Is a CRM? Thinks So, Takes on Trello

Monday, October 1, 2018
Christopher Sirk
SHARE: is a project management app with a rock-solid reputation. It's prized for having a neat interface that puts collaboration tools front and center. And for syncing information across work applications.

It lets you collate workflows and streamline tasks. It incentivizes productivity and gives everyone a heads up on what they need to do.

The platform also lets team members click around and see what’s going on within the bigger picture. That's great for project alignment, not to mention morale. recently made the claim their software is capable of handling CRM tasks.

But is it true? Can be used as a CRM? Also, why did they wait for years to tell us this?

Using project management app as a CRM has some very pragmatic communications tools built-in. This allows many ‘CRM-y’ type things to take place.

That includes contact management and lead management. Workflow management and team management too. also has sales tracking tools to streamline the selling process. Keep everyone and everything in its right place.

The app lets you create a sales pipeline, and deal with accounts, deals, and contacts. It lets you keep tabs on everyone associated with your business. Who they are and what you know about them.

Nifty color-coded progress bars track the status of sales and the probabilities of closing deals. Kind of like a Gantt chart, but more interactive and fancy.

You can track the customer lifecycle. You can do time tracking for individual team members. There are audit logs for security. is particularly good for onboarding and sales training. It lets you build a sales team knowledge base to reduce the learning curve for new employees. That gets them up to selling faster.

You can also communicate with people in-app. The ‘phone’ button automatically opens the communications platform your contact favors, which may or may not be a phone.

The world clock takes the edge off coordinating with business operations spread across regions. Time zones are displayed next to contacts or team members.

Similarly, the location feature helps synchronize your communications with clients across the world. So you won’t drop a weird “Hi” to the Germans at 3 AM local time.

Mobile apps and integrations

There's a well-designed mobile app for Android and iPhone. reviews well when it comes to mobile capabilities. Check out their high rating at the App Store.

There are also many integrations.

A few include Jira, Slack, Excel, and Dropbox. G Suite integration sync with Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Gmail.

Connect it with Mailchimp for email marketing automation. Connect it to Zendesk for customer support functionality.

Zapier integration lets you connect it to even more apps like Airtable or Pipedrive. You can also use Zapier to pair with Hootsuite and beef up social media marketing.

But is really a CRM?

As noted, it can definitely be configured to do a lot of things you’d expect out of a collaborative CRM or an operational CRM. Like help manage teams and contact, customer, and supplier communications.

It’s long been marketed as ‘project management’ software. Let’s face it, that's a euphemism for CRM.

It seems is signaling its CRM-ness in order to tap the growing millennial audience for software tools in this category.

As noted, it can definitely be configured to do a lot of things you’d expect out of a collaborative CRM or an operational CRM. Like help manage teams and contact, customer, and supplier communications.

For example, they’ve really been going after web-based project organizing software, Trello. That flexible, highly visual, and easy-to-use task management tool.

Trello has long been a favorite of freelancers, compulsive self-organizers, and ‘cool’ startups.

So bids on attack-ad style search results for Trello. They have landing pages designed to convince you to dump the competitor’s product. wants you to stop using Trello 

Check this out, the company has a landing page titled “Trello, it’s not you, it’s me” with the subheader “You’ve outgrown Trello. It happens.” They cut straight to the chase, quickly offering to migrate your data from Trello to in a few easy clicks.

Elsewhere on their site, they have a big spiel on why Trello just isn’t good enough. suggests that they’re better at being about the ‘big picture.' Better at keeping team members aligned and motivated so they don’t get bogged down in a despairing drudge of endless tasks.

Interestingly enough, they also suggest they’re better because they have cool progress bar colors.

They contrast their smorgasbord of features with Trello’s simple Kanban board style.

Trello uses Kanban to manage productivity workflows. This is disassembled as a mere ‘strategic tool.’ One that only favors urgent tasks and provides no help with overall tactics.

Not trolling, but it should be noted also has a Kanban view option.

Ultimately, the CRM market is really heating up, as more and more people become aware that this software actually exists. So maybe’s recent competitive tactics aren’t really that unique.

For example, search “” in Google (or any other project management software, for that matter). Witness the slew of paid ads for other companies that flood your search results.

Some of the ads are mud-slinging one-liners. Others are designed to trick you into landing on a rival company’s website. and the Optics of Work definitely has the millennial-targeting aesthetic down. They’ve invested a lot in product look and feel. They are keen to the fact young professionals want to work with programs that aren’t nasty-looking, cluttered, or overly technical. gets the idea of how the “optics” of work are becoming more important than ever.

We fan out across co-working spaces and coffee shops. We attend live webinars (which provides, including one on how they can be used as a CRM). We dabble in cross-silo communications and maybe even indulge in a cheeky pint and iPad session at the local pub or WeWork workplace. 

We're in public, 'peforming' work. So we want to be working with visually appealing programs that subtract the “gross professional software” look from our life. After all, not only are we looking at our screen but also people are looking at us looking at our screen.

In a way, what is keen to do is ‘sell’ work to us by promising us it will be cooler, easier, and more effective.

One way they do this is by offering a huge list of work app integrations including competitors Asana and Trello. Is it a backhanded compliment? recognizes the competitor. while also offering their own product as a “bigger picture” alternative? Whatever it is, it’s smart.

Positioned as a tool for the CRM crowd, and also a tool for fans of Trello and Asana. are putting themselves smack dab in the middle-of-the-road. Right between all-purpose organizing tools and more technical software for marketing and sales.

They are letting both the people Googling Trello know that they have their needs covered. And the people looking for a CRM that isn’t super complicated. Small businesses, freelancers, and the like.

Is this an effective marketing positioning? Will the writers at Seinfeld raise a stink about “It’s Not You, It’s Me” being appropriated to sell work management software? Only time will tell.

You can try for 14 days without a credit card. When the free version expires, you can upgrade to the Basic plan at $8 per user/per month. That value for money is pretty, pretty good.