When was the last time you gave your customer records a spring-clean? Possibly never right? Sitting down to interrogate thousands of data points is pretty low down on most people’s priority lists. But it does beg the question: should you be clearing your CRM database of contacts with whom you’ve lost touch or stopped doing business with?

We were recently asked that very question by a client looking to use their CRM to help the business achieve its sales and marketing goals. Because the CRM had been in place for a number of years, there were tens of thousands of company records and associated contact records that were believed to be redundant.

Contrary to what you might expect, our advice to anyone who finds themselves in this situation is to keep your finger off that delete button for now. While your first instinct might be to start afresh, the truth is that data may have more value than you realise.

Before you wave goodbye to a contact forever, think about the following factors:

They could be a future client

Do you know for sure if they’re a former client – or are they another type of contact? If they’re not a client, could they be a good business target for the future? They obviously have some connection with your business or they wouldn’t be in your CRM. It’s expensive to acquire company and contact information so it’s worth considering if there is some real value in that information before removing it for good.

Consider effort versus reward

Cleaning up your database is a time-consuming exercise. Is it worth the effort to remove a contact which costs you nothing to keep in your system?

Historical data can still have value

We’ve all experienced the scenario where a past client has returned after years in the wilderness or has changed job and wants to re-engage. Your CRM contains intel on all your past engagements with that person and can help you to rebuild lapsed relationships more effectively.

Of course, rather than investing time in deciding who not to engage with, it’s much better to focus on how to nurture the relationships you do care about. A good customer relationship strategy will ensure you’re in control of how you’re managing your client relationships – wherever they are in their journey. What’s more, it also means you’re maximising the value of all the data in your CRM.

Four steps to customer relationship success

Step1: Identify your customers

These are your most valuable relationships and a source of your ongoing revenue so you need to be able to identify them in your CRM quickly and easily. CRM can help you do this. Here’s how:

  • Do a search for all the Account records in CRM where the type is ‘Client’
  • Compare this list with an export of customer accounts from your accounting or ERP system. This will identify if there’s anyone missing from your CRM.

Step 2: Put a customer account management system in place

There are a number of ways you can use CRM to help with this, including:

  • Add a field to your Client record in CRM that tells you how long since they’ve had an account call or visit.
  • Give your account managers a dashboard that lists any clients who are due/overdue for a call or meeting.
  • Make sure managers have a visual dashboard that shows how each member in the account management team is performing. This could be the number of account calls or visits due or overdue and the number of calls/visits made per month for each account manager. 
  • Train your account management team on how you want them to use CRM to build better relationships with your client accounts. Make sure the team has a good grasp of: how to use their dashboard to identify which clients are due for a call or visit; how to review the client record in CRM for an up-to-date overview of the relationship, how to log, identify and update progress on sales opportunities; the process for recording notes from calls and meetings, how to schedule and manage follow up activities that resulted from the account calls or visits, plus much more. In this way you can be confident that they are accurately adding and updating information in your CRM as needed.

Step 3: Identify the active prospects your sales team are working on

These are organisations you hope to develop into future clients so you need to be able to easily pinpoint them. Here’s how to use CRM to help you do just that:

  • Using the Type field on the Account record to mark the organisation as a ‘Prospect’
  • Use the Opportunity module to capture the value, stage in the sale process and expected close date.
  • Use dashboards for your salespeople and sales manager so they can visualise their sales pipeline and identify which opportunities need to be followed up.

Get your marketing team involved

So far we’ve identified three groups: customers, prospects, and everyone else. The marketing team can help with each. Here’s a few ideas to get your started:

  • Send a regular newsletter or targeted email content to the key contacts at your customer accounts. This will ensure that your clients are more aware of and educated on how you can help them. It also complements the work your account management team are doing with their regular account calls or meetings. The ideal scenario is one in which the customer learns about something from your marketing and then makes contact with you!
  • Create some automated email campaigns for your sales teams. One helpful idea is to put a ‘nurture’ sequence in place: this sends a series of emails to the prospect over time to keep you top-of-mind and build their understanding of how you can help them. Done well, this will result in the customer contacting you, another win for your sales team.
  • For the contacts you aren’t sure about, consider an email marketing reactivation campaign. This can be something that reintroduces your company, mentions a past relationship and provides some updated information. This will typically generate some new leads for your sales team (which they’ll appreciate) as well as identify those who want to opt out of your communications or have left their organisations – all useful information to know.
If you have any questions or want to chat about your customer relationship strategy, contact us on info@evolutionmarketing.com.au.