One of the core rules of business is to make each client feel special. But when you’re juggling dozens or even hundreds of clients and prospective clients, keeping track of them all can be a challenge.
The solution? A Contact Management Software (CMS) system that organizes details about your clients and leads—from names and numbers to follow-up reminders.
Here’s how adding CMS can help your business grow.
Close contact helps close deals
A CMS system is a strategic upgrade from the contact info you store in your e-mail program or in a spreadsheet. With CMS, when a client calls or e-mails, you can instantly pull up a record detailing notes from your past conversations (or your colleagues’ past conversations with the client), previous e-mail correspondence, and key information that will help you with your pitch, such as the client’s order history. Some software will even call up client info instantaneously using caller ID as its trigger. CMS enables you to keep track of deals as they progress from stage to stage—a particular benefit when navigating the government bidding process. “CMS makes it possible to do a lot, even with a small team," says Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, which provides software for entrepreneurs to help them grow their business with CMS and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) concepts.
Big bang for relatively little buck
Off-the-shelf CMS programs range from $150 to $300 for a single-user license, while Web-based programs start around $15 per month, per user. If you expect to expand your staff in the near future, think twice before choosing a Web-based system that charges for each user. The $45 you and your two partners spend each month might seem reasonable, but expanding to 20 employees will boost that cost significantly.
Find the best fit for your business
There’s no one-size-fits-all CMS system; what is ideal for your firm depends on your needs. For example, if you have your sights set on big-time expansion, look for a program that can grow with your company. For example, ACT! by Sage Solutions offers a basic CMS system, while its SageCRM product offers a more robust suite of tools to automate marketing and sales efforts as well as your customer service and support.
If your business model entails constant road trips to visit clients, make sure you opt for a CMS system that allows remote updates that will instantly sync with your existing database. GoldMine is one CMS system popular with businesses that have remote and roving sales teams.
For companies negotiating complicated deals—for example, government contract bids—some CMS systems allow you to track a project’s status through different stages. For example, the PipelineDeals CMS includes tools to track a pending deal through its different steps, keeping you on track throughout the process.
Still, entrepreneurs can’t install a state-of-the-art CMS system, sit back, and watch the sales roll in. Anita Campbell, editor of Small Business Trends, notes that business owners can’t ignore old-fashioned sales and marketing. “CMS by itself is pretty passive,” she notes. But add CMS to a well-structured business, and you have a better chance of being more efficient and wowing clients with your attention to detail. And that’s a solid recipe for growth.