Make sure your company has a good system to record contacts information. This should include:
- Industry contacts.
Everything known about the contact should be able to be put in to the system.
- Status (client, supplier contractor)
- Special expertise
- Comments on the contact
- Sales made to them
- Items or services bought from them
- Phone conversations
- Their promotional literature
You should be able to have an entry for the company and a separate entry for each employee of the company.
You should be able to sort people or companies by:
- Geographic location
- Potential clients
- Top list (most reliable suppliers or preferred suppliers)
- What they sell (multiple entries can each be searched, e.g. pumps, valves, compressors, concreting, signals design, etc). This information is useful for sales but it is also important for project managers, who might need to find a reliable supplier quickly without having to call around a lot of people.
A folder of business cards is not good enough. It is only available to the person who knows about it, it cannot be searched quickly, and it relies on remembering details about the contact. As soon as a contact is made, the details should be added to the database, ideally by the person who made contact. All employees, in particular sales, procurement and project managers should be encouraged to add to and use the system. A summary printout of the contact should be possible.
The database should be kept private (within the company) as ratings on reliability etc could embarrass or anger the contact if it ever got to them.