An important part of building your business is building relationships with your potential clients and maintaining relationships with existing clients. Most people appreciate it when you seem to remember things about past conversations. It makes them feel imporant and heard by you.
Regardless of whether you have an impressive memory or not, the savvy marketer knows to keep notes. Try it out! If they ask you how you know about a particular detail, just remind them that they mentioned it in a previous conversation.
What kinds of things should you keep track of? Start with the basics like contact information. Then move on to work related information and finally finish with what seems important to them. If their kids come up in a business conversation, it is safe to assume that this is a topic which is important to them. Respect peoples privacy. If you don't know an answer, simply ask BUT never dig for Personal information. Some people prefer to keep their private lives separate from their business.
- Basics: Name (Ms, Mrs for women), company name, position/title, telephone number, fax number, email address, website, LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter/Blog. Note the best time of the day/week/month to contact them and their best and prefered way to be reached. I also like to track when and how I meet someone as well as the last time I spoke to them (and method). Keep track of relevant conversation details and set a reminder date to follow up with them. If you promise to follow up on something, schedule it right away. Always do what you say you are going to do. If you say you are going to call, then call. If you say you are going to deliver, then deliver. This is important in establishing and maintaining trust. If you can't be relied upon for the minor stuff, how will they be able to trust you with the important stuff?
- Business: Type of business, approximate business revenues, upcoming projects, busy and quiet seasons, competitors, business model, target market, available budget, which of your services are a good match for their business requirements. This information can help you predict your clients needs, anticipate issues and ensure that your clients needs are always meet before they even realize they needed you. It will also help ensure that your clients don't end up looking for someone else just because it had been too long since you last spoke with them. Keeping track of their one, five and ten year plan will help you ensure a long and mutually beneficial relationship. Such information will help you plan your own business as well. Be sure to also track any user names/passwords that are provided to you.
- Personal: Birthdays (send a birthday card!) and other important dates, kids names/ages and involvement in activities (ask how a particular previously mentioned activity went), hobbies, events. A photo of them is always helpful in remembering what they look like when meeting in 6 or 12 months.
Security: Always keep such information backed-up and in an encrypted/password protected location. Most people would not appreciate it if your confidential profile of them ever got out into the wild.
What type of client information do you find useful to keep track of?