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Way back in the early 2000’s I was working as a Mortgage Broker in Sonoma County at my buddy’s mortgage company.

Now I am not the most organized person in the world, but I did have my own system of reminders for important dates, and memorization of details for important client information. I would use lots of paper, tape things to the walls, write on my white board, and I had a haphazard filing system that gave me a false sense of being well organized. 

I was not using a CRM at the time and had no idea that in a few short years I would have my own CRM company.

Act! and Goldmine

I had tried to use the old stand-by CRM’s that were all software based back then: Act! And Goldmine. This was the time when you would load software on to your physical computer. There was no “cloud”, no Internet, and no Software as a Service (SaaS).  I was getting pretty good at customizing Act! but I found I spent more time fiddling around with the software than really getting any benefit from it.

The Importance of CRM Reminders

 Sometime in the early Spring, I spoke with a client who told me they were going to be doing a refinance some time that Summer. Now back then, even 20 years ago, I could easily make $5000 or more by helping someone refinance their mortgage. But when someone tells you they are going to do something several months from now, that fact loses urgency, as we are all focused on what we can sell today. 
If I had AllClients back then, it would have been a simple 5 minute exercise to pull up that contact, add a note to document our conversation and then set a todo reminder to call him back starting in May or June. Since I wasn’t using a CRM at the time, I wrote down a reminder note for myself and stashed it… well, who knows where!
Fast forward to the Summer and sometime in July I remembered about this client and the conversation I had way back in the early Spring. I picked up the phone and called him, hoping it was time to get started on his refinance. Here is what he said:
“Oh, Hi Jeff – yeah, we just finished our refinance. I was going to use you, but I got this flyer from another mortgage broker and we just went ahead with her.”
My heart sank and I was kicking myself for weeks after that. 
That refinance would have put about $6000 in my pocket if I just had an online CRM software to help me with reminders and follow up.

A Simple CRM is the Solution

After hanging up the phone with my client, I would have logged our conversation into the CRM and set a reminder to start calling in May (a couple months before he said he was going to do the refinance). 

Then I would have started sending him a monthly newsletter just to keep myself in his conscience. A newsletter is great for this purpose: once a month, my name is in front of the client, including all my contact information making it easy for the client to remember me and to reach out to me at the proper time.     

CRM’s today go way beyond looking up contact information, adding notes and setting reminders. However, even the most basic CRM would have helped me retain this client. 

Don’t be intimidated by all the things your CRM can do. Just make sure you are using it for the fundamental things you need in your small business marketing:

  1. Have a single place to put all of your client information. 
  2. Use your online CRM software to look up client demographics
  3. Add notes when you talk to a client
  4. Use the todo system to set reminders of important events

If you commit to do just those 4 things you will be ahead of 90% of the small businesses trying to improve in the area of sales and marketing.

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