The people "in your world" are the backbone of all your marketing and sales efforts. When developing any kind of business growth strategy, the first thing you want to hammer out is: who do you want to be your customer?
The ultimate goal of sales and marketing is to find these target prospects and get them into your contact database so you can continue communicating with them.
Unfortunately, most of us don't spend enough time "taking care" of our contacts. We throw them into our database willy-nilly with no strategic thought into who they really are, what we need to know about them, or how to organize them. They become just another meaningless contact in our database.
One of the first questions I ask my prospects is, "How many contacts do you have?" Interestingly, most of them don't really know. And if they can throw a number at me, they can't tell me much about the people on the list.
Don't let this happen to you! Below are the 2 most important types of contact reports you should be able to run. If your contacts aren't organized in a fashion that lets you run these reports, it's better to fix it now than to wait until you have an even bigger mess!
1. Contacts by Lead Qualification Criteria
If you had 100 leads, and only 5 minutes to call on them, how would you decide who to call first?
It's imperative to be able to segment your contacts by the criteria that makes them worth dedicating man hours to. Not many of us have enough resources to spend time and energy on contacts that have a very low possibility of becoming a customer.
You need to have a clear picture of who you want on your list that can impact your business growth. (This Buyer Persona worksheet can help you figure that out.)
Here are some common examples of different types of information you can use to help you qualify good potential leads from unqualified leads:
- Job title
- Annual revenue
- # of employees
That's just a small sample. For example, if I sold customer relationship management software (like Salesforce or Sugar CRM), one of my criteria might be that I want to talk to people that are not currently using a CRM at all, but are managing their contacts via Outlook or Excel. In that case, one of the data points I want to know about my contacts is:
How do you manage your current contacts?
If you set it up right, you should be able to run a report that shows you all of the contacts that meet your lead qualification criteria so you can quickly determine where to focus your energy.
2. Contacts by Type
Everyone in your contact list should be categorized by a specific type. For example, if you were to send an email newsletter, would you want to include your competitors or family members? If you can't segment the different types of contacts in your list, you could end up sending information to people who really shouldn't be getting it.
Some common contact categories include: suspects, prospects, leads, qualified leads, opportunities, customers, past customers, friends, family, vendors, partners, and competitors. Every company is different, so you may have more or less categories depending on what you need.
Once you know who is on your list, you might actually find out that you don't have enough of the right people on it.
Imagine your main lead qualification criteria is contacts that are the VP of Human Resources at companies with 100 or more employees. You have 1000 people on your list, which you think is great until you find out that only 75 of the 1000 are your target. That means that the remaining 925 contacts might be worthless toward helping you achieve your business growth goals.
Or, perhaps the 925 contacts could add value by helping you get to your target, but you'll need a different communication strategy for them. You might send them a different type of message than you would send your direct target. If you don't know that information and send the same message to all 1000 people, you could burn a lot of bridges.
Being able to easily and effectively track the right information about your contacts is a critical part of any business growth strategy. If you aren't thinking strategically about how to collect and store contact information, you're missing key information about your business. You could end up spending money on sales and marketing activities that don't drive results.