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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot supermighty's Avatar
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    Client contact management

    What advice would you give me for managing the contact information of clients and prospective clients?

    I know that I want to keep my clients in my blackberry. That way I can contact them. But I do not want to keep a list of prospective clients in my blackberry. There would be too many. I also need a way to see when I have last contacted a prospective client and how (ie direct mail, email, phone call). It would be nice to capture as much info about the prospective as possible, and be able to pull that info into anything i need, like a mail merge.

    Are there custom applications for this? Is this what CRM is for? Or should I just throw it all into a spreadsheet?

    //Ukiah

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict
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    Hi,

    What software you use depends mainly on how standardised your product is. If it is fairly standardised, i.e. you have 2 off the shelf software products , I would probably recommend a spreadsheet. Otherwise use something like SugarCRM or Goldmine.
    I have used SugarCRM for a couple of years. What I like is:
    - the sales pipeline
    - its web based (we produce web based software)
    - its calendar popup
    What I don't like
    - upgrading always was a pain in the ****
    - very slow user interface, lots of clicks

    what I recommend you manage is the following:
    - Client name
    - Contact X 3
    - contact preferences: phone, email, in person
    - Project name
    - $ value of project
    - sales stage
    - referal source
    - project start date

    You need to make sure that you have clear rules for a prospect to be entered into the system. I use the following definition:
    1. There is a need and a budget - The clients either needs a solution to a problem or has thought about spending money on the project.
    For example: "Our business is 5 years old, we don't have a website and people ask where our website is" is a clear need. But: "I want to know how much it costs to build another Ebay, I heard people get rich from that" is not a need. My favourite question to weed this out is: "How are you going to finance this"

    2. You have identified the decision maker: The person interested in the project needs to be either writing the cheques or be authorised to spend the money

    3. The need is immediate: They want to start the project in the next 2 months

    Another way to weed out people is to send them a 2 page questionnaire about their project. Most tyre kickers are to slack to fill in the questionnaire. What to put in it would have been discussed here a couple of times.

    Only people matching the above rules go into my sales pipeline:

    a) Approach: I don't know exactly what they want, but they intend to meet me (no date set) or I know the need and person, but haven't contacted them
    b) Interview: I have secured a meeting to discuss the detailed need
    c) Demonstrate: I have discussed the detailed needs ,but not delivered a proposal
    d) Validate: I have delivered a proposal, but not followed up
    e) Negotiate: I have followed up and there are technicalities to work out, such as checking my references, establishing a payment plan
    f) Closed won or closed lost



    The idea is that in every step of the pipeline, the client is either moved forward one or more steps, or they fall out of the pipeline.

    HTH, Jochen
    http://www.automatem.co.nz
    Websites, On-line Software and everything Internet
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot supermighty's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info Jochen. I took a look at SugarCRM and it just seems like overkill for my needs as I am a solitary freelance web developer looking to do about one project a month.

    It sounds like you do a lot of weeding out of prospects before you even add them to your list. Because I am not established in my chosen niche, I want to make sties for lawyers, I feel I need to create a list of prospective clients with looser requirements than you would. Possibly I will make two lists, one that is a cold call list, and one where I have made contact with the client before, and then only add a client to my blackberry once I've done paying work for them.

    I do want a cold contact list because I went through the phone book here and most of the lawyer's websites were rubbish. One even pointed to a domain landing page, and another pointed to a domain they didn't even own. With a cold list I can send them direct mail or contact them another way to start a relationship.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard
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    A spreadsheet or access database could work well for you in this case, but if you don't want to go that route, take a look at Time and Chaos (if you're using Windows) and try the demo to see what you think. If you're a MAC user, they have a new database called "Bento" from the makers of Filemaker that I just downloaded to try out and that may be worth looking into as well.

    Jochen had some good advice as far as selecting the right prospects to work with and even if you don't plan to do more than one project a month, I'd give some thought to the process of how you go about getting new business.

    Especially when it comes to direct mail, you must have a good list to work with and you need to be sure your letters get sent to the people that can make a decision whether to hire you or not. If you're just going through the phone book and collecting addresses, I'd recommend calling them to find out the name of the person responsible for their website or their marketing etc...and making sure that your mailing gets sent to the correct person.

    Otherwise you're just just pouring money down the mailbox and you'll quickly decide that direct mail just doesn't work.

  5. #5
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    I'd go with Sugar, or google Open Source CRM free is best
    Daryl Quenet, Web Developer / SEO Consultant
    Web Design Canada, Link Building 101, Dr MadCow's Web Portal


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