Successful CRM Recipes for the Small Business Owner


Many small business owners and sales representatives need a better way to manage customer relationships and leads. They recognize that a CRM system can improve their efficiency. However, many independent business people such as freelancers, contractors, architects, real estate agents and others don’t need or want a costly and complex, subscription-based CRM system in the cloud. Or, sales professionals need a good way to store their own contact and CRM data if they were ever to leave their current company and lose that important information.

Today, we’re focusing on high-value CRM recipes for independent business owners and sales representatives. These recipes are meant to help you prospect, engage, plan, acquire and retain happy customers who refer your business to others.

Building Prospecting Lists, Forming Relationships and Engaging with Customers

Many leads come from marketing efforts such as website, digital advertising, social media, events and other types of media such as print, radio and television. These marketing activities vary depending on a company’s budget, type of business, sales process and other factors. Additionally, business owners and sales representatives regularly practice prospecting on their own in order to generate quality leads and to fill the pipeline. Keep reading to learn about CRM recipes for managing leads, building prospecting lists and forming relationships with customers and contacts through engagement.

CRM Recipe 1: Use Personal Relationship Strategies for Prospecting

Business owners and sales reps use relationship-oriented strategies to build their prospecting lists. Some strategies include:

  • Following up with current customers and asking for referrals
  • Networking events
  • Trading contacts with colleagues and other business owners
  • Following up with warm leads
  • Networking with friends

These strategies are highly effective for discovering new leads. It’s important to use a CRM or contact manager that supports easy organization of this type of prospecting data. In this post, I’ll discuss the many ways to organize contact data with examples.

In addition to the above list, there are many effective strategies for utilizing social media, which are outlined below.

CRM Recipe 2: Mine Social Networks for Leads

Smart business owners and sales reps hang out where their customers and potential customers come together, and they know that social media highly impacts decisions when making purchases. In fact, according to, 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Social media strategies include:

  • Reaching out to potential clients on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks
  • Becoming part of groups and online communities where buyers congregate
  • Sharing knowledge across social networks
  • Branding themselves as experts or thought leaders

Finding where your customers “hang out” online is a great way to generate leads, but can be challenging. Let’s say you build marketing solutions for Realtors and you want to find new clients. You can start by listening to their social media conversations. Get to know these people by monitoring common real estate keywords and lists on Twitter. For example, monitor hashtags, such as #realestate and public real estate lists. Eventually you will discover people to follow and with whom to interact.

The LifeTopix app includes an “Inboxes” view for monitoring information that you wish to gather in one place. Examples of the Inboxes view, how to configure social results for keywords from hashtags, and how to configure results from public lists (within specified timeframes) are shown below.

CRM Recipe 3: Organize CRM Data for Efficiency

Keeping track of contact data can be challenging. For example, how do you keep all this information in one place and how do you remember to follow up in a timely manner. CRM features that can be helpful for doing this include:

  • Custom contact groups
  • Custom statuses
  • Custom filters based on your business criteria
  • Custom fields based on status or groups
  • Alerts, such as reminders

The table below shows an example of how groups, statuses and form fields for contact data might be set up for a small sales organization or individual. Every business is different, but this gives you an idea of how you can organize contact data. The below representation is a very high-level division. You can further divide contacts by areas of focus, size of companies, demographics and other segments.

Businesses Vendor, Partner N/A
Clients Won Orders (date and price); Customer Satisfaction (1-5)
Top Clients Won Orders (date and price); Customer Satisfaction (1-5)
Family N/A N/A
Leads Won, Suspect, Ready to Buy, Prospect – Hot, Not Ready to Buy, Lost, Dead Lead Decision Maker (Yes/No)
Personal Contacts Colleague, Friend N/A
Sales Team Current, Past Territory (East, West, North and South)

Below, you can view examples of contact data in LifeTopix and how it is organized. The images show examples of groups, statuses, forms and fields that can be used for customer acquisition and retention.

CRM Recipe 4: Filter Using Custom Form Fields to Find Leads to Work

Sales reps and business owners are more efficient and productive when they easily know which leads to work. In addition, customer retention and renewals are also an important aspect of sales. For example, customer interaction should not be a one-time event. You should know the right times to contact current customers for renewals or referrals.

Filtering is an excellent way to find the leads to work and customers to contact. For example, setting filters that include criteria such as “Ready to Buy” and “Decision Maker” can help easily determine who to contact, first. Furthermore, setting time-based filters to display current customers that require follow-up can ensure that these customers become return customers.

For example, you might set up the following types of filters:

  • Leads who haven’t been contacted in a specified period of time
  • Customers who haven’t been followed-up with to check on customer satisfaction or who might be a source for referrals
  • Leads who are ready to buy
  • Customers in a focus area that purchase seasonally (e.g. wedding seasons, holidays or during the start of a school year)

An example of a filter for “Hot Leads” who are “Decision Makers” is shown below.

CRM Recipe 5: Plan Schedules and Actions Around Contacts

If you want to be productive and efficient in sales, it’s helpful when your calendar is closely integrated with your contact manager or CRM system. This way, you can plan and view scheduled appointments and other activities associated with your contacts. Many CRM systems synchronize with your Google or Outlook Calendar; however, they are not tightly integrated.

You’re more efficient when you can view actions and supporting information such as reminders, appointments, expenses, tasks, notes, files, and bookmarks directly from contact records, as opposed to searching for that supporting information elsewhere.

CRM Recipe 6: Engage With Customers and Potential Customers for Acquisition and Retention

As mentioned earlier, customer engagement is an important aspect for keeping customers happy and turning them into advocates for your business. Ways to keep customers engaged is to:

  • Conduct customer satisfaction surveys to find VIPs
  • Offer loyalty programs and rewards for referrals
  • Offer a way for customers to provide ongoing feedback
  • Provide free, educational content
  • Offer fast and quality customer service
  • Follow-up with customers frequently

Engaging with contacts who are leads is also important for new customer acquisition. A contact manager with Social CRM features can help you engage with your contacts and listen to what they’re saying over social networks. Information is power. When you know more about the people you are working with, you can have meaningful conversations.

The following images show examples of social CRM features in the LifeTopix app. Essentially, I’m showing enriched customer contact records with the ability to make real-time engagement. In addition, you can view different ways to communicate with a selected user over social networks directly from the app.

LifeTopix is available at the Apple App Store

In-app purchases are required for some features described in this blog post.

Marilyn Rogers

Marilyn Rogers

Marketing Director

Marilyn is the Marketing Director at LightArrow, Inc., the makers of LifeTopix, a complete productivity app and organizer available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. She is a regular contributor to the Life Blog from LightArrow, which is a blog dedicated to sharing tips and tricks about LightArrow products, personal productivity, time management, organization, and getting things done.

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  3. […] Many small business owners and sales representatives need a better way to manage customer relationships and leads. They recognize that a CRM system ca  […]

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