A more Workable Database

Here we are in March. It’s either the end of year for you if you think financially. Or close to the beginning if you’re taking a calendar view. Either way, now is a perfect time to instill better organisation for your database of customers and prospects. If you have read any of my columns, you’ll know I consider your database one of your most valuable assets – no matter where you put it to bed at night. By that I mean where you keep it – bet it only in an email Contact program to the most sophisticated of Customer Relationship Management Programs (CRM).

Here are two superb and easy tips if you’re using Contacts or Excel, to enhance your ability to:

  1. Pinpoint, target and profit:

    By sending the right information to the right person at the right time.

  2. Work quickly and swiftly to take up opportunities:

    With a good database you can take advantage of fleeting opportunities inexpensively. For example an email to let clients know of a weekend only special.

  3. Carry on conversations with prospects.

    Not everyone is able to do business with you immediately. So what can you write/ email to them to carry on a conversation until they’re ready to do business with you? If it’s only about you, you, you – do you think they’ll read it and care?

Excel: If you have information in a simple Excel spreadsheet, DO NOT have a different column for every variable. You’ll end up with an unworkable spreadsheet with too many columns. Instead, categorise.
The wrong way
You set up a column for customers, a column for prospects, a column for old clients and a column for suppliers.

The right way
Allocate one column called Customer Type for example. All the different variables are then used within that one column such as customer, old customer, prospect, supplier. Each person can have more than one customer type. When you need a specific type – such as prospects, you simply sort the entire list by Customer Type or you filter it looking for the work prospect.

Email Programs: Do you use your contacts? Contacts in email programs are superb! One of the least-known functions is Categories – a keyword or phrase that you can assign to a contact. Better yet, you can assign multiple categories to each contact.

Categories are utterly brilliant in many ways. Why? Because you can finely target specific customers. By creating industry, occupation, interest, purchase, service categories, for example, all you need to do is sort by category.

How do I create a category?
Outlook 2000-2007
Open any Outlook contact. In the bottom centre you’ll see the rectangular Categories box. Click to open. Ignore the pre-programmed Microsoft ones. Click the Master Category List button, then type in your own. To view your contacts grouped by categories, go to View,
Current View, then Categories. In Lotus Notes, you’ll find it in the contacts section.

Outlook 2010-2013 – click on a Contact, On the Home Ribbon > Tag menu > Catgorise

Gmail – Create and assign groups in your contacts.

Mac – Create and assign groups in your cards. Smart group

Accounting Programs: You can categorise and target with your contacts in these programs. For example in Xero – you can group your customers and prospects or make smartlists based on any criteria you like with them.

Bottom line. It doesn’t matter where you put your database information to sleep at night. You profit when you use it well and categorization/grouping is an easy way to do it.