Effective contact management
Do you know what contact management really entails? Think you’re doing it correctly? In this article I’ll discuss the five essential components of effective contact management. Effective contact management will help you to convert more leads into clients and maximize the amount of referrals and repeat business you get year over year.
Having a consolidated database
I speak with real estate sales professionals daily who have client and prospect contact information scattered in many different areas: Outlook, their iPhone, their website, pieces of paper, etc. Without a consolidated database, these REALTORS® waste far too much time hunting for the information they need to manage their business – often hours a day.
A solid, well-managed database can be worth more than a million dollars in real estate commissions over as little as 10 years. In fact, the only real tangible asset Realtors have is their database. Upon retirement, a well-managed database that produces a six-figure income in referral and repeat business year after year can be sold for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars!
Having a consolidated database is extremely important. It’s actually the foundation of effective contact management and the starting point to building a truly successful business based largely from referrals and repeat clients. Without a consolidated database, it’s hard to stay organized and manage time effectively. Lacking a consolidated database, it’s almost impossible to master the four other “essentials of effective contact management” I’m going to discuss below.
Categorizing and segmenting contacts
Once you’ve consolidated all your contacts into one database, the next step is to categorize them appropriately. At the most basic level, this might entail categorizing people as either Clients, Prospects, Personal, or Business-to-Business. Another popular approach is to apply the 80/20 Rule by segmenting your contacts as either “A List” or “B List.” More advanced segmentation can include creation of community groups such as former work colleagues, church group contacts, people in your baseball league, etc.
The big benefit of segmenting and categorizing your contacts is that it allows you to communicate with specific groups of people in a way that is more personalized, relevant and timely than the dreaded “batch and blast” approach. When your mass communications are relevant to the people receiving them, they are far more likely to be opened and appreciated, and hence far more effective from a marketing perspective.
Keeping in touch with past clients
You may have heard the idiom that it takes seven times the amount of time, money, and energy to acquire a new client then it does to keep an existing one. The saying is very true. It’s your responsibility to stay “top of mind” with past clients and make sure that they don’t forget you. Your clients are likely meeting real estate agents through friends and family members, hearing others recommend Joe Smith’s Realty Services down the road, seeing billboards and posters of Realtors boasting that they’re number one. So, don’t automatically assume that a client who you’ve helped to buy a home five years ago will remember you and call you up again next time they need a real estate agent.
It’s in your best interest to ensure that you have the right technology, such as a contact management system, and a plan in place, so you can keep in touch with past clients effectively.
So, how should you keep in touch? Schedule quarterly keep in touch calls (better yet, try to call one past client each day), send out a monthly e-Newsletter, send direct marketing pieces to your best past clients, plan client appreciation events and various educational seminars, use social media, the possibilities are endless. A good contact management system (my specialty) will make organizing and executing all of this as easy as possible. I recommend that you make contact with your past clients at least 17 times per year.
Make sure that when you reach out to past clients, whether through a phone call, email, or any other method, that it’s all about them, not about you. You don’t want to keep in touch with them by always promoting your services and how great you are. Send out an e-Newsletter with helpful and interesting articles on home decorating, for example. Make a call to ask if they need any recommendations on a business professional such as a Plumber or Landscaper.
Assigning leads to marketing plans
As soon as you get a new lead, enter them in your CRM immediately and then assign them to an “automated lead nurture marketing plan” (also known as a marketing Activity Plan).
A lead nurture marketing plan consists of a number of emails and phone calls at regular intervals over time. The emails are sent automatically (also called “drip email), which means that you don’t have to worry about remembering to keep in touch with all your new leads. The system will remind you when to make a call, and will send relevant email communications to your prospects in between. By nurturing your new leads in this way, your conversion rate of new leads to clients will improve dramatically.
You can use your contact management system (your CRM) to create your own lead nurture marketing Activity Plan. Alternatively, good CRMs have pre-designed marketing plans created for you, so you don’t have to do a thing.
Tracking sources of business, including referrals
You need to know where your business is coming from. Knowing this information will provide you with insight into where you should be investing time and money. Use your contact management system to run various reports, such as an “Original Source of Contact” report and a “Referral History” report. Don’t waste your time and hard earned dollars guessing about where your business is coming from or about what you could be doing more and less to fully maximize your time.