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Articles to Help You Be More Productive

Enjoy these articles? There are many more available:
  • Time Management Article Collection
  • Microsoft Outlook and Email Article Collection
  • Managing Paper Article Collection
  • Computer Tips Article Collection
  • Less-Paper Office Article Collection
  • Computer & Email
  • Get the Most from Microsoft Outlook

  • Beware the Empty Inbox

  • Get the Most from Your Handheld

  • Do Digital Organizers Save Time - Or Waste It?

  • Efficient E-mail Habits

  • Transitioning from Paper to Digital Information Storage

  • Faxing Without a Fax Machine

  • Getting Your Files When You're On The Go

  • Business & the Office
  • Time Tactics for the Office

  • Keeping Track of Delegated Tasks

  • Controlling Interruptions

  • Keeping Track of Your Customers & Prospects

  • Do Your Employees Really Need Customer Service Training?

  • Paper Management
  • Action Files Prevent Desk Clutter

  • Reclaim Your Desktop with a Tickler File

  • What To Do With All Those Business Cards?

  • Managing Project Folders - A Surprising Tip that Works

  • Time Management & Organizing
  • The Power of Planning Ahead

  • Words of Wisdom You Should Ignore

  • Coping with Information Overload

  • Thirteen No-Tech Time Management Tips

  • Keeping Track of Your Customers & Prospects
    © Jan Jasper; 2001-2012

    Computer vs. Paper for Contact and Customer Management

    To grow your business, you need to keep good records of customers and prospects. There is no way to do this with paper that even comes close to the power and efficiency of technology. Contact management or CRM (customer relation management) products include Sage Act*, SalesForce*, and Maximizer*, just to give some examples. As for the ubiquitous Microsoft Outlook,* it's not designed for this purpose, but it can perform many of these functions and is much better than using paper records. Microsoft also makes a Business Contact Manager that works alongside Outlook. Many CRM products are now cloud-based and are available for a monthly fee.
    Contact management software includes calendar, task, and email functions, but it's more than that - it's a powerful tool for servicing your accounts, turning leads into customers, and growing your sales. You can track all activities with every customer and prospect, recording their order and payment dates, creating reminders to follow up on a certain date, and noting their preferences and requests. You don't need a full- featured CRM program to accomplish this.

    The Benefits of Tracking Customer Histories

    Let's say you're trying to get an order from a prospect, Ms. Bigbucks, who requested you follow up with her today. You needn't rely on memory because a reminder pops up in your software. With a click, you open her record and review it. She asked about pricing on 1,000 of your new Ultra Widgets. You click on the software's phone icon and (assuming you're using a landline that's connected to your computer) the software automatically dials Bigbucks's number, logging the time of the call. You tell her the pricing information is now available. She asks to see it ASAP.

    With a few mouse clicks, you e-mail the spec and price list to her. Simultaneously, the software records that you did so, and the date. Bigbucks emails you back that she'll make a decision Monday and mentions a big golf game coming up. On Monday an alarm pops up, reminding you to call for the order and inquire about her game. If you scheduled a meeting or mailed her a proposal, all of these would be recorded in her contact record. You can also log faxes sent and received (they're automatically logged if done by your computer and not a separate fax machine) and print mailing labels. You can produce reports, such as a list of all customers in a particular zip code, customers who bought the most Ultra Widgets, and how your customers break down by industry.

    Contact management software brings big payoffs when used fully. You'll have comprehensive records in one place for each customer and prospect, information that's only a mouse click away. You'll never forget to make a follow-up call or wonder which product literature you sent on what date. You can provide better customer service, sell more to existing customers, and stay in touch with prospects and turn them into customers.

    Taking It To The Next Level - CRM Software

    The more robust CRM (customer relationship management) programs, in addition to the above functions, facilitate marketing initiatives, offer sales tracking, forecasting, analytics, and much more. They're cloud-based and are designed for a mobile sales force. They interface with your accounting software and can be configured to suit different industries.

    *The usual disclaimers apply. My mentioning these products is not a guarantee of any sort. Obviously, you should not change anything until you've completely backed up your files. You already do that, right?

    This article is available for a one-time reprint or one-time internet posting if you include my copyright notice, provide a link to www.janjasper.com and identify me as follows: "Jan Jasper, a productivity expert in the New York City area, is the author of Take Back Your Time: How to Regain Control of Work, Information, & Technology (St. Martin's Press)." Read Terms and Conditions for details.
    Learn how the right technology can save you
    tons of time!

    About the Author:
    Productivity coach Jan Jasper has been helping busy people work smarter, not harder since 1988. Her customized approach guides clients to manage time, tasks, and information more effectively. She also provides Microsoft Outlook customization for clients. Jan is the author of Take Back Your Time: How to Regain Control of Work, Information, & Technology (St. Martin's Press). She recently completed a North American media tour as the national efficiency spokesperson for IKON Office Solutions, Inc. She has appeared on radio and TV all over North America and is quoted regularly in print. Jan is an adjunct instructor at New York University.

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