The Perfect Client Relationship Management System

PostItNotesThere comes a day in the life of every rainmaker when they realize that they need a better system to track relationships. John was there. He was failing to return phone calls, several clients were unhappy with his responsiveness, and he was no longer being proactive with his current and future clients. He was falling behind. For John it was simple: he needed a system that was easy to use and easy to implement.  He needed something that made his life easier and reminded him when he needed to reconnect with someone he hadn’t been in contact with for awhile.

You already have a CRM (Client Relationship Management) System

What most people fail to realize when considering the purchase of a CRM is that they are already using one. Be it post it notes on your desk or Microsoft Outlook, you inevitably already have a system in place to track relationships. The question is how effective is your system?

Most people looking for a CRM system are very similar to John. We know that our life would be much easier if we could simply capture and retrieve data in an efficient and effective way. The problem with most corporate CRM systems is that they are complicated because of the need for multiple employees to be on the same system. This has made many CRM systems cumbersome, eliminating one of the foundational reasons CRM systems are needed in the first place: to make us more effective. The result is that many CRM systems sit unused as employees take the path of least resistance and track relationships individually through outlook or other personal systems, eliminating the benefit of crosspollination inside the company.

The Perfect CRM

The future of CRM will be based around the capture of always-up-to-date data streams that can integrate that data into shared workspaces. For example, LinkedIn and Facebook already have data that is always up to date because individuals are always updating their own information. Now, take that data and attach a CRM system that allows you to privately add notes from your last conversation, e-mails, or proposals. The end result would be client contact that is always up to date not just with the information you added, but also with personal information such as where they graduated college, there previous employers, photos, etc… The perfect CRM rests in the capture of public data and information, and its integration with private workspaces that allow you to track the personal conversations.

What You Need to do Today

Today most CRM solutions don’t have the option for integrated data from online environments. However, Outlook, the tool that the majority of people use to manage contacts, does. You can start integrating your contacts with online data today by downloading LinkedIn’s Outlook Toolbar. It continually updates your contacts with up to date LinkedIn profile information, notifies you when your contacts change their LinkedIn profile, and provides you with mini-profiles and photos whenever someone emails you.

Remember, regardless of whether you are a CRM user or you are responsible for establishing a corporate CRM system, the key to its success is making it simple and easy to use and understand. Once you experience the benefits of a great CRM you’ll never do business any other way again.

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About the Perfect CRM Discussion

This post was written as part of the Perfect CRM discussion posted by some of the industries best known marketers and authors. It is a series of essays on the topic of client relationship management tools. Each expert drew upon years of experience to outline their vision of the perfect CRM system. This exercise will provide you with new insights into what works, what doesn’t work, and what you should consider when implementing a CRM system.

The experts include:

Visit these sites to read each expert’s take on the perfect CRM.

Build Business 2008: Lead Tracking and Client Relationship Management – Group 3

Group 3 Members:

Tim Klabunde – William H. Gordon Associates – Moderator

Carie Dunn, CPSM – Trivers Associates

Denise Ann Balko, CPSM – BBC&M Engineering

Diane Hathcoat, CPSM – BAMO

Dinah Layton, CPSM – SLATERPAULL Architects

Elizabeth Connolly, CPSM – TOWILL

James Byrnes, CPSM – Erdman Anthony

Jennifer Ganley, CPSM – ARUP

Jessica McGaa, CPSM – Perkins + Will

Joanmarie Eggert, CPSM – Kennedy/Jenks Consultants

Joy Woo, CPSM – EDAW/AECOM

Karen Carr, CPSM – Stafford King Wiese

Lee Jarboe, CPSM – McCarthy

Marisa Verga, CPSM – Barton Malow

Mary Fogle, CPSM – Structural Engineering Services

Phyllis Boyea, CPSM – Rolf Jensen & Associates

Sean Lewis, CPSM – Absher Construction Company

Stacey Ho, MBA, CPSM – Kennedy/Jenks Consultants

Suvi Caton, CPSM – Adolfson & Peterson Construction

 

Session Overview:

Regularly turning leads into work is one of the most important actions that a company takes to solidify its future workloads and establish its growth path. Discussions centered on best practices and lessons learned on managing the lead tracking and relationship process through client relationship management systems.  Each of the three groups (Posted separately here) developed a list of the ‘Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads.”  That list for this group is provided below:
Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads
  1. Link all of your systems together (Marketing, Accounting, and HR)
  2. Develop Standards, Processes, and Procedures
  3. Don’t just train users how to use the system, but also train them about the purposes of the system (Build Buy-in)
  4. Develop a strong project close-out process that updates the data upon project completion
  5. Build accountability to the system by linking it with things that must be done
  6. Limit projects that you develop project write-ups about. One way to do this is to choose a fee amount for projects that won’t be entered into the system.
  7. Have a ‘sync’ feature between your CRM and individuals Microsoft Outlook contacts
  8. Match-Key software can be used to identify duplicate entries in your CRM
  9. Build a strong link between users in Marketing, Accounting, and HR
  10. Pay the extra money for 1st class mail so you can identify errors in your client information with every mailing.
  11. BONUS: Having buy-in from the top of an organization is needed for successful implementation

Build Business 2008: Lead Tracking and Client Relationship Management – Group 2

Group 2 Members:

Tim Klabunde – William H. Gordon Associates – Moderator

Carrie Mandelin, CPSM – Mortenson Construction

Debbie Gilbert, CPSM – McCulloch England Associates Architects

Emily Crandall, CPSM – Horizon Engineering

Kelly Ryan, CPSM – Architects Mosher Drew Watson Ferguson

Lori Slivensky, CPSM – Swinerton Builders

Matt deWit, CPSM – Geosyntec Consultants

Megan Muter, CPSM – HDR Architecture

Michelle Yates, CPSM – Lawrence Group

Paula Harris, CPSM – Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon

Robin Tsuchida, AIA, LEED AP, DBIA, CPSM – SUNDT

Sara Paul, LEED AP, CPSM – ARUP

Sheila Gonzales, CPSM – Provost & Pritchard Engineering Group

Stacy Robben, LEED AP, CPSM – HOK

Terry Ann Clifford, CPSM – Dibble Engineering

Tracy Sagehorn, CPSM – ColeJenest & Stone

 

Session Overview:

Regularly turning leads into work is one of the most important actions that a company takes to solidify its future workloads and establish its growth path. Discussions centered on best practices and lessons learned on managing the lead tracking and relationship process through client relationship management systems.  Each of the three groups (Posted separately here) developed a list of the ‘Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads.”  That list for this group is provided below:

 

Group 2: Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads

  1. Build an accountability system linked to your CRM
  2. Control and limit access to the system to preserve data integrity
  3. Establish specific standards on data entry and enforce them
  4. Identify ownership of not just the system, but also the fields in the system. What fields are Marketing, Accounting, and HR accountable for?
  5. When starting a new client relationship tracking system make marketing department responsible for the initial data entry and then transition the responsibility to the users of that data.
  6. Develop an effective “carrot” to motivate employees to use the system such as goals that are linked to the data drawn from the system.
  7. Ensure that project closeout forms are completed prior to accounting closing the job so that the database is always up to date.
  8. Clean up data before you download it into a new system
  9. “Draw a line in the sand” when starting a new lead tracking system. Do not complete old data entry unless it is required. This will significantly lower starting costs and allow for a focus on new information.
  10. Bring marketing and accounting together on a regular basis to facilitate communication regarding the shared systems.
  11. BONUS: Start with your end goals/objectives in mind

Build Business 2008: Lead Tracking and Client Relationship Management – Group 1

Group 1 Members:

Tim Klabunde – William H. Gordon Associates – Moderator

Dale A. Walker, CPSM – Francis Cauffman

Danna Olivo, CPSM – Turner Construction

Harry Lawrence, CPSM – RGA Environmental

Julia Oseland, CPSM – Harris & Associates

Lisa Thut, CPSM – Furgo Onshore Geotechnics

Lynn DiPlacito, CPSM – GossenLivingston

Shannon Bond, CPSM – PSOMAS

Shivina Waterman, CPSM – Winter Construction

Tracy Allen, CPSM – SANDIS

 

Session Overview:

Regularly turning leads into work is one of the most important actions that a company takes to solidify its future workloads and establish its growth path. Discussions centered on best practices and lessons learned on managing the lead tracking and relationship process through client relationship management systems.  Each of the three groups (Posted separately here) developed a list of the ‘Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads.”  That list for this group is provided below:

Group 1: Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads

  1. When developing a CRM you need to identify your end product first, and then base the development of your system on achieving that end result.
  2. No one system is the right solution for every company. Identify your needs and develop a system that fits your requirements and company culture.
  3. All user groups need to be involved in the discussions about and selection of a new CRM system.
  4. Clearly define the terms you use in a database. For example: be certain everyone agrees what a ‘lead’ is versus a ‘prospect.’
  5. Develop realistic expectations about the system before it is implemented. This will ensure managers and users understand the limitations and opportunities of the system.
  6. Look at your existing systems to develop what you need. What tools are you missing today that would help your staff be more successful?
  7. Discuss who will maintain control of the system before you implement it.
  8. Focus on getting buy-in prior to purchasing your system.
  9. Your system needs to track relationships for followed up and provide a reminder when the follow-up needs to occur.
  10. “Draw a line in the sand” when starting a new lead tracking system. Do not complete old data entry unless it is required. This will significantly lower starting costs and allow for a focus on new information.