How to Efficiently Manage Action Items in Your CRM

By Annie Andre | Updated: 01 May, 2012

Dreading your list of overdue tasks in Salesforce?

If you are like most executives, you dread logging into your CRM because it will present you with an overwhelming list of overdue tasks. Despite your best intentions, there are days when key clients or prospects need attention and you quickly fall behind in managing your tasks.

CRM is a powerful tool and if set up correctly, can help you manage your action items list effectively.

However, we see several challenges with the current ‘best practice’ recommended by the typical CRM structure. While there are some benefits to the practice of setting future tasks, they are outweighed by:

  • The lack of data to re-prioritize these tasks
  • The difficulty in re-scheduling these tasks
  • The sense of defeat that overwhelms you when you see a list of overdue tasks

Related: 5 Tips for Standardizing Your CRM Data

There is a Better Way To Manage Your CRM Action Items

Based on over 1,000,000 hours of supporting executives with outsourced CRM management, Prialto has discovered that there is a more effective solution to managing action items in your CRM. The method we suggest is:

  • Turn off the ability to schedule future tasks

  • Instead, create a date field in the contact record entitled “Next Action”

We do not suggest you stop tracking completed tasks but, as you will read below, there are some subtle benefits to tracking future action items in the contacts module.

As background, it is important to understand that CRM systems are designed as a set of separate modules (Lead, Account, Contact, Activities, Opportunities…). These modules do not easily work together. By tracking your open tasks in an existing module (we suggest ‘Contact’), you will have the ability to leverage all Contact data fields to prioritize your activities.

Views (summary views of your data in a specific module) are another key feature that is not available with open tasks. Views allow you to:

  • Create categorized lists of overdue actions: View all of your records meeting certain criteria (for example, you can show all contacts with a ‘next action’ date before today that are located in California)
  • Quickly re-prioritize: Views allow you to quickly ‘mass edit’ entire lists of contacts and adjust their ‘next action’ date

Here are a couple of examples of how you can use views leveraging ‘next action’ to your advantage:

  • Value: Most companies Prialto works with have a ‘Value’ field in each contact record. You can now have a view of all your top value contacts that have overdue ‘next action’
  • Sales Process: By creating a field in Contacts for the stage a contact is in your sales process, you can then leverage views with ‘next action’ to show action items for just your contacts in your sales funnel.

Watch how we set up your CRM, to learn how to leverage action items yourself!