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Contact Management

by Brent Bartenfeld

One of the most important pieces of success is information. How information is gathered, managed, manipulated and presented is a key determinate in how we as sales professionals prosper. I am going to explore the management aspect of this puzzle in terms of contact-management software. This article is dedicated to the discovery process of finding the right contact-management tool.

I constantly come across companies who are in need of a formal, integrated, contact-management system. Most sales teams operate in a vacuum. Not so long ago there was good reason why this was true. Technology was at a place where it was very difficult to maintain accurate information. Logging onto servers and downloading information was work intensive, expensive, and not very reliable. With advances in technology, contact information can remain up-to-date to the minute or hour no matter where we travel. The Internet ties in users around the world. There are literally endless possibilities, so it is imperative to keep a focus on primary objectives. The fun stuff can be added later.

Where do you start? I suggest starting with a needs analysis. Take a piece of paper and think about and record your day-to-day activities. If you are working with a team and have a need to share contact information, have others complete their lists as well. Divide the lists into a Must column and a Wish column, both for each group and individual preferences. Gather this information for later use. Before doing any research on the different tools available, make sure you complete this list and never compromise it. Let these activities support and drive what tool you select–not the other way around. The following are some questions to consider in the process of uncovering what you need.

What contact information do you currently maintain and why? (names, addresses, phone and fax)

Is there a need for others to view this information? (marketing data for mailings, broadcast faxes, market analysis, multiple-account management)

How often do you travel, and would you have a need to update a master-contact file?

Will you need multiple, concurrent users? (the ability for multiple users to simultaneously access and view one main contact file)

How many users will you need? (Don’t forget marketing and management.)

Is there a need to tie into customer service or some other corporate function?

What type of reporting do you require? (Call reports, contact reports, statistical data, forecasted sales)

Are different levels of security required?

Is there a need to tie into accounting, order management, ERP systems?

Will you integrate a fax system?

Are there redundant activities that could be automated to save time for the sales people?

Build a spreadsheet to track the different requests. Many of them will be the same. Chances are everyone will walk away with different ways to utilize technology to increase their effectiveness as sales people. Having everyone’s input increases your chances of approval, acceptance, and satisfaction. It also increases the chance that they will actually use it once it is implemented. After this information has been gathered, start to look at the different systems available and begin to narrow your field.

Good luck.

Sales Concepts, Inc., is a Roswell-GA based provider of tailored training for people who work in sales, service, telemarketing, and management. For more information about Sales Concepts, Inc., call (800) 229-2328 or visit

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