Let’s play a game.  It’s called, “Find My Contacts.”  Suppose you go open up the software where you keep your business’s contact list.  You know – the one you use to send marketing emails to all of them.  Now export the contact list to a spreadsheet file.  Don’t worry, the export file is a copy.  Your contacts will stay right where they are while we play.  Make sure your export includes contact first and last name, company name if appropriate, physical address (street, city, state), email address, phone number.  That’s enough information for our game.

Now have your sales staff get their smart phones and laptops.  Have them compare the contact lists they have to your exported contact list.  How did you do?  If there are few or no differences give everybody a whole handful of gold stars.  It is more likely that the spreadsheet information is outdated – maybe way outdated.  The more recent contacts are in the laptops and smart phones your sales staff uses.

This is not some evil conspiracy by your sales staff.  It is more often a case of benign neglect.  If Outlook, for instance, is not synced with your marketing software, contact records must be updated another way.  That other way is often manual updating that gets low priority when things are busy.  Over time the marketing software contact list gets more and more outdated and the business owner has no idea.

This game was not intended to be a cheap trick, but to get you to think about something you may not think about very often.  As a business owner keeping the business contact list current is part of keeping the business viable.  Maybe you should make an appointment with yourself once a quarter to check on whether your contact list is what you think it is.