Contact management tools used to be little more than a Rolodex, a stack of business cards, and a day planner stuffed full of post-it notes.
Today, tools such as contact management systems and customer relationship management software (CRM) have changed the way contact management is done and raised expectations in the process.
Great contact management is no longer the cherry on top of the sales strategy cake — it’s a key differentiator in a competitive business environment.
What is contact management?
Contact management is the systems and tools you use to store, organize, and manage your customers, prospects, and leads.
It is a critical part of your sales process and impacts customer success, pipeline, and revenue in the following ways:
- Improved customer experiences: Contact management can help you deliver great customer experiences. Fast response times, personalized communications, and consistent messaging all contribute to a top-notch customer journey that builds loyalty and reduces churn.
- Pipeline and revenue growth: A contact management plan can help you nurture and support relationships with your prospects and leads.
- Customer segmentation: Contact management can help you segment your customers by industry, size, region, product, service, and almost any other category you can think of. This can help you create targeted sales enablement materials, marketing campaigns, and support documentation.
- Efficiency and alignment: A centralized contact management system helps your team collaborate and saves them time on redundant data entry and retrieval.
How to create a contact management plan: 4 foundational elements
There are four foundational elements that make up a contact management plan. They are:
- Contact info: What information do you gather about your customers, prospects, and leads? This determines the effectiveness of your contact management plan. The more information you can gather and track, the better your personalization and segmentation will be.
- Data management and accessibility: How do you capture and access your contact data? The easier your team accesses your contact information, the better they can support the needs of your customers and prospects.
- Messaging: What is your communication strategy? This should include cadences for lead nurture, client success management, and support tickets, as well as guidelines on language, terminology, and tone.
- Tracking: How do you track the success of your contact management plan? Tracking your conversion rates, cycle times, pipeline, support resolution timelines, and customer retention can help you evaluate how well you are doing.
One of the biggest success factors of your contact management plan is the set of tools you use to enact that plan.
Contact management systems vs. CRM
There are many software tools on the market that can help you create a contact management system. Excel spreadsheets are a rudimentary example.
For more comprehensive options, contact management systems and CRM software are the top candidates.
- Contact management systems: Contact management systems focus solely on the management of contacts. They store contact info in a database and make it accessible with filter and search features. More robust contact management systems can track interactions and schedule meetings or appointments.
- CRM: CRM software has contact management tools built into it’s overall functionality and can integrate with a wide range of other customer support tools. They can connect contacts to accounts, products, support, and service applications, providing a complete customer solution.
By being more broadly focused, CRM is the superior option for implementing and supporting a contact management plan.
Why a CRM is the best tool for contact management
The benefits of using a CRM as part of your contact management plan include:
- Data storage, accessibility, and security: Modern CRMs are highly adaptable, with custom forms and fields allowing you to capture and track contact data specific to the needs of your business. What’s more, role-based access controls keep your contact data secure, helping you stay compliant with the latest industry regulations and standards.
- Automations, reminders, and task alerts: Automations can help reduce redundancy and prevent missed steps. Reminders and task alerts increase efficiency and ensure your team stays on top of pressing or emerging issues.
- Tracking and filtering data: Advanced filter and search features make customer segmentation faster and easier with a CRM. Coupled with comprehensive tracking tools, you can analyze and evaluate your contacts from any angle and use the insights gained to tailor messaging, create targeted marketing campaigns, and deliver announcements.
Take the next step
As the tools you use to do business evolve, so do the expectations of your prospects and customers.
Think about the last time you bought a pair of jeans or slacks. Did the checkout person ask if they have you on file?
Most retailers keep detailed records of your recent purchases and send you emails about upcoming sales and promotions.
You should expect the same from your business— your customers already do.
A contact management plan helps you meet and exceed the growing expectations of your customers.
By investing in the right tools and building out the right processes, you can increase revenue, conversion rates, customer loyalty, and brand awareness.
FreeAgent is the top user-rated CRM + work management platform on the market.
We help teams manage all of their customer relationships in one place, work more collaboratively to get more done, and track and improve performance.
To take your contact management strategy to the next level, try out FreeAgent CRM for free today.