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  • Jean Derespina

How to Build a Contact Management System that will Grow with Your Business

It’s is not often the case, but this particular blog applies to all entrepreneurs:

Whether your focus is B2B or B2C;

If you manage a startup or an established brand that’s experiencing new strategic growth;

Or perhaps you’re launching a new product into a new industry;

In any case, you need to keep thorough and immaculate contact records.

But, you already know this. Doesn’t everybody maintain accurate customer information in a reliable system? The truth is, everyone understands the importance of customer data, but somehow, even early on in a company’s existence, the focus on data quality gets lost.

Are you ready to carve out some time to fix your contact data and get it into the right system? Or if you’re a newbie, how about setting up a system that will grow with your business?

First order of business: think about the information you need to draw from your contact data.

Tip for those of you considering investing in a customer relationship management system (CRM); as you should at some point: If you set up effective marketing lead management processes, don’t alter them to fit a software vendor’s capabilities. Instead, find a software solution that fits your workflow needs.

Here are a few considerations that lead to the success of your project.

Always begin with the end in mind.

  • Who will rely on the information the data provides? This will give you an idea of licensing requirements, the functional groups that must be set up and managed, and how sophisticated the solution needs to be.

  • What dashboard reports will be viewed on a regular basis? You should wire frame reports for each user or user group. This is the best way to ensure that you don’t overlook capturing even the smallest data detail.

  • Working backwards, determine what data points you have to collect in order to provide the insights you determined in the first two bullets.

  • Hint: consider segmentation. How will you be breaking you list into marketable groups, such as title, geo information (perhaps county?), gender (for certain product campaigns), etc.

Do your research. Now that you understand your requirements, find the best solution to meet these needs.

  • As marketers we know that customers research products before they make a purchase. Now it’s your turn!

  • Speak to colleagues. Find out their brand preferences. Ask about successes and horror stories.

  • Check with the experts. Gartner Magic Quadrant is an amazing resource, and they will most likely have a magic quadrant for the category of software in which you’re interested. There are so many other online resources. I personally like and

Implement your software solution in phases. This allows for an easier learning curve and better process development as your system becomes more sophisticated. A few ideas are:

  • By job function: Start with a department or job function, such as sales, and add marketing, product management, and finance roles as needed.

  • By functionality: Begin with lead management, roll out marketing campaign ROI, product tracking.

  • By list segment: Initially maintain client information, adding leads, contacts, and other applicable groups to your system.

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

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