Spring Cleaning

About a year ago I wrote a blog post in celebration of spring. I gave you a list of things to include in your business spring cleaning ritual. After cleaning up your files and your website you now have time to breathe a little fresh air into your business.

Well it’s spring once again, and while I need to do all sorts of cleaning, this year I focused my business cleaning on my CRM (Customer Relationship Manager).

Over the years I have collected literally thousands of business cards. When I first started the business all the contacts went into my database. Every contact was given equal weight. After 12 years, the system was bloated with too many contacts, duplicates, out of date information and information for people I really don’t know. It was time to clean house. Here is the process I used to streamline, simplify and make the tool more productive at the same time.

Quick note before we get started. This process is for a company which already has a CRM system – Outlook, AddressTwo, Insightly, SalesForce, GoldMine or maybe Act. If you are still stacking business cards neatly on your desk, or using a simple spread sheet, your first task is to pick a more robust CRM. Bookmark this blog post and come back to it after you have been using your new CRM system for awhile.

Step One: The Backup

The first thing I did was download my entire data base to a spreadsheet and save a copy just in case I ever wanted to go back and restore some of the contacts I deleted.

Then, before going back to Insightly (our CRM and project management tool these days) I did a quick review of the spread sheet. Being able to see the entire list at a glance let me quickly identify duplicates, as well as contacts I knew were out of date. When I started the process there were about 4,000 contacts on the list.

Step Two: The Why

In order for this to work you need to decide what your CRM is for. Is it an address book for every person you have ever met in your business? If so, only a mild cleaning will be necessary. But if this is really a tool to stay in contact with past clients, prospects and referral sources, then it is time to get rid of contacts which don’t fit.

Once you define how you will use the database you’ll know whether a light clean or a complete overhaul is required.

Step Three: The Cleanse

Organize contacts alphabetically so you can stop periodically. It is also easier to see duplicate contacts this way. If you have even a few hundred contacts this will be tough to do in one sitting.

Now it is time to start at the top of the list. Does this person belong in your CRM? After 12 years of networking I had a lot of people in my database I did not recognize. Shame on me for not staying in touch, but now they are just taking up room so I gave myself permission to delete them.

I also deleted people who were not business connections. Friends and family I can find on Facebook, or  in my cell phone don’t need to be in my CRM. This database is for business only.

Once I deleted those contacts, cleaning up the remaining contacts was much easier. Next, I reviewed information for each contact to make sure it was accurate and complete. A CRM is only as good as the data you collect.

Step Four: The Call 

The purpose of a CRM is to manage your contacts and provide a foundation for sales activity. So use this process to get active. As you clean up your database, reach out and touch your contacts. That means, pick up the phone and call someone.

It helps if you have something specific to talk about. For example, share information about a new product or service, or simply send information you think they will be interested in. If you are reaching out to a referral partner, go ahead and set up a coffee date.

Don’t cop out and send an email, pick up the phone. This isn’t cold calling. It is reaching out to people you know. If you don’t want to talk to them, ask yourself, “Why are they in my CRM?”

Once you are done it is time to go out and meet more people. Go to a networking event with an objective in mind. Find one person you really want to add to your CRM.