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Year-End CRM Best Practices

Keep your data clean, keep connected.

The end of the year is a great time to clean out the old, update the existing, and prepare for the new year – especially when it comes to customers.

worried man at desk
Cleaning up your customer list can be very positive.

For most outgoing personality types, digging through old contacts and getting screen radiation dredging through lists isn’t always at the top of “to-do” priorities. But if you’re finding more email bounce backs, un-returned emails, and uncertain data in your CRM tools, it’s time to clean things up.

If you can’t effectively communicate or ensure your marketing is going to the right place, your bottom line is at risk. How many times have you searched for a name or tried to remember a detail your customer mentioned?

Take a long, slow, deep breath and commit yourself to making life better. Even as it’s necessary, it doesn’t have to be burdensome.

Get Organized to Organize

First thing is to get a handle on what you’re facing. It often looks worse than it is, but, yes, contact lists jams up pretty quickly if you don’t make changes as you go. (Remember this when you get back on track, since an annual clean-up is more painful than a quarterly one.)

First Step

The whole point is being able find people and notes quickly, and to be sure your communications are getting delivered to the right people so you can sell better. It helps to see everything in one place.

Print out your list and visually check it for duplicates and multiple phone and email numbers. If you have a paper-based system decorated with crumbled and stained sticky notes, it might be a good time to think about transferring everything to an electronic system, such as Outlook, Google, or an actual customer relationship management system. Throw away those stone chisels.

If you’ve been stuffing everything into an electronic system without review, download all your contacts into an Excel file. Quickly weed out duplicates with a couple of mouse clicks (check the help button if you need directions).

If you find multiple emails, phone numbers and addresses for a contact, tag them to go back for further review. Highlight the contact line or add a column and put a number or code by it so you can search it later and give them a call.

Confirm the contact information before just deleting those dangling modifiers. You don’t want to be a hoarder with piles of inaccessible or unusable data, so reach out by phone or email and get an update. Where they are in life and are they in the market again – or still?

Prioritize these wayward records with some indication of sales possibility. With electronic systems you can avoid them with search parameters. With stone tablet systems you can file them in the way back for future reference (just don’t forget where you put that file).

Categorize customers

Even with a simple Excel file you can label customers by criteria important to you. Are they buyers or sellers? What is their profession? Create separate columns for added details and they’ll become fields when you import them back into your CRM.

Connect contacts by key elements to your customer-qualification categories, plus anything that might relate, such as hobbies, community activities, or other details. When you’re looking for prospects, new customers, or old customers that will help you find them with a few mouse clicks.

It will also provide information for you to write relevant emails with very specific marketing communications.

Inactive or uninterested customers might be categorized for later review and future reengagement. Calendar them for review. If they aren’t worth that, delete them.

Compare to Email Trails

Are your emails opened? Does than mean the email address is bad, or that they are ignoring you for some reason? Is the spelling and email format correct? Did the person leave the company and the email address is invalid?

Again, set up time to call, even set aside a certain amount of time daily for these calls and check your information. Not only will it improve your list but also help you reconnect with prospects in friendly, non-pressure ways.

That reconnection time opens doors to ask people how they like to be contacted (make a category for that), if they have any birthdays coming up, children or grandchildren, those kinds of human things that will help set you apart. A phone call or sending a handwritten greeting with a request to connect can go a long way to keeping relationship lines open.

As consumers increasingly rely on the internet to learn and discover, keeping human connections open helps build trust and relationship that give you a competitive advantage. Most people are reluctant to leave friends behind for a platform, plus humans always are better than phone robots and confusing platforms in giving the inside scoop in friendly ways.

Stay human. Stay in touch.


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