Managing New Customer Contact with Software

I have always thought the money was in the follow up. When you start a new weld inspection company you spend the first couple months running around and meeting everyone letting them you exist and what you can offer. But after that initial phase how do you manage your follow up communication? Do you visit once and forget them? Visit once per year or what strategy? Let me now in the comments.

There is a large “CRM” fad in online marketing these days and I have to say I am a big fan of the software – I am just not a fan of the price. CRM stand for customer relationship management. These CRM packages generally have some sort of interface for you to enter your contacts into it and then record when you have a phone call or send an email. The idea is that all the communication is documented in one place so that any team member can participate/manage. Depending on how complicated the software is, and how tied it is into the rest of your operations there are a great deal more features that it can come with. For the basic company though I feel tracking last touch on customers is most important. Now, Im not here to sell you a CRM package, a quick google search will find you a million options with well planned out sales strategies. I’m just here to tell you that you need to do something.

Why Last Touch Means something:

We have all hear the sales myth that it takes 7-13 touches to make a sale.

  • Sales force says 6-8 touches to generate a sale
  • Online marketing institute says 7 – 13+

As I write this I am calling it a myth but I believe its true. The key failing point for me has always been how do you develop a system and strategy to deliver these 7 touches without forgetting, losing track or doubling up. If you are going to manage the process you need track a metric and for me balancing staying in touch with not being too annoying with your direct communication.  That’s why I choose to track days since last touch.

Days Since Last Touch:

For small companies without a huge sales force I don’t think you need a complicated strategy or a bunch of metrics. All you need to have is a list of people you would like to do business with and the days since they last heard from you. This way you can scan the list and reach out to people as required. It will also let you get familiar with how to deliver your communication as time passes. Out of sheer boredom you wont want to use the same communication platform every time. So how do you track this?

It is actually a little more difficult then pen and paper or a simple excel since you technically need a two dimensional array:

Array 1: You need a list of customers & contact info .

Array 2: List of communication attempts for each customer.

Because of this two dimensional array you might find using pen and paper, spreadsheets or any other manual process a bit difficult. Here are three strategies you could use:

Using Excel:

I have tried to use excel before with some success. It takes a bit to manage and isn’t very mobile friendly but its free so that’s nice. Basically use a table feature and on excel sheet per customer. The main dashboard shows days since last contact along with link to the customer sheet. You can scan the dashboard for info then click to go to a more detail information list for each customer. Its not a great system for 100s of entries since excel isn’t design to have that many sheets. Its functional and certainly somewhere you can start. You can download a copy of what I was using here:

Paid Online Systems:

There are a bunch of options here if you are ready for pay $20-150 a month you can get some powerful software packages. I would assume that if you were ready to spend $150 a month on a CRM system you probably have a well developed sales force and need an enterprise sales package. On the high end of functionality (and price) Sales Force, Microsoft Dynamic a bit more reasonably prices sugar CRM.  You can check out this page for a brief overview and each page has a pretty good video to watch but they are relentless about following up and know how to sell online so be careful where you put your contact info.

What I am using now:

These days I am using Hubspot’s free CRM online software ( . At previous jobs I have used the full hubspot suite and paid lots of money a month for but ironically never used their free CRM plug in. I would describe hubspot as a thought leader on modern sales techniques and have a great blog and even better software package. However, these days their free crm it’s a perfect starting point. Its quick to set up and easy to manage. There are apps you can download so you can enter information on the fly as you are working. It categorizes all contacts by customer name and company name and will even fish some information off google for you. The free version doesn’t have all the functionality of the software and it is desperately missing a decent dashboard but for the small companies you will find value in using anything rather than shopping around for a complicated software and then not using it properly. Get your feet wet here and move up when you are ready.

That’s it. I am still learning to use these tools to supercharge my sales but I like to share what I am working on and what I am thinking. I do think this is the answer to some common problems for many companies. For more reading check out this article on choosing a digital inspection program. If you like what you read here feel free to contact us. We are currently looking for Canadian inspection companies that need 3rd party engineering support. We offer competitive packages for certification services for cranes, manlift etc. Shoot me an email if you are thinking about getting into equipment certifications and need engineering support..