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Using Outlook to keep in touch with your SOI (Sphere of Influence)


I ask students all the time how they keep in touch with their past customers and sphere. What I hear is that many are using all sorts of tools to do all sorts of things, but not many are organized to communicate with their sphere on a regular basis.

Consider using Microsoft Outlook to do this. Every day I “touch or contact” five of the clients in my sphere. How do I know who to contact? I have set them up as recurring appointments in Outlook. Before I start my day I open Outlook and look at the days activities and pick 5 people to either call, email or contact on Facebook.
I have gone through my top 100 and set up an appointment to contact them four times a year. Because I contact 5 people a day, five days a week, I reach over 1250 people every year and it keeps my business vibrant.  Outlooks reminds me to contact them, but I can choose how to do it. It may be a phone call, a personal email or maybe a touch base on their Facebook page.

Millions of people use Outlook every day to get things done. And most of us use only a fraction of Outlooks’ power.

Because Outlook is part of Microsoft’s suite of products you can copy a chart from an excel spreadsheet and paste into an email. You can also keep a list of mailing and email addresses in Outlook and use them for a email merge with a ENewsletter you created in Word.
Outlook is divided into modules to help you perform certain job functions. The most important for us as sales people are:
•    Calendar
•    Email
•    Tasks
Using Outlook with its email and contact management system can work for most sales associates. It is best for sorting leads and handling the more active leads. If you want step by step instructions on the following three Outlook tools, please email me directly at
1.    Create Folders and Rules – Organize emails into folders
2.    Create Contacts from emails that people send so you can synch contacts with your handheld
3.    Set up recurring appointments to stay in touch
It’s easy to overlook the fact that the Contacts module is a database, but Outlook provides a surprisingly capable system for managing names and addresses. Contacts provides different views of your data, including table and card formats. You can define your own views and add your own fields. There are good searching facilities and it also provides a set of categories, again user definable, which can be used to tag records for retrieval. So, providing your needs are straightforward, it is well worth looking at Outlook as a way of managing your names and addresses.
Office 2003 (and now 2007) provide reasonably good integration with Word. It is possible to go into Outlook select a set of records, press mail merge or email merge and move seamlessly into Word to complete the process of producing standard letters, mailing labels or emails.
Outlook won’t be enough for everyone. Its reporting facilities are quite limited and so if you want to do more elaborate printouts you may have to look elsewhere.

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Written By

Amy is a national technology speaker who can inspire, train and help people implement technology strategies into their business. To find out about her training, coaching or webinars visit her website at



  1. Steve Beam

    May 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Some people like Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite but I find it to be cumbersome and everything I do seems to involve so many steps I have to print out the directions and follow along. Just importing names and addresses from excel into word to make labels is enough to make me crazy. I have the new 2007 suite and hoped it would make life easier but it seems worse. It should just work and it doesn’t.

    I do use Outlook but only by default. I also use Agent Office which is a disaster too. Yep I’m frustrated with all my CRM tools.

  2. Dan Connolly

    May 25, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Outlook’s Business Contact Manager is a great program. Definitely it is worth the extra $$. I am using the 2003 version. The only drawback is that it doesn’t make it easy to keep info on spouses together in the same contact folder. Other than that I don’t have any complaints.

  3. Jim Gatos

    May 25, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I use Mozilla Thunderbird with a couple of extensions, most notably lightning and contacts sidebar. Also I use vcs support. I can do everything that Outlook does and I don’t pay for software.

  4. Jim Gatos

    May 26, 2009 at 5:19 am

    I honestly think my combination is fine for me, Thunderbird and Openoffice. Too bad I can’t find any openoffice base templates for real estate agents.

  5. Amy Chorew

    May 26, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Jim, can you do recurring appts? And set up actions plans that is the item that is missing in most programs. Thanks for the tips, will look into it.

    I just installed google apps and am playing with the sync so I don’t need a exchange server anymore. We will see 🙂

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