Shane 9:31 am on December 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for lesson 1 !
      Mobile Home Repos

      • Shane 9:56 am on December 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I notice your last post was from 2009. Has developement stopped on Vision Pipeline ? If I invest some time learning it is it going to go away on me ?
        Mobile Home Repos

        • Robert Schneider 8:33 pm on December 17, 2010 Permalink

          No it hasn’t stopped, slow a little yes. Mostly, I’m just bad at posting regularly to the blog. However, you have inspired me since you are the third person to ask that in a week! So, you’ll get an updated blog post and the answer to your question shortly. And as a side note…very little time is required to learn it.

    • Shane 6:18 am on December 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Robert !

    • Kathy 6:57 pm on June 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Very simple! Thanks for making it so easy to use. I look forward to more lessons and putting this to good use!

    • David Living 7:38 pm on July 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Questions – Can I import “Tags” as i import contacts, Can import an ID number for a contact, Can I associate multiple contacts to one company?

      • Robert Schneider 2:26 pm on August 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Can I import “Tags” as i import contacts?
        Best way to do this is perform multiple imports (one for each Tag/Category). After importing the list, you have the option to ‘Tag these Contacts’. It only applies the Tag to the list just imported.

        Can import an ID number for a contact?
        This would be a custom field. You would need to first create the field (Customize > Custom Contact Fields), then during import, map the field in your import file to Other > Your Field Name

        Can I associate multiple contacts to one company?
        Not yet… You can certainly add the company name on the contact, but they aren’t linked yet.

        Hope that helps!

  • Robert Schneider 10:29 pm on August 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Rolling Up Some Fixes To Beta… 

    Thank you everyone for fantastic feedback after the first week of Vision Pipeline Assistant being in public beta! Actually only five days I guess. Anyway, we’ve been working hard to clean up a lot of little bugs crawling around the system. The roll up will happen this evening. So, stay off the system, go on a date night, enjoy a movie!

    Many of you gave great feedback on the inner workings and features. Thank you! Vision is built for you. So, it needs to make sense to you. And while we can’t please everyone, the constant goal is to refine the user experience so most everyone enjoys it.

    I can’t really give you a list of bugs fixed because it’s long and most things are behind the scenes (over 250 bugs fixed!).

    The major thing you’ll notice is a “tightening” of the user interface (UI). We pulled in the corners, cleaned up the spacing, and re-shaped the styles in many places. It still has a little work to do, but is making great progress. Remember, if there’s something you don’t like or is busted, I won’t know unless you tell me.


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