Your best bet for staying on top of your sales contacts is through a CRM - what do they do, and which one is right for you?
If you know me at all, I’m very cautious when it comes to using technology - it can be useful, but it also can distract from connecting authentically with your customer, or anyone you’re looking to build and maintain a relationship with.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is really nothing new - it’s what sales people have referred to as their “book,” containing information on their clients from their addresses and phone numbers, to the types of products and services they order. However, when it’s placed in a program that takes it off of paper and onto software that is easily accessible, changeable and portable, it becomes a must-have tool to keep ahead of your clients’ needs. That’s not to say you can’t become a slave to it, inputting tons of information that really doesn’t matter.
The features of any CRM include functions like
- Keeping your contacts stored in a database for emails, analysis and more
- Organizing your tasks and the calls you need to make
- Keeping track of previous activity for any of your contacts
- Managing and reporting on the people in your pipeline
Those are the basics…if you have a large enough database, CRMs can also help you analyze trends in purchasing, demographics, and much more. Really the sky is the limit, based on what information will help you do your job better. But again, don’t create a distraction with data you will never use.
Let me explain how and why I use a CRM. I came from a world of using daily, weekly and monthly planners where I updated them by writing into them. With an online CRM program I use called Act!, I realized what a lifesaver it could be. This took some patience on my part to learn how to use it first, and what I will tell you now is that you shouldn’t give up on using one simply because it may take a little more time initially as you input your client and prospect information.
Now I can’t live without it… surprised?
I work with many clients on time management, and CRM tools can help you work more efficiently and effectively throughout the day. I noticed that things started to change and improve for me because
- I knew what each day looked like, exactly
- I knew who I needed to talk to and when (scheduling is key!)
- I knew what we talked about the last time we connected…this is important because you can recap with your contact and show them that you were listening to their conversation, which goes a long way in building a trusting relationship
- I receive email follow ups from the software to make sure I completed my tasks and made notes in those particular customers’ records.
- It keeps a copy of my emails sent to that customer or prospect to help me track my contacts with them.
No one can remember every detail, and writing it down really limits you to how you can organize all of that information. It also gives you the freedom to forget all of the details, because if you use a CRM as it’s intended, you will already have put notes in your customers’ or prospects’ files, instead of relying solely on your memory.
Here’s a great case in point:
I had a client that I reached out to recently…he and I last spoke all the way back in 2013, but I wanted to follow up with him and others who I had not connected with in some time. I asked him if he was still interested in particular activity (it was in the notes I had in his record on the Act! Software). After such a long period of connecting, he was amazed I remembered that. It not only made for a nice reintroduction, but it also led to an order for more than $1200.
There are a lot of CRM services and software out there, Salesforce is the biggest among them, and they come with varying price tags as well. What will determine what works best for you is your business’ interactions with customers and their ongoing needs. So, do look into their features and ask yourself if they will truly fit your needs as well. The software features, combined with authentic and personal selling skills, can enhance your success with clients and prospects old and new.