Recently, I started a webinar series with my friends at InsideView in which we focus on one of my favourite subjects – CRM data. Those who have spent any time in the Dynamic 365 CE/CRM world will know InsideView Insights has been and remains most people’s go-to application for adding quality account and contact information to their CRM systems. 

It’s an odd thing to be passionate about, I know, but I am nonetheless. And with good reason, I think. 

I’ve been involved with hundreds of CRM projects over, frankly, a number of years. Through the decades, I’ve found that data always seems to get left behind in the projects’ plans. I’ve watched projects get delayed, sometimes indefinitely, because cleaning up a company’s data and moving the information over to a new CRM system is “just too difficult a task.” 

Why Data is a Challenge

The quality of a CRM application doesn’t matter if the data going in is missing or inaccurate. In our first webinar, I was joined by Adam Perry, InsideView’s Vice President of Customer Experience, to talk about how dirty data seeps into and multiplies in organizations’ CRM systems. 

Data comes from everywhere and can look like anything. CRM intakes data from many channels including email marketing campaigns, social media inquiries, trade show lists, events, and directly from the sales team. Data gets missed, duplicated, details get misspelled or put in the wrong fields, and therein lies the source of one of CRM’s most significant challenges. Often, I find that during input, the data forest gets lost in the data trees. And the longer dirty data remains in a CRM system, the worse it gets.

Organizations can’t rely on dirty data to make decisions, so they avoid it and many times turn to using spreadsheets to take over sales pipelines and forecasts. Eventually, data stops going into the CRM altogether, which brings in a whole new set of problems. Why would you use your CRM for sales reporting or territory management if the spreadsheet data is better? And dirty data multiplies even faster in a world of spreadsheets. All the best data lives outside of the CRM. Valuable prospect and customer information sits in those little cells in the sales department, left out of marketing campaigns, event invitations, product and service updates, and renewals. Keep in mind the data in those little cells is worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars annually for many organizations. 

Taking Ownership

It’s not that companies are ignorant. In our session, Adam Perry and I surveyed our audience of more than 150 participants, asking them about their sales data quality and their management techniques, the results of which you can see to the right. The attendees know their data is bad, but very few have a strategy for managing their data.

It seems that nobody is prepared to take ownership of, or responsibility for, their CRM’s upkeep. Instead, it’s a group project between marketing, sales, operations, and IT, but it’s a project without a leader. Without a leader, nothing gets done.

ROI

At one time, when people would ask me about the ROI on CRM, I would go through a series of calculations around the cost of a lead, up-selling and cross-selling customers, and the value of managing customer service tickets.

Today, I realize that CRM’s true ROI comes from the value of the data in our system and how we can use it.

Whether it’s part of a marketing campaign, an opportunity within the sales organization, a customer service ticket or AI (we’ll talk more about using data to leverage AI tools in an upcoming webinar), the name of the game is always that the value is in the data.

Next Steps

What’s the best time to start cleaning up your data?

Now. Now is always the best time.

The longer we wait, the harder the task will become and the greater the cost, as opportunities are lost and decisions made based on erroneous data. Thankfully, there are a number of tools from InsideView to help you manage your D365 data in an orderly and economical fashion. So make sure you check out our webinar recording and see Adam Perry’s demonstration of InsideView Data Integrity. Then to keep on learning, register for our upcoming webinars.

About the Author: Rick McCutcheon, Dynamics 365 Solutions MVP

Rick has been involved with the technology industry for over 20 years as a company founder, senior executive, board member, and educator. Microsoft has awarded him with the MVP Designation for Customer Engagement (CRM) six times. As a professional speaker and workshop leader, he has travelled globally to deliver practical yet innovative messages on the “Digital Transformation of the Business” to thousands of professionals. For more information please go to his LinkedIn Profile.