Insightly is an intuitive customer relationship management (CRM) software ideal for small businesses that want to combine both sales and project management. Setting up the CRM includes understanding its hierarchical structure, constructing a solid foundation with sales functions such as leads, opportunities, and pipelines, creating security permissions, and building custom reports and dashboards.
1. Learn How Insightly Is Organized
Before jumping into the CRM implementation, it will help if you have a basic understanding of Insightly terms and how it’s organized. This is the CRM’s hierarchical structure or taxonomy. It includes the types of items you will see in the CRM such as objects, records, and fields, which will help you understand the relationship between these items before you start creating contacts, opportunities, and projects.
Below are the items that make up Insightly’s organizational structure:
Learning how to use Insightly will be easier once you understand how it’s organized. On the left side navigation, you’ll see Objects, which are types of records you can add in Insightly, housing all of your important information. You have standard objects and the ability to create custom objects that are unique to your business.
Here are the standard objects and how they are defined in Insightly:
- Contacts: People associated with your business to whom you are selling or providing services.
- Leads: Potential clients and contacts; people you have spoken to who aren’t yet in your sales pipeline (i.e., not qualified). When they become a sales opportunity, they become a contact.
- Organizations: Companies you do business with that can be linked to contacts associated with that company and vice versa. Organizations are especially helpful if you speak with multiple people from the same business.
- Opportunities: Records that will appear in your pipeline and show information like name, value, probability of winning, forecast close date, and more. Opportunities are helpful in tracking the success of your products and individual salespeople, as well as managing your pipeline.
- Projects: Deliverables or work to be done after a sale is closed and managed with pipelines or milestones.
- Tasks: A to-do list of assignments for sales, projects, and everyday work that can be linked to another record, such as a Project or Opportunity. For example, use tasks to schedule follow-up calls and meetings with leads or customers.
- Events: These are important dates that can be connected to your Insightly calendar and linked to records. They are found in the Activity tab of a contact and created using the Add Activity drop-down.
- Emails: Emails can be saved for incoming and outgoing right from your email provider, such as Gmail or Outlook, and attached to the contact or organization record. They are found in the Activity tab.
- Notes: Messages you can add to a record. They can be found in the Related tab.
Records reside within the objects (e.g., contacts, organizations, tasks) and contain fields. They organize the collected data and can be linked to other records. Records function based on how the object is set up. For example, a company that manufactures motorcycles could create an opportunity record with a field for a drop-down list of different motorcycle models that can be selected by a sales rep.
Fields live in a record and are the places you input information as a user. This is the data that is important for your business to track with standard fields such as name, phone, email, and address. Custom fields tailored to your business can added, e.g., billing ID numbers, referral information, contract renewal date, and project types.
2. Configure Insightly for Your Specific Needs
Building a strong foundation for your CRM will enable you and your team to jump in and start going to work with little interruption. As the administrator, you’ll want to devote some time to creating custom fields, connecting email, and any third-party integrations. If you’re mildly tech-capable, these steps shouldn’t take long. We’ll start with the sales process, which will be used for eventually creating your pipeline.
Define Your Sales Process
A sales process represents the actions a salesperson takes to move a prospect to a closed customer. They will become your sales pipeline. Each business will have actions that correspond specifically to what they sell and who they sell to, but there are basic steps that will appear in most sales processes. Most important is building a process that is both repeatable and scalable. Keep in mind that your process may evolve, especially if your business is new.
Here are the general stages of the sales process:
- Initial contact
- Qualification (research and discovery)
Determine Your Custom Fields
Before importing your contacts, make sure your data will fit into Insightly’s default objects, records, and fields. Default (standard) fields are things such as name, address, phone, and email. Here’s a link to Insightly’s default fields.
However, if your data will not fit into these default fields, you have the option to create custom fields. Custom fields are those that are specific to the business you’ve created in your previous CRM (or in a spreadsheet) and wish to import into Insightly. You can create custom fields for contacts, organizations, opportunities, and projects.
Create Custom Fields
If you need to create custom fields to accommodate your records, follow these steps:
- Click the Systems Settings in the top right corner.
- Click Objects and Fields from the list on the left.
- Choose your Object (likely contact), then click Object Fields.
- Click New Field, and choose a Field Type. From here, it will walk you through the field(s) you’ve selected.
Connect Your Email
By connecting your email account, you can send messages from within Insightly, use email templates, and have your emails automatically saved in the Emails tab on the navigation bar. It works with Gmail, Office 365 Outlook, Outlook.com (includes Hotmail), and SMTP servers like Microsoft Exchange. There’s also an email (Gmail and Outlook) add-on called Sidebar that lets you create contacts and leads, view records, and search your CRM from your inbox.
Install Third-party Integrations
This is included here as a reminder more than as a “next step.” Presumably, you are aware of Insightly’s integration options, but if not, see this list. In addition to Outlook and G Suite, you can also view and share data between other third-party applications such as Mailchimp, Slack, and QuickBooks without leaving the CRM. If it makes sense to connect now, go to System Settings, Integrations, and click the install button to add your application. Insightly will walk you through it.
Building a solid foundation is easy with Insightly. Importing data, connecting email, and adding third-party integrations are all easily accomplished within the CRM. The options for customization will provide the data needed to manage and measure the performance of your team. Click here to get started for free.
3. Set Up Sales Management
The primary items you’ll need to set up to start managing sales are your leads, pipelines, opportunities, and activity sets—a set of instructions to create tasks or events. Once you have set these components up, plug the sales process you defined in step 2 into your pipeline.
Create a Sales Pipeline
A pipeline is your sales process in a linear series of stages. It will show where each opportunity is at any given time and what steps are needed to close them. To set up a pipeline, go to System Settings, then Pipelines, add a Pipeline name (e.g., Service Sales) and click Add Pipeline. If you’ve defined your sales process, plug the names into the stages of your Insightly pipeline. If you have multiple processes, you can create more pipelines to match each.
There’s also a category to add the Probability of closing the opportunity to a customer. If unsure about this, leave it blank or add your best guess until you get it dialed in. The Activity Set option lets you add an automated set of tasks and events for each stage, as discussed in the previous section.
To add an activity, go to the Pipelines tab under System Settings, click the Edit Stages link beside the Pipeline you want to edit, then edit the stage selecting the Activity Set from the drop-down menu. Click save.
Define & Add Activity Sets
An activity set is a set of instructions to create events and tasks for a given business process. They can be used to create activities for leads, contacts, organizations, opportunities, and projects. For example, if marketing acquires new trade show leads that require three initial steps for follow up by sales, an activity step can be used to automatically set these up. This helps take some of the manual work out of assigning tasks.
Here is an example of defining and using automated activity sets in a sales pipeline:
Sales Pipeline Activity Set Examples
|Pipeline Stage||Activity Set|
|New Lead Comes In||Call lead, email information PDF|
|Contact Tried||Send follow-up email, schedule call|
|Contact Made||Schedule meeting, send loan info packet|
|Awaiting Paperwork||Send checklist, request financial information|
|Referred||Contact lenders, schedule follow-up call|
|Closed||Finalize with lender, notify accounting|
Here are the steps for adding an Activity Set:
- Go to System Settings, then Activity Sets.
- Type a name for the set in the Activity Set Name field.
- Check the boxes for the Objects (e.g., contacts, leads) that will use this activity.
- Click the Edit link to add activities.
- Choose the type (task or event) to add.
- Fill in the details for the window that pops up, then click Add New Activity.
Enable Lead Management
Leads are your potential clients and contacts—people you have connected with but who aren’t yet qualified and in your pipeline. An example would be someone you spoke to at a trade show who expressed initial interest in what you sell, but you haven’t had further discussions to qualify them. To enable this, click on System Settings, then Lead Management, and enable Lead Management. The Leads icon will appear in the navigation bar.
Once enabled, you can then add new leads individually in the leads section or import them as a CSV or Excel file. Within the lead record is a status field to track where they are in your sales process. Each of your lead statuses will correspond to one of two status types defined as open or closed:
OPEN or CLOSED with five default statuses included:
- “OPEN – NotContacted” is a default open status
- “OPEN – AttemptedContact”
- “OPEN – Contacted”
- “CLOSED – Disqualified” are leads that you find are not qualified
- “CLOSED – Converted” are leads you close or that are converted to opportunities, which Insightly will automatically mark with this status
Add New Opportunities
Opportunities are the records that will appear in your pipeline and show information like name, value, probability of winning, forecast close date, and more. Opportunities are helpful in tracking the success of products and individual salespeople, and managing your pipeline. You can add opportunities in two ways: Import existing opportunities by clicking the Opportunities tab and then import, and clicking the Add New Item (+) button and selecting Add New Opportunity.
Set up a consistent naming pattern for opportunities so they’re easier to search for. Then complete the other fields on the page.
The fields you should complete are:
- Organization: The organization you’re closing the deal with.
- Category: Ways to label opportunities (e.g., products, services).
- Probability of Winning: The probability that the deal will be won expressed as a percentage from 0 to 100.
- Forecast Close Date: The anticipated close date.
- Opportunity Value: Select the currency and enter whole numbers (no commas or decimal points).
- Custom fields: Admins can add or remove custom fields in System Settings.
- Description: Write a brief note about the opportunity.
- Pipeline and Stages: Select the pipeline and stage from the drop-downs.
- Permissions: The opportunity’s visibility (e.g., everyone, individuals).
Add Categories to Opportunities
If you have multiple types of products and services, you may want to set up opportunity categories. Categories can also be added to projects, files, and tasks. To add a category, click the Systems Settings menu, then Categories under Data Administration. Click Add Category, name it, and tick the boxes (e.g., Projects, Opportunities) where you want the Category to appear.
4. Set Up Permissions
Before adding users, you should understand how to set up Insightly’s user permissions. All versions come with simple permissions giving you basic control over a user’s visibility and actions within the CRM’s records. The Professional and Enterprise editions provide advanced permissions with more granular control. How you set up your permissions will depend on your plan, company size, and how much control you want to give users.
Finally, we’ll look at importing your data:
How Simple Permissions Work
Simple permissions are included with all subscription plans, including the free version. They let you—as the administrator—control your users’ ability to see and update records. Once permissions are set, Insightly will only display record types, links, and actions that the user is allowed to see.
Here are the two types of users:
- Standard: Can view, edit, or delete records they have permission to see, but can’t access system settings to add users, create custom fields, and other actions.
- Administrators: Can view all records, change system settings and permissions, and access billing pages.
As an administrator, you can provide default visibility—giving access for editing, viewing, and deleting—to users so each time they create an object or record, they can choose the visibility of that item. Clicking Everyone allows all other users to view the record. Creator Only limits visibility to the person creating the item and administrators.
How Advanced Permissions Work
Advanced permissions are only found in Professional and Enterprise editions. Using this feature provides greater record and navigation access granularity to your users. You can set up layers of permissions based on groups of users. The types of permissions available include the following:
- Profiles: Control which objects can be seen and changed by users—including read, create, edit, and delete actions for objects.
- Organization-wide sharing: Defines default level for sharing objects. For example, you can open an object to all users (Public).
- Roles: Control which records users see through a sharing hierarchy, e.g., letting managers view the records of their employees.
- Sharing rules: Lets you make exceptions to roles and expand record visibility, e.g., managers wanting to share their views with other managers.
The difference in users, security, visibility, and actions between simple and advanced permissions:
Simple vs Advanced Permissions at a Glance
|Users||Simple Permissions||Advanced Permissions|
|User Types||Administrators, standard users, and teams||Administrators and standard users can be assigned custom profiles and roles. Profiles limit the types of records visible and modifiable. Roles provide access to other’s records.|
|Individual Record Security||Each record has a visibility setting giving specific users and/or teams access||Access to each record is based on ownership, who it’s assigned to, the roles they report to, and a role’s sharing rules.|
|User Visibility||Records they own, assigned to them, or made visible with each record’s visibility permissions||Record types and navigation tabs. Records owned, assigned, or owned/assigned by users below them in role hierarchy.|
|User Actions||Each user can create, edit, and delete records, but there is no read-only option; users can be prevented from exporting records||Profiles grant users permissions to view, create, edit, or delete records of specific types such as opportunities. Users can be prevented from exporting records.|
5. Add Users With Permissions
To add a user, click Systems Settings, User List, and then Add User. Follow the steps to add the user, who will be sent an activation email. Once created, you can then set up their security permissions. These settings are found under Security in System Settings.
Create Teams for Group Permissions
A team is a group of users with specific permissions associated with all members of that group. You can set security permissions on specific items (e.g., emails) in records that you don’t want users in that group to see. It’s also a convenient way to filter task lists by group to see all the tasks assigned to members of that team. To set up a team, click the Teams link under System Settings. Name the team, then add the users you would like to be a part of that team.
6. Prepare Data for Import
The simplest way to get data into your CRM—if you have relatively few contacts—is to type it in manually. Just click Add New, fill out the boxes, and click Save. However, if you have a lot of contacts, use Insightly’s importing feature. First, check your record limit on the Billing and Account page. Then start with only a few records to test the process and the integrity of the data.
To start an import, click on the Contacts link, and then click Import Contacts and Notes. You will get a screen where you can select the program you would like to import from, and Insightly takes care of the rest. If your program is not listed, determine if you should export your data to a CSV or Excel file. Search Google for “How to Export Contacts to Excel from (Your Program Name)” to find out if you can export data from your program into an Excel file, and how to do it.
Use a Spreadsheet to Import
Once you have your data in a CSV or Excel spreadsheet, go back to the same Import Contacts window above, and select Import Contacts From a CSV File. Select your file and then click upload, which will bring up a window that looks like the picture below. Insightly will attempt to match the available Insightly fields with the data in each column in your spreadsheet. If it does not recognize a column in your Excel file, it allows you to choose the equivalent Insightly field.
Pro Tip: A first name is required for each contact. For lists with full names in one column, map it to the Full Name field; Insightly will split the names into First Name and Last Name. Don’t forget to create custom fields (as explained previously) if you have fields other than the default. Job titles will be mapped to the default role of Employee unless you map this to the Title/Role field. List Contact tags in one column separated by commas and map it to the Contact Tag List.
7. Build Sales Reports & Dashboards
The final step in learning how to use Insightly is understanding its two reporting options: advanced and legacy. Advanced allows custom reports based on fields and parameters you choose, and they can be saved, shared, and set up for scheduling. Legacy reports provide quick reports with fewer report and filtering options. Dashboards display a quick overview of important information for leads, opportunities, sales, projects, and custom objects.
Create Legacy Reports
There are nine available legacy opportunity reports and one report for completed tasks and events. These are basic, prebuilt reports that let you quickly see lists for items such as pipeline stage, value of opportunities, and reasons for losing. Each report lets you filter by date range, pipeline, tag, owner, state, and currency. To access, click Reports in the navigation bar, click Legacy Reports at the top right, and select the report you’d like to view from the list.
Build a Custom Report
The custom report option lets you pick which fields to display, filter, and summarize. To create a custom report, go to Reports, click New Report, select a report type from the list, and click create. From here, you can drag and drop up to 30 Report Fields from the list on the left to the preview grid. Then drag and drop filters—to narrow or expand results—to the Report Filters and Parameters section. Select values for each filter and click add. Click Save and Run Report.
Pro Tip: The ability to measure performance with data in a report is only as powerful as the information you can collect. When you’re first setting up your CRM, ask yourself what kind of data you want to measure. If there are no standard fields, create custom fields that can then be added to your reports.
Access & Build Dashboards
Dashboards provide a visual overview of the data most important to your business. This includes information such as total sales, sales by rep, win rate, and total value by opportunity state (e.g., open, won, lost). There are also dashboards for leads and projects with data displays for the areas most important for those objects.
Each dashboard can display multiple points of data using Cards. Cards can display information from up to 100 records, each showing a title, summary number, and chart. Cards can then be dragged and dropped within a dashboard. To access dashboards and cards, click on Dashboards in the navigation bar. From here, you’ll have access to all prebuilt dashboards and cards as well as the ability to create new ones.
Bottom Line: How to Use Insightly
Insightly is an easy-to-use customer relationship management (CRM) and project management tool designed for small businesses. Creating contacts, leads, and pipelines is straightforward once you learn the organizational structure and terms, and there are multiple permission options to ensure security across your business.
Frequently Asked Question
How do you think about Lead Status vs. Pipeline Stage?
Lead Status and Pipeline Stage are two different things in Insightly. Lead Status is used to specify whether or not a lead, or potential customer, has been qualified, which is a sub-stage in the larger, more comprehensive sales process. Pipeline stages, on the other hand, are designed to help you monitor and manage a lead’s development from initial qualification, through discovery, to close.