My CRM Is Jury Rigged With Chewing Gum and Elbow Grease

Managing my leads has become a lot like packing a backpack during my travels. Once I had a system down, everything went into its specific logical place in the pack. Because of my detailed system of packing I never left anything behind at a hostel, and always knew where everything was at all times. But there was no way anyone else would find anything in my backpack without pulling everything out of the top. My makeshift, jury rigged, lead management system is exactly the same way.

When I started as an online sales consultant 2 years ago for a large local builder I didn’t (and still don’t) have any formalized CRM program in place. Since the builder didn't want to spring for one of those big fancy CRMs with templates and form emails, reminders and buttons, I had to devise one myself. I figured I would jury rig a CRM temporarily - just as you do when something breaks at sea and it has to be fixed through any means - until I could convince the builder to get a real CRM system.

My System is a crazy version of a working CRM within the confines of my outlook inbox and a little help from Xobni because I was "Drowning in Email!" It is all put together with bubble gum, spit and elbow grease with the hopes that someday my company will spring for a real CRM package.

For all you CRM experts out there, your eyes would cross and you’d probably run screaming from my mind-blowing outlook inbox contact management system. I like to call it kaos for short. I know you'd run, due to my experience consulting with Salesforce at one time in the hopes that my boss would go for a professional system. When the account executive from Salesforce was trying to understand what it was that I did with my leads and how I wanted to structure them, he took a look at my inbox and said, "Wow, I've never seen anything like that before." And I know he didn't mean that in a good way.

My "CRM" system consists of folders inside of folders inside of folders, color codes on emails, flags, notes, and emails to myself about phone conversations. (If I don’t squint at it, it makes me want to throw up sometimes too) I have an even more complex system for retiring a lead. I always work them until they come to one of three fates.

I communicate with a lead until they buy one of our homes, buy somewhere else, or tell me to jump off a pier because I'm bugging the crap out of them. Once these scenarios happen, or any variation, they go in one of a number of files including multiple categories of dead files. Most people love the colorful names of some of my dead lead files. Personal file favorites include Snow Ball’s Chance in Hell of Qualifying, Unrealistic Expectations, Dumb Ass, and Dropped Off The Face Of The Planet.

I am a pack rat when it comes to leads. I keep all the dead leads in files in my archives because they are like zombies, they do come back from the dead from time to time, and some actually even purchase. Since I've been using my system for over two years now, though clunky, it is familiar, and as long as I stick to my process I can manage the over 400 live leads and countless dead lead files somewhat effortlessly. But if anyone else were to come in behind me it would be like unpacking my backpack. They'd pull it all out and say, "what is all this tattered crap?" They'd never see the value in my stuff and why it has to be in the pack, any more than they'd understand my system.

At the same time, because I don't have the bells and whistles, the templates and regular mailings that are canned in a CRM, I think people pay more attention to my emails. I know that in shopping the competition I've seen some pretty colorful graphic templates full of auto-filled emails and some of them are great, detailed and helpful. But as soon as I open an email that is obviously a form letter, and not tailored to my exact needs, I know that this is an auto response and the person sending it isn't really considering any conversation we've had in the past.

Since I painstakingly look at every past email to get a picture of the person I'm recontacting, I can always add in personal details to get their attention so that they know that I do care about what they are looking for, and not just wasting their time making them read some generic letter that I have generated from my system.

Just like my backpack was set up especially for my travel needs, so too is my poor pathetic jury rigged CRM system. As much as I say I'd like to trade it in for a big fancy system, I don't know if I could handle that now.

I'll just chew more gum.

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MrRoadRage said...

Hi Leah,

I found you on and followed your link to your blog. I enjoyed reading about your CRM system. Do whatever it takes to get the job done...good for you.

On you mentioned that you would be looking for Bloggers to start an alliance with. I did a little blogging in the past and am going to start it up once again.

My website, with blog and discussion board attached, is

I actually haven't been using it, for a number of reasons, but now it is time to get it moving. I think setting up a blogging alliance is a great idea and if you would like to consider this, I am open to the idea. My email is I don't use the website email anymore, it is limited in space and Gmail is great is that!

I hope to hear from you!

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