Using Technology to Manage Your Business Contacts

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on April 01

Relationships are the lifeblood of your business but as your network grows, you can’t remember everything about everyone. Anyone with contact information spread across multiple devices, files, sticky notes, and drawers would benefit from contact management systems or full customer relationship management (CRM) software, which can be used to manage the relationships contributing to the growth of your business.

When setting up a contact management system, don’t start by importing thousands of records from multiple sources. Instead, enter a representative sample of people you’re communicating with to get a feel for how you will manage information for different people, such as:

• The 20 people you e-mailed or wrote to on Facebook most recently;
• Anyone you invoiced or paid last month;
• The first 10 companies returned in a search of your target market.

Ask yourself: "What do I want to get out of it?" There are many systems available and they offer everything from storing address information to tracking lead-generation efforts. List the information you would like to have and prioritize your goals, such as:

• Keep contact information for clients updated in one place;
• Access contact information from a mobile device;
• Track leads and conversations coming from various sources;
• Create customized reports.

Some resources to consider are:

• SalesTeamTools.com maintains a comprehensive list of systems, with reviews of each;
• Small business CRM consultant, and guru Brent Leary publishes information at BrentLeary.com about what the industry is doing to embrace social media;
• Search Inside CRM’s directory for small business-focused CRM solutions and ERP companies at insidecrm.com/vendors.

You can use technology to keep your contacts neat and tidy, but ultimately the value of the system depends on you and your team taking the time to incorporate it into your routines. Establishing good habits early will help you enjoy the relationships that are so important to the growth of your business.

Pamela O’Hara
Co-Founder and President
BatchBlue Software
Providence

Reader Comments

Jim Berkowitz

April 1, 2010 03:52 PM

It's important to remember that Contact Management, Sales Force Automation and CRM Suites are DIFFERENT types of tools.

Contact Management does not include opportunity/deal records and therefore does not track sales pipelines, Sales Force Automation does do this. CRM Suites include functionality for marketing, sales and customer service. Sales Force Automation may include some marketing functionality but will not include customer service functionality. Some solutions are web-based and some run on-premise on your local computers.

For the most complete list of tools in each of these categories, and more, go here: http://crmmastery.com/article.asp?articleid=5965

Prof P.Madhu Sudana Rao,Ethiopia

April 2, 2010 03:17 AM

A successful business organization should always be on look out for latest technology both for its machinery and for accounts and customer relations. If it is within their reach and provides substantial benefits they have to be adopted.
Information Technology management is a useful thing. Most small businesses do not a department to oversee their Information Technology needs. The result is it tends to be a piecemeal affair, ignored until something goes wrong with the equipment or another piece of equipment needs to be purchased.
Hence keeping one copy of business data is never enough; one has to secure business data by backing it up for Accounts, Customer contacts and Intellectual property. As an absolute minimum, it should have a database of customer records of some kind, and to keep it complete and updated.
Thus there is need for creating, storing documents and also for establishing procedures that make retrieving documents easier. Thus there is need to ensure the data is organized and accessible.
• Software application , renewals – antivirus, accounting software
• Domain and web hosting renewals
• Software updates
• Software installations
• Operating system upgrades ,installations
• Replacement ,installation of hardware
Besides there is need for a knowledgeable, reliable Information Technology service provider to do what needs to be done for small business on a regular basis., for the situations of,
• What happens if a power surge spoils desktop computer
• If computers are hit with a virus or a program you use frequently won't open
Crisis may take many forms, but in all its forms, it leads to downtime which in turn leads to lost revenue, and also cash flows.

DeidraJow

April 9, 2010 06:07 PM

Good article on finding the right software to help manage your business relationships! I thought I'd chime in with a few resource links from Microsoft that might be worth checking out if folks are looking for other resources (i.e., technical experts or other specialized business software) to help them manage and grow their business.

Hope this helps!

Deidra
The Microsoft SMB Outreach Team
v-dejow@microsoft.com

Links:
http://www.pinpoint.microsoft.com/en-US/
Pinpoint tool to help you find technology experts and special applications
http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/hub.mspx
Microsoft Small Business Center
http://www.microsoft.com/business/bpostestdrive/demo.aspx?CR_CC=100205081&WT.srch=1&CR_SCC=100205081&WT.srch=1
Test Drive Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite

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