Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

Arrow-Tip #10 Having a Hard Time Finding Your Contacts?

Keep all your contacts in one Contact folder! Here is a quick tip that I wanted to post because I run into it a lot. Don’t confuse folders with views. A lot of people who want to organize their contacts in Microsoft Outlook create separate folders for different types of contacts for example, a Vendor folder for Vendors or a Mail List folder for contacts that are subscribed to their mailing list. This practice is actually a big no-no for several reasons, but here are a few:

  • Like the title says, searching for contacts in multiple contact folders can be a real pain. If you know the name you are looking for you are OK as long as you are good with the Look for feature, but what if you don’t? What if you just remember the company name or the approximate time you met the person? Then you may end up searching through each contact folder separately.
  • What if you have a contact that falls into more than one group? Do you copy their contact record from one group to the next? That practice is problematic for several reasons, but most notably because you don’t want to have to maintain contact information in more than one place.
  • What if you want to get some information about all your combined contacts? For example, what if you want to work your Follow up list for the day? As we discussed in Arrow-Tip #2, your follow ups belong in your Contacts folder, but if you have multiple contact folders, you are going to have multiple call back lists which is totally inefficient.

So how can you use views to replace your multiple contact folders? First of all, go into each contact folder and assign all the items within it to a new master category with the same name as the contact folder. Then move all those contacts back into your main Contacts folder. Now that you have got all your contacts back where they belong (in the main Contacts folder) it is time to create a new view so that you can see them segregated from your other contacts just as you did before. Repeat this process with each of your contact folders.

Is it ever appropriate to use a contact sub folder? Actually I do believe in segregating dormant or disqualified contacts. Here is a great example, I have some clients that are paying monthly fees to webmasters who send them referrals. Unfortunately the quality of those referrals is not always that great so rather than just delete the bad ones, we send them to a Disqualified Leads folder where we track reason disqualified and provide feedback to the webmaster. But these are contacts that my clients will not want to include in their marketing materials or have synched to their smart phones.

Have other scenarios for keeping contact records in separate contact folders? Please leave me a comment and let’s discuss!

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on October 31, 2007 in the following categories: Arrow Tips, Contacts, Front Page. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


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