There are many concepts and rules that you should consider when entering data into and using a CRM.

The features agents use and the way they use them vary widely, but these four things are suggestions that apply to everyone. These four basic CRM rules are really not optional if you want to make good use of it. They are basic tenets that everyone wants to do all the time.

Your CRM is a database. It’s not a phone book

with scribbled entries that make perfect sense, as long as you’re the one looking at it. You will be searching for people and information in your CRM, so your information needs to conform to certain rules. If it doesn’t, the computer can’t make up for the data you failed to provide. You won’t get accurate results and/or mailings will go out to people with their names wrong. One thing that so many people do not do well is making sure you have both a first and last name for a contact. When doing a search by last name, if there is no last name, then you get inappropriate results. The same goes for the first name. Lastly, if you have it, use the middle initial. It doesn’t happen often, but you will eventually wind up with one or more contacts with the same first and last name. Having the middle initial will usually allow you to distinguish between the two.

Every contact must have at least one Category/Contact Type/Group

or whatever your CRM calls them. Chances are that you will have a number of different groups that each contact belongs to. They are a method by which you categorize people such that you can find them in many different ways. Typical categories can include, Buyer, Seller, Past, Pending, Active, Prospect, Closed 20XX, Investor, Land, Residential, Commercial, Lender, Title, Home Inspector, etc. If you want to do a bulk email to all of your Active Buyers, you can just do a search based on you having labeled them as such.

When you enter a new contact,

one of the four basic CRM rules is that you make sure to enter a note about the contact. Most CRMs allow you to search the contents of the notes. This is an excellent way to find someone years later. You want to add key words that are relevant to that person, or an event with that person. You might reference where you met them, such as Doylestown Country Club. When you are adding a note, make sure to get the spelling of the keywords correct. You won’t find them if you spell it wrong.

The fact that your CRM is an online service means that they have your data backed up at least once. In theory that sounds like there would be no need for you to have to back up your data. This is actually not exactly true for several reasons. That’s another subject in and of itself, so I covered it in this post. Suffice it to say that at least once a month, you should do an export of all the data your CRM has to offer. This way you have your own copy, no matter what happens to the CRM company.