Last week I taught a class on contact management for Professional Organizers in Canada (POC). Who knew there were so many systems out there? And, we only touched on a few of them.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, as they are often referred to, can be anything from a simple spreadsheet to an extremely robust system such as ACT! Personally I’m a fan of the Outlook contact management system that comes with the software I already have. It seems to do everything I could possibly need it to do. I can enter as much information on a customer as I wish and the system will keep track of every email, appointment and task I have related to that customer without me having to do a darn thing – I like that!
What you need your system to do is obviously the key when choosing a CRM system. If I needed to track conversations and be able to analyze my customer base and print detailed reports then I could see the need for software such as ACT!, Goldmine, Maximizer, etc.
Any organization with a sales force needs to have one of these systems in order to allow multiple users to access customer records and keep detailed information on prospects and opportunities. And, from what I understand, these systems are essential when you need to generate regular reminders that it’s time to contact a customer. Somehow, when I was in sales, I managed to keep track of all this information manually – looking back I have no idea how we did it!
I have a few thoughts on how to choose the right system:
- Keep in mind the complexity of the system and how much time it takes to maintain accurate records.
- Base your decision on what you need the system to do for you.
- Be certain that the system you choose integrates seamlessly with your email management program, calendar and tasks.
- Talk to an expert before making your final choice (check out The Red Group).
All that to say I have now discovered that I am so far from an expert on this subject it’s not even funny. Perhaps something to add to my professional development list for 2011?