Managing Your Data

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Salespeople collect an enormous amount of information during the course of a day: names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, employers, interests, and more. Managing your data will help you work more efficiently and make it easier to keep track of your clients. 

The developments in information technology over the past decade or so have made this kind of record keeping so easy that it is now simply not worth not doing it. Most ready-to-go software packages on personal and business computers will come with an easy-to-use spreadsheet and database package, which will allow you to collate all information that you need. By doing this you will be able to search for any information you need.

The more information you can keep on customers, the more effective your record-keeping will be and the more synergistic your customer services can be. By having contact information and personal details about customers, you will be able to alert them to deals which may be beneficial to them. 

As computer software becomes more and more innovative and intuitive, we are able to set up reminders that will alert us to something which may be beneficial from a selling point of view. It is not just a case of record-keeping, but more of information management. Not only do you want to make sure you have the information, you also want to ensure you are using it correctly.

Choosing a System That Works for You

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Whatever data management system you choose, you need to make it a part of your daily routine. Novice salespeople often make a couple of rookie mistakes:

  • They rely on their memory to keep track of important information. With the number of things they have to keep track of on any given day, they are bound to forget something crucial.
  • They write important information on scraps of paper, legal pads, or sticky notes and then have to hunt for a phone number or an email address.

These bad habits waste time and might actually lose prospects. Important information should be entered in your data management system on a regular basis. If it sits on your desk or in your car overnight, you might have a hard time finding it in the morning. 

For this reason you should have a more coherent data management system. Many people will actually have a dual system, which contains both a computer- and paper-based element. A good desk diary costs very little from any stationery store, and will contain sections for entering reminders based on dates, along with a section for contact information.

A computer-based data management system will usually make use a dedicated sales data system which allows you to keep a strong database of information, which is stored in columns and highly searchable. 

If you are looking for information on customers who have bought certain products, are of a certain age, or have other specific needs it will all be easy to find. This way you can keep track of your prospects and contact them with any information that you think will be beneficial to them and perhaps encourage them to make a purchase. 

If you keep and manage your information on customers, it allows you to sell in a more streamlined manner. Customers appreciate being kept abreast of the latest developments, and as long as it is relevant to their needs they will respond to your contact in a way which will keep your sales numbers high. It may seem like it takes an unnecessary amount of time to maintain records, but the amount of time it will save you when it comes to trying to recover information really makes it worthwhile.

Using Computerized Systems 

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Useful features of computerized contact management systems:

  • They provide quick, easy access to information.
  • They offer search capabilities.
  • They help you manage your daily activities.
  • They interface with other computer programs, such as Microsoft Office.
  • They can be used to generate activity reports.

Some disadvantages:

  • They are expensive.
  • They require training.
  • In some cases, they may actually be less efficient than paper systems.

The many advantages of these systems usually mean that they are highly beneficial to a salesperson. Some people find it difficult to put all their trust in a computer system, particularly with the horror stories about computers losing all their information, but as long as information is backed up with a decent desk diary there should be little problem. 

The efficiency of a good computer data management system allows a salesperson to find the information they need with a few clicks of a mouse. 

It is easy to set reminders using such a program. The benefits of setting reminders are clear. When you arrive at work in the morning, all you need to do is sign into your computer to see the reminders you have set for the day. By following up on your reminders you will then be able to set your schedule for the day.

There is some debate about the worth of expensive computer data management systems, with many feeling that they are unnecessary in an environment where it is possible to keep information in a paper diary. 

However, in a computer system which is linked to a central mainframe, the benefits of the computerized method are clear. It allows you to access your information from any computer in the office (and usually from a personal computer), which is endlessly helpful for the salesperson on the move. Although these systems tend to cost money, their efficiency can see them pay for themselves within a very short time. 

Although some training is often required, this will have the benefit of getting all of the staff in a company on the same page.

Using Manual Systems

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Advantages of manual contact management systems:

  • They are easy to use.
  • They require no special training.
  • They are inexpensive.

Some disadvantages:

  • They have no search capabilities.
  • They are more difficult to share with coworkers.
  • In some cases, they may be less efficient than computerized systems.

One of the major benefits of a manual contact management system is that it can be maintained in exactly the way that a salesperson wishes to use it. While computerized systems are fairly rigid in how they maintain information – taking the “path of least resistance” by not being especially suited to any one method of working, and therefore not specifically unsuited either – a manual system will allow a person to keep their records in a way that suits them. 

It is also the case that anyone can buy a cheap paper diary in a stationery store and maintain it without any training. 

There are, of course, limitations to a manual data management system, not least of which is the fact that it depends upon being operated by either the person who maintains it or someone who is party to the way they do things. Something as basic and seemingly irrelevant as the clarity of a person’s handwriting can make a system hard to follow. 

Additionally, there is another sense in which manual data management systems are slow and inefficient. While computer-based systems can store their information on a central mainframe, a manual system can only be kept in one place. If it is locked away in a desk drawer, it is locked away in a desk drawer.

The best bet for any salesperson looking to maintain a records system is to have both systems in operation. A desk diary can have the benefit of being an easy reference point for the individual salesperson, while the greater interactivity of a computer-based system means that the entire staff can be on the same page – so even if a certain salesperson is not present in the workplace on a given day, the information they have collected will still be available so that the sales force is not hamstrung by their absence.

Case Study

Evan looked like a rolodex with numbers and addresses that leaked from every pore because he had no clue where to store that information. Barb grew concerned that all the information felt too heavy a burden that weighed on Evan’s mind. Evan needed a hero to come in and show him how to find a new home for all the digits that drained quickly out of his brain. Barb knew just the kind of hero he needed. Barb rushed over and caught some of the spewing information and promptly emptied it right into the brains of the computer and made a nice neat electronic filing system for the numbers and addresses to call home. Evan stood in shock with relief plastered all over his face that covered the points where the data had once lived. Evan became lighter on his feet and danced his way to efficiency.