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The Top 2 Sales Tips to Leverage the People in Your CRM or Contact System

by on February 29, 2012  

Contacts are data, and people are real. Who these people are needs to be sorted out and organized, hence the need for a CRM, Social CRM, or other contact system.

Without recommending one platform or another specifically, we urge you to have one place where all of your contacts are – prospects, clients, former clients, vendors, and strategic referrers. We will let you choose whether you invest in a full-blown system which has features to incorporate your full marketing strategy, including web lead capture – or you start by enhancing your email system with social information and notifications. The fact is that it is getting harder  for a seller to keep track of contacts due to so many social channels plus traditional ones.

“With the advent of social networking, we are able to connect with more people than ever before in all stages of our lives. This creates new possibilities of staying in touch with your network. Yet at the same time it means more noise and information from every single person you may have ever interacted with. You need the right tools to manage these contacts and ensure the most important ones are surfaced to you when they matter.” – Connected

So the first tip is this – CONTAIN your contacts and tag them in some way so that you can begin to manage them. Keep everyone in the same place. Within a moment’s notice, you need to be able to recall any contact through a mobile device. Can you do that now?

Tag your contacts so that you can easily group them in many different ways. By using multiple tags, I can quickly pull a list of clients on the West Coast, clients on the East Coast, mid-market companies vs. individuals and just about any data query I want to make. This is critically important since time is the one thing you can’t recover in selling. Have a “sure-fire, no-fail” way to drop contacts somewhere and then follow-up with them as you set next actions.

The second tip – critically important – is one we have talked about before, but only the top 1% of sellers do this as a process. The idea is to identify 25-75 individuals who can refer what you do to many others – and tag them as referrers. These are referral partners or strategic partners or strategic referrers. You see that again, the terminology is not what is important but instead the actions are. Have you tagged these people in your CRM and do you regularly go through your list of 25-75 “partners” who fit this definition: they know what you do and can send others your way?  Find a value-added reason to connect with them monthly or quarterly. Don’t wait longer or you’ll find that you are relegated to the “noise” pile. You nurture these highly valuable relationships on an ongoing, measured, predictable basis.

Note that “knowing what you do” is fluid – you need to talk to referrers quarterly to learn what they are up to and to give specific examples of how you add value to your clients. When you do this, do it as an educational update rather than a boastful, “look what we did”. It is not until people really understand what it is that your company does, and they have a level of trust that they will refer you. Once they refer you and you take good care of the company they refer, you stand to gain many more referrals. This is a good use of your time to invest in developing.

This second tip – building strategic referrer relationships – works with all mid-market businesses and in every market segment. If you have questions about how it could work for your company, reach out through twitter or  email Lori and let’s talk. We know that of all the things you can do this year with your territory or team, putting a clear strategic referral plan in place is one of the best with the biggest payouts.

Take a look at  building alliance partners

Also, a post on gaining productivity through creating a team of referrers


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This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012 and speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for tips and strategies in selling.

  • Peter Notschke

    The importance of having ALL your contacts in one place cannot be stressed enough. I have had clients say “I have some contacts in excel, some in my newsletter subscription list, some more in my outlook” my response – why not in one place so that they are easy to access and keep track of

  • http://twitter.com/ecquire Ecquire

    Great tips on how to better manage and leverage our CRMs. I agree with Peter that it is extremely useful to have all your contacts in one place. But like his clients, the problem is that we use so many tools from so many different services that it makes it really difficult. 

    What we’ve found really useful is having a criteria that our tools have integrations with each other so that data moves between them without requiring much work. This seems to be a growing trend for new services and CRMs and will only continue to grow as the amount of data we consume becomes a bigger problem. 

    • http://69.195.124.93/~scoremo1 Lori Richardson

      absolutely agree about having criteria for tools to integrate with other tools that you use. Definitely the basis of another blog post.

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  • http://callboxinc.com/ Judy Caroll

    Thanks for all the value in this post Lori;) We do need to have a system in place that effectively and successfully manages client/customer relationships.  CRM is not only pure business, this is also a tool that helps establish a strong personal bonding within our people.  Tweeted this.