Contact management software as the name suggests, allows you to manage your business contacts – customers, suppliers, partners and prospects. Many software systems, such as the accounting system QuickBooks, will include built-in tools for managing your contacts. However, this type of functionality is different from true contact management software which is commonly referred to as CRM, or Customer Relationship Management. While contact management features allow your business to track information such as name, address, bill-to and ship-to, it lacks advanced functionality for managing advanced sales funnels. This is why true contact management software in the form of a CRM system is a better solution when you have a long and multi-step sales process. Instead of looking for standalone CRM software, consider ERP with built-in CRM tools. The benefit of this type of system is that it allows you to maintain information about a company once they turn from a prospect into a customer – such as tracking sales history and quotes. Once you decide what type of system is best for your business, it's time to start mapping out the information you need to manage according to existing processes and potential opportunities that the new software can provide.
When do you enter lead information?
The first step to tracking sales prospects with contact management software is to enter information about your lead into the system. However, this is easier said than done. You need to decide WHEN to enter information about a lead. Do you enter information about every single lead you speak to? Do you enter information only when a lead has been qualified by someone on your sales team as a legitimate opportunity? It’s important to determine exactly what type of lead you decide to enter into your CRM – for example, you may decide to only enter Sales Qualified Leads.
What additional information do you want to track?
Aside from basic information such as address, phone, email, currency, ship-to address(s) etc. robust contact management software provides you with the opportunity to track additional information to improve your sales process and for reporting purposes. With CRM software such as Blue Link, not only are you able to track information such as industry, lead source and sales rep, you can also track industry-specific information through User Defined Fields (or UDFs). This allows you to choose the information you want to track based on what is important for your business. For example, for each prospect, you can track information about company size, annual revenue, type of company, seasonality impacts etc. You can then automatically report on this information to help direct your sales and marketing activities.
How do you determine next actions?
Most contact management systems provide tools that allow you to set-up next action dates. This is useful for moving sales prospects through your sales funnel. You can track what steps they have already completed, what needs to happen next and when, and who is responsible. Sophisticated systems can automatically populate certain fields based on specific changes. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you choose Demo from a list of actions under the column header Next Action. You then set a date for this Demo in the Next Action Date column. Then, once you have finished the demo on the set date, you choose Complete from a list of drop-down options under the column Result. By choosing Complete as the Result, the system will now automatically set a new Next Action item and associated Next Action Date such as Send Pricing Information set for 3 days after the Demo is marked as complete.
What happens when the lead becomes a customer?
The biggest benefit of implementing ERP software with built-in CRM tools is that you have one system to manage sales leads and customers. When a lead turns into a customer, you can simply change the status and start interacting with the customer maintaining a history of all original contact. This allows you to immediately start creating quotes and orders for the customer, utilizing the information you already know about their preferences – such as shipping and billing.