During the 3 past years, as the CEO of our small relationship management app, I’ve done countless onboarding calls (probably around 150) and while most of them go very well, it’s always sad to meet someone and realise that based on his/her setup, he/she won’t be able to use our app, or any other app for that matter.
So in this post, I’d like to share what is the best setup to use a personal CRM and why.
If I end up describing your setup, then wonderful, we’re waiting for you. Otherwise, don’t despair, things might change with time or you can always switch gear.
In this first part, I will describe what kind of person you need to be in order to be able to use a personal CRM.
You use email, a lot
This is the first and most important characteristic that all our happy customers have in common, they use email a lot. They use it for work but also to meet new people and stay in touch with contacts. A good rule of thumb is that at least 50% of all your communications should be through email.
This done not mean that you don't use WhatsApp or Signal at all, it just means that most of the people you're worried you might lose touch with are in your inbox and not your messaging apps.
This works very well for independent consultants or agency owners for example. Consultants usually have a business inbox for their consulting work and a secondary personal inbox that they use for everything else.
The reason this is so crucial is that email is the most easily accessible source of communication data and every good personal CRM will import your email data. The more data, the more accurate the software will be in helping you stay in touch with your contacts.
You have a full calendar
The second important characteristic that we’ve seen a lot is a high calendar usage. This means a pretty organised life where all your meetings are in your calendar.
Going for a walk with a friend this afternoon? You are the kind of person that will create an event and add the friend as an attendee.
The power users will retroactively add events. For example, if you randomly met a friend this afternoon and went for a coffee, just add this to your calendar in the evening.
The reason this is crucial is because your calendar data contains most of your important and high value interactions. There is a big difference between meeting someone and sending that person and email and getting both those data points are very valuable for a relationship management application.
You know that relationship building is a marathon, not a sprint
We see many super motivated customers in the first days who want to label all their contacts, set up reminders and break down their contact list into groups and we always have to tell them to calm down, that this is not sustainable.
Life is simply too busy, and even if we’d love to be super thoughtful and invested in staying in touch with everyone, it’s important to acknowledge that we won’t spend as much time managing our contacts as we would like to.
This means that the right personal CRM is not the most complex one which enables you to do everything perfectly and precisely. Instead, the right relationship manager is the one that allows you to achieve the most with little time input.
- Instead of letting you label and group contacts, your personal CRM will try to clean up your contact list by itself based on your data.
- Instead of letting you set reminders for all your contacts that you won’t follow-up on, your contact manager will dynamically generate a list of important contacts for you to reach back out to.
Tech set up
In this part, I will describe what tools you need to use in order to make the most of a personal CRM app.
You need Gmail as your email client
Unfortunately, if you’re using Apple mail or Outlook, you’re basically out of luck because those email clients do not allow any third party apps to access your data.
Because of this, you will get extremely frustrated because of all the manual work you would need to do in order for your personal CRM to work.
If you are not using Gmail and don’t plan on switching over, then your best bet is to use a fully manual solution such as Airtable and just keep track of the most important relationships. That way you can keep the work manageable.
You need Google Calendar or Microsoft Exchange as your calendar
For calendar data, things are a bit more relaxed and even a microsoft calendar will do (even though we personally do not integrate with it, you can find other personal CRMs that do)
If you’re using Apple Calendar, then once more, there is no way for any app to access that data.
To summarise, if you’d like to use our personal CRM app, you will need to be an active Gmail & Google Calendar user as well as having your main contact book in Google Contacts.
Basically our app works best for people who’re fully integrated in the Google Universe.
More broadly, in order to use a personal CRM efficiently, you will need to use email via Gmail more than any other communication channel and understand the principle mentioned above: relationship building is a marathon, not a sprint.
"Relationship building is a marathon, not a sprint."