Gone are the days when Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems were only considered useful and cost effective for larger businesses or corporate organisations. Integrate a CRM system into your own business and it could be one of the best things you ever do!
So what’s all the fuss about?
In a nutshell, CRM systems keep details of all your contacts in one place and help you to easily manage your activity with each contact. You can log when you were last in touch, what you discussed, and set reminders to keep in touch again within each contact’s ‘record’, any actions, emails, or important information such as birthdays and work anniversaries can also be noted. You can create pipelines for prospects helping you keep on track with any potential new business.
It might sound a bit clinical, but they help to create a very personal client experience when used in the right way, nurturing the relationships you already have and creating strong foundations for new ones.
Here’s a few systems to take a look at if you’re thinking of setting one up;Nimble (my favourite), Insightly, Capsule, and Contactually. There are more, but these are aimed at the small business market. Each have a slightly different focus depending on what works for you, how techie you are, and what you would like to be able to do with your contact information.
Each system will have it’s own features, for example some are quite sales/pipeline orientated while others are more socially focused. They also vary in price, the ones I have mentioned range between about £8 and £15 a month depending on how many users you need. Some even have a free-for-life version too. A small investment for a big return.
Here’s the basics on getting started….
Setup – identify where all your contacts are currently stored and make sure they can be easily imported into the CRM system. Some systems can integrate directly with your social media accounts making it easy to capture the details. All systems I have used allow importing from a spreadsheet, useful for Outlook contacts or any old contact lists you might have. Don’t worry about any duplicates, the CRM will weed these out automatically, or highlight and give you the option to merge with another record or delete.
Use Tags – this is one of the most simple, but most useful things about a CRM. Tags. I really encourage you to set up tags from the get go and keep on top of them. You can create as many tags as you like. You can tag your current clients and past clients, your prospects, how you know someone e.g. through LinkedIn, Twitter or a networking group. If you send out newsletters, you can add a tag to people who you know are subscribed to your list. The possibilities here are endless!
Set Reminders – for anything and everything! Whether this is just to drop a contact a ‘hello’, to follow up on a proposal, or a monthly catch up with a client. You can set reminders and receive emails alerting you to what’s coming up and therefore what you need to arrange or focus on.
Update Regularly – to make CRM systems really work for you, you need to keep them up to date, so make sure when you have spoken to someone you log that, if you find out any extra information about a contact, such as a birthday, or a big success they’ve had, log that too. I’m sure some of you are groaning now thinking “another job to do” but it really is only a few minutes and it will make all the difference. Some systems do integrate with email and social media networks, updating a contact record if you have an email exchange or tweet, so some of the work there is done for you.
Tempted? There really is no excuse now not to keep all your contacts together in the same place, updated, and in your sights. And I’ve just scratched the surface with what these systems can do and how to use them.
You connected with people for a reason. Don’t let them stay buried in LinkedIn or fade into your Twitter feeds. Here’s a great way to get back in touch with people and stay in touch.
Who knows where it might lead?