Some manufacturing businesses may not invest a lot of time or energy in contact management, as they don’t see this as a cornerstone of their activities. If their main priorities revolve around production, stock control, logistics and other processes, it might not appear sensible to dedicate resources to something that appears unworthy.
But it’s no exaggeration to say that for any company, the level of contact management used could be the difference between a good and bad financial performance. You might have had experience with losing customers and prospects in the past, simply due to poor communication.
In this article, we explain what contact management is, how to do it well, and the benefits of doing so. We also explain how our software makes it easy to achieve the desired outcomes in an effortless manner.
What is contact management?
Contact management is, quite simply, the way a business manages the contact information of those they work with and sell to.
Some business owners store their contacts in a smartphone, an email address book, a spreadsheet, or even in a physical notebook. And although these methods may suffice for some, they do come with certain limitations.
Firstly, there’s a greater risk of human error occurring when adding or amending a contact record in these ways. It also requires quite a lot of effort and time to complete these tasks manually. Such methods may not have the capacity to deal with rapid expansion should the manufacturer be looking to grow.
Additionally, if every employee has their own unique way for monitoring contacts, there will be no single version of the truth (which could lead to damaging inconsistencies). This is where a more sophisticated (and business-wide) system may come in handy.
How to carry out effective contact management
Group your contacts
It’s important to categorise your contacts, in order to maintain order and clarity. You could possibly segment them by their company, or even separate them into lists of customers, suppliers, and prospects. The more ways you can group these contacts, the more value and insights you can gain.
You may spot a marketing opportunity, where you can target specific contacts based on certain characteristics. If you have a way of grouping them automatically (which we’ll come onto), you won’t have to painstakingly sift through individual records.
Store customer data securely
It’s always important to store contact information in a secure way. There are now strict laws in place around data protection, meaning you could be hit with large fines if you don’t take the appropriate measures to protect client data.
You’ll also lose the trust of the customer (and other potential customers) if you don’t properly look after their sensitive information. You shouldn’t use a contact management strategy that is prone to theft or misplacement.
Have a centralised contact database
Everyone in your company should be sourcing from the same pool of data. It can be quite common for different departments to use their own information, but this can create problems.
Firstly, there’s a risk of data duplication if you’re unaware that a colleague has already acquired a customer’s new phone number. There will also be inaccuracies and contradictions if everyone is using their own version of the truth. These discrepancies could scupper a relationship, as a healthy stream of contact will be impossible.
An employee might contact a prospect that has already been spoken to, simply because they were unaware of the previous interaction. This could lead to the loss of a sale. This is why it’s crucial to have a centralised system that can be monitored and updated by all, in one place.
Update information immediately
It’s crucial for contact information to be updated quickly when there is a change. Perhaps a key individual has left one of your partners, and you now have a new point of contact. If this isn’t amended immediately in your contact list, there could be a breakdown in communication.
Salespeople are often the first to learn of detail changes, as they are out on the road, and come into contact with customers frequently. It’s crucial to find a way for these employees to update the data remotely, as they may forget to do so later in the day.
Using a dedicated contact management software solution is one of the quickest ways to implement the above strategies effectively. If you choose the right system, you’ll be able to split your customers into groups, with a few clicks of a button.
Digital solutions help to keep sensitive information more secure, as it is less likely to be damaged, lost or stolen. Most providers will back up your data so that you have a safety net. If you opt for a cloud-based system, all your data will be stored online via off-site servers. This massively reduces the threat of physical sabotage that comes with on-premise solutions.
Utilising the cloud has the added bonus of enabling remote working too, so your employees can update contact information at any time, from any place. With this technology you’ll have a centralised resource that all staff can use to view a single version of the truth.
Benefits of using contact management software
Build healthier relationshipsBy implementing a contact management system you can build more sustainable relationships with your customers. Having a clear view of their details means you’ll be less likely to lose touch with them.
Better customer serviceIf you need to send out an important update about a specific product, you can easily see which customers need to be contacted. And if individual customers contact you, you’ll have a record of what has been said to them recently.
Better productsCustomers are sometimes the most knowledgeable and insightful when it comes to your products, as they are the ones that use them. Having better communication with these people gives you the ability to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of your goods, helping you to make frequent improvements.
Convert more salesBy having a clear picture of the health of your opportunities, you can take proactive actions in order to convert prospects and leads into sales. You’ll lose fewer sales to competitors, and you won’t bombard potential customers, as you’ll have a view of when they were last contacted.
What is the difference between contact management and CRM software?
Contact management and CRM (customer relationship management) can be spoken of synonymously in some cases, as there will undoubtedly be examples of systems that have identical capabilities (even though they’re categorised differently).
However, CRM software is generally seen to have more in depth functionality when it comes to the entire sales process, as well as some marketing activities too. Although a CRM system may provide some tools for monitoring existing customers, the main focus is usually on managing the sales funnel.
What is the best contact management software for manufacturers?
CRM’s can work well in some scenarios, but manufacturers tend to prefer contact management solutions, as they are simpler and possess more specifically relevant functionality (allowing them to store all customer, supplier and prospect data). Should you choose Advanced’s Manufacturing Software you would have access to these capabilities, with custom fields too. Its centralised store of information means your entire organisation gets information from the same place.
It’s easy to analyse the value and strength of existing customer relationships, with up-to-date contact details on hand where necessary. It’s also simple to monitor opportunities and prospects, so appropriate action can be taken where necessary.
You have a clear picture of your sales pipeline, meaning you’re aware of what is to come financially, and therefore can make smart decisions that won’t dramatically affect cashflow. You can also track customer orders, ensuring that you are able to deliver on time.
This Manufacturing Software has more than just contact management functionality. It is an all-in-one solution that unifies all your business activities, helping you to perform optimally and cohesively.
It has functions for your sales, accounting, stock control, production planning and more. If a sale occurs on your e-commerce platform, this will filter through to your stock levels and finances, allowing you to plan for new purchases and production runs.
This cohesion provides you with more powerful data. With advanced reporting capabilities, you can collate information from any area of your business, drawing useful insights from it. The increased efficiency and automation gained can be transformative for manufacturers looking to grow.
If you want to reap the benefits that come with effective contact management, take a more detailed look at our Manufacturing Software (which is tailored for small to medium-sized manufacturers).