Customer (or Contact) Relationship Management

Screen Shot 2022 06 29 at 8.08.26 AMAsk a qualified fitness professional what the best workout and nutrition regimens are, and they’ll tell you that the best one is the one you can consistently stick with because that’s how results are achieved: consistent effort over time.

Just like working out and eating healthy, the best business systems are the ones that get applied consistently. While that’s true of all systems, CRM: Customer (or Contact), Relationship Management is especially true.

The purpose of CRM is precisely what it sounds like: a way of tracking your ongoing interactions with prospects and clients. It can vary in scope from paper binders and day planner calendars in the old days to software that uses analytics to track customer behavior and prompt action from your team members to engage with them.

Since most of us work for small and medium-sized businesses, the focus of your CRM will be maintaining database and scheduling tasks to manage your relationships: tracking your prospects, turning them into clients and keeping them.

For both salespeople and managers, CRM provides a clear overview of the status of your company’s relationships with clients and prospects, viewing the timeline of your company’s interactions: the contacts, the status of their decision-making and ordering patterns, and the ability to schedule follow-up and outreach.’

The questions journalists seek to answer when researching a story are Who, What. When, Where, Why, and How. CRM does that for your business relationships.

I mean, you don’t need CRM. You could ask your sales team, “What are you working on?” Similarly, you don’t need scheduling or project management; you could wing it. But while those are options, they’re neither efficient nor practical.

Like other business systems, the core advantage of CRM is standardization: everything is there in one place, being done one way. We’re going through this right now at my job.

CRM in our own ways. That standardization is easier to monitor to gauge your team’s productivity and makes life a lot easier when a team member leaves. There’s no mad scramble to try and find and fit together the puzzle pieces of what they were working on and who they were talking with. Someone else can step in and take up the slack with less guesswork.

To do that, and for your CRM to maximize its utility, you need to remember that it’s only as good as the input you give it. It needs to be used consistently, and the information put into it must follow a consistent format.

Each kind of task needs to have its own designation, and everyone needs to use the same designations. Otherwise, half the time you spend reviewing your team’s activities will require interpreting their short-hand.

You shouldn’t need a cereal box decoder ring to determine what your sales team means with the information they’ve inputted.

Returning to the fitness analogy, just as the best CRM is the one you consistently use, think of using it the way you go to the gym: show up, put in the work, and don’t quit.