I like to class myself as a bit of a human CRM system. Yes, occasionally things here and there get overlooked, but how I keep on top of what’s going on with my clients and people around me is something that comes naturally. That is, with a little bit of help from a few software applications.
Some of you will know that the Cowshed has had a herd of its own that have now moo’ved on to pastures new (seriously, I couldn’t overlook these groan-worthy play on words!) but during that time we tinkered with a few management systems. All was well received at the beginning but trying to ensure that keeping it up to date and making it part of their daily working life was a challenge all in itself. I imagine that if you’ve worked with a CRM system you’ve experienced something similar.
You see, just because you’ve bought a CRM system that cost you £x to buy, it’s going to cost you £XXX if your users don’t make the most of it.
Even when I unsubscribed from our system (much to my dislike) I realised that being who I was, I wasn’t going to lose touch with my customer information just because the technology wasn’t there. And that’s why I’m writing this bit because even the biggest corporations that I work with use their hulking great big bloated systems less than I do with the combination of technology I use. I’m the one who gets ‘it’. I understand that no amount of technology can help you manage your customers and clients if you don’t have it within you to want to do it in the first place.
So, here’s an example of what I do to keep on top of my clients. If you do something similar or better then please share and don’t for one moment assume that I think that just by doing this you don’t need a CRM system in place. If I had more in the herd then I would be bounding back to my beloved CRM system… although I’ll have to block out time in my diary each week to kick people up the behind to keep populating the system!
Situation: NEW Client Enquiry
Step 1: Read email at least twice
Step 2: Look up sender using LinkedIn, Duedil, and a general Google (other web browsers available) search.
Step 3: Add sender to contacts using all available information (including mugshot)
Step 4: Look up company using LinkedIn, Duedil, Facebook, Twitter, and general web search – this will help you understand the size, age, activities of the company
Step 4.5: Using the above tools and where possible, add the company and the sender to your watch lists, subscribe to any feeds, add birthdays etc…
Step 5: Breathe – Very important to do this, even step away from the email, just so that you don’t get all excited and overlook important details/factors
Step 6: Reply mirroring the language and style the sender has adopted in their email to you with a series of call to actions.
Step 7: Manage the communication between you and said sender – hopefully it will end in a positive outcome
Step 8: Store emails in ‘Clients – Prospective’ folder (or similar) either in the root folder or create a separate one. You can move this folder up into the ‘Clients – Active’ should things work out for the best!
Step 9: Mentally log how they found you. Even better, store it in a spreadsheet. This data will help you understand the length of time it took for them to connect with you after first encountering you. You’ll also be able to better understand what ‘fishing’ activities work better than others.
I have three Client folders – Active, Prospective, and Retired. Within each of these folders are specific clients that move between them. Periodically I go through the Prospective folder and make contact with them just to see how they are. Just because they don’t want to work with you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say ‘hi’ once in a while; you never know what could come of it. The same goes for the Retired folder. I don’t need to say the same for the Active folder because I really do hope you are hugging and treasuring them like a delicate little flower… aaah.
Getting a systematic approach to the way you manage customers, prospects, colleagues, competitors, etc., in-built into your pattern of work will ensure that CRM or no-CRM, you make people your priority.
Here are direct links to the functionality bit of the tools I use:
- Outlook Social Connector
- Add, change, or remove a picture for a contact (so that you can decide on what profile picture you want and not let Facebook do it!)
- Following on Duedil and Saving profiles on Duedil
- Start or stop following on LinkedIn
- Setting up a Google alert for a particular person or company
- Download Facebook calendar into Outlook
- LinkedIn for Outlook