How to Keep Track of Sales Contacts on Index Cards

Use index cards to help you organize your business contacts.
Use index cards to help you organize your business contacts. (Image: young business business woman on white call phone image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from

One of the most important elements of running a business or being a salesperson is making, tracking, keeping and following up with sales contacts. To be successful, it's essential to have many contacts, both clients and potential clients. Eric Lofholm, a Master Sales Trainer, recommends having at least 200 contacts in order to maintain a successful business.

But how can anyone keep track of 200 contacts? Index cards are a tried-and-true, low-tech, inexpensive and easy option that business and sales professionals have been using for decades.

Things You'll Need

  • 200 index cards minimum (more if you have more contacts)
  • 3 recipe boxes
  • Tabs labeled 1 through 31
  • Tabs labeled with each month
  • 2 sets of tabs labeled with each letter of the alphabet
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie or electronic labeler

Compile a list of your contacts, including names, contact information and personal details such as the names of their immediate family, birth dates, hobbies and how you know them.

Write down each contact on an index card. Put his name at the top of the card. On the next line note his profession and where he works. On the third line write how you know him. On the fourth line write what services you provide in which he is or may be interested. On the fifth line include his significant other's name. On the sixth line write his children's or grandchildren's names. On the seventh line write his birth date. On the eighth line note his hobbies and interests.

Next time you visit with your contact, not only will you have essential professional context but you will be able to connect with him in terms of what matters to him (for example by asking how his son Paul is doing, if he has played any good golf games lately or even by sending him a birthday card).

Sort the index cards alphabetically into three piles. The first pile is for contacts whom you met recently, whether in person, online or by phone. The second pile is for contacts with whom you're currently doing business, whether they have only expressed interest or are ready to buy. The third pile is for individuals with whom you have worked in the past and need to keep track of for future opportunities.

Place tabs marked with the numbers 1 through 31 into a recipe box. Place the set of tabs labeled with the months behind the set of numbered tabs. Place one set of alphabet tabs in the second box and the other set of alphabet tabs into the third box.

Place your new contacts into the appropriate alphabetized sections of your second recipe box. Label this box "New Contacts." These are the people with whom to follow up over time to develop a business relationship with them.

Place your contacts from the third index card pile, those with whom you've worked in the past, into the alphabetized slots of your third recipe box. Label this box "Old Contacts." These are the people with whom to follow up over time to maintain a relationship for possible future business.

Insert the index cards from your third pile, those individuals with whom you are currently involved doing business, into the first recipe box. Label this box "Current." Place each card into the numbered slot that corresponds to the date of the current month when you are scheduled to contact this person or plan to contact her. Place the remaining cards into the month slots for when you are scheduled or plan to contact this person.

For example, if you are scheduled to call Mary on the 15th of the current month to help her troubleshoot the product you sold her, put her card behind No. 15. If you are supposed to call Tim in September to see if he wants to follow through and make a purchase, place his card in the slot labeled September.

Review your contact index card system regularly to keep it up to date. If a client has a new baby or gets married, add that information. If an old contact would like to do further business with you, move his card to the "Current" box. Every time you make a new contact, create an index card for her.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you discover a way to adapt this system that works better for you, don't be afraid to modify it.
  • Make sure you keep up to date with the information on your cards. There is great potential for embarrassment if you ask a contact how his wife is doing only to find that they were divorced three years previous. If you do make a social gaffe, apologize, update the card and don't worry too much about it.

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