Collecting Contacts Continued: Ranking

In my last post, “Five Tips on Building Your Personal Contact List,” tip number 4 for new associates was to rank your contacts. The concept of ranking contacts is not new. And many of us practice this informally as we intuitively know who our key contacts are, those people that you remain in touch with constantly, some perhaps every day.  But then there are those that you talk to less frequently and some that seem to have dropped by the wayside. The problem is that those forgotten contacts may be valuable to you in the future. Implementing a systematic ranking system will help you keep in touch with these contacts.

Create A Systematic Approach

In my previous post, I suggested implementing a system of levels using “A Level,” “B Level,” and “C Level” to differentiate your contacts. Or if three levels is not enough, use four or five. You decide based on your own goals of how many people to track and the frequency of your calls.

For example, below is a possible communication strategy for a five-tier ranking with each level representing a specific tactic for call frequency.

A Level = Once/Week (or more)
B Level = Once/Month
C Level = Once/6 months
D Level = Once/Year
E Level = Never

To be successful your strategy must be practical and fit within your workload. Set realistic targets for your levels. Let’s say you decide that in addition to all you A Level contacts, you’re going to add three additional calls or touchpoints a week for your B, C & D Level contacts. Your strategy could look like this: two calls per week for B Level and alternate a call each week for C and D Level contact. (Note: I am omitting E Level contacts because they will never be scheduled for a call.)

Contact Touchpoint Schedule

Contact Touchpoint Schedule

When you extend this pattern over the course of a year it equates to forty-seven contacts. The brake down by level it looks like this:

B Level =   8 (2 per week)
C Level = 13 (twice a year)
D level = 26 (once a year)

Using a ranking approach forces you to apply critical thinking on your time allocation for business development efforts. And it also makes you evaluate the relative value of your contacts to your future book of business.

Putting It into Practice

There are two phases to implement this concept. First you need to identify and rank the contacts that are important to your business development efforts. Secondly you must integrate this philosophy into your daily workload.

Identify & Rank

Identifying your contacts is a simple process of printing out your contact list and marking up your key contacts. Start with your A Level contacts, the ones you are likely already reaching out to regularly.  These should be easy to identify. Next review the remaining contacts to identify the next forty or fifty contacts, depending on the number you settled on your communication strategy above. These will become your B, C and D Level contacts. I suggest that you identify them all at once in a first pass, and then assign ranking. Ask yourself, “Out of these fifty contacts, who are the 8 most important to me?” These become your B Level contacts. Then split the remainder into two, the C and D Level contacts.

Schedule Touchpoints

Now it’s time to put your plan into action, and this is where your firm’s CRM can help. Most CRM systems have a task scheduling or reminder feature to help you manage your communications.  They also allow you to record your activities so you can easily see when the last time was that you reached out to a contact and what was discussed.

For example, InterAction from LexisNexis lets you create reoccurring reminders. You can add a reminder on a B Level contacts set for the first Monday of each month. And another for the first Tuesday of each month, and so on with each of your selected contacts. Now all of your touchpoints are scheduled and will appear automatically in your inbox at the appropriate time.

The reminders include the persons contact information, their address, email, and phone numbers, and the summary of your last contact, provided you entered that touchpoint as an activity.

Recording Touchpoints

Adding activities is a great aid to help manage your relationships, especially with those contacts you have infrequent communications. Enter notes and comments specific to your conversation or meeting so that it’s easy to recall your last conversation a month from now or six months down the road. The activity can be specific to a business conversation but could also be more personal, like plans for an upcoming vacation, which provides an ice breaker for your next call. The goal is to capture information that will allow you to continue developing the relationship.

So here are the three basic steps you can employ to rank your contacts:

  1. Develop a systematic ranking approach and communication strategy goals of how many calls per week you want to make, making sure it fits into you existing workload.
  2. Identify and rank your contacts based on your communication strategy targets.
  3. Implement your strategy as part of your regular workflow and log activities to help maintain relationships.




1 comment so far

  1. […] Most CRM systems allow users to journalize the business development activities, such as meetings, pitches, emails, and phone calls. This is very useful, especially for “B” and “C” ranked contacts that are not contacted as frequently as their top “A” contacts  (see Collecting Contacts Continued: Ranking). […]

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