act database problemsI’ve lost ten pounds since the holidays!  Having been on the Injured Reserve list with a knee injury for over a year I packed on the extra weight.  I’ve been fortunate enough all my life not to have to deal with weight loss issues so I wasn’t sure what to do.  Quite frankly, the thought of paying hundreds of dollars for artificial meals or drinks wasn’t appealing so I tackled the problem in the same way that I tackle most problems:

  • I did a bit of research
  • I developed a plan that consisted of a small number of baby steps
  • I stayed with the program

My system worked and it got me to thinking how I could apply the same concept to removing some of the “dead weight” often found in the databases.  Although I work with a variety of CRM solutions I find that my clients deal with the exact same issues.  Here are a few of my solutions:

  • Learn your software. Every CRM solution contains a category field; in ACT it’s called ID/Status.  This field usually contains values such as Customer, Prospect, or Vendor.  This will help you pinpoint the exact portion of your database that you need to market to.  Learn how to add another choice like “Dead Lead” so you’re sales folks won’t spin their wheels calling companies that aren’t a good fit for your business.
  • Have an easy way to find the data that needs updating. You can’t lose 10 pounds – or slim down your database – in a day.  As you work through your database using baby steps, it’s imperative that you have a quick bookmark to find the contacts you haven’t as yet had a chance to work on.   I set up Dynamic Groups in ACT to keep track of all my contacts that are missing contact information; as I fill in the blanks – or add a new, incomplete contact – my group changes accordingly.
  • Have a system for dealing with your duplicates on a timely basis. Unfortunately, computers aren’t bright enough to understand that William, Bill and Billy are all the same person, and that ABC Co and ABC Company are one and the same.   ACT has the cool Copy/Move Contact Data feature that allows you to merge duplicates as you run across them.  A search on the Internet will help you find addon solutions that will “deal with the dupes” for other CRM products.
  • Fill in the blanks. Sometimes it’s not what you know but what you don’t know that can kill you.    I recently looked over my own database and found that I was missing the e-mail addresses for nearly 10% of my prospects.  I found a free solution for finding contact information that worked so well that I was soon able to cut that number in half.  Once I had e-mail addresses I was able to use ACT’s e-marketing tool to send out an e-mail requesting corrected contact information; I then sat back as the replies automatically updated my missing contact information in ACT.
  • Link to your accounting software. I compare this ability to lifting weight in the gym.  Your existing customers are without a doubt the best source of future revenue.  You need to reach out to the folks who spent lots of money with you three years ago, but haven’t called you since.  The ability to query on your accounting information in your CRM solution is crucial.  I’m running a free webinar if you’d like to see how I’ve linked ACT to my QuickBooks information.
  • Eliminate unnecessary notes and histories. I’m a firm believer in keeping accurate notes about my contacts.  However, over a period of time too much information is, well, too much information.   I have a great tool that lets me selectively pick and choose the history data I want to purge from my database.  For example, I recently removed just the histories from 2007 and 2008 showing that I had sent out e-newsletters; that alone eliminated over 50,000 history records from my database!

Although I’m certainly not a weight-loss expert I’d be happy to share my dieting tips if you send me an e-mail. In the meantime, if you take a few baby steps at a time, you’ll find that your database is soon looking a lot sleeker and healthier.  Good luck with your weight loss program!