Organize business contacts. As busy entrepreneurs, it’s one thing we tend to struggle with the most. Our prospects, current clients/customers and past clients all make up what I call a Love List. The Love List is so critical to our business that disorganization in this area can mean the difference between business success and failure. CRM or Customer Relationship Management systems are the key to turning those contact names into financial peace and security for you and your family.
Because this is so important, I have come up with at least 10 ways you can organize business contacts into a love list of your own. Find the one that works best with your Super Busy Bonkers life so you can reach your calm. Of course, I’ve added a few of my own opinions as a productivity expert and small business owner who works with many types of small businesses.
Rolodex – This item really ought to be relegated to the Smithsonian. While you can still find rolodexes being sold in office supply stores, it just isn’t a practical way to organize business contacts and create a follow up system for your contacts. It’s more of a phone book than a CRM.
Notebook – Simply keep track of your contacts in a notebook. This is similar to a rolodex with one additional limitation, you can’t alphabetize new names. The benefit is, at least your children will have a coloring book whenever they need one…
The Card File – Think of this in terms of a rotating library card file. You can create a notecard for each of your contacts, use different colors for priority contacts and rotate them through weekly or monthly tabs for when you need to keep in touch with them. It has the ability to have the most important aspects of a CRM in a very non-techie way. Limitation: If you are frequently out of your home, you’ll have to find a way to carry this with you or do without your contact list.
Business Card Notebook -This appears to be a handy little notebook for those not inclined to use a computer for their contacts. You can use sticky notes or blank business cards to add notes to each contact.
Spreadsheets – Using programs such as Excel or Google Spreadsheet allows you to keep your contacts in a digital form and easily print them out for regular use. These methods also allow you to import or export contacts from other programs such as your cell phone. This might be a little more effort than something handwritten but at least you can back it up in case the “kids” download a virus. You can even share it with your virtual assistant to do some of your follow up for you.
Outlook – Microsoft Outlook has many features that are great to organize business contacts. Add in the powerful Business Contact Manager for Outlook and you’ll have just about everything you need in one place. I have used this system in the past and really liked it.
Google Contacts – If you tend to be out and about frequently, using something online is hugely beneficial. Google contacts integrates fully with Android phones (and even Iphones) and works seemlessly with Gmail. We haven’t yet figured out how well it works to create a reminder system for your contacts so that may be a missing piece of the equation.
Camcard – This Android and iOS app is great for scanning business cards with your smartphone and merging them with your phone contacts. You can group the contacts based on your own group categories and take limited notes. There is a free and premium version.
SendOutCards – One important aspect of CRM is the softer side. SendOutCards allows you to keep track of basic contact information and even program birthday cards to go out routinely. Send a follow up thank you card or add your contacts to a drip program where they receive cards from you on a periodic basis. You can even schedule reminders.
Customer Management Systems
SalesForce – We must admit, we have not yet tried this system out. SalesForce appears to have a very low cost to entry and is scalable as your business needs grow. It is also designed for the mobile user.
ActiveCampaign – Similar to SalesForce and Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign allows you to do MORE with your contacts. These programs allow you to email and track customer sales/status. This is the site I personally use. It has a low cost to entry and can expand to my needs. Plus it isn’t as difficult of a learning curve as Infusionsoft.
Whichever program you choose to use really most depends on how you work best. Choose the one that is right for you and then stick to it. However, if you just don’t have the time to get all your business cards organized, it might be time to work with a virtual assistant.
(Note: This was originally posted in April of 2016 but has been updated recently.)