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Contact Management vs. CRM: Why Not Both?

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Author photo: Kayla Lee

Kayla Lee


Anyone in sales knows what it’s like to be overwhelmed by contact data, especially after an event or receiving a new list of leads from the marketing team.

Contact management helps sales managers and teams organize all that contact data and put it to good use.

Contact management is a means of organizing contact data within a CRM or contact management software. At its core, contact management within a CRM helps you provide more value to your customers and prospects—while improving the productivity of your sales team.

According to EGA Futura, the average business loses about 50% of its customers in a five-year period. With contact management, you can streamline your sales cycle, alert your reps to follow up, and dramatically improve your retention rates.

What is contact management?

As a tactic, contact management requires recording contact details while tracking their interactions with your business.

As a strategy, on the other hand, contact management is a foundation on which you can build your business’s sales, marketing, and customer retention strategies. This way, you and your team stay productive—and your business gets a revenue boost.

You’re not just storing and sourcing information from your contacts like names and email addresses.

It’s like a huge, digital wallet that stores piles of virtual business cards, only you can easily and quickly pick out information in real time about prospects and customers.

Contact management example: In Copper, users can view all of their contacts under the People tab  

Done well, contact management helps you make sense of where your contacts come from, how they interact with your business, and the most effective way of connecting with them.

Contact management vs. CRM: what’s the difference? 

Contact management helps you manage and track information and communication from customers, prospects, and vendors such as:

  • Physical addresses for shipping and billing purposes
  • Information like job title, company size, related companies, and the sales rep responsible for the account
  • Information on open quotes, orders, and sales history
  • Verbal or email communication with customers, vendors, and prospects

CRM, on the other hand, is a software that offers advanced functionality with added sales and marketing tools.

With CRM, you can manage your entire sales process, potential customers, sales leads, and your sales reps’ activity. So, it doesn’t just store information like a contact management system.

A CRM helps you manage:

  • your sales funnel
  • your sales cycles
  • relationships with prospects and customers
With a CRM like Copper, you can track not only your contacts but where you’re at in prospective deals with them

Who needs contact management and CRM?

Most successful business people will tell you that building a business is about building—and sustaining—relationships. Many, many relationships.

In the course of meeting with different prospects and customers, you’ll accumulate a giant backlog of contact information, often in the form of a business card.

What you end up with is a pile of cards brimming with phone numbers, emails, social media info, and addresses.

A few years back, putting all these into your phone would’ve been the easier way to store contact information, but today, it’s about leveraging this information to create the next business opportunity.

A contact management solution helps businesses store leads, contacts, and customers in a single online hub. And if you’re using a CRM, it even helps teams keep in touch with all of these contacts, move them through the company’s sales funnel, and optimize the process too.

No more missing follow-up times or new opportunities to do business.

How can contact management with a CRM help your business?

1. Organize your contacts in real-time.

When your contacts are stored and managed in spreadsheets, there’s the risk of human error during data entry, which you can avoid with a contact management tool.

Storing contact information in an organized registry improves data management, and makes data instantly accessible to all the reps on your team as soon as it’s in the contact management tool.

Customer data is collected via web forms and automatically added to your contact management system or CRM. You can also upload contacts automatically via .csv if using a spreadsheet—these changes will also happen in real-time.

Real-time updates are important for several reasons:

  • They help align your team’s efforts so they’re not working in silos, but in collaboration.
  • They boost lead management as all relevant data from the buyer’s journey are organized and up-to-date.
  • Everyone can see each customer interaction because they’re working with the same data.
  • The data is useful for building campaigns that close more deals.

2. Gain deeper insight into your customers.

Whether you use a CRM or not, you need to store loads of information on each customer.

As you accumulate more data on your customers and learn their needs, pain points, challenges, and interests, you can better understand who they are.

With deeper insights, your sales, marketing, and customer support teams can initiate conversations armed with all they need to form stronger relationships with customers. A CRM just makes all of this information-gathering easier.

3. Track your progress with contacts.

Another great benefit of contact management within a CRM is tracking sales records, email history, and communication with your contacts.

With this, you can prep for future interactions like sales calls or emails, promote new offers to enthusiastic clients, and decide where there’s an opportunity for upsells and cross-sells.

4. Improve customer service.

Ultimately, contact management improves your communication with customers by storing every piece of relevant data, activity, and feedback in a single platform.

Your team can use this data to communicate with clients with efficiency, making your brand more trustworthy while impressing your customers.

5. Personalize customer experiences.

Contact management allows you to create personalized communication based on customer interests. You can cater to each customer’s unique needs in a relevant way that resonates with each of them.

Not only does it make them feel valued, but it also communicates that you’re paying attention to them and what they need to be successful.

The result is increased customer/prospect engagement and higher revenue.

6. Measure and improve your success with reporting.

You can keep your finger on the pulse of activity and how that activity correlates with your team’s performance. This allows you to identify weak links and keep sales reps hitting their targets.

A CRM offers insights into your results with extensive reporting, metrics, and analysis, so you can make intelligent, data-driven decisions.

Example: Reports like the Pipeline Summary above can help you make better, faster decisions about where to focus your team’s time and energy.

7. Increase your return on investment (ROI).

A system that eliminates tedious, data-entry tasks of your team helps them focus and put their time to more productive tasks—like selling. You’ll see higher ROI through:

• More satisfied customers which leads to higher retention and more opportunity for upsell/cross-sell

• Opportunities moving more rapidly through the sales funnel because of alerts and organization

• More deals won because reps are able to focus on selling vs. data entry and organizing spreadsheets or other docs (here's you can make it happen)

CRM Example: You can set tasks in Copper to receive alerts so you don’t forget to follow up with prospects

8. Improves warm selling via social data.

Without a social element in your business, you’re missing out on lots of potential data.

Content management systems pull the social interactions of each of your contacts from their social media profiles, whether that’s LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, and puts all these in one place. (More on social selling here.)

These act as a guide on what customers are saying about your brand, your product, and service offerings allowing you to engage and get involved in the conversations and respond to any support questions.

From these conversations and social interactions, you gain deeper insight that can also help your team enhance your products’ features and service experiences. These deeper insights are useful in helping reps turn cold conversations into warm ones.

Ready to take control of all your contacts?

Your contacts are the heart of your business. Your marketing, sales, and customer experience teams rely on the organization of the contacts to be effective in moving deals through the pipe and keeping churn at bay.

Effective contact management helps you collect and streamline contact details. You also gain valuable insight into your prospects and current customer’s needs.

Don’t miss your next business opportunity by being disorganized. Take control of your business’s contacts with contact management.

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