In today’s economy, relationships are everything. Now more than ever you need a CRM, a customer relationship management system. Why? The quality of relationships you have with your clients and your prospects is directly related to the success of your business — directly related. If you want to win in this economy, then focusing your time and energy on developing healthy, high-quality relationships needs to be your priority in 2012.  CRMs are one of the most effective tools you have to make that happen.

CRMs offer you the opportunity to house all of your customer information in one place, and push you (yes, push you) to do regular, consistent follow-up with key customers, prospects, and key influencers on a consistent basis. Every day you need to be making contact with a variety of people who can help you expand your network and grow your business. CRMs help you do that, sending “gentle” reminders to make that call. They help you track your progress, and they help you keep up with the important information you are gathering from those conversations. That in and of itself, tracking the important information from those conversations, is worth its weight in gold.

There is one big challenge with CRMs: You have to actually use them in order for them to be effective. Yes, I will admit it is one more thing you have to add to your already over-filled to-do list.   You have to enter the data, update your progress, follow-up on the reminders and track your use. However, the time you spend doing that will yield a high rate of return on investment. Think about it. How much time do you spend looking for contact information, or trying to make a list of who you should call today, or worrying about when and how you will follow up with a prospect who is not quite ready to make a decision? If you tracked all of that in your CRM, you would not only save time, but you would rest easier and put yourself in position to gain new business when that client is ready to move.

There are a variety of CRMs you can choose from: Highrise, Sales Force, SalesNexusInfusionsoft , the list is endless. To me, the tool does not matter as much as the commitment to get started! So do your Google search, do your homework, sign up for a CRM and get started!