© 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
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
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?
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of Take Back Your Time: How to Regain Control of Work, Information, & Technology (St. Martin's Press)."
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