Automate Relationship Building

In the years I’ve spent running my digital agency I witnessed how so many companies underutilized CRM systems in managing their relationships. The most common implementation of a CRM is no more than a glorified group address book where teams store notes and activities on contacts, overlooking the power of the automation aspects of many CRMs.

Many CRMs have some marketing automation capability. So what do I mean by automation? In this instance, I’m talking about touching prospects and clients at critical points in the relationship to convert the customer to a buyer, or to simply build on relationships by actively automating email and messages and scoring the interactions. In the consumer product world, CRMs are used to track product interest. When a customer visits an online store, the CRM tracks the products which the user has looked at, and if setup to do so, the CRM sends enticing emails to the user as some interval with the hopes of creating a conversion. For instance, “order in the next 24 hours and receive 10% of the order price.”

What is less common however is the implementation of a CRM for building relationships. I recently went through an exercise where I reduced 16+ years of contacts, 6272 to be exact, down to less than 1200. I then broke out those 1200 contacts into five distinct groups.


Outer-Circle – Those people that I’ve come in contact with. I know their names and just a bit more than that. We don’t typically converse with each other, yet we’ve done business in the past or chatted during an event.

Friends – I don’t distinguish between business and social contacts. My Friends group are people I’ve spent time with on several occasions. These are people that I care about, and I want to stay engaged at some level.

Mentors – Mentors are key to anyone who is eager to learn and push themselves to grow. In my book, Mentors are the people that I look up to. They command a high level of respect. While I might want their time, that’s not always reciprocal. Therefore, I want to be judicious about how often I reach out to them and solicit their feedback.

Family – This is fairly self-evident. For me, family belongs here because my CRM is my primary relationship tool and without it I lose track on when I last reached out to those I love.

Core – These are those people I’d spit blood for. They say jump and I say how high. Traditional thinking suggests you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. That feels right to me, but I haven’t capped my Core at 5. Instead, I let it range between 5 and 15. At that size, it’s small enough to stay intimate without stretching my capacity to engaged with each relationship.

I’ve taken each of these five groups and placed them on a regular interval of touchpoints. Let’s take the Outer-Circle group for instance. In that group, I have a process setup to send a touchpoint email to them once per quarter IF there has been no activity tracked on their profile in the last 90 days. The touchpoint email looks something like this:

Hello Firstname

Just checking in with you. I just finished reading this awesome book (insert book link) and I thought you might enjoy it. What's going on in your World?


If the contact opens the email, I then add a score of +5 to their profile to show they read it. If they clicked thru to my website they get a +5 and if they replied to my email, they get a +10. Doing so allows me to track metrics on relationship growth. The more points my contacts generate, the better I can quantifiably track relationship growth.

While at my old company, Imulus, I had the pleasure of working Pardot but at a price point of $1,000 per month, it’s not the tool I’d recommend for most early stage companies and entrepreneurs. My current tool du jour is Agile CRM, at $30/month it’s perfect for where I am at in my business, and it seems to scale just fine. Agile comes loaded with a variety of features that you might find in high-cost tools like Pardot. Many readers have used InfusionSoft in the past, and I have to say that if you disliked InfusionSoft, odds are you’ll love Agile, and it’s simple approach to contact management.

Next time, I’ll go into how to create a basic scoring campaign in AgileCRM.

By |2016-10-21T14:41:21+00:00October 21st, 2016|process|Comments Off on Automate Relationship Building

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