Saint Paul, Minn., Aug. 15, 2017⎯OppSource, a leading SaaS-based sales development platform provider, today announced that Philip R. Styrlund has joined the company’s board of directors. Styrlund is an internationally recognized thought leader on business value transformation and the owner…
The Complete Guide to Contact Management Software
Uncategorized • March 20, 2017
In the world of sales, having a contact management system (CMS) is central to the prospecting process. Knowing which leads to pursue, which prospects have been initiated in a form of outreach or pursuit effort, and who is currently engaged in an active buying process or sales pursuit is paramount to maintaining overall business health.
Without a proper CMS, it can be a harrowing job just sorting through the contacts of prospects, customers, contractors, team members, business associates and anyone else connected to a business. With the development of today’s information systems, a sales representative now has the limitless power of automated data at his/her fingertips – but that wasn’t always the case.
Before computers, the Rolodex was essentially the first non-computerized contact management system that made it easier for salespeople to keep track of their business and sales contacts. The Rolodex, invented in 1956, is a rotating file device used to store business contact information, such as business cards. It was an easy solution to tracking, maintaining and following up with sales leads. As businesses shifted from traditional to digital sales tracking, companies began using software to solve many of their sales-related problems.
From disorganization to sheer volume of contacts, the old way of selling fell by the wayside when the advent of automated systems allowed for a more streamlined sales process. Whether it’s through marketing campaigns, sales processing or customer relations, companies use contact management software to their benefit, to solve problems large and small.
Benefits of Contact Management Software
Utilizing content management software for business carries many different benefits, and assists internal teams in recording and assessing sales leads. Contact management systems provide the following advantages:
- Gives sales team a centralized collection of contact information
- Creates a ready-to-use database that allows searching and filtering
- Makes sales tracking easier and more comprehensive
- Provides better email integration
- Enables sales reps to schedule appointments and meetings with prospects and customers
- Streamlines document management
- Manages and records conversations with sales contacts
- Builds customizable fields
- Organizes materials to provide marketing insights
- Imports and exports contacts
A content management system accomplishes many tasks that, prior to the development of lead management software, were daunting and inefficient. Some of the sales processes that a CMS helps with, include:
Without an adequate lead capturing system, lead generation efforts will most likely be wasted. A contact management system should have the ability to track how customers find a business, what their interests are, how ready they are to move forward with a purchase, and any interactions that are made between a salesperson and the prospect. Grading leads and differentiating sales-ready leads versus those that need further nurturing is also a key feature in a CMS.
Lead nurturing keeps a dialogue between the lead that isn’t quite ready yet and the sales representative. Nurturing ensures that a product or service stays at the top of the prospects mind, giving the company a better chance of moving a prospect through the sales funnel. Whether it’s through email, phone call, direct mail or a variety of any other channels, a contact management nurturing process should keep track of the contacts that are not yet sales ready and make it easy for salespeople easily integrate them into their marketing system.
Once leads convert into customers, a contact management system should reflect this change of status. Businesses still want to keep track of what lead generation channel resulted in this conversion so they can evaluate the value of their demand generation efforts and conversion campaigns.
How Companies Use Contact Management Software
There are a number of different uses for contact management software, and businesses employ them across various departments and functions.
Marketing campaigns have many moving parts, making it difficult to ensure every sales lead is accounted for. From traditional to digital media, companies are moving closer toward full-automation as software becomes more and more integral to the overarching business objectives.
For example, in order to produce effective direct marketing campaigns that include direct mail and email campaigns, companies can use their contacts from their management system to target sales prospects in various ways. With the power of sales software and data mining, segmenting and targeting key demographics by various qualities has become much simpler. It even creates a self-sustaining cycle that produces leads as it simultaneously nurtures prospects into sales.
Contact management software also improves communication across internal departments. By giving employees and salespeople a common contact database across the whole enterprise, it allows users in marketing, sales and customer support to see who and how different people are engaging the contact. Without a contact management system, it would be impossible to keep track of all the contacts that a company would like to do business with.
Sales prospecting is the act of pursuing or seeking out new customers for a business, with the goal of boosting a company’s customer base and generating new revenue streams. Prospecting lets the salesperson better identify and pursue a sales lead to eventually turn them into a customer.
Sales prospecting requires a contact management system to keep track of what prospecting activity has been done with each contact. Without some form of contact management system, a sales person wouldn’t know who to prospect, let alone which contacts have been prospected and which ones have not. It’s essential to keep potential customers in the sales funnel in order to successfully build a relationship with a lead and turn them into a customer. Once a business reaches that point, ensuring that customers are happy will help long term sales results.
When managing customer relationships, contact systems help produce repeat buyers. They give the salesperson a way to revisit customer contacts after the sales cycle is completed. Without a process, these customers could move on to competitors once their loyalty dries up. Maintaining an open line of communication will help them stay within the central circle of customers.
Why Contact Management Systems are Important
Customers stop making purchases for various reasons. They may move to another location, they may go out of business, or they may, in a worse-case-scenario, go to a competing company. These reasons count for 34% of customer loss. The remaining 66 % leave for another reason – they just feel ignored when interacting with some companies. This is when a CMS evolves from a luxury to a necessity.
When managing sales, businesses are often too focused on building awareness of their product or service among a new audience, that they forget that their current customers can provide more value overall. A smart salesperson knows to strike the right balance between conducting prospective outreach and customer outreach.
Here are a few more reasons why content management systems are so important in retaining and building relationships with prospects and customers:
- There’s no such thing as an insignificant piece of information when it comes to sales contacts. Software organizes business contacts so a salesperson doesn’t need to remember every little crucial piece of information, such as zip code or company phone extension number. Once it’s entered into the system, it’s there until it’s removed.
- It gives the salesperson an opportunity to engage in upselling or cross-selling to existing clients without having to sort through a massive heap of business cards, while also tracking products and services that have already been purchased by a party.
- With a variety of ways to compile contacts, from name, area in which they live and place of employment, to products and services purchased, manually sorting through these items is time consuming. Software can help to automate the process, ensuring that the salesperson has best chance for identifying a potential lead.
- It makes generating lists much easier so marketers and sales reps can hyper-target specific segments of their audience with relevant materials, instead of wasting resources on “one-size fits all” campaigns to every contact.
All of these scenarios require specific functions within the software so the sales rep can easily and logically track interactions with prospects and customers. Searching for the right features of a CMS is just as important as the sales process itself. These features can include:
- A large and flexible number of database fields and options for each contact. By entering as many important business and personal details as possible, the salesperson can build a more complete profile of the prospect. Birthdays and anniversaries, or other dates of significance can be utilized in specific marketing materials, for example. A birthday card or a work anniversary card is a good way to stand out to contacts and bolster sales opportunities.
- An easy-to-use list function, in which a wide range of contacts can be recorded and processed. Any given company most likely has a wide breadth of sales leads, vendors and clients. Sorting them into appropriate categories lets teams optimize their outreach efforts in more intelligent ways.
- Options to pull data lists and filter them according to sales behavior. The ability to enter specific criteria, such as B2B customers who have purchased services within the past two months, is incredibly useful when selling or marketing to certain targets.
- Creating and managing sales development touch plans. Tracking single or multiple phone, email, voicemail and social touch points will make staying on top of each and every lead much easier. It will provide consistency among teams large and small, and ensure that all contacts remain within the sales process.
- Moment-of-interest alerts that engage prospects immediately. When a potential sale submits a website form or calls a new business representative, they are much more likely to go forward with a purchase. Connecting with a prospect right away is imperative to building an essential business relationship.