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Using A Contact Database Management System To Assist in Your Sales Efforts
Effective account management and development will make or break the sales professionals’ performance cycle, selling funnel or pipeline and their ability to understand their market, and own their marketplace.
Attempting to stay mentally aware of every account, key prospect, suspect, COIs and influence-makers status and next call-to-action with them is an impossibility. However, with the utilization of an electronic account database system (customer relationship management software or whatever you call it), that impossibility becomes a manageable daily reality – and empowers you to greater levels of connectivity!
As a sales professional, understanding the necessity of managing all account activity via a database system, is not a luxury it is a reality. The market makes available a wide range of software options and vendor partnership possibilities, so selecting your system for your computer hardware is important. Some of the leading options are:
- FileMaker Pro
- Excel (custom built system)
- Internal organic systems
Make sure that whatever system your organization has, that you take time to understand it and utilize it most effectively to deliver what you need now, and that it has the flexibility to be modified easily (and with limited to no additional costs) as one grows, and the capacity to be expanded as business needs grow and change. I have learned that using the extensive annotated Note Section I can create my own Note Key words or Coding system for internal searches that the existing system does not already allow.
The database system that you use should allow you to store the following data points and therefore do searches accordingly. The database “template” should be able to do:
- Register a “date-field” for follow-up or call back, so that on that specific date your computer brings up an automatic call report of individuals to be contacted based upon previous notations made into the database.
- “Code” in each entry individually based on their level of importance. Code numbers of 1 through 4 as an example. Make your codes easy, the more complex you make the codes does not actually result in greater ROI in selling – simple wins.
- Store professional contact data
- organizational name
- phone land base and cell phone
- alternate telephones
- expandable notes section
- social media platforms as appropriate
The “date-field” is important, as whenever a new account is added or when you as the sales professional contacts an account and that account indicates that a sales professional is to follow-up with them on a designated date, that date can be logged into the “date- field” section. Then when the computer is booted-up on that date, a ready prepared list of contacts is made available to the sales professional for immediate action. This creates all future call back lists.
The client “code” section is also valuable, by placing a code value to every entry, a sales professional can do a database search at any time to determine the number of qualified contacts in any specific category. The “code” is also valuable in performing category specific direct mailings, email promotions, fax marketing campaigns to suspects, prospects or active clients. Below is the “coding” system that I have used in the professional services industry (as a performance Coach-Consultant-Trainer-Speaker), create on that works for you, for example a system of four numbers might represent:
Code 1 = a contact that has MONEY, NEED, DATE for acquisition of your offer.
Code 2 = a contact that meets two of the above three criteria.
Code 3 = a contact that meets one of the above three criteria.
Code 4 = doesn’t meet any of the above three criteria, yet earns a position within the database (i.e., they might be a person of influence over a criteria Code 1, 2 or 3 contact name; a family member or friend; someone who may not be a buying customer but serves a marketing or promotional purpose).
This sort of a system allows me to manage my extensive data base and do strategic account and data base analysis, and that drives my marketing, selling, etc. work to generate business and gain greater market awareness …
The database is also valuable as you can create your own “notes section” “codes” and by maintaining some uniformity, the sales professional can search the “notes section” at any time for the volume of contacts with same notes (i.e., “sent XYZ Promotional mailer” appearing in the “note section” of every contact would come up in a que when searched for under that listing).
If the system that you use allows for easy modifications or additional data entry sections to be added as your business grows or changes, even better. If you can execute software activities from within the database, thus saving you time, even more effective. For example, if you can pull names or contact data and create and send email campaigns or direct mail campaigns, brilliant. If you can automatically set follow-up automated touch- points even better. Let your creative juices flow for relevant ways and reasons to stay connected to your database.
With your database, you can now become more effective at understanding and using the analytics on your dashboard, understanding how big data can help you to manage your market:
- You will be able to quickly scan your data base by Codes and Dates as a daily routine to ensure you are on top of everything that matters.
- You will be able to perform your own reconnaissance and recognize where hidden opportunities may be, and where you may be dropping balls.
- You will be able to make yourself look more strategic and bigger in your marketplace by being able to deploy much more effectively, thoroughly and consistently strategic selling approaches like Rule 1-52-X™ to ensure you always have new lead flow for contact.
- While you may be maxed at any given time with administrative or time- consuming account development activities, you can still keep follow-up contact with your database and keep yourself virtually seen in the selling pipeline flow by using the database and contact emails at the ready for connectivity.
- You will be able to make yourself look more strategic and bigger in your marketplace by being able to deploy much more effectively, thoroughly and consistently strategic selling approaches like Rule 1-2-3-4-5-X™ to ensure you effectively are staying connected in the follow-up measures to the contacts, leads, clients, COIs, etc. in your marketplace.
- You can use the database (and some of my clients systems have this next idea as a software function, yet few selling reps ever use it – amazing!) to search for hot prospects or high value contacts in a specific geography when setting appointments to ensure their entire time is highly maximized and that all travel routes are highly populated with high value contacts along the way for multiple appointments, instead of a long drive to one appointment while driving by otherwise unknown other possibilities.
- If database management is taking place, when a fellow colleague is out sick or leaves, then account maintenance is easier to administrate and possible hot leads can be quickly identified and harvested from others database systems.
- Your database should give you significant contact intelligence from buying history, buying ability, referral or COI opportunities, competitor awareness opportunity from this contact, etc.
- And yes, from a sales management perspective ineffective use of a database can also show where a person may need additional professional development, coaching or counseling.
My experience in selling at the Fortune 100 level, within Armed Forces Recruitment Selling, Association Management and Fundraising, to solo practitioner professional services practices it is the database that is golden!
The database is a life-sustaining component of the sales professional organizational structure for today and tomorrow.
Here is a simple template screen shot of a primary data base contact entry that I have used for two decades, and it has become easily modified and adapted to the market needs as my business has changed:
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