I know that I’ve made unkind comments in the past about LinkedIn’s utility as a social media platform for professionals, but lately I’ve been coming around.
I’m starting to find that LinkedIn isn’t completely useless. In addition to being a networking site, it also comes in handy as a venue for collaborating. I know that in recent months I’ve had some illuminating discussions with other professionals via LinkedIn’s comments section, much like how the comments here on rAVe can get lead to lively interchanges of ideas.
Today’s blog post was inspired directly by a discussion with another industry professional. They admitted that they struggled to be effective at CRM, Customer Relationship Management.
Let’s stop right here and make something clear: it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the notion of CRM, because it’s a term that broadly applies to a large number of methods, many of which are tied in the minds of professionals to software solutions. So much so that’s the prime focus of the Wikipedia entry on CRM.
But at the heart of it, CRM boils down to how you, the professional, maintain and manage your relationship with your clients.
Everybody knows that CRM matters, which is why software solutions that allow businesses to better manage their customer relationships is a multi-billion dollar category.
However, the onus isn’t on business owners to pay for an implement CRM systems. It’s great when they do, but the problem with software is that it depends on the end user, the salespeople and any other team members responsible for client relationships to actually use the software.
In the absence of a corporate CRM program, focused, goal oriented professionals should take steps to work their own CRM. All the tools are already available, sitting in front of you: Outlook and other schedulers already integrate calendars, contact lists and email.
That gives you virtually all of what you need to stay organized, schedule your calls and meetings with clients, and stay on top of your follow-up.
That’s what CRM is all about. If you actually follow-up with clients and prospective clients, if you call people back, and call or email them when you say that you’re going to that will put you in the 99th percentile of all professionals, everywhere.
Don’t make excuses that your employer hasn’t committed to a company-wide CRM program. Do it by yourself, for yourself.