Make a Human Business CRM

PAB 2008

Sales people use CRM solutions (client relations management) to keep track of leads, to work on prospects, and to service customers. There are all kinds of software products that allow you to manage your sales process. However, another way you can use this technology is to make sure that you’re treating your relationships well, or at least that you’re checking in on some kind of reasonable frequency.

We all intend to stay in touch with people, but are we doing it? I know I’m not. So, one of my efforts in 2011 is to make sure that I connect a little more often with people outside of the social media channel. There are a few ways to do it.

Google Spreadsheet – Free/Easy

You can use Google Docs and just write down the list of folks you hope to connect with over the year, and then just keep jotting down in the columns when you do, what you talked about, etc.

But I’m lazy and that idea would take a lot of work and a lot of remembering.

BatchBook – Inexpensive – Easier

I use BatchBook, a CRM solution web app that’s inexpensive and that’s pretty simple to populate. One thing it has is the ability to sort by one or several kinds of “tags,” so that when I want to remember to ping Whitney Hoffman, it will say, “media, law, insidecircle, philly, podcamp, podcaster, blogger,” and a few other tags. When I plan to connect with people in Philadelphia, Whitney’s name will come right up.

See how nifty that can be?

No Matter How You Do It – Do It

Relationships are the lifeblood of a human business. If you’re not looking for ways to keep up connections with people you think matter, then they will deteriorate and fall away. Not only will you lose a few friends just due to the crush of it all, but you’ll lose some potential business relationships this way, as well. Keeping connections alive is a great deal of why we’re doing all this.

I have plenty of room for improvement. I’m going to do my best in 2011. How are you handling your own personal relationship management?

Lisa Barone and Chris Brogan

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  • http://mazakaro.com Rahul

    When you set aside this, possibility of losing clients or personal relations

  • Anonymous

    Excellent points.. I have segmented my 25k+ list using a CRM application called infusionsoft.. The price is worth the ability maintain relationships (email, fax, voice broadcast, phone, social media online/offline marketing, etc) Best, Brian-

  • http://www.government-mailing-lists.com/ governmentlists

    Thanks for highlighting this important point Chris. Wishing us all effective relationship building in 2011. -Richard

  • http://www.parmfarm.com Amy

    Chris – can I just ask you about that photo? Are those people you know…or is that just a random photo? I like the idea of featuring a group like that…and would want to replicate it if poss… thx. Amy

    • http://twitter.com/LDpodcast Whitney Hoffman

      Hi Amy- I can tell you Chris knows them all :) All friends :)

  • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

    Forgive the ignorance, but isn’t that what LinkedIn is supposed to do? I definitely believe that everyone should have a CRM platform for their professional lives, but I’m a little leery at adding yet another layer of documentation/software on top of what might already be there for me with a little learning?

    • http://www.paulylacosta.com Paul L’Acosta

      IMHO I think Chris is referring to people OUTSIDE the professional side of our lives… the connections you keep alive of those that will give you a kidney without thinking it twice (not a “Like” or a “Follow”).

      • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

        Ah…okay. But then…Facebook? This seems to be a very easy thing FB could add into their mix – “The last time you spoke to Paul was [Date].” I like the Google Docs idea. Also, let’s not forget the 150 rule about relationships. At some point, if I really think you need a CRM platform, maybe I should look at that list and cull it to the 150 or so I can keep in my head.

        • http://josephrooks.com Joseph Rooks

          Not everyone uses Facebook, and Facebook restricts their data set to the people who are on their platform and have friended you. LinkedIn is the same. A CRM or a spreadsheet doesn’t care who you add to it – and that’s the point, if you want to be in charge of who you want to keep up with.

  • Kradr2

    Chris,

    As per your contact list, what to say, when to say it so on, lining up the stars if you will … Often, it’s so hard to socialize on the fly.

    You got to wonder, how can I maximize my interactions?

    How often do you walk away from an interaction and say to yourself, I haven’t seen that guy for ages and wont for along time, that was such a “_____” interaction.

    Neither do you have the time to read War and Peace nor do you have time to play switch board operator in the spaghetti jungle. And heavens, how you would rather be focusing on the finer gustatory pleasures of your cheese burger.

    How does one cope ?

  • Anonymous

    Great stuff, one add:

    Recommend stepping outside of the personal connection comfort zone each day. Extroverts should have no problem. Introverts need to ready themselves for it.

    This, to me, means small steps – take someone you have connected with online, and connect with them voice to voice. And, though I don’t care much for voice mail, that at least begins the process of putting voice with name.

    Small steps each day.

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  • http://www.mattaboutbusiness.com Matt Mansfield

    Ha! I just went through an extensive search for just this: a tool that not only lets me keep track of what I have to do but also allows me to link it to individuals as well as projects so I can get an overview page of what I am doing on a project and an overview page of what I am doing with an individual (as well as all traditional CRM information such as call notes and e-mails, etc.).

    Batchbook was the one I settled on (liked the supertags concept), but they are not so good at some other things I liked in other tools such as Bantam Live and Contact Me (they had more social media features such as capturing a specific tweet from an individual so you could view it on that person’s overview page, etc.).

    The main issue though is that all of these focus on team collaboration and none really are built (or easily allow you to build) a system that works great for a solopreneur or any other individual. Batchbook came closest, but as mentioned above, did not hit all the points.

    It will be very interesting to see how these tools continue developing as they mature.

    -Matt

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    Relationships are the whole deal… You can be the best Marketer, the Best Cold Caller, but if you do not form trusted relationships you will live a life of wheel spinning with very little traction.

    I’m going to check out Batchbook… Thanks for the tip.

    Ryan H.

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    Relationships are the whole deal… You can be the best Marketer, the Best Cold Caller, but if you do not form trusted relationships you will live a life of wheel spinning with very little traction.

    I’m going to check out Batchbook… Thanks for the tip.

    Ryan H.

  • Barry Moltz

    I agree Chris- I use High Rise by Jason Fried’s company- it’s free up to 250 people!

  • Barry Moltz

    I agree Chris- I use High Rise by Jason Fried’s company- it’s free up to 250 people!

  • Barry Moltz

    I agree Chris- I use High Rise by Jason Fried’s company- it’s free up to 250 people!

  • Barry Moltz

    I agree Chris- I use High Rise by Jason Fried’s company- it’s free up to 250 people!

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  • http://twitter.com/MikeLesczinski Mike Lesczinski

    If you want to build your online community you better be willing to invest in your customers, fans, etc. I’ll definately take a look at batchbook. Played around with a few CRM tools, looking forward to taking a look at what batchbook has to offer.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeLesczinski Mike Lesczinski

    If you want to build your online community you better be willing to invest in your customers, fans, etc. I’ll definately take a look at batchbook. Played around with a few CRM tools, looking forward to taking a look at what batchbook has to offer.

  • Bobby

    “Relationships are the lifeblood of a human business.” I like this so much I want to swipe it and make it my new mantra. When we cut through all the clutter, all the technology, all the systems and methodology – the core function of a successful business, a human business, is relationships. Beautiful!

  • Doug

    Agree … plus if we’re not spending cycles trying to remember who to call, it frees us up to do more of what we do well. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

    There is no CRM that can replace the actual true human bonds we forge. I don’t care what your Klout is or how we may or may not know each other. Nobody has cracked the nut on it – but many are working on it.

    It’s hard to measure awesome, right?

    Now, a service to keep an eye on is Gist. They are trying to look at how you interact with people to show you the relationships you have with people. I use Gist and it’s free and I have to say I am quite impressed.

    Oh, and yes, Infusionsoft is awesome, too. It allows you to segment and keep a handy list of VIP customers or prospects and keep a close eye on them without much effort. :)

    ~Joseph

  • Anonymous

    I like this idea- – Thanks for the mention as well!

    It’s hard to keep up, and as much as I try to keep that Dunbar’s 150 Number at bay, I find that’s about the number of inner circle folks I can keep up with and give you the run down on what’s up in their lives at any one point in time. Outside of that 150, social media has helped me make and maintain friendships now all over the world, and that’s amazing to me, but it also means an opportunity to connect with old and new friends wherever I go- and that’s a true blessing.

  • Wayne Lamarre

    As pointed out there are certainly plenty of tools to assist in the effort to manage relationships. Its the “No matter how you do it – do it” approach that we all need a reminder of from time to time.

    great post

    -Wayne

  • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

    Since one of my 3 words is “connect” this is important for me to internalize. I have gobs of room for improvement in keeping contacts organized..and I’m getting much better at reaching out, introducing myself to folks, finding out what makes their day.

    The real meat of this post is here:

    “Relationships are the lifeblood of a human business.”

    Yep. The more people I know and connect with, the better business is…funny how that works!

  • http://www.addresstwo.com Nick Carter

    “No matter how you do it, do it!” – Couldn’t have said it better.

  • Anonymous

    I just started using the BatchBlue’s solution myself and I LOVE IT. I will teach women business owners how to use it and earn coin as well. Quite a nice little niche.

  • Anonymous

    I just started using the BatchBlue’s solution myself and I LOVE IT. I will teach women business owners how to use it and earn coin as well. Quite a nice little niche.

    • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

      Let us know when you’re teaching this – I’m interested!

      • Anonymous

        Hi Susan,

        Specifically, myself and 2 women who are referral partners, are leveraging our contacts in one Batchbook database. We are creating opportunities and better lead in services for each other. It is like business partnering without being a business partner. We’re collaborating and using this tool to provide more comprehensive solutions for our client collectively.

      • Anonymous

        Hi Susan,

        Specifically, myself and 2 women who are referral partners, are leveraging our contacts in one Batchbook database. We are creating opportunities and better lead in services for each other. It is like business partnering without being a business partner. We’re collaborating and using this tool to provide more comprehensive solutions for our client collectively.

    • http://twitter.com/susangiurleo susangiurleo

      Let us know when you’re teaching this – I’m interested!

    • Mriggen

      With two of our three co-founders women, we’re glad to hear it! Let us know how we can help! (Michelle from BatchBlue :)

  • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

    Yea I’m using HighRise – it’s pretty good.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      used it a bit in the past. It was a little too “clicky click” for me, as I’m a keyboard guy. Not that BatchBook isn’t clicky click, but I already was using it. : )

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  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    That’s great, Serina. : )

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    Very nice of you to send video now and again. : )

  • Tom Bowden-Green

    I wonder if there’s any way of tracking relationships developed through social media. It would be pretty handy to be able to automatically track your relationship with twitter followers for example. If anyone knows of such a tool, I’d be interested to try it!

  • http://www.5minutesformom.com/ Susan (5 Minutes For Mom)

    I’ve been wanting to look for a simple CRM to use…. thanks for the suggestion!

  • Megan

    Absolutely agree – nurturing and maintaining relationships is vital in so many aspects of life!

  • http://dvnttech.com eck0

    Chris you have gotten my head working onthis on how I can set up a dual system for clients and friends that I want to keep in touch with more often. thanks

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com AdamSinger

    Lisa Barone in picture with you increases coolness of post +50 points.

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com AdamSinger

    Lisa Barone in picture with you increases coolness of post +50 points.

  • http://www.nwxne.com Trelawney

    I’ve used Excel spreadsheets in the past, but I have to remember to look at the spreadsheet, which isn’t always ideal. Thanks for the suggestion of Batchbook. I’ll check it out.

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  • http://www.pennyful.com Jennifer Rybel

    I second that – relationships are very important in so many ways..

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  • http://KnowtheNetwork.com Keith

    It’s a small thing but I make update my calendar to send me notifications about upcoming contacts birthdays. Depending on the need it’s a reminder that day to email them or send them a DM.

    The other practice I’ve adopted is note cards (the should arrive today). A post you shared on Ducttape marketings analog toolkit really took hold about the act of a hand written card.

    I got some decent card stock and envelopes and I hope it makes a statement that I’m a person and I see you. Great way to stand out in my very digital world.

    Checking out Batchbook – Thanks Chris

  • http://josephrooks.com Joseph Rooks

    I looked at BatchBook at your recommendation, but it’s cluttered and unusable to me. With a few small improvements, it’d be much friendlier, but as it is now I really don’t enjoy using it.

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  • http://twitter.com/roundpeg Lorraine Ball

    CRM has been a part of my business since the beginning. Starting with a data base I built myself in Access it has morphed and changed. Today I like http://www.addresstwo for many reasons, but I think my favorite is the Task list which helps me remember to stay in touch, even when I would forget on my own

  • http://www.eocomputing.com Ellen DePasquale

    A spreadsheet is a great place to start, but a CRM solution is so much easier to manage. I am a fan, user, and alliance partner for ZohoCRM, which offers their basic version for free, up to 3 users.

    Keeping in touch is the way small business works these days – and the ways that friendships have always worked! Relationship are the core of being human!

  • http://www.traders77.com Blueandys

    I’m also use Goo Spreadsheet and Batchbook, they seem OK for me. But I need more simple apps from them both. Any idea?

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  • http://e1evation.com Todd Lohenry

    Are you still high on Batchbook?