Lessons Learned In Business

Tracking Leads / Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Wholesale Course Module 4 Part 2

Free Wholesale System - Finding Wholesale Leads for Amazon

This Post is part of the “FREE Wholesale Training Course”.  You can view the entire course listing and introduction to the course here.

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Module 4: Wholesale Research

You can click on each of the links above to go directly to the area of the module the best interests you.  That being said, let’s get right into the content!

Want to skip reading the massive wall of text?  After the entire course is released, I will make videos for each of the sections for easier consumption.  Make sure you are on our mailing list to be notified when it’s released!

Tracking Leads / Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Before we get into the different methods of finding leads, we need to address something:

We all forget things.

wile-e-coyote-acme-products-catalogYou’ll quickly notice when you are building your wholesale business that you are talking to a LOT of people.  You’ll find out a LOT of information about many different people and companies.  You need a way to keep all this straight, because you’ll quickly forget that Wiley works for ACME Products as a Sales representative, and he has two kids Alice and Garrett who both love to go to Yankees games with their dad.  Or was it the Red Sox?  Or was the daughters name Alex?  You better not forget, because the next time you contact Wiley (that is his name right?), you can build a relationship much quicker if you remember these things.

Before you get started on the long road of contacting people and forgetting things, it’s best to prepare a system that you can log all this information in to.  This is referred to a “Customer Relationship Management” (CRM) system.

What exactly does a CRM system do?  Here’s a list of some common features of CRM software solutions:

  • Stores basic information on leads, companies and contacts.
  • Organizes the data to ensure you can easily find what you are looking for when you need it.
  • Allows multiple people to share the same centralized database, so multiple people can work on leads at the same time without confusion.
  • Allows you to see the history of your interactions with a person to make your conversations easier.
  • Add notes, schedule follow ups, and organize the next steps you or your employees need to take.
  • Email integration, so you can see email contacts directly inside the software.
  • Integration with other tools you may already use: task management software, scheduling software, and website integration.

Do I REALLY need a CRM software solution?  Does this stuff cost money?

It’s NOT necessary to have a massive CRM software solution starting out.  But you need to have SOMETHING to track all of this information.  The most basic option you can start out with is Google Sheets.  Using a basic Google Sheet you will want to have columns for the company name, phone number, website, name of the contact, and notes.

If you are a one person show, and don’t want to learn something new, Google Sheets may be the best option. You can just log everything in the spreadsheet and update as you go along.  Be aware that as time goes on, your spreadsheet will likely start to become difficult to work with as more and more data fills it up.  There’s a reason why people use databases instead of spreadsheets. Databases are superior to spreadsheets for keeping track of massive amounts of data.

Most CRM’s work with databases, which is why they tend to be a better option for keeping track of leads.  But don’t let that discourage you – a lot of people run successful wholesale businesses with nothing but spreadsheets!

FREE SPREADSHEET: Download a FREE Wholesale Lead Tracker that you can use in your business to keep track of your Wholesale Leads! Watch a free video on how to use the tracker here.

One thing that a spreadsheet doesn’t do that a CRM can do is keep your emails organized.  A great option to solve this problem if you use Gmail is Streak CRM For Gmail.  This can give you the best of both “simple” worlds.  Use Gmail like you are used to, and set Streak up to keep a spreadsheet like Google Sheets updated.  Let’s see how you can do this:

Streak allows you to have multiple “pipelines”, which we can use for different reasons such as Sales / CRM (wholesale lead tracking), hiring (great for keeping track of applications), business development (great for keeping track of partnerships with other sellers), and event / wedding planning (putting on a conference or your daughter getting married?).  It allows you to assign something called “stages” to each pipeline, so you know where you are at in the process for each lead.  You can name the stages whatever you want, which makes it incredibly flexible.  If you are using Streak for wholesale lead tracking, here’s some common stages you can use to get you started:

  • Lead
  • Sent First Email
  • Sent Second Email
  • Called / Left Message
  • Closed – Need B&M
  • Closed – No Amazon Sellers
  • Closed – Already Have Contract
  • Closed – Other
  • Filled Application
  • Received Price List
  • Research in Progress
  • Research Complete
  • Closed – Not Interested
  • Order Submitted

This is what it would look like after setting this up:

amazon wholesale lead streak example

As you add leads, Streak can attach the emails to the leads to keep things nice and organized.  In addition, if you have VAs, you can give them access to Streak and they can see any emails sent to you that are associated with a lead!  You can also use tracking on your outgoing emails, so you can set follow ups, or even contact them shortly after they opened your email!  If you have templates for your initial outreach, you can set the templates up, and schedule mass emails.  If you’ve never used a CRM before, Streak is probably the easiest way to get yourself organized quickly.

“But what about a spreadsheet?  You said it can do that!” – Avid Free Wholesale System reader.

I’m really glad you asked!  Streak doesn’t specifically keep a spreadsheet updated on its own. It needs a little help to make it happen.  There is a tool called Zapier which is a super connector between apps. It allows you to connect multiple pieces of software together when they don’t otherwise talk with each other.  Software apps you can make work together include Google Sheets, Trello, Google Tasks, Slack, Asana, Google Calendar, and more.   When you connect different pieces of software, they call it a “Zap”.  One example of a Zap you can do is when there is new information in Streak, you can have it update a row in Google Sheets.  You can take a look at some of the more common Streak Zaps on their website.

Streak and Zapier can be free for low level users, but as you need more features, there are monthly costs involved with both.

Full CRM Options

There are multiple options for full scale CRM’s that you can use.  Some are more robust than others.  Here are some of the most popular CRM’s:

Each CRM has different pricing and features.  PC Mag has put together a solid article comparing the different CRM’s including ones not listed above.

“But which CRM do YOU use?” – Incredibly astute Free Wholesale System reader that doesn’t miss anything.

The CRM we use in our business is Bitrix 24.  It’s not necessarily because it’s amazingly better than all the other options listed above.  According to the PC Mag article mentioned above, is rates 4 / 5, and is tied with all of the second tier CRM’s.  The reason why we use Bitrix 24 as a CRM is because it’s FREE, and we can use the same system for task management, cloud storage, calendars, chat, and work flow management.  It’s not exactly excellent at any one thing – it’s solid on everything.  It’s not exactly the easiest software to use, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that wants to get going quickly without a ton of training.  Use Streak if you are looking for easy setup.

I would recommend looking at the different CRM features and cost, and pick the one that works best for you.

How to Setup a CRM for Wholesale Lead Tracking

Each CRM may have different names for different things, but the basics are mainly the same.  Your “pipeline” or “sales funnel” should be named “Wholesale Lead Tracking”.  Your pipeline for lead tracking in a CRM can have stages that are identical to what we mentioned above in the Streak area:

  • Lead
  • Sent First Email
  • Sent Second Email
  • Called / Left Message
  • Closed – Need B&M
  • Closed – No Amazon Sellers
  • Closed – Already Have Contract
  • Closed – Other
  • Filled Application
  • Received Price List
  • Research in Progress
  • Research Complete
  • Closed – Not Interested
  • Order Submitted

When you first find a wholesale company you want to contact, consider it a “lead”.  Once you contact that lead, you’ll change the status of the lead to whatever makes the most sense.  Example:  When you contact a company for the first time via email, you’ll change the stage of the lead to “Sent First Email”.

Once you’ve gotten hold of a company and are going to do business with them, you’ll want to convert the lead to a “contact”.   As you move along down the pipeline, you’ll continue to update statuses as necessary.  Whenever you talk with the contact via email or phone, you’ll want to log it into the CRM.  Notes are great too!

Below is a demo video of Zoho CRM that I found on Youtube.  It’s a video of Zoho CRM, but it gives us a good idea of what a CRM looks like, and how they work.   Almost all of them work in a similar fashion, but this video shows the basics.

When you choose your CRM, the training videos for the CRM should show you exactly what you need to know in order to use it properly.  The stages listed above are really the only change you will need to make from the “standard settings” to get up and going.

Make a Habit to Use the CRM All the Time

Ultimately, a CRM is only as good as the people using it.  If you dedicate the time to setting up a CRM, EVERYONE that’s involved with contacting suppliers needs to use it.  If you have a team, it needs to be part of a Standard Operating Procedure.  Here’s some examples of habits you need to form in relation to using a CRM:

  • As soon as you find a lead while doing research, immediately enter it into the CRM.
  • If you have an incoming phone call from a supplier, open the CRM.   Pull up the supplier’s info, and log notes if needed.
  • If you are calling a supplier, open the CRM.  Pull up the supplier, and log notes if needed.
  • If you are doing something that falls in line with one of the stages mentioned above, make sure you change the stage!
  • If you receive an Email, most CRM’s will automatically associate it with the contact.  If it doesn’t make sure it’s connected to the right contact.
  • If you are talking in person to a supplier, and they give you a lead to another company, use a smartphone app to enter the lead immediately.
  • If you are given a new contact for a company, immediately add the contact, and update the company information.

There are many more things I’m sure you can think of when it comes to forming habits around a CRM.  The main thing to remember – ACTUALLY USE IT.  Don’t try to use random systems outside of the CRM.  Just use it as designed.  If you don’t like it – choose a different one.

Now that you have an idea of what a CRM is and how to use it, it’s time to find those leads!  Move on to the next section of this module – Demand Based Sourcing.

Need help with your CRM?  We can help with our Mentoring Program.

Continue on to Module 4 Part 3: Demand Based Sourcing

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Chris Potter

Chris Potter is an internet entrepreneur that loves working on businesses and helping others with their businesses. He has operated businesses that have sold over $25 million in retail sales, bought and sold a blog design business, and started websites from scratch. Skyrocket your business by joining his Mentoring Program!

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