Two people adding a coat of paint to a contact sheet, representing contact management.
Contact Management 101: Everything You Need to Know
Two people adding a coat of paint to a contact sheet, representing contact management.

Contact Management 101: Everything You Need to Know

Sales and customer support teams deal with lots of people — all at the same time. If you’re in one of these roles, you work with dozens or hundreds of people at a time, nurturing leads, closing sales, and keeping customers happy. Keeping track of that many people is no small task. There’s no way to do it by memory, and we’re way past the days of Rolodexes or business cards. Even a basic spreadsheet often won’t cut it anymore. To assist customers, convert leads, and work with people at scale, you need a powerful way to keep track of and organize their information. And that’s exactly what contact management is! 

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about contact management and how it can help your customer-facing teams get more done.. Keep reading for the full breakdown. 

What is contact management?

Contact management means collecting, storing, and organizing the contact details of people who are important to your business. Although that’s most commonly existing and prospective customers, it could also be vendors, investors, stakeholders, or even employees. 

For businesses that deal with people, contact management is often a necessity. When you have thousands of leads or customers who need support, just remembering who they are is obviously not an option. 

Contact management doesn’t need to be complicated — a paper or Excel spreadsheet can be used to create a basic contact management system. But these simple methods won’t always suit the needs of most modern businesses. 

The more contacts you need to organize, the more important it becomes to find a powerful, dedicated solution — usually contact management software — that gives you the functionality you need to work with people at scale. Often, that’s part of a customer relationship management system, or CRM, but we’ll get to that in a minute. 

Why you need contact management

If your business is storing someone’s contact information, it’s because they matter. New buyers, happy customers, and investors are all important people who can move your business forward. 

With an efficient contact management system,  you can connect with these people as efficiently as possible and make every interaction smooth, productive, and positive. Contact management solutions, especially software, do this in a variety of ways. 

Here are three major advantages of contact management software:

Centralized data 

Contact management software often stores your contacts in one broadly accessible virtual location. That way, anyone in your company who needs to contact someone can easily find their information. 

Organized and searchable

Analog methods of managing contacts are often organized alphabetically, by name. But virtual solutions are usually searchable! You’ll be able to filter contacts by important attributes, like the contact’s location, age, or customer status. 

Integration and automation

Many contact management software systems are built to work with your team’s other processes. For example, they may harvest contacts directly from your email, or integrate with your scheduling platform. 

Managing contacts and customer relationships — what’s the difference? 

If contact management is the Prius that gets you to work every day, then customer relationship management (CRM) software is a flying car. 

Like contact management software, a CRM tool helps businesses keep track of their leads and customers. But CRM systems take it much further, allowing companies to track all their interactions with that customer. This gives them a holistic, big-picture view of their relationship and buyer journey. 

If you’ve ever received a call back from a customer service agent who already knew what you needed, they were using CRM software. 

CRM systems augment their contact management capability with functions like: 

Enhanced tracking

Usually, a record of all the customer’s company interactions will be stored in the CRM system, such as their purchase history and conversations with customer support

Analytics and reporting

Many CRM tools translate customer data into meaningful insights and predictions that are easier to understand. For example, they may assign prospective leads a rating indicating their likelihood to buy. 

Advanced automation 

This functionality goes beyond what’s offered by contact management-only systems. It’s usually geared to sales and marketing teams. It might include automated marketing emails or prompts to follow up with contacts at certain stages of their buyer journey. 

5 CRM and contact management tools

Hubspot CRM

This free software is one of the most popular choices out there for contact and customer relationship management. It’s user–friendly and offers features like reporting, scheduling, live chat, and deal tracking along with contact management. 

Zoho Bigin 

This small business CRM software is perfect for companies already using Zoho’s other apps, like Zoho Mail, Forms, Booking, and Notebook. The idea is to make your pipeline more efficient and less confusing by storing all your prospect information, from email to tweets, in one place. 

Streak

If you need seamless Google integration, this is the contact management tool for you. You’ll be able to store customer emails, call logs, files, and notes as well as just contact information.

Pipedrive 

This is a CRM designed specifically for salespeople. With features like automatic data-gathering from LinkedIn and lead pre-qualifying, it’ll have you closing more deals than ever. 

Nutshell

Nutshell is designed as a single, secure place for your business to store all its customer data. Contact details, call logs, email notes, and more will all be easily accessible to whoever needs them. With a particular focus on B2B companies, it’s simple, affordable, and hassle-free to set up. 

Grow your relationships

At the end of the day, work is about person-to-person connection. But with a little high-tech magic, you might find it’s easier than ever to help your customers, close your deals, and reach your business goals. 

If you’re looking to level up how you manage all your contact information, the tools in this article are a great place to start — no business cards or spreadsheets required!