Keeping Track of Your Inquiries the Smart Way

When is the best – read: slowest – time of the year to go on vacation? Who is my best client in terms of translation volume? What is my proposal-to-job ratio? Do most potential clients contact me via e-mail or phone – and can I fire my fax?

To get a better idea of how many potential clients contacted us when, how, and how many times quotes turned into projects, we’d been keeping a very simple Excel spreadsheet for many years. It didn’t make us very happy and we wanted much more – actually, we were looking for an inquiry management tool/small customer relationship management tool. We also wanted the option of entering potential clients’ data and the option of exporting their e-mail addresses for sending them newsletters, special offers, etc.

The free, nifty Inquiry Wizard is exactly what we were looking for: it was created especially for freelancers (not just translators), it’s very easy to use, doesn't have functions we don't need or use and it runs entirely online. We enter the relevant data every day and the tool automatically generates insightful statistics (which become all the more meaningful the more data you add over time). In addition, it has the export function mentioned above that comes in very handy for marketing purposes. There is no need to download or install anything. All you have to do is register with your e-mail address. The FAQ section features two birds explaining the basics in a cute cartoon. Here’s one very insightful tidbit of information: 91.7% of all potential clients sent an e-mail. 

The graph above was taken from the FAQ page on Inquiry Wizard and compares the number of inquiries received in 2009 to 2010 for a demo account. You also have the option of playing with this demo account before registering. Get started here


13 comments:

Kevin Lossner on February 14, 2011 at 5:46 AM said...

It would seem this is a function better handled in an integrated project management system. Juggling too many tools for basic business management and reporting inevitably leads to redundant and/or outdated information in some or all of them.

Thomas Gruber on February 14, 2011 at 6:59 AM said...

I agree. But unfortunately there is no all-in-one project management system suitable for every purpose. Especially for this type of crm data. They are all more focused on actual projects and the handling of these projects but lack in information of the pre-project phase.

Wanderjenn on February 14, 2011 at 6:59 AM said...

I like the idea, but the typos in the FAQ give me pause:
"You can see a red line for one year and a black line for the *comairing* one. In the example 2009/2010. You can see that for *excample* in march 2010 there where 8 *inqueries* and in *march*[should be capitalized] 2009 just 4. And you can also see that *september* is a pretty bad month overall. The *konger* you use inquirywizard.net the more valuable the data gets.

Corinne McKay on February 14, 2011 at 8:20 AM said...

Looks very cool, I'm going to check it out! I do agree with Kevin about overabundant/redundant data, but I think that in general most freelancers (including me) make too many decisions based on emotion rather than objective data. Thanks!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on February 14, 2011 at 8:49 AM said...

Good input, everyone! We will shoot the developer (hehe, yes, we know him) an e-mail to tweak the typos on the FAQ page for sure. He's a techie, not a linguist. :)

Thomas Gruber on February 14, 2011 at 9:04 AM said...

@Wanderjenn thank you for pointing them out. I've corrected them.

Thomas Gruber on February 14, 2011 at 9:45 AM said...

If you find errors (or you have problems using the tool) don't hesitate to post them here or write to my email address you will find in the faq page.

Wanderjenn on February 14, 2011 at 1:39 PM said...

@Thomas Gruber

I am glad to hear it!

Riccardo on February 15, 2011 at 10:10 AM said...

I'm trying out the service, but I can already say it probably won't work for us: it insists that only whole numbers can be entered in the "quote" form... and most of my quotes are in cents per word, instead.
I think the amount quoted field should be optional, and that at least an additional field (rate) should be added, before the tool had any real usefulness for us.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on February 15, 2011 at 8:25 PM said...

Thanks for the very useful feedback, Riccardo. Yes, we noticed that too and simply round up -- but it's a great point. We will see if Tom can add that field/expand it to accept cents. Isn't it great to be related to the developer who can actually customize the tool? Want to be our new beta tester, Riccardo? ;)

Thomas Gruber on February 16, 2011 at 7:32 AM said...

@Riccardo as the tool is focused on statistics and not on invoicing it dosen't matter from the point of the stats if you imput that the overall project value is 900$ or 900,50 $ As the tool is not only for translators a "rate" field dosen't make much sense either because other freelancers have other needs but all should be able to say how much the overall value of a project is 1000 words x 0,20 cents makes a project value of 200$ 10 pages proofreading have an overall value of 10 x 17$ = 170$ The tool is not ment for invoicing so the exact numbers are not as necessary as it would be the case in a invoicing or integrated project management system.

Shadab_Troikaa on March 2, 2011 at 9:54 PM said...

Ah.. What information you have given here. I must send you a Kiss for that. I have been doing the same on my Excel but yes did not extract the information which i will get through this, Let me check right away and come back to you shortly.

Thomas Gruber on December 23, 2012 at 3:48 AM said...

I'm in the process of shutting down websites which haven’t had the impact I’d hoped for,....

The Website http://www.inquirywizard.net/ will be discontinued as of 18.11.2013

If you’d like to continue using the technology contact me (you can find my contact email address on the website) I'll give you the code (of cource including only your data if you tell me your username) and you can install the PHP/MySQL Project on your own Webspace.

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