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Doing CRM the Old-Fashioned Way

November 22nd, 2010 :: Rieva_L

By Rieva Lesonsky

CRM software is one of the most useful tools a small business can have to keep customer data close at hand, easily searchable and sortable, and maximize its value. But there’s another aspect to CRM that doesn’t involve cloud computing, networks or training your team on a CRM system.

I’m talking about the old-fashioned way of CRM. Sometimes we forget what CRM stands for: customer relationship management. And that’s a skill that requires more than just software. CRM has been around as long as business itself. And as we’re heading into the depths of the holiday season, I thought this might be a good time for a refresher on the basics of building customer relationships.

  1. Get personal. Whether you’re staying in touch with customers by social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, include a personal touch in your posts and tweets. Use a photo of yourself on the sites—not one that’s “too businessy.” Make it friendly. Just like in the offline world, sharing stuff about yourself helps build bonds.
  2. Get offline. It’s great to meet potential customers or partners online, but make sure you take the relationships offline at some point—that’s how you truly get to know each other. Make plans to meet up for coffee or take the person to lunch.
  3. Be part of the group. I’m sure you belong to some industry associations, and while today more of these groups are forming online communities, it’s important to be a presence at these organizations’ offline events, too. Taking time to travel or spend a day out of the office may seem like a hassle, but these events are often where relationships truly begin.
  4. Put it on paper. In this day of BlackBerry’d tweets and acronymic responses, an actual handwritten note makes a huge impression. Drop a thank-you note in the mail when someone has done you a favor, and send cards on clients’ birthdays or important dates (like the anniversary of their first doing business with you).
  5. Think of the other person first. When you’re trying to grow your business, it can be easy to think in terms of “me, me, me” and what you can get out of a relationship. Try to think of things in terms of how they affect your customer—and how you can help the customer with the problems he or she is having. When you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, your relationship will naturally develop

Of course, CRM software solutions can help you attain all these goals by tracking dates, remembering details and prompting you to follow up. But keep in mind that CRM software is simply a tool in the service of a larger goal. If your heart isn’t in the right place when it comes to CRM, nothing else matters.

Image by Flickr user Yakinik (Creative Commons)

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View Comments to “Doing CRM the Old-Fashioned Way”

  1. Matt at Intelestream says:

    Great back to the basics article. Here’s an additional read that you may find of interest

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