Your prospect and customer database is perhaps the most powerful marketing and research tool you have to grow your business. Here’s a checklist to make sure you are capturing the right data.
It is highly recommended that you use contact management software (or customer relations management management software, sometimes called “CRM”) to capture and record information. Software can really improve your ability to not only keep an up-to-date database, but also provide easy ways for access reports, lists and further streamline ongoing communications with your prospects and customers.
Here are some suggestions of what information you should be gathering:
- Contact names. You’ll want to include a primary contact (name of the individual), but you’ll also want to be on the watch for any key names or titles at the business, and record them. This assures you have multiple points of contact of those that might be part of the decision making process to use your services. It also serves as a back-up should your primary contact ever leave the company.
- Job title and job definitions. Get the official titles of any of your contacts (double check to make sure they are correct). Also, if possible, make notes on what their job descriptions are (that is, what are they responsible for). This information can be helpful to refer to later if you need to make contact with multiple people in the company.
- Demographic or psychographic information. Having a sense of the age, background, likes/dislikes of your prospects or customers can be important in improving communication with them. As you have discussions with your contacts, if they express elements of their background, experience — or if you are able to gauge some information on this buy observation, make some notes in your database. Many times, especially with prospects, it’s helpful to have these notes on hand to refresh your mind of these details before making the next follow-up contact.
- Name of company. Be sure to get the right spelling and format of the company, so that it will appear correctly on all of your letters, faxes, etc. For example, is it “XYZ Technology” or XYZ Technology, Inc.” Pay close attention to these details, as making a mistake can make for bad presentations later in your communication to a prospect or customer.
- Address. Get both the physical and the mailing address if they are different. Make note of which address they prefer you to send them anything to.
- Methods to contact them. this should include any alternative ways to contact the customer such as phone numbers (including cellular phones, if applicable) email addresses, website address, fax numbers, etc. As your relationship evolves with the prospect or customer, be sure to keep updating your database if you receive new ways to potentially contact them down the road.
- Buying history. make sure to make notes of the date of the first purchase, subsequent services, amount of sale, and any other transactional information.
- Source of lead. if the contact is a prospect, be sure to keep track of how customer initially made contact with you. What is from another customer’s referral? From a direct mailing you did? Or a booth at a conference or trade show? Code this into your database for later reference.
- Source of sale. When the prospect makes his/her first purchase, record (if applicable) any effort that they may have responded to. Did they respond to a an email or follow-sales letter you sent. Or telephone call. Tracking this information over time will help you identify what methods of follow-up are most effective in generating first-time revenue from a prospect.
- Special needs of customers. capture and record any special needs that the prospect or customer indicates to you as part of your ongoing communication with them. This is important information that can be used later to expand or alter your service offerings.
- Customer comments. Be sure to keep track of any comments from customers, whether they be complaints, testimonials, special requests.
- Payment history. Make sure to log any important details on the customer’s payment history.