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Your Database: Your Most Valuable Asset!

posted 22 Sep 2010, 05:55 by Sam Mbale

Your most valuable asset is not the money in your bank
account. Your most valuable asset is what you know about
your customers - because that will lead to more money in the
bank. Money in the bank is good. But it's more important to
consistently generate more. Money in your bank reflects what
you did yesterday. Knowledge about your customers determines
what you will do today and tomorrow.

If your business depends on strong relationships then you
need information to maintain and strengthen those
relationships.  Maybe that's why some companies call this
process "CRM" - Customer Relationship Management. It's just
a sexy term for simple database management.

Some say that information is valuable. Not by itself.
Relevant information about your customers is not only
valuable but vital to the growth of your business.

If you know who your customers are - you know whom to call.
If you know what your customers want - you know what to
offer them. If you know when your customers want it - you
know when to offer it. If you know your customers'
challenges you can help them. If you know your customers'
concerns you know how to sell to them. The more you
understand your customers' habits, environment and
personality - you can more likely anticipate their needs and
wants.

Today it is imperative that you maintain a useful database
of customer information. A database is a record of
information. Here are a few examples of databases: the
yellow pages, a recipe book, a shopping list, a game
schedule and a TV guide.

The Rolodex, a simple database system, worked very well
However, today technology allows us to get more from our
customer databases. We put it on the computer. There are
many computer databases you can choose from.

Criteria in selecting your database
Your database is a combination of: name and address book,
phone book, journal, bring- forward (tickler) file, idea
file, activity planning tool, business map and to-do list.

In selecting your database consider these basic needs:
It should be simple to update information.
Information must be found quickly.
There must be multiple search methods.
If more than one person can update information it must name
and date stamp the update.
You can categorize contacts by different groups.
Contacts can be part of more than one group.
You can set date and time sensitive reminders
It tracks history of contact details.

When more people need access to your database you will have
additional needs concerning access, security and timeliness.


Typical questions about a customer database:
Who should be in your database?
What information should be in your database?
How can you use your database?
How else can you leverage your database?
How do you protect your database?

Who should be in your database?
Almost everybody. For example: everybody you ever did
business with, everybody you expect to do business with, and
everybody who might influence those you do or might do
business with.

Your database might include clients and prospects, but also:
media, suppliers, association leaders, community leaders,
corporate executives, associates and competitors. Some of
these might also be clients or prospects. But others can
influence your clients and prospects. You want to keep track
of them - and influence them.

What information should be in your database?
It depends on your business. you might include:  details of
every business transaction;  details of every discussion,
meeting, and bid; alternate contacts including assistants,
associates and superiors; personal details about family,
likes, dislikes, activities, education, alma mater, awards
received, association memberships, significant dates;
information about their customers; all promises you made to
them; all promises they made to you; your feelings about the
person and company; notes that trigger your memory about
their appearance or character; where you took them for lunch
and who paid etc.

Get the idea?

Maintaining your database might feel boring - but the
results you get from it can be very exciting and profitable.


How can you use your database?
This is the exciting part. Using your database allows you to
think and plan your activity then follow the plan
systematically.

Use the reminders in your database to remind you of the next
step. For example: depending on the contact, you might set
the reminders to tell you to call regarding status in two
weeks, send more information in 3 months, or meet to renew
the contract in one year. By setting these reminders no one
falls through the cracks. Of course you must check your
database every day.

When you contact your client or prospect you can quote what
you both said the last time, then move quickly forward with
your follow-up discussion. When you talk with them you don't
need to rely on memory. Instead you have the details about
the relationship on your computer. You can tell them, "You
paid for lunch last time - this one is mine." You can ask
them about the project they were working on, their
daughter's soccer tournament or their anniversary vacation
in Hawaii.

How else can you leverage your database?
More excitement. Use their past behaviours and buying habits
to predict future patterns and behaviours. Remind them before
they realize they need you again.

Segment your database into categories. Not all of your
customers are equal. Not all of your prospects are equal. So
don't treat them equally. Some deserve more attention than
others so allocate your resources and time appropriately.
Some you contact every month - some only twice a year. Send
special offers to your best customers. Send postcards to
your hottest prospects.

How do you protect your database?
This is the most boring part. Until you don't do it and
things go wrong. Then watch the excitement fly. Your
computer only works for you part of the time. The rest of
the time it is scheming to make your life miserable.
Everything from viruses, power glitches, general freeze-ups,
and other nasty pestilences that are inflicted upon us by the
gremlins of technology.

But you can prevent these pains by backing-up your database
- regularly. Backing up your database might seem boring and
time consuming. So ensure it happens regularly by making it
a habit. Better still make it an addiction. You will thank
your foresight one day.

Who wins?
It's not the information that determines who wins. It is the
innovative use of that information that makes you different
from your competitors. In the game of chess everyone knows
the rules, all the previous moves of the game and all the
possible moves. The one who wins is the one who understands
the relevance of that information and makes the best use of
it.

About the Author:

© George Torok helps business grow. He is co-author of
Secrets of Power Marketing. Get your free copy of "50 Power
Marketing Ideas" at http://www.PowerMarketing.ca  You can
learn more about his speaking and training programs at
http://www.Torok.com  To discuss your needs and how he can
help you call 800-304-1861



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