Following up sales leads effectively can be the difference between life and death for a small business. In competitive markets, it's generally the persistent bird that catches the worm. Managing online contacts efficiently is an essential skill to acquire.
For the following workshop you will need: Business IT Online (free for two-user licence).
Step 1 To get started with Business IT Online you'll need to set up an account. Head to businessitonline.com and enter your name and email address. A unique password will be sent to you. Once logged in you can click on the Change Password link to change it to something that's easier to remember.
Step 2 To manage your contacts, click on the Contacts icon at the top-right of the screen. This will open up the CRM (customer relationship management) portion of the software. From here, you can store and track customer contacts, manage sales leads and store and view invoices relating to each customer.
Step 3 You'll need to import contacts from your email app. Click on the Import button in the toolbar. You'll be asked whether the contacts you're adding are private or shared. If you select shared, anyone with access to the software will be able to view them. This can be useful if you have several people on your sales team.
Step 4 Next, click the 'Add from my address book' icon. This will launch the Plaxo synchronisation software. You can import your contacts from a range of web-based email clients – Gmail, Hotmail and AOL are all supported by the application, as is Outlook. Select your preferred email client and click Next.
Step 5 You'll need to enter your email username and password to access the contacts. Tick the names of contacts you want to add and they'll automatically be imported into the software. You can always add individual contacts later by clicking 'Add new person'.
Step 6 Now you're ready to begin managing your contacts with Business IT Online. Click on the Contacts link to view all of your contacts. From here, you can hover the cursor over any contact to see more details. Clicking on the two icons next to each contact will show you their invoice and contact history.
Step 7 You can use the Invoice history feature only if you use the software for invoicing. If applicable, click on this link to see all invoices relating to a contact. Contact history is more useful for keeping on top of contacts. From here, you can select a contact from the drop-down list.
Step 8 Once you've selected a contact from the drop-down list you can click on the 'Add contact report' link. The pop-up window that appears allows you to record the details of your last meeting with the contact, including the type of meeting, date, what the meeting was about, who else was there and a tracking number.
Step 9 The contact reports will now appear when you select them in the Contact history view. This is handy for keeping track of dealings with each person or organisation in your files, and means you can remind yourself of the status of their relationship with your business at the click of a button.
Step 10 The Pipeline feature is a useful way to determine which leads are the most valuable. You can add an entry for a contact by clicking on the Pipeline link in the toolbar, then on New Pipeline Entry. In this window you can note potential opportunities, their value and the likelihood that they will succeed.