Computer Corner: Organise and track contacts

Computer Engineer: Paul Fisk

By Paul Fisk

Foreword by Andrew Taylor

This month’s computer corner comes from Paul Fisk, a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. Paul has helped me in the past and knows more about computers than anyone I know, and I know quite a bit! He is a freelance Computer Consultant in the City and works hard, so I am grateful for this article which I hope will be the beginning of a series for business owners and managers in Finchley. Paul can be contacted on 0797 075 2655.

How to use your existing Microsoft Outlook software to organise and track your sales, marketing, clients and suppliers

Do you want something more than just a contact list, but are put off from customer relationship management applications by the cost and complexity? There is a cheaper alternative in Microsoft Business Contact Manager for Outlook 2010. Using the same interface as the Outlook you use every day for email and scheduling makes it quicker to learn. If you have a qualifying product the tool is also free to download – see the Download section later in this article.

Using Microsoft Outlook’s new Business Contact Manager 2010 (BCM)
The latest free add on for Microsoft Outlook is a basic but powerful customer relation management (CRM) tool. The tool has been updated to include a number of new features:-

Once installed you will have a new icon in the bottom left corner of Outlook next to the existing Folder and Shortcut icons. From there you can launch the BCM and start the Business Contact Manager Welcome Centre.

The Welcome Centre includes an introduction video and a number of training items to help use the product.

My favourite feature is being able to instantly switch back to regular Outlook when I want. I recently had to track the entire 3rd-party purchase history of a client going back six years. The tracking features make this very quick and easy.

The remaining menu items are:-
Contact Management
Project Management
Business Records

Within the Business Records menu you have following sub menus:-
Business Contacts
Marketing Activities
Business Projects
Project Tasks
Communications History

Each menu item starts a screen within Outlook that is in two basic parts. Along the bottom half of the screen you will have a series of selectable tabs with options to add further customised tabs.

The top part of the screen has what are called gadgets. These are capable of showing reports for areas such as sales, marketing , project management as well as an option for general reports. The gadgets part of the screen can be turned off if it’s more than you need.

Contact Management
These screens show the accounts, business contacts and sales leads that you can key in a potential client’s details .

There is a pull-down list for the source of the lead.

Fields include potential need, referral, fresh lead, and whether they contacted you initially, as well as a field to add a sales score. Also there are facilities to import contacts en mass from your existing contact lists.

Sales allows you to list opportunities and leads with further options for marketing activities and business projects.

The gadgets in sales include a sales funnel and top customer gadget as well as options to add further gadgets, including dormant customers, sales pipeline, top customers, top products and top referrers. Also there are further gadgets for marketing and project management.

Marketing has tabs for analysis, call lists, mass email, direct mail print and other marketing activities., plus gadgets for campaign comparisons.

Project management
Project management has tabs for business projects and project tasks, as well as gadgets for business projects due next, and project tasks due next.

Business records
This consists of business contacts and accounts that can be copied from your existing outlook contacts. There are also a number of import options for your existing Outlook contact lists as well as from a number of other contact management systems.

From the business contacts screen you can for example add a phone log, email, project or opportunity record, or list these items historically for that specific client.

Opportunities and marketing activities and business projects tie in these activities relevant to any given client.  A new business project for example can be added opening a contact and click the business project icon and fill in the details.

Communication history
This shows the history that can include phone logs as well as emails and project tasks relevant to clients you have listed in your Outlook business contact manager.
From here you can see the list by item, client, project, subject and list how much time was spent on each.

A number of people are using this instead of tools such as Act, Goldmine or Filemaker.
In fact you can import your client data directly from most versions of Act and Quick books.

Note: you should always backup before installing anything new and test new software on a non-production machine.

If you have bought a copy of Office that includes Outlook 2010 you can go to or short cut and use your license key to download the BCM from the Microsoft site.

Microsoft says “This tool is now available to…
…people who have previously purchased Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft office 2007 or a standalone copy of Microsoft Outlook 2007, and have purchased a copy of Microsoft Home and Business 2010, Microsoft Office Professional 2010 or a standalone edition of Microsoft Outlook 2010.” It’s not particularly clear exactly who qualifies for this but I know that it works with new PCs that have Outlook 2010 pre-installed.

Note that if you have a pre-installed copy of Microsoft Office with Outlook, you will see a message saying they are sorry and unable to complete your request but it should let you continue to the download section. Here you will have to set up an account and log in with your email address. From here you should be able to download the program.

Note that the basic BCM is around 368 MB in size so I would not recommend downloading it on a mobile broadband account.

This install should take between 10 and 20 minutes. Once it’s installed you will need to follow the prompts the next time you start Outlook.

You will be prompted for Express or Custom. Express lets you set up anew or use an existing business contacts manager database. The Custom option allows you to use a local or remote database. This is for larger businesses that may be running dedicated servers to host the database.

Next you are prompted to start with sample business data. This can be useful if you are learning the product but note that it is very easy to switch between the sample data and your own. You can of course elect to not use the sample data.

You should now have a Business Contact Manager bar in the bottom left of your Outlook 2010 screen.

To switch between the sample database and your own Click on the top left “File” menu and select Business Contact Manager. Select the manage database icon.

Finally, please note that you are responsible for backing up your email before any upgrades just in case there is a problem.

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