When I put out a request for guest bloggers, I was delighted by the responses, from friends and associates across a wide range of industries.  Today’s post is by my good friend Barb Jones of Stellar Training. Here is her post on organizing those contacts you have worked so hard to find!

Round Up Your Prospect/Client Data

Okay small business owner, be honest.  Are prospect business cards stashed all over your office?  And handwritten notes about prospects or clients?  Are your people getting frustrated because it takes so long to figure out who talked to a prospect or client last and about what?

You need a home for all of this information.  One that is accessible to everyone 24/7.  You could assemble a set of business card files and some sturdy boxes but it’s probably time to look at digital options.  The search tools alone are worth the cost.  There is a wide range of software options available from Contact Managers to Client Relationship Managers.

First, a note to those of you who have put all of your contacts in an Excel file.  Excel is a kind of database but it is not intended to be a contact manager and has none of the labor-saving tools almost every CM or CRM has.  I know you are working around that fact but you are working entirely too hard.

Shop carefully and weigh what you really need.  Contact Management software tends to include the contact database and a few other tools like calendars and email.  Client Relationship Management software tends to include the contact database and several other tools like email, calendars, multimedia publication, web form generation, sales force management, automated marketing and others.  Prices vary widely.  Expect that a low price means you spend your own time doing the integration built into a more expensive product.

Every choice is a trade-off, but your reward is the time reclaimed and the security of knowing you haven’t lost track of precious prospect or client information.  Peace of mind and free time.  Wonder what you could do with that?

4/3/09 by Barbara Jones, Stellar Training Products and Certified Infusionsoft Coach