“Where do I start?” is the most common question I get when discussing the use of CRM’s with folks. A CRM with hundreds if not thousands of contacts is overwhelming, especially if you don’t have any experience with a CRM, that specific CRM, or are just getting start with a CRM as a whole.

First, let me address the CRM. As I wrote here, you need a CRM to get referrals but that doesn’t mean you know which one to get, or how to get started. I won’t be addressing which one to get in this blog post, but I will be addressing how to get started with a CRM.

This is a big issue for most people!

I struggle with this too…let me share with you the process I deal with when I am writing a new speech.  I have so many ideas, focused on the goal of the talk, that I can’t seem to figure out where to start! My brain gets all mumbo jumbo about it and I lose track of all the ideas, and as a result, I get paralyzed into no action.  To overcome this, I start with a blank sheet of paper and I draw just one box. In that box I write “opening story” then I draw another box, and I attempt to fill that in. 

When I get another idea, I write it on the paper, allow me to still focus on the box but not lose the idea.

I refer to this as my baby steps of speech building!  By no means is my speech done when I have the boxes filled in. In fact, no speech of mine is EVER done. It grows over time. Hence the baby steps.

Remember those days of baby steps? Small little progress toward the end goal? Yeah, that’s what we need to do with our CRM software.

Here is a basic process to get started with your CRM:

  1. Pick One – I won’t recommend one in this post, just know that I use the free version of Hubspot CRM. Hubspot has it’s pros and cons like any other CRM’s. Whatever you decide on, just pick it and go.
  2. Install the CRM – eg…get an account
  3. Connect your email systems to your CRM. Many CRM’s allow for plugins or extensions so that all your emails are tracked. The benefit of this is the you can see when emails were sent to and from a particular contact, but even better, is that if the contact doesn’t exist, the CRM will create a new contact record and begin tracking activity from there.
  4. Let your CRM simmer for a few weeks. Don’t jump head into the CRM water, it will hurt and be quite frustrating.  Letting it sit for a few weeks will allow all your emails to track, create contacts, and it will give you data without you having to import it. I never recommend importing your data.  Long story, we can dig into that another day, just trust me when I tell you if you import your data you won’t use the CRM software!!!

Connecting your email is the key to getting started with baby steps. It’s generally very easy to do as there are lots of videos on YouTube and the CRM sites themselves.  Support is usually good at helping with installing the email tracking too.

Focus on the baby steps to get going with your CRM and you’ll have much more success than trying to import over 1000 contacts and trying to figure out how to update them all!

If you want to Fire Up Your Referrals you’ll want to grab these two resources.