To manage large quantities of data and to take advantage of tools that enable you to create and detail sales opportunities, track sales activities, and keep contacts, investing in CRM software is a smart idea. There are many products available that range from simple packages that work with Microsoft Office Outlook to large-scale programs that enable companies to automate many critical business operations to increase productivity and reduce costs.
It's important to define your needs before choosing CRM software. Some are focused on a specific niche or provide far too many features and overwhelm users with their overkill approach to incorporate the widest variety of tools. Others are just not powerful enough for growing businesses that require a variety of capabilities. Thus, it's very important to research a variety of solutions before making a purchase. Some of the leading programs that specifically position themselves for small to mid-size businesses are Microsoft CRM, Sage CRM, NetBooks, Act!, NetSuite, and Salesforce.com.
While all contact management systems will always be based around tracking name, address, and other data, new methods of managing commitments and history of relationships grow. Contact management activities are now increasingly maintained on internet browsers and smart phones, as opposed to just Windows applications. As these methods integrate more into portable devices, the ability to share the data with others and to integrate it into other applications will grow dramatically.
Regardless if you're just needing a file cabinet or a comprehensive program with all of the bells and whistles, it's important to think of your contact management system as more than just a method of tracking leads. Instead, it should be thought of as an absolutely vital tool for improving your customers and prospects experience and for maximizing your ability to uncover every sales opportunity.
Adrian Miller is President and Founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a sales consultancy that she launched 20 years ago. Adrian provides real-world, highly practical sales skills training programs and delivers executive level sales strategy consulting. She is the author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success" and is a highly regarded speaker and consultant.