Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Is Contact Management Dead?

August 12, 2016

Nope. It lives on in CRM solutions. Is yours doing the job?

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“Contact management” used to be a thing. It was the basis for numerous desktop software products. Salespeople (primarily) used them to maintain databases of contact records, track meetings and other scheduled events, and store notes about interaction with customers.

Those databases of contact records consisted primarily of, well, contact details. Addresses and phone numbers and any other pertinent information gleaned through relationships with customers. They required constant updating. Even then, their “knowledge” was limited to what the user entered, and no more.

You know what I’m going to say next because I’ve written about this before. Today’s Customer Relationship Managers (CRM) are the old contact managers on steroids. They’re either entirely cloud-based or a hybrid of desktop and web. And like the name says, they’re designed to help you define, track, and improve your relationships with your customers. And to be a more successful salesperson.

Detailed, Thorough Overviews

Are you using a CRM solution? If so, you know what I’m talking about when I refer to the customer profile. Other types of software/websites might refer to this as a customer record. It’s similar to the contact detail section in the old contact managers, but address/phone/email is a minor element of the content.

See if your current CRM system does all of this. If not, or if you’re not yet using one of these essential sales tools, look for these profile features once you start shopping around.

A central dashboard. You might call this a home page. It’s simply the first thing you see when you log in to your CRM software. The specifics vary depending on what you’re using, but the best systems are highly visual and easy-to-digest, containing information like:

  • Your progress. Where do you stand in terms of your target goals?
  • Your past-due to-do’s. Do you have overdue tasks? Have you missed close dates? Are there opportunities that need to be moved into the next stage?
  • Your activities. What calls and meetings are on your schedule? Other tasks? Your CRM solution should centralize your reminders.
  • Your action items. Do you have new leads? Cold accounts? Opportunities that aren’t going anywhere?
  • Your history and future. What were your recent successes? Where are you on the path to future ones?

Comprehensive contact management. If you have email addresses for individuals or URLs for companies, you should be able to enter them and have your CRM system automatically search the web for any contact—and other—details it can find. The best software even pulls in activity streams from your contacts’ social networks.

Once you’ve created a profile, you should be able to see everything related to the individual or company within that one view — tasks, opportunities, notes, email, etc. Adding new entries should be a simple operation.

Integration with popular email clients like Gmail. It doesn’t make any sense to have to leave your profiles to send and receive email, since so much of your customer-facing work involves online messaging.  

An audit trail. That’s what accountants call it, anyway. This is simply a continual log of changes made to the system, and by whom. And when.

Document management. You know that you have mountains of documents to manage in your job, so it goes without saying that they should be easily incorporated from wherever they reside (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) into your CRM solution.

A customizable framework. Businesspeople demand customizability in any kind of productivity application, and CRM systems are no exception. The best solutions let you make numerous kinds of modifications to your working screens.

So, no, contact management isn’t dead. It’s just more dynamic, visual, and comprehensive than ever before.

Stock image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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