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An introduction to contact management apps (and how to find the best one for your business)

Contact Management App
What is a contact management app and how will it help me?
How to find the best contact management app for your business: 7 essential qualities
Final thoughts

Effective contact management enables smooth workflows, positive customer experiences and impactful business decisions.

When starting out, you might use Excel or Google Sheets to organize small volumes of customer and other contact data. However, as your business grows and you gather more information, it’ll get difficult to:

  • Find the insights you need efficiently

  • Keep data consistent and accurate

  • Comply with data privacy regulations

The solution is to invest in dedicated contact management software.

In this article, you’ll learn how contact management apps work and how to find the best one for your business and sales team.

What is a contact management app and how will it help me?

A contact management app is software businesses can use to store and organize customer information, like names, phone numbers and social media handles. It’s like a digital business card library or address book.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is an advanced contact management tool that allows users to:

  • Store and organize lead and customer data

  • Automate workflows

  • Track interactions

  • Map sales pipelines

Using a contact management app or CRM tool rather than spreadsheets allows you to tackle several of the above tasks and more simultaneously. Let’s explore a few in detail.

Streamline contact management processes

Having a dedicated location for storing customer information will streamline data entry, grant you easier access to useful data and simplify editing processes.

Instead of having to find a specific document or Excel sheet, you can go to the same app every time and immediately:

  • Understand how it works

  • Know where to find the most useful data

  • Have the necessary access

With less time spent searching for files and seeking permissions, you and your team can focus on building valuable relationships and effective sales strategies.

Paint a clearer picture of your audience

A well-formatted, easily accessible contact database will help you better understand your target audience.

With a clearer view of leads and customers, you’ll know where and how to interact with them for the best chances of engagement.

With all data in one place, it’ll be easier to identify patterns in:

  • Social media use. Pinpoint which platforms are most popular. If 80% of your contact records include Twitter profiles but only 20% have LinkedIn data, Twitter’s likely the better place to find and engage leads.

  • Communication preferences. A “phone number” field that’s usually empty in your contact management app implies your audience may prefer email communication. An advanced tool might show that leads further in your sales process are more willing to provide phone numbers, in which case you could have reps call these contacts to increase engagement.

  • Location. Find where your contacts are based. If the same major cities keep popping up, you could hire remote salespeople to cover these areas in person.

Centralize customer data to keep teams aligned

Sales and marketing teams can use a contact management app as a single source of truth. That allows for data-informed decisions, leading to more valuable customer experiences.

Say two salespeople with relevant specialisms are working on the same lead. One prepares for a meeting using handwritten notes, while the other relies on an outdated spreadsheet. With inconsistent insights, they recommend different products and confuse the buyer into going cold.

A contact management app would keep both reps aligned. They could read the same interaction history to learn about the buyer’s challenges and preferences and then appear unified in any interaction.

How to find the best contact management app for your business: 7 essential qualities

To determine which contact management app will work best for your business, think about what you struggle to do with your current solution.

For example, Google Contacts and Microsoft Outlook are great as digital address books but don’t allow you to track leads through your sales pipeline like a CRM tool can.

Even CRM software can fall short if it doesn’t have the right integrations or a mobile app.

With that in mind, here are seven things to look for in a contact management system:

1. Ease of use

The best contact management apps help to keep sales and marketing processes smooth and efficient.

When team members can input, access and edit contact information with minimal training or support, they can focus on selling your business and its products.

Look to case studies and impartial reviews for honest takes on how easy a platform is to use. Industry media is a great place to start.

Take PCMag’s Pipedrive review, for example. It reads:

Pipedrive CRM improves its small business-focused solution with advanced capabilities, chatbot creation for websites and efficient reporting. But as we've seen with previous iterations, ease of use remains one of Pipedrive CRM's best features.

The Motley Fool also recognized Pipedrive as “the easiest CRM to use”.

As well as helping existing reps and marketers work faster, an easy-to-use contact management tool or simple CRM will save time during onboarding. New starters can get up to speed quickly, learning about your target audience and accessing the data they need to deliver valuable buyer interactions.

2. Mobile apps and browser support

Make sure your contact management tool has mobile apps for Android and Apple’s iOS (iPhone), as the ability to access contact data on the move will help your team to be more productive.

This kind of mobility is more important than ever. Pipedrive’s latest The State of Sales and Marketing report reveals that the growth of remote and hybrid work has been the biggest shift since the Covid-19 pandemic. 61% of respondents surveyed said that Covid-19 had a lasting impact on their company’s working conditions. 43% said they work mostly from home. The easier it is to use a contact management app away from the office, the more likely team members will record and use data properly. That’ll help to create a more accurate picture of your customer base and sales pipeline.

Your tool should have a web app, too – one that staff can use to get the data they need from anywhere with a secure internet connection by logging in through Chrome, Firefox or another browser.

Don’t just take the provider’s product info as evidence of mobile CRM or browser support. Use a free trial to test platforms out on the devices your team uses most.

3. Free trials

Free trials allow you to test different tools without making any financial commitments.

Many providers offer free trials that let you access either:

  • The full version of their app for a specified time

  • A restricted version of their app for as long as you like

Both trial types have their benefits but access to a full version is more likely to help you make the right decision when comparing options.

Before signing up to try a product, consider exactly how you’ll test it and how you’ll measure its effectiveness. That way, you’ll maximize the short time you have.

An A/B test is ideal when replacing an older solution or comparing two new ones. Simply complete the same contact management process (or series of processes) through two or more similar contact apps and record the results.

Simple data entry tasks are useful. For example, you could ask a rep to upload five new business contacts from a recent networking event:

  1. Following their existing process

  2. Using a new tool in trial mode

You might then score performance on:

  • Speed

  • User-friendliness

  • Accuracy

Always involve team members in your testing as they’ll use your chosen tool daily. Collect their feedback throughout the process so you can make a fully informed decision at the end of the trial period.

4. Integrations

Choosing tools that work well together can help you maximize your tech investment. It ensures information stays consistent across your organization, so salespeople and staff in other teams have a single source of truth.

For example, Pipedrive's contact synchronization feature allows you to import contact lists and calendar data from external providers like Google, Outlook and iCloud.

By eliminating the need to import or copy data between tools manually, you:

  • Free up time to spend on more demanding tasks

  • Use your team members’ skills more efficiently

  • Reduce human errors

Check each provider’s connectivity credentials to see if your favorite tools are compatible. If a tool isn’t listed by name, you may still be able to forge a link using Zapier or an application programming interface (API).

Integrations can help you expand a contact management app’s capabilities – ideal for when your business and its data pool grow. For example, an email marketing integration might help you to follow up on new leads automatically, freeing reps to make more phone calls.

Check whether your tools integrate with other popular tools. Some will also have a dedicated app marketplace where you can see exactly how tools integrate with each other.

5. Customization

Your business is unique, so a contact management app that works for your competitor may not deliver the same results for your business.

Look for software that you can tailor to your needs. A customizable tool will help you get better outcomes now and adapt to meet new needs as your business evolves.

Basic personalization, like custom fields, bespoke reports and pricing options, can improve your returns. It’ll allow you to mold the tool around your processes rather than forcing those processes to fit.

Some contact management apps and CRMs offer developer tools, like the APIs we mentioned earlier, that allow you to customize in more detail. You’ll need the coding skills or specialist help to capitalize on these.

6. Straightforward automation

If you find yourself repeating the same admin tasks in your current solution, a contact management tool with some automation features could be a solid investment.

Consider which repetitive sales activities your team currently spends the most time on.

For example, if you use a spreadsheet to organize contact data, it’s likely reps will need to manually:

  • Copy contact info into Gmail or another email app before sending emails

  • Let colleagues know when they’ve updated a record

  • Scour multiple messaging apps for chat histories

Let tech handle these smaller jobs so you can focus on delighting your customers with impressive service and building effective sales strategies. A standalone or free contact management app will unlikely stretch to workflow automation. That’s another reason to include CRMs in your search.

7. A range of support options

To get the most from your chosen software, you may have to ask your provider a few questions. Ensure you and your team can get answers quickly and conveniently (i.e., through a range of channels, at any hour and with minimal wait times).

Aim for guaranteed response times measured in minutes rather than hours or “working days”. If you’re left waiting too long for solutions to an urgent problem, you’ll lose productivity and the resulting bottleneck could impact customers.

Naturally, you’ll want a telephone number and email address to contact. However, you should also be able to get answers via:

  • A live chat function. Best suited to simple but urgent issues or account queries, live chat allows users to keep working while they wait for a response.

  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs). The best providers spot patterns in customer interactions and pre-empt users’ questions. Bookmark your tool’s FAQs page for quick access.

  • User forums. There’s always a chance that another user has been in your position. They may have posted a solution or be ready to answer your question quickly.

Provider-written or created online courses can also help your team learn about a tool’s features at their own pace. Look for modular tutorials so users can focus on the areas in which they need the most help.

Final thoughts

It’s easy to waste connections when you don’t organize your contact data effectively. Storing your information in siloed spreadsheets can cause you to misunderstand your audience and lose out on valuable sales opportunities.

However, contact management doesn’t need to be difficult.

The best apps will do most of the hard work for you by sourcing data from other sales and marketing tools, organizing it automatically and triggering notifications to help you keep track of any changes.

While the switch might feel daunting, you can use a software’s contact synchronization or import features to get up and running quickly. Be sure to sign up for a free trial to help you make an informed decision and build a list of questions to ask each provider before making any commitments.

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