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Show Me “Paint the Fence”

I have a confession to make:  CRM isn’t as complicated as people tend to make it.  Take a look at an app like Salesforce and they purposely build the interface to look like you’re piloting a 747 jet when in reality all you’re looking to do is deepen a few hundred relationships and organize your life.  We CRM experts like to try and look a lot smarter than we actually are.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share some easy action items that will make managing your database a snap.  WARNING: I’M FLORIDA EDUCATED SO I TEND TO KEEP THINGS AT A 7TH GRADE LEVEL.  GREG SWANN: INITIATE LOBOTOMY NOW.

Lesson #1:  Paint the Fence

Remember when Mr. Miyagi made poor Daniel Son paint the fence?  And wash the car?  And paint the fence again?  If we’re gonna make you a black belt database manager, you’re going to have to suck it up too.  One must not deliver kick to opponent family jewel without proper training.

The most common problem I notice when consulting with mortgage/real estate professionals:  the quality of your data sucks.

  1. Lazy Data Entry:  If you’re populating data from an internet form, expect respondents to take as little time as possible getting to the goodies you’re dangling.  No less than 50% of your data will come in with capitalization, punctuation and other grammatical errors.  There are some automated ways to help clean this data, and I’ll leave that for another day.  But in the meantime, I’m asking you to make a habit of cleaning data as you go.
  2. Incomplete Data:  For the belly-to-belly folks:  I have my salespeople take the extra 120 seconds to visit a new prospect’s website as they enter data into our CRM system.  When I find records with just a name and email address, I get pissed.  When you take the extra time to dig for granular data on a contact, you’re in essence learning more of their story in the process.  Did my prospect give me a fake phone number (easy to learn if the the phone number on their website is different than the one they gave you!)?  How polished of a prospect am I talking to (ie:  how nice is their site?)?  Does my prospect have an area of specialization that I ought to know about?  You get the idea.  While you’re at it, go ahead and populate their physical address.  Why?  Because if you get into this habit today, you won’t have an excuse to hold off on conducting a timely and profitable direct mail campaign down the road because you need to “clean your data up”.  When opportunity arises, you’ll be able to pounce immediately.  Case in point, the client I collaborated with on the preceding letter originated 52 loans in December 2008 – by himself.
  3. Make Notes About the Contact:  When I enter a new contact into our mortgage CRM system, I always make a quick note with details on where the prospect came from and how impressed I was with him/her (if at all).  Remember that one of our core functions with CRM isn’t just identifying who’s most likely to buy, it’s just as important for us to segment out our B, C and D players.  I’ll be talking about data segmentation in more detail another time.

I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will anyway.  BACK YOUR FREAKING DATA UP!  Even today I’m dealing with people, even smart people, who lose their entire DB when a computer goes down.  If you’ve got your entire database on a desktop running ACT or Outlook, and you don’t know how to go about backing your data up, leave a comment and we’ll address that down below.

Garbage In –> Garbage Out

We’ve heard this saying a million times, but 9/10 of you still do a poor job of maintaining a pristine database.  Today’s takeaway:  don’t finish reading this and say “Yeah Yeah, I know Green, we get it”.  Just make sure every record in your DB moving forward contains the following fields:

  1. FN & LN
  2. Nickname (if applicable)
  3. Company Name
  4. Main Phone
  5. Cell Phone
  6. Full Physical Address
  7. Email Address (secondary email address is also huge if you can get it)
  8. Website Address
  9. Referred By
  10. Quick Note:  How you met them, how impressed you were, plus an item to jog your memory)

Are you guilty of keeping a messy database?  Hire a high school kid to dig in and fix grammatical, spelling and other errors one night a week.  Within a couple months, you’ll be good to go.  And that’s when things get fun.

Related posts:
  • Paint My Heart and Take Away the Sadness
  • If selling is not a viable option, you need to fall in love with your house all over again
  • Another Sad Tale Of Another Unrepresented Buyer

  • 11 comments

    11 Comments so far

    1. [...] post this morning about CRM over at Bloodhound Blog by Mark Green is right on the mark.  Actually, though I hit all of the required information and [...]

    2. Mark Madsen May 24th, 2009 9:22 am

      Good job Mark. I’m one of those people you spoke to who didn’t backup outlook in time. I was getting around to it and then my computer crashed. Tough lesson to learn about procrastination.

    3. Brian Brady May 24th, 2009 10:57 am

      I’m guilty of #2. I have to play catch-up every quarter.

      I have a specific question about Top of Mind, Mark. I’m a new iPhone user and love the idea of a handheld POS device, integrated with CRM. Does Top of Mind plan to develop an iPhone app for data entry? If so, I suggest the LinkedIn functionality where the contact can be “copied” into the iPhone contact list

    4. Mark Green May 24th, 2009 2:05 pm

      >Does Top of Mind plan to develop an iPhone app for data entry?

      Hi Brian, we’re knee deep in development of our CMS (Contact Management System) component to Surefire right now. V. 1.0 is due out in 60 days. To answer your question, we’re planning on including Facebook and Twitter functionality in the short run. Linked In will probably end up in v. 2.0.

      You’ll be able to enter data into Surefire (Top of Mind), assign activity series, and make contact via FB and Twitter through the Top of Mind Interface. You’ll also be able to synch your DB/Calendar with your phone.

      Thanks for the question Brian.

    5. James Boyer May 24th, 2009 2:46 pm

      All very interesting ideas. I find myself correcting data entered by website visitors all the time. Many times is it just missing letters from e-mail domains, and stupid stuff like that.

    6. Jeff Brown May 25th, 2009 10:44 am

      Hey Mark — The gold later mined in detailed notes, especially from several conversations/emails, has sped up the process of relationship building big time. Good stuff.

    7. Sue Zanzonico May 25th, 2009 4:30 pm

      Mark and Mark…I have no clue how to backup Outlook, unless of course my Norton 360 is doing it.

      Keeping a tidy database with detailed notes helps alot down the road.

    8. Joe Loomer May 26th, 2009 4:15 am

      Awesome post Mark. I take #9 on your list very seriously indeed. If you can’t track who your core advocates are for your “A” clients, they’ll just stop referring to you if you’re not thanking them. I always keep in the front of my mind that it’s not their job to qualify my clients – so if I get an occassional dead deal off a referral, I still treat the advocate like gold.

    9. David Orsini May 26th, 2009 6:05 am

      Sue, this article gives pretty good step by step instructions on how to backup your Outlook. Once you follow these steps to create a ‘backup file’, you would want to burn that file to a CD and store it someplace safe. Then rinse and repeat maybe once a quarter or so.

      http://support.microsoft.com/kb/287070

    10. [...] Show me “Paint the Fence” – We have all heard people say, keep a good database. Mark Green takes a look at some basics when [...]

    11. Sue Zanzonico May 31st, 2009 8:08 pm

      Hey David, sorry I’m so late in responding on this, but thank you very much for the link. My Outlook files are soooo important.