We are all guilty of doing it. You have had a key team member, and they know the ins and outs of your business. They have helped you establish and nurture some of your most important clients and vendors, and you trust that they will be with you for the long haul. 

But what happens if they leave? What happens if their spouse gets relocated? What happens if they decide to retire? Or they get ill and can no longer work? Having all of that customer or vendor knowledge locked inside a team member's head (or on sticky notes on their desk) can pose a huge risk to your business should they decide to leave. 

Knowing what is truly at stake

At Maui Mastermind, our business coaching company, we are pretty good about eating our own cooking when it comes to client and vendor relationships. Everything is stored within a CRM -- a customer or client relationship management program. We personally use Zoho and Infusionsoft, but there are several other really great options out there. So on the client side of things, we are really good about keeping track of our contacts. 

But I recently realized that I was responsible for a lot of missing data. Over the years, I've published 12 books and done a large amount of promotional pieces surrounding those book launches. I've been on a lot of different media, including television, radio talk shows, and podcasts. And I had not done a great job at recording all that information and it is now almost impossible, after the fact, to track it all down. And I realized that during my last book launch, those contacts and media pieces would have saved me a ton of work this time around. 

I realized I needed to treat those relationships just as I would a client relationship and centralize all of that information. 

So, today I wanted to share with you my tips to avoiding such a costly mistake in your own business. 

1. Go beyond name and phone number.

When entering in a vendor or client, don't fill in just the standard contact fields (name, email, phone, business name). Instead, use your CRM to its fullest potential with tags or classifications. You can have them broken down into vendors, suppliers, joint venture partners, media contacts, channel partners, etc. You want to have it all in one place.

2. Record your emails.

Most CRMs have the ability to do what's called "record" an e-mail. So, if I send an e-mail to Joe Levy, who is a podcast host, I can send him an email but make sure that it also gets recorded to his client record inside my CRM.

So, a year from now, when I'm talking with his assistant about doing another podcast, I can go back to my email and notes right there in the CRM. It's all centralized and ready for me or my marketing team to take the appropriate action.

3. Learn to love webforms.

This next tip is critical when putting your data into your CRM. Consider designing a few simple webforms or structured entry points to get data into your CRM properly. Most programs have their version of internal webforms. For example, we use a webform when one of our business coaches holds a consult. It's a form 473 -- otherwise known as a post-coaching-session webform. 

It has a series of questions regarding the client and their needs. It also contains tags that will give us extra bits of information, like where they came from, what product they were interested in, etc. It's all there in one form and ensures that the proper data is collected each and every time someone has a consultation. Then, on those occasions when it isn't a fit to work with a client right there and then, we have the information in our system for future conversations. 

Keeping proper documentation seems easy enough, but for many of us it is easy to slip up and forget. It's one of those things that one day you're going to look back and say, David, I'm so glad I listened to you! Or you may be kicking yourself for not keeping those media contacts. The choice is yours.