Not long ago, every successful sales rep had a rolodex on their desk - a paper-based filing system to track all of the contacts that they worked with on a daily basis.  But rolodexes disappeared from most desks by the end of the twentieth century and, in a few years, newer sales reps may not even know what a rolodex is!

But now that the rolodex has gone the way of the Dodo bird, it has been replaced with a number of electronic options - mobile phones, Outlook, Excel and other applications have sometimes spread your list of contacts over multiple different locations.

Any decent CRM system should excel as a contact manager.  Resolve to make your CRM system your one and only rolodex to keep all of your contacts in one place.

If you're new to your organization, or you're struggling to adopt your CRM system, this is also a great place to start getting some traction.  Contacts and accounts are the centerpiece of any CRM system - so having a good clean list of these is important.  Commit to taking the next 30 days to clean up existing contacts and add all of your contacts that are not already in the system.  Here are some helpful hints to get started…

4 Steps for Contact Tracking in CRM

You may have a lot of contacts and can't afford to take the time to get them all entered at once.  Don't worry - this can be a gradual process that extends beyond 30 days.  Here are four quick steps to get you started:


  1. Sign Up for Training: Your organization or software provider probably has some training on contact management.  You may pick up some big time savers by attending this training (for example, you may learn how to import your contacts or how to sync your Outlook contacts with your CRM system).  Take the time to take the training.

  2. Meet with Yourself: Schedule a weekly meeting with yourself to go through your existing list of contacts and move them into CRM.  You might focus on 1 letter of the alphabet per week (for example: all contacts whose last name starts with "A" would be the first week).  Keep the meeting until you've gotten all the way through your list.

  3. Weekly Planning and Review: This may be the most important part.  You want to establish new habits, or you'll find yourself slipping back into having a separate list, or handwriting changes to contact information and never keying them into CRM. One way to keep a habit is to build a bit of extra time into your weekly planning and review sessions (you do schedule time for weekly planning and review, right?).  During this time, go through each contact that you have made contact with in the past week, or that you plan to make contact with in the coming week; make sure that they're in CRM and that their information is complete and correct. You will often find that new contacts are brought into meetings and email conversations - and capturing those can lead to new opportunities in the future.

  4. Find an Accountability Partner: Work with a teammate to hold you accountable to keeping your contacts up to date.  There's nothing like a little bit of competition - so report to each other on how many contacts you have in CRM, and new opportunities you've discovered as a result.

Over time, you will find that making the investment into building a clean, single place for contacts (and accounts) will pay dividends.  You will also be building the foundation for many of the other Quick Tips that we will be sharing.


Why Not Enter Contacts into CRM?

There are a lot of reasons why sales reps don't enter their contacts into the company CRM system.  Below are a list of the most frequently occurring reasons, and some thoughts on how to overcome these issues.  If you're struggling with any of these, read on…


Our CRM Contacts are a Mess

It's true.  Many CRM systems have messy data in them.  You might have duplicate contacts.  The information for contacts might be old data, or just incomplete.  And you might be concerned that the data you carefully entered will be overwritten with incorrect data by someone else.  How can you deal with these issues?

Start with the first step above.  Your organization may have worked out resolutions to these issues as a part of the training material.  There may be a simple way to merge duplicates.  You may be able to "own" contacts so that others cannot overwrite data unless you share them.


It's Easier for me to Track Contacts Somewhere Else

Another contact management system may be easier and faster for you to use.  The long-term benefit of using a CRM solution, however, is that you can collaborate with others by using a shared database.  Getting this benefit may mean going a bit slower in the short-term, but it can result in significant gains in the long-term.  \


Our Contact and Account Forms are too Complex

Oftentimes, CRM forms can grow into cumbersome lists of data that is not practical to capture in all cases.  Deal with this issue by identifying the fields that are important for getting your job done and focus on capturing just those fields to begin with.  Don't let a long list of fields keep you from capturing the short list of critical fields.

As time goes by, you may find that other fields can enable others to help you (such as your Marketing, Customer Service or other departments), and may decide to take the time to populate those fields as well.


It Will Take Too Long to Enter My Contacts

Remember that getting your contacts into CRM is a process - not a one-time event.  Even so, there may be some opportunities to save time by working with your IT department or CRM administrator to bulk import contacts.  Check out your options.


Our CRM is a Fail!

Even in the worst case, you should be able to track your contacts in your CRM system.  And, if your company plans on an update, then they should also plan to migrate your contacts to the new system for you.  So we encourage you to enter your contacts into your CRM regardless of its condition.  And, if you're looking for some material to present to your management team on CRM failure, click here.

Other Sales Rep CRM Quick Tips

This article is a part of a series of quick tips targeted to sales reps.  See below for more Sales Rep CRM Quick Tips!

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