A few months ago, I was out to lunch with a new friend and somehow we got on the topic of organization. I told her that I used my CRM (more about what a CRM can do for you later) to keep me organized.
Her response was, "But it's so much work to keep it updated.” Immediately, a frown overtook my face as I exclaimed, "But it's so much work when I DON’T keep it updated.”
My CRM is a HUGE part of my system for staying organized.
Let's face it: being disorganized is draining. It drains your creativity and your resources. And whether you want to believe it or not, you are paying dearly for disorganization with your time, productivity and stress.
I, like you if you are a business owner, juggle a lot of details in my business. I have a consulting firm with clients, prospects, contractors, vendors, business networks, people I would like to work with, and projects with various tasks and deadlines.
So how do I recommend new and existing business owners get organized?
1. Choose the right tools
Determine the tools (e.g. technology) that will work for you and that you will be consistent with. Choose simple, intuitive tools and stick with them.
There are some foundational tools, such as a good accounting system and email marketing system, but I'm going to focus on only one for right now.
If you're a business owner, you should be using some type of CRM, or Constituent Relationship Management software. As your business grows and your network of contacts expands, the amount of information you will need to handle is going to multiply. It won’t be practical to simply keep information in your phone or Google contacts anymore.
Keeping all your information in one place is the most efficient way to work. Having a centralized system helps keep me organized and, most importantly, saves my sanity. And it goes with me wherever I go— everything is accessible from my phone, ipad or laptop. It integrates with my Google contacts, calendar and email. It even integrates with my accounting software, Quickbooks, and my notes in Evernote.
Here's the hard truth: A CRM, app or any other software alone isn't going to make you more productive. But finding the right CRM is an important part of it.
Find one CRM that works and use it as a part of your routine. You will thank yourself later.
2. Develop a routine
I’ve realized that being well organized, even with the right tools, doesn’t happen naturally. It takes planning, time and consistency.
Once you have a CRM, use these best practices for making your CRM part of your daily or weekly routine.
- Update your CRM with contact information, details of phone/meeting conversations, tasks, and project details while it’s still fresh on your mind. For those days in which it may be difficult to do that, schedule time on your calendar to update your CRM. Add any information that you may have missed or didn’t have time to add when it was fresh on your mind. Take lots of notes!
- Connect your CRM with the email, contact, calendar, accounting, and email marketing platforms you use to eliminate dual entry. So many great CRMs allow you to integrate directly with these systems. Even if there is not a direct integration, you can use tools like PieSync or Zapier to update fields in your CRM. The more integrated your CRM system is with other platforms, the more easily you can use it in your daily routine without added work.
- Schedule time to analyze your data. Perform advanced searches, run reports or schedule reports to be emailed to you if your CRM has that functionality. This will help you keep track of your business revenue, opportunities, actions, etc. and determine next steps.
To quote David Allen from his book Ready for Anything,
"When people know they have a process in place to handle any situation, they are more relaxed. When they’re relaxed, everything improves. More gets done, with less effort, and a host of other wonderful side effects emerge that add to the outcomes of their efforts and the quality of their life".