Craig Klein releases 2nd Reason popular contact management solutions like ACT! and Outlook are holding your business back

This is the second installment in a series of 4 articles each one focusing on a key reason that basic contact management systems like ACT! and Outlook are keeping your business from reaching the heights of success you’re striving for.

Online PR News – 30-October-2009 – – How to Make the Competition Look Like Chumps Without Spending a Mint - by Craig Klein

Fast,effective response to your customers’ needs is crucial in today’s highly competitive and information based economy. Millions of small and medium sized businesses still rely on very basic customer information solutions for this mission critical function.

This is the second installment in a series of 4 articles each one focusing on a key reason that basic contact management systems like ACT! and Outlook are keeping your business from reaching the heights of success you’re striving for. In subsequent releases, we’ll focus on 2 additional reasons ACT! and Outlook are holding you back and provide simple and effective tips for breaking these barriers.

Reason #2 that ACT! or Outlook or whatever technology you’ve tried are not working for you:

You’re telling stories, not sharing facts.

When most companies start using a contact management system like ACT! or Outlook, they’re trying to minimize the disruption to the team so they simplify the requirements. Something like “Just keep the contact information up to date and put in a note about the calls and meetings you have.”

That sounds simple and easy. Why wouldn’t anyone play ball when the rules are so accommodating?

Because those same people don’t get anything truly useful back out of a system like that!

Think about it. If you get a call from a customer and they tell you that they spoke with your inside sales person yesterday and got a quote for this and that. If you lookup the customer in your contact management system and see a 3 paragraph note, entered by your inside sales person, describing what the customer asked about and what they were told, you can’t really use that information in real time. You’re not going to put the customer on hold so you can read the inside sales person’s notes. So, at that moment, you’re probably not feeling like this contact management system is the best thing since sliced bread. This doesn’t make you feel like that extra minute or two is worthwhile the next time you have some information to put into the contact management system. You know no one is really going to use it. Its too difficult to digest.

Tip #2 – make it easy to record information quickly, in the form of simple objective facts. Long tomes in the notes are the least valuable way to record information. They’re too hard to digest and use. You want someone else who has never spoken with that particular customer to be able to look at their information and in less than 30 seconds, know essentially everything there is to know about that customer.

You can do this with a little bit of thought and just about any kind of technology.

Tip #3 –figure out what you need to know about your customers before you start worrying about how you’re going to capture and organize it with technology. What you need is a list of simple questions with simple answers that you can ask any customer get short answers.

In every business there are 5 to 10 questions that you have to have answers to before you know if a prospect is “qualified”. Some of them are obvious:

• Am I talking to someone that can make the decision to spend money?

• Does this person have the money available?

• Is their need great enough to justify the expense?

• Which competitor are they using now?

Tip #4 – boil the potential answers down to simple facts. Envision a call sheet that your sales reps might bring with them on paper when meeting with prospects. Each question would be followed by the most common answers so that the rep can simply check off or circle those that apply.

That’s what we’re working toward in your contact management system! This is the only way we’re going to empower quick and easy input of information and rapid access and use of the information.

It only takes one or two experiences in which a sales rep looks up someone they haven’t spoken to recently and sees all this vital information staring them in the face in an easily understandable form. They’re hooked. Now they’re invested in making it work!

And best of all, adding these questions and answers to your contact management system in the form of simple fields with drop down lists is easy. If its not, you’ve spend too much money on your technology!

Tip #5 – start recording proposals, contracts, agreements, the contact management system so everyone can get to them immediately. This is pretty basic functionality for most systems. In fact, you don’t even need a real contact management system for this. All you need is some $25/month shared drive on the Internet. As above, you’ve just got to make it easy for everyone to do their job and get the information attached to the database.

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