Who Needs Contact and Customer Relationship Management Software?
Virtually every type of business needs to
manage clients, prospects and other contacts in order to be successful.
What better way to do this than with contact and customer relationship management software? Now,
that we agree on that, the next step is finding the contact or customer
relationship manager that's
right for you.
While they may all appear the same on the
surface, every contact and customer relationship manager is different. And, while one may appear to excel over another, this may not be
true "under the hood". It may be better put by saying that each has it's
own philosophy when it comes to contact and customer relationship
Contact Manager vs. Personal Information Manager vs. Customer Relationship Manager
(CRM) - What's the Difference?
Many folks are confused by the phrases personal
information manager (PIM), contact manager, and customer relationship
manager (CRM). While personal information managers, contact and customer
relationship managers may indeed sound like the same thing, they are completely
A personal information manager is similar to
time-managing notebooks of yore, known as day planners, like a Day Runner or
Day-Timer. In a personal information manager, Day Runner, or Day-Timer,
you can store contact names, schedule activities and jot down notes. Isn't
that what a contact manager is, too? Well, not exactly. In a personal
information manager, Day Runner, or Day-Timer, typically each piece of
information, such as a name, activity, or note is stored in separate
sections of the notebook. Each type of information is not
"linked" together, and rightly so. A personal information manager is
specifically designed for you to manage yourself personally, thus each of
the items referenced have no need to be related to each other, they're
related to you. Examples of personal information managers are Lotus
Organizer, Microsoft Outlook and Sidekick. Often confused with contact managers, both Lotus
Organizer and Sidekick are used by folks who would be better served by
trading in their Lotus Organizer or Sidekick for a true contact manager.
Not to say that Lotus Organizer or Sidekick are not good products, on the
contrary, they are excellent personal information managers, while
Microsoft Outlook is an excellent e-mail program.
Still sounds like semantics, you say? Consider this.
A contact manager ties or relates various bits of information to contacts
to help make it easier for you to see what you've got scheduled for whom,
and when you completed what for whom, thus enabling you to establish and
maintain fruitful relationships. A good contact manager also enables you
to write letters to your contacts, either through some type of letter
writer or via mail merge capabilities with standard word processors. Label and envelope printing should also
be included, as should contact history and note pads.
what is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)? Nothing more than a
high-falutin' term for contact management that someone came up with to try
to set their software apart from the rest because they were late to the
party when they came out with their product. After all, isn't managing
customer relationships what a contact manager is already designed to do? These
same folks also figured
the new term enabled them to charge you a heck of a lot more money for
something that had already been available for well over a decade before they coined the
phrase "customer relationship management". So, do yourself a favor, save
yourself the headache of trying to wrap your head around the concept, and don't
let yourself be fooled by companies touting their
software as Customer Relationship Managers. Simply evaluate them for what
they really are, contact managers
Should I Be Using a Personal Information
Manager, or a Contact Manager?
Admittedly, not everyone needs a contact
manager. Some folks, like students, or people who simply run many errands,
may not necessarily need to link activities, histories and notes with
particular contact names; they just need to keep themselves organized and
manage their own schedules. On the other hand, salespeople need to keep
all information related to contacts together, so they can quickly and
easily accomplish business essentials such as schedule phone calls and
meetings with contacts, as well as keep track of everything they need to
know about their contacts, which in turn helps them establish and preserve
valuable business relationships.
Contact Management Software
That doesn't mean that all contact managers are
the same, or serve the same functions. There are many contact managers
available on the market to choose from, yet they are all different.
ACT! by Sage is much different from products such as LeadCommander,
Goldmine, TeleMagic, Maximizer, Ecco Professional and Sharkware. In fact,
contact managers themselves fall into several different categories. You
might prefer to think of it as different contact management
For example, ACT!, the contact manager by
Sage, focuses its efforts on helping its user maintain one-on-one
relationships with clients. Although ACT! is used in a variety
of markets, many ACT! users might possibly benefit more from a product
like Goldmine. Unlike ACT!, Goldmine caters to companies who
employ what is known as workgroup or project contact management.
Goldmine's type of contact management is based upon several people at one
company working with one or more people at another company on the same
project. And, that involves multiple contact schedule coordination,
timelines, and other functions that ACT! doesn't provide. On the other
hand, someone who needs simple one-on-one contact management should
acquire ACT!, and not GoldMine.
Now, if you're in a large enterprise that does
a significant amount of telemarketing, utilizes multiple computer
platforms, such as Windows and Unix for example, and have the need and
resources to develop a customized application based on a generic contact
manager, TeleMagic is a product worth taking a look at. Designed to be an
open-architecture powerhouse, TeleMagic is great for add-on developers,
and those who require routine data exchange among various computer
and Customer Relationship Managers
Web-based contact managers
typically require that your contact data be housed on a third-party's
specially designed remote access server for a monthly fee, and access
to your data is gained through an internet web browser on your computer.
While the concept of a web-based contact manager initially sounds
exciting, you should be definitely be aware that in practical
applications it might end up being a limitation. What happens
if you don't have internet connectivity for a wide variety of reasons
at a given time? Internet routers go down more often than you think,
and you have no control if the router is maintained by your internet
service provider, telephone, or cable company. There can even be a
problem with the server at the company that hosts your database. Any
of these issues, and more, means you won't be able to access
your system or your data until whatever the problem is has been
resolved. And, this can be devastating if connectivity is interrupted at a
crucial point, for example, if you require access to contact information
during the closing of a deal, or when trying to put a critical issue to
bed. It is at times like these that the web-based concept ends up
more like the concept of the paperless office, which in all practical
aspects has not, and probably never will, come to fruition.
If being able to access your database remotely
is an attractive feature, you might want to instead consider a contact
or customer relationship management system that enables you to easily host your
database yourself at your home or office, and also includes
the ability for you to access your database remotely in the event you're
away and want to connect to your database. In this type of configuration,
you experience the benefits of remote access when you need it, but in the
event of a connectivity issue you can call and ask someone at
home or the office to look something up for you, or you can go back
home or to the office and access your data yourself. In either case,
at least you are the one in control of your own data. And, because there
is no third-party company with special equipment required, the monthly
hosting fee is eliminated altogether.
If, on the other hand, money is not a limiting factor, you can maintain
your own hosting server and obtain access to a solid internet connection
the likes of a T-1 line through a service provider able to provide
alternate connectivity methods should your main conduit to the internet go
down, then a web-based contact manager could be a viable option.
Other Contact Manager
To help you further determine what you need in
a contact manager, here are other things you might want to
Where will your contacts come from? Do you
actively market your wares? If so, how? Do you advertise in the media, or
is your marketing done via targeted mailings, or telemarketing? What do
you do to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns? And,
once you do establish contacts, how do you cultivate those relationships?
Could your business benefit from referrals? Do you need a contact manager
that can interface or share data with other software programs?
The Bottom Line
Along with the standard contact management
features like activity scheduling, history and note pads, and mail merge
functions, a good contact manager should include lead-generation,
prospecting and marketing tools, the ability to search, sort and group
contacts any way you want, and be flexible enough to interface with
external programs like word processors, spreadsheets, and even other
databases. If you settle for less now, you'll be sorry later. After all,
many of these functions are what most users need and use most, whether
they realize it or not.
DataBasix Technologies' Philosophy
Here at DataBasix Technologies, we believe that
lead generation, effective contact management and close customer relationships are
the keys to success for any company. After all, without bona fide leads,
where are you going to get the contacts to manage? And, once you have the
contacts, how can you expect to achieve success if you can't establish and
build upon mutually beneficial relationships?
The all-new DataBasix Technologies product line
will not only provide you with the solutions to all of these needs, but
will also enable you to be accessible to your contacts whenever you want to be,
wherever you happen to be. In fact, DataBasix Technologies has combined
technologies that no one has ever combined before, to bring you the most
effective contact and customer relationship management available today. Additionally, we believe so
our products that we actually use them internally in our own
day-to-day business. How many companies do you know that can demonstrate a
commitment like that?