Keep Organized with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) - dummies

Keep Organized with Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

By Joe Waters, Joanna MacDonald

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool helps you record and track your contacts. The circle strategy can help you identify cause marketing prospects. But remembering all those contacts and your conversations with them isn’t easy. That’s why you need a place to store and retrieve this information, record activities related to your outreach, and update their status when things change.

There are many good CRM options to choose from, including online solutions that link with social media. Which solution you choose is up to you. Sage ACT!, shown in the following illustration, is only one CRM solution.


Here are some free or affordable online CRM options to consider:

  • Less Annoying Software has a free 30-day trial and afterwards is $10 a month.

  • Simple Sales Tracking is free as long as you stay under 50 contacts. If you’re a small nonprofit, the free version of it may be plenty. If not, a full account is $15 a month.

  • Zoho CRM is free, with space for up to 100,000 records (try to fill that!) and access for up to three users from the same organization. A professional edition offers more space and unlimited users for $12 a month.

  • If you want an online version of Sage ACT!, subscription-based Sage Connected Services might be a good choice for you with access levels ranging from free to $54.95 per user, per month.

  • Gist is the CRM solution of choice for social media enthusiasts. It pulls all your contact information from your address book but also from your inbox, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Gist is currently available for free.

Here’s how to make the most out of your CRM solution:

  1. Give each contact a designation that shows its place in the circle strategy.

    For example, it is suggested that you label a business in the bull’s-eye a Prospect +; a business in the second circle, a Prospect; and one in the outer circle, a Prospect TBA.

    These are just suggested labels. Come up with your own. Just make sure that you understand what makes a Prospect + different from a Prospect TBA.

  2. Record everything.

    Any communication with the prospect or any bit of intelligence gathered needs to be recorded. Did you leave the prospect a voicemail today? Record it. Have you read a recent news story about a prospective company’s new product line? Paste the story or link into the prospect’s record. This string of information may help you direct your efforts with this prospect or lead you to another prospect entirely.

  3. Let the software do the work.

    Reminders, calendar updates, to-dos, and institutional memory should not be your worries. Allow the software to do these tedious tasks on your behalf.

  4. Track your progress.

    Most contact management software programs have dashboards that allow you to track your team’s progress toward a goal, both in terms of activities and revenue. Every day you can get a quick snapshot of where you stand, determine what needs to be done, and generate a report for your boss. An example of a dashboard from Sage ACT! is displayed in the following illustration.