What is Contact Management? How to Organize Important Business Contacts

Stay Updated June 5, 2023
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What is Contact Management? How to Organize Important Business Contacts

Remember that guy you met at a networking event who was interested in placing a large order with your company? You have no idea what you did with his business card and can’t remember his surname or company name. 

In this fast-paced business landscape, contacts can mean everything, whether they’re suppliers, partners, or potential clients.

Effectively managing your contacts can be crucial to success. But the days of the address book are long gone. Instead, modern businesses are embracing digital contact management methods.

But what is contact management? And how does it work in a modern setting? The answer to these questions could be the key to doing business effectively. 

What is Contact Management?

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As the name suggests, contact management is a way of efficiently storing all essential contact information for your business, from names and job titles to phone numbers and email addresses. Organizing contact details and accompanying data makes them easily accessible, plus you can add to each contact record over time. 

You should also be able to export contacts to other systems, such as a business SMS platform. Such virtual communication tools are vital for modern businesses as they allow you to send text and multimedia messages from a business phone number. They’re ideal for managers and teams who are constantly on-the-go but need to ensure a consistent business identity across all devices.

This ease-of-use and consistency is also key for contact management. With a clear management strategy, you can enter customer and lead data for storage, quick access, editing, and tracking. 

Contact management tools can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as complex as customer relationship management (CRM) software. With digital contact management, you not only have a person’s details to hand, but you can also make them accessible to anyone in your organization at any time. 

Contact Management vs Customer Relationship Management 

While there are some similarities between the two systems, there are also distinct differences. 

A contact management system is relatively basic, while a CRM system offers much more in terms of features. CRM software allows you to integrate a wide range of apps, such as sales and marketing tools, and generate reports on a particular client’s activities or other factors. 

To decide which system best suits you, you first need to consider what you and your business’s needs are. Are there particular goals you want to achieve with the help of some form of contact management?

A CRM system will contain comprehensive details on your business relationship while a contact management system will store only basic – but essential – data. That said, being able to link a username to an email address, while basic, is crucial. 

A simple contact management system may suffice if you are still in the planning stage of your business or have recently set up. However, it’s worth thinking about upgrading to a CRM system as your business – and your contacts list – grows. A simpler system in those early days will be more cost-effective as you don’t really need the complexity of CRM at that stage. 

Once your business takes off, the data you collect becomes more complicated. CRM can track every interaction a customer has with your business and can offer you at-a-glance details on new and historical interactions. 

If you’re considering changing from basic contact management to CRM, consider the following:

  • Do you need a more detailed view of customer interactions?
  • How big is your client list and how many of them would you consider loyal customers (or close to becoming loyal)?
  • Is your business growing and will it continue to grow?
  • Do you have the staff to monitor and analyze customer data?
  • Does your sales process consist of complex transactions or quick repeat ones?

If you find that the answer to most questions is ‘yes’, then it’s worth considering a CRM system. If your business is still small and easy to manage, then contact management software will still be an invaluable tool to help you stay organized. 

Choosing a Contact Management System

For your strategy to be successful, it’s crucial to choose a contact management system that meets your current needs. Of course, those needs may vary from business to business, but you want to have at least some core functionalities to ensure you can work efficiently. 

1. Contact Management 

A key feature is being able to easily access comprehensive details on any contact, be it an existing client, potential client, or supplier. This can include their name, company, job title or position, and all their contact details. 

If you work internationally, think about location and country codes too, so that global calling becomes simple. This section should be easily editable so you can add to it as your relationship builds. 

2. Survey Abilities

One way of improving your business’ customer experience is to listen to and act on feedback. If you create a survey or ask for feedback, you want to be able to do so easily and send surveys to all relevant contacts. Rather than jumping between apps and platforms, it would be helpful to do everything from your contact management system.

3. Tracking Activities

While some contact management software is simple with basic features, you may want to consider one that tracks some activities. This will not only streamline your operations, it also makes it easier to segue into a CRM system when or if the time comes. 

Being able to see some details on customer interactions can be very helpful. You may want to consider software with functions such as Telegram to Google Sheets so you can easily track conversations. 

4. Automation

This is a feature you will find in complex contact management systems but they’re more common in CRM systems. 

The primary consideration here is automated reminders. These could be for an important client meeting or a reminder to send or pay an invoice from a contact. Implementing automatic reminders means you should never miss anything important. 

Additionally, some advanced contact management systems offer the ability to edit PDF documents directly within the system, allowing you to update and modify important documents seamlessly. This feature further enhances your productivity and helps maintain a centralized and organized database of all your contact-related documents.

The Takeaway

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Your customers and suppliers are the lifeblood of your business. Being able to quickly find someone’s phone number or other contact details can be a crucial factor in doing business successfully. 

Depending on your needs and goals, an effective contact management solution can help you remain organized and efficient, helping you boost efficiency and maintain customer relationships.