act software supportAs most of you know the “C” in CRM stands for Contacts and that’s the focus of these clean-up tips.

I see a lot of databases in a variety of formats (Act!, SugarCRM, Salesforce, Zoho) and I’ve made one assumption:  the typical database consists of 25% “dead wood.”  I define dead wood as:

  • Contacts that are missing pertinent or accurate pieces of information including phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses. 
  • Contacts that have been duplicated and exist in the database twice.  
  • Contacts that have left their positions. 
  • Contacts that have managed to “slip through the cracks” of the database and have remained untouched.

I have a few simple tips that will close up those cracks and leave you with a more accurate and efficient database.  These tips are geared towards Act! users because there are many tools available to help you keep your data under control.

Act! Contacts That Are Missing Key Pieces of Information

One of the reasons I personally use Act! to run my business is because of the dynamic groups functionality.  Dynamic groups are a great way to quickly find various segments of your database; for example, I have a group that automatically finds all my contacts that have an e-mail address and use Act! software.  Sometimes, however, it’s not what you know but what you don’t know that can hurt you.  I have a “Missing Info” dynamic group that automatically finds contacts that have information missing from my e-mail, marketing or ID/Status fields. 

Finding Duplicated Act! Contacts

Duplicate contacts are annoying and can take hours of your time to correct.  I’ve identified three main duplicate “culprits:”

·         Faulty contact entry:  Users don’t bother to check to see if a contact already exists in your database before creating it by performing a lookup of the contacts name, company and/or e-mail address.

  • Faulty imports:  An import is run without properly checking Act!’s duplicate criteria. 
  • Faulty Phone Sync Setup:  When I setup a phone sync I recommend starting with an empty phone; failure to do so can result in possible duplicates on the phone.  I also recommend doing a one-way contact synch from Act! to the phone; failure to do so can result in duplicates in your Act! database.

Fortunately Act! has a number of remedies to rid yourself of those annoying duplicate records.  You can find all the contacts that came in through a sync and delete them en masse.  You can use Act!’s deduplication feature to merge two duplicate contacts.  Or you can purchase the Duplicate Contact Wizard add-on which allows you to move through large amounts of duplicates at a faster pace.

Closing up the Act! Database Cracks

Act! activities:  how do I hate thee?  Let me count the ways!  I cringe when I see a user fire up Act!, take a look and his numerous alarms, and snooze them all.  My pet peeve is the user who sets his Task List filter to “Today and Future” so that he can ignore all those past activities that he failed to complete.  And how about all those contacts that we accidentally forgot to schedule a follow-up for?  I can almost hear the sound of those contacts falling “though the cracks.” 

Do I have a better methodology?  You betcha!  I rely on my BFF, Dynamic Groups, to help me out.  Want to see a list of your top customers that you haven’t spoken to in the last month?  I have a Group for that.  Need to track your sales folk to make sure they’ve followed up with their leads?  Again, I have a Group for that!  

As an additional bonus, using Dynamic Groups effectively means that you have that many fewer activities to schedule – and that much less data to have to clean-up down the road.

Keeping in Touch with your Act! Contacts

I have one final tip in my arsenal of Act! clean-up tools which is both unconventional and highly effective; I combine two features – the Web Info tab and Act! E-marketing – to help me stay up-to-date with my contacts:

  •  Linked In: I routinely send a LinkedIn invitation to connect every time I add a new contact to my database.  Act! makes this extremely easy by simply clicking the LinkIn link on the Web Info tab and sending out an invitation. 
  • Act! E-Marketing:  I use my Act! E-marketing account to reach out to my database at least four times a year.  The Act! E-marketing account assumes that an e-mail address is no longer valid if it bounces on three separate occasions.  And yes, the Act! E-marketing reports provide me with a list of those contacts.

I now have two great pieces of information that help me to clean up my database and find some great new prospects.

  • I change the information for the existing contact record to reflect the contact’s new information as reflected in his LinkedIn Profile.
  • I reach out to the contacts former employer to make sure I have the name of the previous contact’s replacement.

If the thought of cleaning up your database seems to be a more daunting task than you’re willing to undertake, we can help. Email with your problem and we’ll be happy to work with you to find a solution!