Database Notes - Looking Back to Plan Ahead

Sales Management CRM
Sales Management CRM

Lost my Words.

When your CRM is new, no matter where you save your notes they are of high value because you can go find and read them easily. Twelve months and hundreds of notes later, you have a problem. It's hard to find the information you need because you now have a significant amount of data to wade through. It needs some planning at the beginning.

Too Much

In the 1990's, I had a CRM with a notes tab, no date stamp and no search field. I would print all of the notes of the client and sit there with a highlighter and pen scribbling all over the printout to piece together the snippets of information I needed.

Too Little

Then came activities, appointments, next actions, calls, events, tasks. Let's call them actionable tasks. It was so exciting to have the flexibility to have my notes in separate sections. There was a small notes field in the little activity data entry screen for relationship notes and work details. Actionable tasks were constantly created and closed off - just fantastic for managing a busy day. Yet again caught out by the volume of data over the course of a year I found that my writing about the big picture, strategies, processes and relationship information were scattered all over the place among dozens of separate tasks and the database reports were not able to reassemble them in a connected, meaningful way.

Just Right

Maybe the actionable tasks in your database should be lightweight with sparse notes, no deep and meaningful stuff. Of course low volume of notes will work in the main notes area but some people will need the main notes separated into relationship notes, sales notes, quotation/proposal/tender notes, follow up strategy/competitor monitoring notes and implementation/delivery notes - or divvied up some other way. Main notes management will be the topic of another post.

And the Point is?

The people who pound the keyboards have to be made aware of the problem with notes as a source of information after twelve months of heavy data entry. With that understanding they will explain exactly how they want their notes stored.

Every business I have done CRM work for has been different. There is no way that one CRM configuration will work for all. It has to be a good fit or be modified. Sometimes the right fit can be a workaround or will need analyst/programmers involved. Sometimes the simplest, standard CRM will fit perfectly.

A CRM database, in all of its many manifestations, is a client's business tool to improve processes.