When you first get going with CRM software, you will want to bring any existing contacts into the system. While this will be the largest import of contacts, you will also want to create a plan for keeping new contacts coming in to your CRM with as little friction as possible. With all your contacts in CRM, you’ll be able to build longer lasting customer relationships. Let’s dig in to how to accomplish both of these goals.
Where Are All Your Contacts?
The first step in this process is gathering all your contacts. For many of us, our contacts are spread all over the place and may not be all that up to date.
Here are some of the many places you might find your current contacts:
- Email inbox and contact list
- Accounting software
- Email marketing software
- Ecommerce software
- Event management software
Chances are good that you don’t have a complete list of contacts in any one place. Sure, you might have all of your customer’s email addresses in your email marketing software, but do you have their sale history or current address there? A CRM is the place to bring together all of the pieces of information that you have on your contacts.
The first thing you will need to do it export your contacts from all of those places. Most will provide you with the option to export to a spreadsheet compatible file such as .csv. In some cases, you’ll be able to export directly into your CRM of choice.
To build up your database, you will need to import the contact information from various places into your CRM. But wait, before you do ….
Any Clean Up Needed?
The trickiest part of having contact data spread out over multiple apps is keeping it all current. Again, this is why you need a CRM. But if you find yourself in this situation, it may make sense to do a little clean up of your data before importing a hot mess into your shiny new CRM.
There are a few areas of clean up you should focus on. First, you’ll want to get rid of any out of date contacts that you don’t need anymore. Second, you’ll want to make sure your data is prepped to be merged together. You don’t want a lot of old or duplicate contacts in CRM software. Finally, you may want to think about ways you’ll be categorizing your contacts in your CRM software.
Out of Date Contacts
Old contacts aren’t going to do you much good. Where possible, only export contacts that you’ve been working with recently. How recently depends on your business. If you sell something with high frequency, you probably don’t need to keep contacts from several years ago. However, if you have a longer timeline, something like real estate, you may want to keep contacts for a much longer time period.
When you have contacts spread out over various software, you are bound to have some duplicates. You don’t want to just throw away one set of contacts, however, as each duplicate may have unique information that can and should be merged together into one up to date contact.
What you do need to do is make sure there is some piece of shared identification between the contacts. This is often an email address, but could be a first and last name or even an unique id. When importing into your CRM, you will likely have the choice to merge contacts based on some of this information. For instance, with Batchbook you can merge based on name or email. If your CRM of choice does not have this option, you can merge the files yourself in Excel prior to importing.
Finally, if you have a lot of contacts, you may want to make sure they are categorized in some way. Before you import them, you may want to separate them into groups such as leads, customers, or vendors. This can help you categorize them in your CRM as well. For example, when you import a group of contacts into Batchbook, you can give them all a tag, which is a quick an easy way to put them into searchable categories.
How to Import into Batchbook
Every CRM will handle imports a bit differently. With Batchbook, we give you the flexibility to bring contacts in CRM from a bunch of different sources. You can import any .csv file (spreadsheets can be saved to this format). Importantly, you are not limited to the type of information you can bring in. If you have a lot of custom details about your contacts, you can create custom fields in Batchbook to store the information.
You can also import contacts directly from some integration partners, including MailChimp, Google Contacts, QuickBooks or Xero, and Eventbrite.
Auto Import New Contacts in CRM Software
Getting all of your contacts up to date and in one place is great. It means your team can work more cohesively on your customer relationships. But for your CRM to really be useful, you’ll need a workflow for keeping contacts up to date.
This doesn’t just mean having each team member remember to put in updates as they work with customers. While that is important, you’ll want to try to automate as much of it as possible. You don’t want your CRM to become a time-suck for your team. Instead, it should be a useful place to find the contact information each team member needs.
So, remember all of those places that you pulled your contacts out of to fill up your CRM? Those places aren’t going away. They will likely continue to collect new contact data. What would be helpful would be to automatically share that data with your CRM. This is where integrations will really help you out.
Your CRM may have some integrations built in. For example, you can hook Batchbook up to tools like MailChimp, Quickbooks, and Eventbrite to help keep new contacts coming in to your CRM. You can also use a tool like Zapier, which acts as an integration between 1,000+ apps. Chances are, you’ll be able to automate a lot of your tools to bring new contacts into your CRM. This will help you keep your customer database up to date.