Thursday, February 17, 2011

Contact Fields vs Historic Data

It seems we have had several conversations recently with different users who are having trouble seeing the difference between fields -- attributes of a contact/account -- and historic data. I suppose this is perpetuated by the fact that most companies exist in spreadsheets where the only option is to add more columns, regardless of what's being tracked. But, the best way to manage things like "next action" or "last order date" is not as a field on the contact, it's as historic data.

Let me give a concrete example. You may have a spreadsheet with columns for name, company, phone, email, and a myriad of other data fields. Those are all relatively fixed attributes of the contact. With few exceptions, these are not dynamically changing fields.

However, if you're an active prospector, then you may have a few other columns called "notes" or "next call date." You may currently use a process whereby you sort your spreadsheet by "next call date" and look back to the notes to see what you most recently spoke to the prospect about. This is the common, albeit very limiting, workflow that many small businesses use in lieu of true CRM when they are unaware of solutions like AddressTwo.

Then, the day comes when you're ready to migrate to AddressTwo -- you're ready to really use a CRM to make your sales more productive and more efficient. Great! The first thing you need to know is that those fields are not fields, they're historic data.

In a CRM like AddressTwo, you have contact data fields (which you can import yourself) such as name, company, phone, email, and a slew of others. But the historic data -- the history of calls, appointments, and even a record of future actions yet to be completed -- is quite a different animal. And, importing it from other sources can be tricky. This is why it is a service that our staff performs for a fee. But, once set up properly, the efficiencies it produces are immeasurable.

So, when you're ready to import your data, ask yourself: am I importing fields or historic data?

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