Basic Training - Database Organization Strategies
The Right Foundation for Reliable Information Visibility
It’s one thing to have a database system (CRM) application for your contacts, quite another to have one that is organized in a Best Practices manner. The best approach is to organize your database so that you have instant, or near instant, visibility and access to what you need when you need it. Standardizing the way you store contact information also mitigates losing someone in the ‘weeds’ of your database, and makes your data reliable from a lookup and reporting perspective. You will want to be mindful of how your contacts will be organized and ID’d, as well as committing to being consistent in your method. If you change any approach ‘mid-stream’, just be sure to update legacy contacts with the change as well so you do not end up with a mish mash of contact organization.
This article addresses the basics on how to organize those contacts within your database in the most usable manner. Also, please note that in this article I will be referring to ACT! as the database tool, however the same high level basic strategies apply regardless of the database system you are using.
All of your contacts, regardless of type, should go into your 1 central database.
With everyone in one central database, how do I organize my contacts in order to find what I need when I need it ?
Here’s THE KEY
You will need to use a field on the contact record as the identifier for who the contact is to you and your business. In ACT!, this is usually the standard ID/Status field that comes with the database. You can edit the pull-down list of this field and add the contact types that I mentioned. You will want to keep this pull-down list squeaky clean by not having more than a handful or two of choices. You essentially need a high level ‘ID’ for each type of contact. A sample list would include: Prospect, In Process, Closed, Real Estate Agent, Title Rep, Appraiser, Builder, Attorney, CPA, Financial Planner.
This will give you the ability to look up specific types of contacts quickly. Be exacting here. I cannot stress this enough. In other words, do not have both ‘Realtor’ and ‘Real Estate Agent’ in your pull down. This will immediately do two very undesirable things: a) Slow you down. When you are adding a record and you see two choices you will stop and muddle over which one you think is the right one and/or the one you actually usually use the most, and b) Data reliability degradation. Let’s say you have an important market update to send to your real estate partners, you will miss opportunities because if you are not paying enough attention to how you do the lookup, you will exclude intended contacts from your communication. If you lookup on the field equal to “Real Estate Agent”, you will miss any target contacts that were added as “Realtor”.
You must have one field that serves as the exact high level ID for the record. This field needs to have a succinct pull-down selection, and you must manage this field every time you add or update a record.
What about identifying more granular or detailed categories for contacts? From a marketing perspective, it is a good idea to identify prospect realtors versus current realtor partners, or VIP borrower ,or Debt Repair, or Wealth Management contacts and so on. To do this, you would use the Groups function (this is a separate area in ACT!). Using Groups and other marketing strategies will be covered in another article.
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Q2 Database Consulting Services can assist you with veritably every need you have around your Contact Management and Marketing needs. Please call or email today, we would be honored to assist you !