Adding Contacts to Your CRM – Part Three

Different CRMs call them different things. Category, Contact Type, Classification, Group, etc. It is a field that identifies what that person’s relationship is to you. Buyer-Past, Seller-Active, Gold Partner, Title Rep, Mortgage Processor, etc. For you to truly interact with your database in an expedient, accurate, and profitable manner, being able to categorize your contacts is at the core of what you are trying to accomplish. Your CRM should at least have the ability to add as many categories as you choose, and be able to include a contact in as many categories as you need.

Optimally there would be another field in addition to Categories that could be specifically for Demographics. By that I mean things like Hobbies, Favorite Sports, Favorite Sports Team, College Attended, Favorite Cuisine, etc. These are the kinds of things you would track to do highly personalized SOI follow up. You can and will likely have to track those kinds of things in the categories field, but it’s much more clean and simple to have them separate.

If you have never used categories much or are just beginning to, this may sound like the ravings of an overly analytical mind with too much time on their hands. Alternatively, if you are now in a position where your categories are a mess or getting there, you get it. For those of you in the first group, if you don’t pay attention here, you will likely end up like those in the second. I worked with a team one time to help them install a CRM, learn it, and then set up transaction management plans. We discussed this subject but they clearly did not take it to heart. One year later they called me to come back and help them clean up their categories. They had over 400, many of which were redundant, and no one was using them consistently.

Keep in mind that you want to have an organized rational approach to adding categories. Think it out first before you start adding them haphazardly. If you are working in a team, there should be one person who is designated the Category Cop. That person is the only one permitted to add or delete categories, either on their own or by committee review/agreement. If you have a team, there should be a team meeting to discuss new categories that are added, so everyone is clear about the intent for how they are to be used.

I am in the process of creating educational videos and this topic will be one of the first that I do because to do it in print here in the detail that it deserves would be too long.  So we’ll cover two aspects today.

To get started, consider the following core categories:

  1. Buyer Prospect Residential
  2. Buyer Active Residential
  3. Buyer Pending Residential
  4. Buyer Past Residential
  5. Seller Prospect Residential
  6. Seller Active Residential
  7. Seller Pending Residential
  8. Seller Past Residential
  9. Buyer Prospect Land
  10. Buyer Active Land
  11. Buyer Pending Land
  12. Buyer Past Land
  13. Seller Prospect Land
  14. Seller Active Land
  15. Seller Pending Land
  16. Seller Past Land
  17. Buyer Prospect Commercial
  18. Buyer Active Commercial
  19. Buyer Pending Commercial
  20. Buyer Past Commercial
  21. Seller Prospect Commercial
  22. Seller Active Commercial
  23. Seller Pending Commercial
  24. Seller Past Commercial
  25. Buyer Settled 20XX(XX = year /closed/settled)
  26. Seller Settled 20XX(XX = year /closed/settled)
  27. Buyer Commercial Settled 20XX(XX = year /closed/settled)
  28. Seller Commercial Settled 20XX(XX = year /closed/settled)
  29. Buyer Land Settled 20XX(XX = year /closed/settled)
  30. Buyer Land Settled 20XX(XX = year /closed/settled)

There are many more variations on these and we haven’t even started on ancillary services like title company, mortgage company, etc. Then you have hobbies, sports teams, and on and on.

One primary goal is to limit the number of categories whenever possible. When you have a very large list to go through just to assign the proper categories to a new contact, it can get tedious and people tend to resist doing it and being accurate.

A perfect example is that the categories above can be entered as seen, but that means having 31 just for a start. Instead consider the following list. Then when you want to find a certain group of contacts, you can do a quick and simple search combining them. For example; Buyer, Residential, Past, Settled 2012.

  1. Buyer
  2. Seller
  3. Residential
  4. Commercial
  5. Land
  6. Prospect
  7. Active
  8. Pending
  9. Past
  10. Settled 20XX

We just reduced the list from 30 to 10 !!!

This concept should be carried out throughout the categories. It drastically reduces them in number, and makes it much easier to follow.

We’ll address one more of the many issues. In order to be this detailed with categories and keep an accurate record of who is whom, you need to have a way of insuring that the category gets changed when it should. The easiest way is to use your activity plans. If you are using them to track your listings and closings, just add the status changes into those plans.

For example in a closing plan, you would have a closing activity that would come up on your to-do list that said Change category from Pending to Past.

Enough on Categories for now. If you are not on my mailing list and would like to be notified when I start my video series, just shoot me an email and let me know.

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