Using a Contact Relationship Management Program to Target Contacts

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When you buy or use a Contact Relationship Management (CRM) it could be the wrong decision. I am not saying you should not buy a CRM but that you have to be very careful on which one you do buy. If you hear that a friend or another company is using XYZ, that still does not mean it is the right software for your business.

What do you want to do? If you just want a list of all your contacts and their email addresses, phones numbers and that kind of thing, any contact list would do, Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, and Excel spreadsheet. You have to think beyond that. A CRM is a way to look after your customers as well as potential customers. Do you send out details about all your products and services to everyone on your list whether they are interested or not?

Do you want to keep track of anything? Say you network a lot and collect a lot of business cards. You want a list of all of them but you also want to know when you talked with them. Then you can look for a CRM that will hold all of your contacts, but also notes on the contact.

What do you want to do with this information? Do you want to see what you talked about or just how often you talk with them? CRM programs can give you reports, or lists, some will show a summary sheet, or the last contact. Do you want to log calls to and from each person.

Thinking about who you want to log, are they clients? Potential clients? Business people you meet but may or may not do business with? Clients you might want to keep track of what emails you send out, or create marketing emails to promote things they are interested in. A CRM can keep track of customers' preferences, if you enter the information. You can also add something called an opportunity.

If your business is selling Art, and you have a client you know is interested in modern art. You can list on preferences that they like modern art, and create an "opportunity" to sell them some. The opportunity could be for one client or everyone in your list that is listed as liking modern art. Some CRM programs allow you to have one opportunity and associate it with only one contact or several contacts.

Think of an opportunity as more like target marketing. So if you have that art business you would probably target everyone who likes modern art by sending a bulk email to them when you get new stock in.

If your business is legal, you probably would not want to email all your clients with a deal on mergers. Each contact you have would be a one off opportunity. You meet a contact at a gathering and hear they are in talks with another company about merging their businesses. An opportunity can be added for that one contact and you can be reminded to call, email or write etc them about the legal ramifications or options.

Two businesses, but they would use opportunities in different ways, so when looking for a CRM would need to find out which program does what you need. How do you do this, test them. Don't just read what they say in their features, take a trial (most software companies provide 30 days) and add real contacts and how you would like to manage them. Add a few opportunities and see if you can enhance customer service by sending marketing items such as emails to a few people rather then your entire list.

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Katherine Davison

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Using a Contact Relationship Management Program to Target Contacts

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This article was published on 2010/04/14