Hidden Gems #1: Business Contact Manager
There are times in life when all a man needs is a frock coat and some stout walking boots. Running a business isn’t one of them; which is why Microsoft Office is packed chock full of extras which you might be missing out on. Have you discovered Clip Art, or Macros? In this series, we’re going to discover some of the hidden gems in Microsoft products which you may already have, and some of the tools which you may not yet be using.
The Target: Microsoft Outlook with Business Contact Manager.
Whereabouts: Included with Office 2007 Professional, Small Business and Ultimate suites; also included in Office 2010 Standard and Professional Plus suites (available through Volume Licensing only).
Modus Operandi: Integrating sales and marketing activities to for lead management, creating happy customers and more sales.
The sales process is a struggle for many small businesses. How often have you spent a fortune on advertising in the hunt for new custom, only to find that when it does come in, you lose track of phone numbers, callbacks and the promises you’ve made? It’s that sinking feeling of good new business slipping through your fingers.
Business Contact Manager (BCM for short) is the antidote to juggling sales leads.
Log them. BCM integrates neatly into the Outlook email interface you’re already probably familiar with. Not surprisingly, it’s therefore great at recording contacts. When you take a new client call, enter the usual information like names and email addresses, and they’ll never get lost again. With BCM, however, you can also add custom fields of information, for example the services in which they were interested, or special delivery requirements. All this information can be searched and displayed in whatever form makes life easy for you.
Call them. If you’re not too comfortable on the phone (or your staff aren’t natural salespeople), BCM makes making and taking calls easy. Call up a client’s details, and you can even include pre-defined scripts to make the next call in the sales process a little easier. Connect BCM with Windows Live Contacts, Lync or other unified messaging or VoIP (internet phone) contacts, and you can even have a client’s record pop up as soon as the phone starts to ring. No more scrabbling for paper; and no more wishing that Bob in the warehouse would stop picking up the phone...
Track them. If you currently keep your sales leads in Outlook alone, that’s fine – but pretty passive. BCM is rather like having a sales assistant: tell BCM how your sales process works (e.g. call back, quote, proposal, confirmation, delivery) and BCM will pop reminders directly into your Outlook Calendar, so you’ll never forget to make a customer call again. There’s no longer any excuse for clients to drop off your radar.
Analyse them. Ideally, you’re now overrun with leads! No problem: BCM includes powerful analytics, which will help you to prioritise the work you do – perhaps by deal value, the long term importance of a client, or maybe (as so often happens) whoever’s shouting loudest because they’re not being looked after properly. These analyses can be presented in any one of over 70 glamorous pre-defined reports, and it can all be exported into Excel for proper financial forecasting - or invoicing when the deal’s done.
Target them. What if you’re not overrun with leads? It’s time for a promotional push. Marketing experts agree that it is six times easier to get business from existing customers than to find new ones. To that end, BCM analytics are also powerful enough to uncover opportunities in your existing client base. If you run a print shop, how about finding “all clients who haven’t ordered new stationery in 6 months”. As a garage, what about all those customers whose service or MOT must be due? With BCM these questions can be answered with just a few clicks. You can then send them a personalised and targeted newsletter directly via Word and Outlook.
Under the magnifying glass...
With BCM, you can also:
- Employ a full project management function to apply rigorous processes to your activities and keep an eye on delivery schedules
- Group emails from clients with one click in Outlook, so you can see conversation threads and sales-flow at a glance
- Share customer information with salespeople or fulfilment staff
- Access customer information offline on the road (ideal for on-site visits!) and then sync up automatically when you’re back at your desk
- Define relationships, so you always know who on your team is on call for each client
- And finally, keep personal contacts in Outlook separate from your business
The target exposed
You’ll find lots of information and ‘how-to’ guides on the Office Online site. We’ve listed a few here, for both Office 2007 and Office 2010.