Whether you are a small business owner or work as a marketing or sales manager in a large corporation, managing the customer relationship effectively to increase profit and engender customer loyalty is a key component to business success. Depending upon your needs, there are tools that are easy to use, cost-effective and enable you to build a database that tracks customer history, preferences and identify new opportunities for sales.
General Spreadsheet and Customer Contact Applications
You can use spreadsheet and contact management applications like Microsoft Excel and Outlook to track sales and customer contacts. With Excel, you can enter customer sales data, perform computations and create graphical charts to represent that data. You can also create simple customer tracking databases to store, search and retrieve information. In addition, there is a plethora of already-created Excel templates that you can download and purchase that track sales and customer forecasting. You can also use Microsoft Outlook's business contact function to e-mail customers, manage your customer contacts and prospect for new business through the program’s many features, such as the calendar task, contact, billing and note-taking functions.
Smartphones can provide customer and sales tracking in mobile form. In addition to communicating with customers via voice, instant messaging and e-mail, the BlackBerry has built-in task management and note-taking functions that you can use to tie sales tasks to calendar due dates. You also download numerous applications, available for the iPhone and BlackBerry, that allow you to generate leads, respond to customer inquiries and access customer records.
You can also subscribe to Web-based services or purchase proprietary software tools. Before subscribing or purchasing, be sure to analyze your sales and customer tracking needs and budget. Then match this analysis with the numerous programs available. For example, Vertical Response is a Web-based direct marketing, customer contact, tracking and list management program for smaller businesses. Sage ACT! is customer management software that provides sales tracking and reporting to help build long-term profitable customer relationships.