Customize Insightly to your business processes

SIGMA Equipment
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, Insightly

Your business isn’t like any others, so why should your CRM look like everyone else’s?

For years, everyone understood this idea, but few organizations actually took the time to customize their CRM. Why?


Spoiler alert: It’s not because they are lazy.

The truth is that with legacy CRMs, customization is very difficult and costly, both to initiate and to maintain. So most users would stay with an out-of-the box implementation to keep it safe and simple.

Today’s modern CRMs, like Insightly, offer the best of both worlds….a powerful CRM that’s also easy to customize.

In this webinar, you’ll learn more about the benefits of customizing Insightly to the unique needs of your business. There’s virtually no limit to what you can do to tailor fields, forms, layouts, processes, workflows, views, and more in Insightly.

Meet Charlana Tanner, Business Systems Administrator at SIGMA Equipment. This company in the manufacturing space spent time and effort to customize Insightly to their needs and it is paying off with increased productivity without increasing headcount.

You won’t need the expertise of an outside consultant or firm…you and your team have the ability to customize Insightly work for you.

We’ll deep dive into some of the most useful customizations you can implement, share tips and tricks.

Best of all, we’ll show you how implementing customizations can actually help you increase adoption of your CRM within your organization, plus provide enhanced visibility into your business. Watch this webinar today!

Customize CRM - Webinar Transcript

Melinda: Thank you for joining.  Today we’re kicking off the fifth in a series of Insightly product webinars, with a focus today on CRM customization.  Customization is a huge topic, and quite frankly, we could end up doing a series of webinars on customization alone because there are so many potential use cases. Today, we’re going to start by featuring the advantages of using customization to drive adoption, productivity, and deliver immediate impact to your business — and we’ll speak directly to a specific customer use case. 

MELINDA: I’m Melinda, Insightly’s Senior Product Marketing Manager.  I’ve got CharLAYNA Tanner with me today to tell us more about how she has been able to leverage customization at Sigma Equipment, to drive efficiency, cross-functional collaboration, and better insights into the sales process, which feeds into really productive marketing and sales collaboration. 

MELINDA:  Let’s walk through the agenda for today.  

We’ll start with the challenges that we hear most from customers that signal a need for CRM customization.

Then, I’ll spend some time talking about why companies should put a focus on CRM customization, talk about customization in Insightly, and also share best practices. 

My conversation with Charlana is not just an interview.  She’s going to talk about Sigma Equipment’s current use case for customization and also do a really great demo to show you exactly what she’s talking about.   What I like about her use case is that her team has iterated on customization as they’ve realized just how much value it’s brought to the organization.  They started relatively small, and as they gained learnings, they created a roadmap for productivity improvements, all in a relatively short timeframe.

My colleagues and friends here at Insightly, Andrea and Courtany, will be answering questions throughout this thirty minute discussion, but if we don’t get to your questions before the webinar is over, someone from Insightly will be in touch with you as soon as possible. 

Let’s drill down into typical challenges that drive the business need for customization.

  • The first is CRM adoption. As a previous interviewee talked about in our workflow automation webinar – her mantra is:  if it’s not in the CRM, it didn’t happen.  Your CRM is your system of record, it’s the information that you have at your disposal to deliver great experiences to customers, and drive outcomes for your business. If your teams aren’t getting the information from your CRM that really helps them be productive, they probably will resist using it. 
  • With some CRMs, customization is so difficult or time-consuming that customers get frustrated with the amount of time it takes for them to realize the benefits of their investment.  Insightly’s customization functionality is really intuitive; you don’t need expensive third parties or usually, even developers to handle customization.  Your sys admin can typically handle the majority of what you need so that you can quickly start realizing value from Insightly — and that’s what you’ll see in the conversation with Charlana.  Charlana has been able to do some of the customizations her teams have needed literally right in meetings where they’re doing strategic business planning, so the changes are made in real-time.  
  • Getting back to the concept of – if it’s not in the CRM, it didn’t happen – as you’ll see with Charlana’s example, Sigma has several lines of business and therefore needs customized pipelines that reflect the sales process for each line of business.  It’s just so incredibly easy with Insightly to build the framework to support your business and get the insights you need to continuously improve your productivity and process. 
  • Finally, there are real business benefits to delivering on the promise of great customer experiences.  In marketing, we talk all the time about the need for timely, relevant communication, and the importance of tailoring the right message to the right person at the right time.  Customization is so powerful because it’s the best way for you to capture the information that allows you to deliver great experiences and make your marketing and sales activities even more powerful.

I want to go deeper into that notion of great customer experiences because it’s so essential to the way that all of us want to engage with companies – both as consumers and in our roles as sales and marketing professionals.  In my conversations with Charlana, she’s made it really clear that delivering great experiences is a core component of the way that Sigma Equipment interacts with their prospects, leads, and customers.  And there are really good reasons for companies to put a focus on delivering great experiences.  I gathered this information from Forbes — there are real, measurable business benefits to putting a focus on customer experience — because it has a direct impact on revenue, retention, and even employee engagement.  You’re empowered to deliver great experiences through the data that your customers and prospects choose to share with you – and customization is a path to demonstrating that you deserve the trust of customers and prospects by capturing the right data that allows you to create meaningful interactions. 

Insightly’s product-led culture is grounded not only in developing rich feature sets, but also in the mindset that usability and adoption are absolutely mission-critical. Empowering businesses to customize their instances right out of the box drives higher productivity, faster time-to-value and greater adoption because teams are able to tailor Insightly to the exact needs of their business and more effectively leverage their data to refine their sales and marketing activities and deliver differentiated experiences.  

There are almost no limits to the use cases; I’ve already mentioned customizing pipelines.  You can also customize objects; for example, if your team doesn’t use the word “organizations,” that can be changed to “accounts” – whatever nomenclature you’re using today, you can replicate in Insightly.  You can also create custom objects if your data doesn’t fit neatly in our standard objects. And then, you’re able to build custom reports and dashboards off those custom objects so that everyone is tracking to the correct naming conventions as you review account performance.  You may want to add fields, like billing ID numbers, contract renewal dates, project types, and referral information, and then create page layouts so that critical information is above the fold, so to speak, or available only to certain roles within the organization, so that teams can drive more productivity by streamlining the information that they need to perform their roles.  The possibilities are really almost endless, and I encourage you, if you have something you’d like to customize, but you’re not quite sure how to do it, to reach out to us and let us work with you on the best solution for your business. 

I wanted to share tips and best practices as you start on your customization journey. 

  • As you’ll hear from Charlana, her team has a process for thinking through and prioritizing customizations so that Sigma can continuously improve the data that they’re capturing in Insightly.  They’ve been using Insightly since July and already they’ve started implementing customizations and iterating as they learn the benefit.  They look at their plan through the lens of the key KPIs they want to understand and where they want to make impact, and they develop the customizations accordingly. 
  • Charlana brings in key stakeholders to help drive a team-based approach to prioritization, but she’s and her boss are the only two people who have privileges to  make changes. You’ll want to control the number of people who have access to the ability to make changes. Capture lots of feedback, but have a gatekeeper for changes.
  • Document changes as you go. It can be very easy to forget where you’ve been; be very process-oriented and keep a log of what you’ve done so that you can keep track of the impact of your changes. 
  • Choose logical, strong naming conventions for the customizations you create — they should be terms that you use for your business and terms that everyone understands. Consider creating a data dictionary to make sure everyone is speaking the same language. 

Let’s kick off the interview and the demo with Charlana.  

Charlana: My name is Charlana Tanner, I’m a Florida native who moved to the Midwest where I live with my husband, two kids, and five rescue animals. I’ve been in the tech field for about seven years and customer service and support for about 15 years total. I’m the Business Systems Administrator at SIGMA Equipment and in that role, I manage the daily operations, maintenance, and configuration of our third party software solutions. I typically work directly with our internal stakeholders to really understand their current processes and business needs and then I take that information and find ways to configure our software and improve our processes to meet those needs efficiently. 

For some background on SIGMA Equipment, we are a midmarket, manufacturing company headquartered here in Evansville, Indiana, and founded in 2003.   We provide new and used packaging, processing, and material handling equipment to the manufacturing industry. We buy, sell, and rent that equipment to help provide our customers with fast and affordable solutions for their production needs. We have our main Equipment division as well as divisions for Appraisals, Auctions, Engineering Services, Freight Services, Idle Asset Recovery, and Surplus parts so we really do provide a full-service solution for our clients. We attribute our success as a business to our focus on building lasting relationships with our customers and really giving them the best possible experience from start to finish; Insightly has given us even more tools to make that happen.

  1. How did you get started with Insightly?  

In late 2019, I was assigned to a team tasked with choosing a CRM and workflow management solution to replace our existing software and Insightly was one of the first options we explored. We were impressed with the flexibility and configurability of the system out of the box as well as the ability to develop custom solutions and integrations to meet our specific needs and requirements. We took about two months to set up and configure our implementation and then went live in July of 2020.

  1. Give us examples of the ways that you’re using customization to drive great customer experiences.  (this and the following questions are really at the heart of the interview — we should be specific as possible here, and provide 3 examples, if possible

Our Sales Closed Reasons custom field is a great example of how we’ve been able to start fairly simply with our customizations and evolve them over time into something more granular and even more meaningful for our business strategy.  

We wanted to use Insightly to capture patterns in our Sales opportunities that did not end in a sale so that we could analyze the factors causing this outcome and work to mitigate the ones within our control. We began with the default Opportunity State Reason field – so we used Insightly’s built-in field but added our own customization there. We added some high-level reasons for why our Sales opportunities might be considered lost, abandoned, or suspended – reasons like “Pricing issues” and “Customer Stopped Responding.” After implementation, we realized quickly that we were gaining actionable insights that could drive even better customer experiences by re-engaging with those client groups based on the reasons why we lost these Sales opportunities.

Melinda: What did you decide to do next with the insights you were getting from this first step?

Charlana: With that goal of re-engagement in mind, the second phase for us was our Marketing team developing some targeted email Journeys for our customers based on those closed reasons. But we needed a way to categorize the Contacts related to these closed opportunities so that they could be placed into the corresponding Journey. To accomplish this, we added an Open Sales Opportunity custom checkbox field to our Contact records and some custom development from the Professional Services team to check and uncheck the box based on some logic behind the scenes. We had a few reasons for this. First, we wanted to avoid marketing to anyone who had an Open Sales opportunity since that would mean they were regularly interacting with our Sales reps. Second, we used the checkbox as a condition at the beginning of every Journey workflow so that it served as the gateway for when they were eligible to receive that targeted email series related to their close reason. If their Sales opportunity was changed to a closed state, the closed reason was captured as a Tag on the Marketing side and they were added to the dynamic list feeding the Journeys. We also built in checks based on that Open Sales Opp checkbox at each step of the Journey to see if their Sales opportunity had been reopened so that we didn’t continue to send emails if they had reconnected with us.


Melinda: That’s a great idea — it delivers a great customer experience because it shows the customer that you know and understand where they’re at with you, and it helps make your processes more tailored.  Based on our previous conversation, I know that you refined the process further — let’s have you show the audience exactly what you did to take this to the next level.

Charlana: Yes, with both of these processes in place, we decided to refine it even further and expand the impact of the data we were gathering. So we met with our stakeholders and decided on a list of closed reasons that were actionable items from a business strategy perspective, whether that involved process improvements, refining our targeted marketing campaigns, or even expanding our support teams by adding employee headcount. That list ended up being 25 distinct reasons but we also designated at which point in the Sales Opportunity Pipeline that each reason could occur. We didn’t want a list of 25 reasons to scroll through each and every time our Sales team members closed an opportunity so we used a combination of custom fields, field dependencies and workflow automation to achieve the desired outcome.


[Screen Share]

I’d like to share my screen here to show you how this process was built out and what the individual components look like.

[Sales Pipeline

Our Sales pipeline has 7 stages before being closed which is one of the very first customizations we utilized within Insightly. We have created custom pipelines for several different departments and workflows for both Opportunities and Projects. It’s been a great tool for managing the customer experience as well as workflow management and also visibility to other departments so everyone can get insight into where an opp or project is in its lifecycle.

We knew our goal was to narrow the list of 25 Closed reasons and knew that we wanted to use field dependencies to do that. To use field dependencies, the fields must be similar in type, so we created a fairly basic custom dropdown field called the Sales Pipeline Stage Indicator. 

[Sales Pipeline Stage Indicator Field]

It’s a dropdown field with the numbers 1-7 to correspond to our custom Sales pipeline stages. This field is hidden on all our opportunities but it’s updated behind the scenes by a custom workflow automation.

[Automation List]

This automation runs for Sales category opportunities each time an edit is made. It looks at what stage of the Sales pipeline the opportunity is in and assigns the Sales Pipeline Stage Indicator field to the corresponding stage number.

[Field Dependencies]

Once we had these pieces in place, we were able to build out the field dependencies for the new field called Sales Closed Reasons. The setup of these dependencies is really simple and easy to manage within the UI; our Pipeline Stage Indicator is the parent field and you just multi-select all the appropriate Closed Reasons for each stage.

As I mentioned before, we split out the closed reasons based upon which Sales pipeline stage they could be assigned to. So for example, stage 1 reasons are usually pretty high-level- “Bad contact information” or “Not a valid Opportunity” and the farther along in the pipeline a deal gets, the more granular the reasons get, such as “Cost of freight too high.” 

[My Opps]

With all these components combined together, we can see the customization in action on my example Sales opportunities.

[Diana Opp]

On this opp, we can see that it’s in Stage 1 of the Sales pipeline and when we click into edit the opp, we can see the symbol next to the Sales Closed Reasons field that indicates it’s associated with field dependencies. We see that we have the four options that were assigned to that Stage Indicator.

[Matthew Opp]

On this opp, we see that it’s in Stage 4 so we now have the same Sales Closed Reasons field but with a completely different list of Closed Reasons to choose from.


One of the best parts about capturing data in Insightly is how easy it is to put together a dashboard or report so we can really visualize the data and present it easily and confidently to our key stakeholders and business leadership team. We’re able to easily build and see broad overviews or drill down to individual teams or even each Sales rep to gather a variety of data points that help tell our whole story.

[Stop Screen Share]

Melinda: I’m really impressed by the way that you methodically worked through these improvements. I’m assuming you’re planning more, as well.  Tell us about your plans for future iteration and growth.

Charlana: Our Marketing team is already using our data on Closed Reasons to prioritize which targeted campaigns to create next. We started with very broad campaigns (such as ‘Pricing Issues’) in our previous phases but now that we’ve implemented our new customization process, we are able to split out specifically which pricing we’re talking about. For example, if the Closed Reason selected is due to Freight pricing rather than the price of the actual product, our targeted campaign will highlight the freight partnerships SIGMA has and the full-service freight solutions we offer as opposed to a more general pricing discussion.

This iterative process has given us some great ideas for other areas of the business that we can progressively improve as well and it’s laid the groundwork for us to make meaningful, strategic changes that ultimately enhance our customer experience as well as improve our internal processes and help us meet our KPIs.

Melinda: What is the best thing that Insightly is doing to help you succeed?  

Charlana: Being flexible and customizable has been invaluable for us as an organization. We came from a home-grown software environment where we could customize almost anything with our internal development team but the size and scope of the various systems became unmanageable and our needed changes were often scoped out months away. 

With the implementation of Insightly, many of our needed changes are able to be completed in minutes, not months.  I have a solid technical background but don’t have formal coding training.  As our Insightly admin, I’m able to handle almost any customization work that our team requires and we don’t need to hire a developer to do this work — we can rely on my business strategy insights and technical abilities to get the job done. Insightly provides a great deal of resources to help users understand what’s possible with the platform and we’ve definitely utilized the Customer Success Team and Help Center documentation as we’ve customized and configured our use-cases within the software. When we do need development work done, the Professional Services team has been a great resource for us. Sean, Dan, and Zeke in particular have been wonderful to work with and it really feels like a partnership between us as we work toward our success. 

Melinda: Any last words of support, guidance, recommendations for the audience? 

Charlana: My best advice is to remember that if you are clear about your needs and expectations, it is likely possible within Insightly! Think about your desired end result and work backwards from there. Be sure to document your changes and try to be consistent with any customizations you create when it comes to naming or even placement on layouts. Keep in mind that it’s often possible to expand the use of customizations or apply the concept to other areas once you’ve successfully implemented a new custom process.

We have gained so much visibility across teams and multi-department processes with Insightly. It’s been such a positive change for us internally and we know it’s also improving our customers’ experiences as well. The ability to see each others’ workflow and collaborate on opportunities and projects together has really enhanced our daily operations and opened the channels of communication between teams. It’s given us great insights on how to improve our long-term strategies as well.

User adoption is so much easier to accomplish when you are able to involve the stakeholders, often in real time, in the customization process. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a meeting, discussing a layout or a process within Insightly, and someone makes a comment about a small change they’d like to see and I’m able to demo it right there in the meeting. They are thrilled when they see their ideas come to life and it’s made a lot of the aspects of my job easier and more rewarding. We’ve gotten great benefits from the use of customizations as a result of stakeholder feedback.

MELINDA:  I really want to thank you, Charlana, for sharing your expertise with the audience. This brings us to the end of this conversation today; we really appreciate having everyone join us today. If you submitted a question and it wasn’t answered during the presentation, we’ll reach out to you offline. 

As always, our team would love to learn more about how we can help you reach your objectives and create impact, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch with us to kick off the conversation.  Thank you. 

Experience the Insightly platform for yourself