Turn Business Cards Into Business: Do You Manage Client Information on a Paper Napkin?

Athenee MastrangeloBy Athenée Mastrangelo

Your clients are your #1 priority, right?  So how are you managing their information and your relationship with them?  Do you have all their information stuffed in a shoebox or do you have an effective CRM (Contact Relationship Management) system?  Or maybe you’re somewhere in between?

The difference between having the right and the wrong CRM system can make or break your business.  Finding the right system for you is not an easy task.  It’s also a personal task – just because Mike next door is very happy and successful with his CRM system does not mean it’s the right system for you!  Every person, business, and situation is unique.

Scenario 1:  Kevin wanted only top of the line for his team and chose one of the more expensive CRM systems.  Unfortunately, it was too complicated and too time consuming, so in the end his team ended up never using it.

Scenario 2:  Becky started out with a free CRM system, but slowly had to start upgrading to a paid version to get the necessary options.  In the end she was paying more than the average system, but was getting less in return for her investment.

Rather than making those same mistakes, assess your situation and ask yourself some really important questions

Five Key Areas: Prior to investing your time, money, and energy into a new CRM system you want to ask yourself some important questions. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Contact Management: For starters, you know you need to store and manage all the people in your life from your clients, colleagues, leads, and vendors, but what is it that you need to save (aside from the obvious – like their name, address, phone numbers, emails, etc.)?

  • Do you want to store their family information, e.g. spouse and children’s names, pets, birthdays and stories?

  • Are you a visual person and would like to be able to store their business card image/logo?  What about their picture?

  • Do you want to be able to organize your contacts into groups?  [Hint:  Yes!]

2. Your Relationship: Now that you have their information, what about your relationship with them – your history… is this important to you?    If so, what is it you want to store and manage?

  • Collect any and all phone calls and take note of important things discussed

  • Keep a record of things covered and discussed during meetings and presentations

  • Any email correspondence (If email is an important part of this, you definitely want to look at a CRM system that syncs with your email.)

3. Projects, Tasks and Events: Some CRM systems have their own calendar or they can integrate with your calendar system making it easy to share events, projects, and tasks with other people in your team.  It is helpful to have your tasks and events synced with your contact system – this is definitely worth checking into.

With some CRM systems you can even automate a lot of your assignments and tasks – this is a great time saver!  For example:

Let’s assign a new task to Jane, asking her to call a new lead.  That task will have all the details and instructions for that call – what to say and what questions to ask, for example:  ‘Is lead interested?’  If Jane answers ‘Yes’, the CRM automatically creates a personalized email to the lead, thanking them for their time and….’ it also creates a follow-up task for Jane to drop by their office with a welcome basket.’  How cool is that?

4. Your Sales Cycle: Here is where you can go as simple or as detailed as you need to.  Some things to think about:

  • Do you need to keep track of your sales cycle with each client?

  • If you sell products, do you need a system for keeping track of your inventory?

  • Do you need an online shopping cart?

  • Do you want to be able to invoice your clients directly from your CRM tool?

5. Your Team: How many people are in your team?  Is it just you, do you have just a few people, or is there a big team?  Size does matters when looking for the right system.

  • When working with a team you want to keep track of who is working on what

  • Do you need a social network site for your team (something that works like Twitter and Facebook, but privately for your team)?

  • If there are more people on your team – are you all using the same operating system?  [Hint:  consider using a cloud-based system so this won’t be an issue]

  • Consider looking into a time-tracking system, even if it is just you

  • Where does everyone work?  At the office?  From home?  Or are they mostly on the road?

Important To Check Out: Now that you know a little bit about what you need, ask yourself the following questions about the system you are looking at:

  • Accessibility.  With today’s technology consider looking into a cloud solution. You’ll have access to your important information no matter where you are. All you need is a computer, iPad, iPhone, or any other smart phone.

  • Security & Backup.  Is your information secure and is there continuous backup?  Obviously very important things to look into.

  • Pricing.  Know your budget and remember more expensive does not necessarily mean better (for you).

  • Export strategy.  If you do decide to leave you want to be able to easily take your information with you.

  • User friendly.  Is it easy to use and is there a good support system

  • Reviews.  Do you like what you are reading?

  • Customizable.  Are you able to change things like your dashboard, fields, reports, etc.?

  • Integration.  Does it play well with other systems like email, calendar, scanners, invoicing, online forms, etc?

  • Social Media.  Some CRM systems let you sync your contacts with social media sites, so you’ll always have the latest news and information.

Athenée Mastrangelo helps busy professionals use technology to stay organized, productive, and connected.  She is available for workshops, online training, and individual consultations.  Clients include Marriott, United Colors of Benetton, Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort, business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs.  Connect with Athenée at www.ActionChaos.com or 407-435-2170.

This entry was posted in Athenee Mastrangelo and tagged by editor. Bookmark the permalink.

About editor

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan shares his passion for life and faith through words. Peter DeHaan’s website (www.peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages. Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (www.peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly.