As the co-inventor of ACT! contact management software, the product credited as the catalyst for the Customer Relationship Management industry, I’m surprisingly not a champion of the concept of “managing relationships” at all. I don’t think entering data, scheduling activities, or even communicating with someone amounts to “management” in a meaningful way. Even if the concept of managing customer relationships were the premise for the industry, the actual result is a method of “keeping tabs” on salespeople.
Networking Isn’t the Answer
Your net worth is often derived from your network. However, regardless of industry, the quality of your connections trumps the sheer quantity of names in your database. Submitting a report that you called, met, or emailed a contact shows activity, yes, but it doesn’t necessarily demonstrate the true value of that connection. Numbers on a spreadsheet or notes on a communication log can’t represent the intrinsic aspects of our human interactions. Building and maintaining relationships requires time, intensity, trust, and reciprocity, none of which are accurately reflected by a status report.
Manage Your Reputation Instead
If you can’t manage others to achieve success, how do you get there? Success comes from managing your own actions and positively influencing their perception of you. In other words, managing your reputation! This new perspective requires a very slight shift, from Customer Relationship Management to Customer Reputation Management. You can manage the ways in which you build and maintain the perception of your reputation with customers and prospects. When you demonstrate professionalism, concern, and commitment to helping others succeed, trust is the result. Trust that the other person is important enough to you to record the details you learn about them. Trust that you will do what you say that you will do. Trust that may even earn you that all-coveted referral.
The Deciding Factor
You may not be able to manage another person simply by entering information in a software application, but if you use those tools to remember the details others forget, you’ll stand apart from your competitors who may or may not offer a better product or service. With each interaction, you can prove that all things being equal, your reputation is the deciding factor.
Reputation Management 101
Maintaining your reputation requires discernment, diligence, and discipline in each of the relationships you’ve built. As your relationships grow stronger, so will your reputation. The foundation of authenticity and trust, once established must be furthered. Every entrepreneur is a business, a personal brand.
So how do you enhance your reputation in your everyday interactions? Remembering and referencing the little details you learn about someone communicates their importance to you. Scheduling and keeping meetings and appointments lets others know you value their time as much as your own. Following through on your promises to send information or materials earns their trust.
Remember, the quality of your reputation, whether good or bad, will be reflected by your overall success. Looking at it from that perspective intensifies the reasons to use relationship management and organizational tools. After all, who doesn’t want to put their best foot forward? Especially when it impacts your bottom-line! Customer Relationship Management systems can only help you to manage contacts, calendars, and communications, but when you do so with diligence and professionalism, the natural result is a good reputation.
Relationship management expert Mike Muhney was the co-inventor of ACT! Contact Software, the catalyst for today’s CRM Industry. Today, he is the CEO & co-founder of VIPorbit Software, creators of mobile contact and calendar management apps for iPhone, iPad and Mac. Learn more at www.viporbit.com.
Download VIPOrbit from the iTunes app store here.