Archive for BCM

Back to BCM after playing with CRM Live

I’ve been quite here about Outlook with Business Contact Manager (BCM) for a while because I had been playing around with Microsoft’s CRM Live early access edition. There were lots of things that I liked about CRM Live, but I’ve decided to delay implementing it in my business. The per user license fee is very competitive (between $39 – $59 per month) but in my mind it’s not really “per user – on demand” as there is a 5 user minimum and a 12 month commitment (with a penalty for early termination). I’m not saying the functionality isn’t worth the price, I just wish they’d call it what it is.

I think the $200 – $300 per month along with the 12 month commitment may give some true small business owners some pause (thats’ before spending time implementing it), so I think I’ll continue to post about using BCM for a while. I do think that as soon you have a remote employee who needs CRM functionality for their job,  you should take a serious look at CRM Live.

After reinstalling BCM, I found this tip via the SBS Diva Blog about throttling SQL memory. I followed the recommendations in this post about 3 days ago and so far I haven’t experienced any of the mysterious system pauses that I’ve reported before.

Import Leads Into Business Contact Manager

It is fairly easy to import records into Outlook’s Business Contact Manager (BCM). Here are a few tips…For purposes of this post, my objective is going to be importing leads.

The first step is to obtain a list of leads. There are many places you can purchase lead lists; you can also get them from your local library. You will usually get your lists in some sort of electronic file. These files can come in a variety of formats. Comma separated values (csv) is a common, easy to use format. In this post, I will assume you are using a csv file.

Next let’s go through the steps to import records. Start by navigating to the database import tool


This starts the Import Wizard


Select "Import a file" and click Next


Choose Comma Separated Values. Click Next:


Click the Browse button and select the file you wish to import. Click the "Don’t import duplicates" option. Click Next


Under Import Data, check the box next to the name of your file. Select Business Contacts as the destination. Click on the Map… button.


This is where the fun is <g>. Mapping is how you tell BCM to to store the fields in your import file in the BCM database. You create a map by dragging a field from your source file (left column) on top of the corresponding BCM field in the right column.

Once you define a map once, you can reuse it so you don’t have to do this step every time. There is a slight trick to reusing a map. The "Use Previous Map" button is only enabled when you are importing a file with the same name as a file that has been mapped before. What this means is that if you map and import a file named MyLeads.csv, if you want to use that mapping again, your new file must be named MyLeads.csv. For this reason, here are the steps I follow when importing leads:

  1. Download (or otherwise obtain) a file of leads
  2. Do any cleanup and added additional fields to the file (more info below)
  3. Save the file in a comma delimited format using the name MyLeads.csv.
  4. After a successful import, rename the file using a more descriptive name. I try to include details about the list selection criteria along with a date – CPA_in_kscity_5to20employees_Dec2007.csv

One of the assumptions I outlined for this post was that we would be importing leads. This means we will probably need to add a "lead" data element to the csv file before perform the import. The easiest way to do this is to open the file with Excel, add a new column, add "Lead" in the first row of this column, and fill all the cells in this column with a 1 (number one).

You will probably also want the ability to work with these records as a group after you import them. You may want to add all of your new leads to a direct mail campaign. In order to do this, you need a field or category to use to create a filter. I prefer to use a special field (I created a custom field) that I named Import Group. To use this field, I add another column to my csv file (similar to the "lead column), name it ImportGroup, fill the cells with a description, and then map this column to my Import Group field in BCM.

I recommend importing a very small group the first time to test your mappings and data to make sure you will get the results you want. You should develop your own checklist of post-import checks – here are a few things that I have run into:

  1. Title vs. Job Title in BCM – title goes with the name and is usually "Mr.", "Mrs.", etc. Job Title is the field we normally think of as title.
  2. Many list services include the middle initial in the first name field. Whether you decide to delete the middle initial or move it to it’s own field, it’s probably easier to clean this in the csv file using Excel rather than fixing it in BCM after the import.
  3. Many list providers provide the zipcode in two separate fields – the zipcode in one field and the "+ 4" part in a separate field. BCM stores the zipcode in one field, so you will need to manipulate your source file before importing.

What happens if you find mapping mistakes after you do your import? Create a view that filters on your Import Group field, delete the records in this view, and start over.

Sending Template Based E-mails From BCM

Creating messages and letters from pre-defined templates is a common task performed in CRM and contact management software applications. Templates are a valuable tool for streamlining your marketing communications and activities. In this post last April, I posted about how it is not readily apparent how to accomplish this in Business Contact Manager (BCM) and I offered a work-around using the Quick Part feature. Since then I’ve learned more about BCM so I thought I would provide an update.

I have 3 broad categories text that I like to reuse:

  1. Personalized content – you have "boiler plate" forms that you want to personalize with contact specific info (name, company, etc.). Mail merge is usually the best tool for this job. I covered mail merge with BCM in a previous post.
  2. Snippets (sentences or paragraphs) of text that you often repeat. An example may be directions or product description snippets. Quick Parts are a good tool for this common message fragments.
  3. Messages that, by and large, don’t change depending on the recipient. An example may be a generic response to a request for information.

In many contact management systems, you create a template based message by selecting something like "Create Message From Template". In BCM it’s a little harder to find because BCM calls them Forms. Let’s create a template first and then figure out how to use it to create a new message.

Creating a template is fairly straight forward. Start by creating a new mail message. Add your subject, message, attach files, etc. Choose Save As… from the menu and save the message as an Outlook Template (*.oft).


To create a new message from this template, you need to select a Form. You can do this through the File | New menu


or the Tools | Forms menu


On the Choose Form dialog, change the Look In option to User Templates in File System, select the template you want to use and click open.


That’s all there is to it. By the way, there really isn’t anything specific to BCM here – since BCM is built on top of Outlook, you can use these techniques to create and use templates in Outlook even if you don’t use BCM.

How To Start Your Mail Merge From Outlook

My obsessive testing of CRM software demos has kept me away from blogging for a few days. The good news is these demos inspired to try some things in Business Contact Manager (BCM) and I discovered a few things I didn’t know.

One thing that I had struggled with is creating a form letter (mail merge) from within BCM. I had not been able to find the Mail Merge command in Outlook, so I always started my mail merges in Word. This made for an awkward workflow when working with contacts. I’m not sure why I missed this for so long – I think it is because I usually open contacts be searching for them rather than using one of the contact views.

It turns out that if you are in one of the contact views like this:


Then you can access the Mail Merge command under Tools menu.


From here you can indicate that you want to merge only the current record and you can pick which form letter to use. You can also change the merge options to create an e-mail:


This works in any contact view, so you can use it for Outlook contacts as well if you don’t use BCM.

Speeding Up Business Contact Manager

One of my complaints about Outlook with Business Contact Manager (BCM) has been the responsiveness of the program. It has been sluggish for me – sometimes pausing for extended periods of time. It was getting annoying enough that I was starting to look for a new solution.

In my case, the main cause of this sluggishness appears to be Windows Desktop search indexing. I have turned off the indexing for a couple of days, and BCM has been very snappy.

This presents a little bit of a dilemma for me because I regularly use the search feature. If I can’t find a way to correct this, I may have to go to a third party search utility. Does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations?

Tracking Campaigns In BCM

As mentioned in a previous post, Outlook with Business Contact Manager (BCM) provides some basic tracking information about your campaigns. This screen shot shows a portion of the tracking page of campaign form:

tracking section


This form show totals for the number of leads, opportunities, accounts and contacts that were generated by the campaign. These totals are calculated using the "source" field for the different records. For example, the total in the leads box is calculated by counting the number of lead records (business contacts with the "lead" check box checked) that have a source equal to this campaign.

There is also a place to record the total cost of the campaign. This cost is not calculated – you provide it.

The bottom portion of the form shows the campaign recipients for certain campaign types (see this post on campaign types) along with the delivery status.


Unless you are using the e-mail delivery service, I don’t see the delivery status as being particularly useful.

I think most small business owners will be interested in two main measures when evaluating their campaigns. The most obvious measure will be the cost of the campaign vs. the amount of sales it generates.

To find the amount of sales generated by a campaign you can run the Opportunities by Marketing Campaign report


and then filter is by Sales Stage to show only the opportunities won


You can compare the total from this report to total cost of the campaign that you calculated previously to measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

The goal of your campaign may be to build your permission based mailing list. In this case, it makes more sense to use a count of leads generated rather than a dollar amount to measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

Tracking Customer Anniversary Dates in BCM

I will return to posting about tracking campaigns in BCM, but I ran into something today that I am surprised was not handled in BCM. I have outlined one solution here – please let me know if you have a different\better way of handling this.

I want to keep track of when I start working with a new customer. I want to know when I reach certain customer anniversaries – 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.

As far as I can tell, there is no built in way to flag an account or contact record as being a customer. I can create a "Customer" category and use it to flag contact and\or account records, but I can’t report on the date they became a customer.

My solution was to create a user-defined field to record the "customer start date". You can create a user-defined field via the Customize Forms option of the Business Contact Manager menu.


I decided to add the new field to the Account form, which means I will need an Account record for each of my customers. You could decide to add the field to the Contact records (or both) if you prefer.

On the next form select which page of the Account form set where you want to display your new field:

Account UDF

Next click on the Add Field button to bring up the next screen:


Name your field and select the data type and format. Save your work.

Now when you open an Account record and navigate to the user-defined fields page, you have a new field that you can use to record when you started working with this customer

New Field

To create a report that shows those customers with a start date anniversary, start with any one of the Account reports. Click on Filter Report and then select the Advanced Filter tab. Use the Customer Start date that you created to filter the report. In this example, I’m filtering to show those customers that have an anniversary date in November:


I’m sure there are other ways to accomplish this, but I think this method gives me the most flexibility for tracking and reporting.

Do you have a different method for tracking this sort of information?

Setting Up Marketing Campaigns in BCM

The main purpose for setting up a marketing campaign in Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager (BCM) is to help track the details and results of your marketing efforts. Creating campaigns can also help you create your marketing materials, particularly those you want to personalize (e-mail, direct mail, etc.)

There are several different type of campaigns:CampaignTypes

  1. E-mail
  2. Direct Mail Print
  3. Telemarketing
  4. Printed Flyer
  5. Seminar/Conference
  6. Mass Advertisement
  7. Other

When you select a campaign type that supports mail merge (e-mail or direct mail print), you will notice in step 2 that you can indicate your list of contacts to include in the campaign. In addition, when you click on the Track button, you can TrackButton view the contacts included in the campaign. It is important to note that when you create a campaign with a type other than e-mail or direct mail, you do not see the list of contacts – something we will have to keep in mind when we talk about tracking the results of our campaigns. I’ll talk more about the tracking screen in a later post.

Once a campaign is set up, it will appear in the drop down list of the "Initiated By" fields in the contact, account, and opportunity records. Setting this field to the appropriate campaign is how you "close the loop" and record the results of your campaign. For this reason, I recommend filling out at least the minimal information about a campaign (usually with a type of "other").

After I post a little more about the tracking features of BCM, I will get into the specifics of implementing the plan outlined in the previous post.

Getting Started Managing Suspects in BCM

Let’s start discussing some of the implementation details for converting suspects into prospects.

By definition, suspects are people who don’t know us. From an implementation standpoint, this means we cannot solicit them via e-mail. Direct mail (letters & postcards) and telephone calls are the primary tools I use for contacting suspects.

In an earlier post, I outlined my process for converting suspects into prospects as:

  1. Contact each suspect 3 times via direct mail
  2. Contact remaining suspects via telephone.

The goal of each of these contacts is to determine whether or not the suspect is interested in my services. The way they indicate their interest is to request a free marketing report – 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success.

Your first step will be to obtain a list of suspects that match your ideal customer profile. You may purchase a list from a list broker, such as infoUSA. When looking for suspect lists, don’t overlook the many free resources that are available at your public library.

Once you have a suspect list, you may want to import it into your CRM package. I find that the value you get from importing your list into Business Contact Manager (BCM) depends on several factors. Don’t assume you have to import your list.

If you outsource your direct mail production, it may not make sense to import your suspect list into BCM. If you are producing your own direct mail pieces, importing them into BCM will allow you to create address labels, personalized letters via mail merge, etc.

Another advantage to importing your list is that you can indicate that you don’t want to import duplicate records. This can help prevent sending direct mail to someone you disqualified in a previous campaign.

At the end of the day, you want to know:

  1. Who you contacted
  2. How you contacted them (what you sent them)
  3. When you contacted them
  4. What was the result?
  5. When was the decision made? If they became a prospect, when did that happen? After the 1st contact or after the 3rd?

It is often easier to keep track of the macro information about a campaign (items 1,2, and 3) outside of BCM – particularly if you are outsourcing your direct mail and\or telemarketing.

It makes sense to track information about individual conversions (new prospects) in BCM. In BCM, you can use the "Initiated By" field to link a marketing campaign to a new prospect or opportunity. Tracking when the conversion took place is a little trickier and will depend somewhat on how we set up our campaigns in BCM.

In my next post in this series, I’ll cover the different options available for setting up campaigns in BCM.

Reporting Contact Activity in BCM – Correction

A while back I posted about creating an activity report in BCM for networking groups by using the category field. I need to correct that post – you need to set the category on the activity (appointment, task, etc.) record, rather than the contact record, in order for this report to work.