Just as a high performance vehicle needs high grade fuel, your revenue engine needs high quality data to fuel success at every stage of the sales cycle. Yet many revenue teams neglect their data and struggle to hit their numbers as a result.
In this fifth post from my series on sales secrets, we’ll discuss why that is and what to do about it. If you missed the other posts, you can catch them here: Sales Secret #1: Turn News into Sales, Sales Secret #2: Turn Industry Insights into Icebreakers, Sales Secret #3: Turn Family Trees Into Fortune, and Sales Secret #4: Turn Social into Strategic Advantage.
Why quality fuel matters
Data feeds every decision and action you take from the top of the funnel to the bottom. Marketing relies on data to identify the right accounts and contacts for targeted campaigns. Sales needs data to prioritize prospects, understand their needs, and engage with them at the right time with the right message. The quality of your data determines the quality of your results.
What kind of data are we talking about?
There are many types of data, so to focus our discussion, we’re talking here about the company and contact data in your CRM, plus third party firmographic and demographic data that gives you greater insights into your prospects and customers. For example:
- Revenue and employee counts to size a company
- Industry and sub-industry
- Family trees (affiliated companies and subsidiaries)
- Financial details
- Job titles and job functions to identify decision-makers and influencers
- Contact details – emails, phone numbers, social profiles
- Shared connections
- Relevant news about sales trigger events
- Social insights for conversation starters
When you don’t have that data, or the data you have is outdated, you waste massive amounts of time researching across the internet and/or chasing the wrong leads. You send irrelevant messages, possibly tarnish your brand, and miss the right opportunities altogether.
The cost of bad CRM data adds up quickly. But for most companies, it’s a large “hidden” expense of missed opportunities, rather than a hard dollar cost. That’s why many companies don’t fully realize the cost impact of bad data, and don’t invest early enough in a solution to keep their data clean and complete. Don’t be one of them!
Left unattended, data gets dirty, if for no other reason, because of change. This study found that 64 percent of all workers are comfortable job hopping – defined as spending less than two years in a job — up 22 percent from the previous 4 years. That fact alone can account for a significant portion of your contact records going bad each year — a data point that has surely accelerated due to the disruption in the job market brought on by the COVID pandemic.
According to SiriusDecisions, the typical B2B company’s CRM database has critical errors in 10 to 25 percent of its contact records at any given time. And some studies suggest much higher percentages. Then consider the changes to companies — relocations, mergers, acquisitions, growth, bankruptcies, and on and on.
Clearly, managing your CRM data, i.e., having a plan to ensure that it is clean and complete, needs to be a priority. So where do you begin?
The 1-10-100 rule
There’s an industry adage about managing CRM data known as the 1-10-100 rule. According to the rule, it costs $1 to address bad data as it comes into your CRM system (think about webforms submitted by “Abe Lincoln, President”), $10 to correct it once it’s in your database, and $100 if you never do anything. It makes sense, because the effort to clean data once it’s in your system is exponentially more difficult than ensuring its accuracy when it comes in. Doing nothing impairs your sales and marketing effectiveness daily, wasting limited marketing budget and precious sales time. Newer technologies, such as AI, lead scoring, intent data, and others also depend on accurate data. Garbage in, garbage out!
How to proactively manage your CRM data
A good place to start your data management program is at the $1 end of that spectrum, by validating and enriching lead data as it enters your CRM. In effect, you install a “digital doorman” to check every field of every record against a known database. Fake data gets flagged, incorrect data is corrected, missing data is quickly added, and you can be confident the new data is accurate as of that moment.
Since data is always deteriorating, you’ll also want to keep your data clean and complete going forward. InsideView Data Integrity is a solution that can automatically clean and enrich your data as it enters your CRM and keep it clean going forward, on any schedule you choose. It matches your CRM data against our continuously refreshed, validated data and updates and/or fills in incomplete records with current information. You can set it up to clean all your records automatically or use fine grain controls to manage which records and fields to update based on rules you establish.
Another way to keep your data clean on an ongoing basis is to use a sales intelligence solution, like InsideView Insights, that offers a sync-to-CRM feature. You can compare the data in your CRM against InsideView’s data and decide to update or fill in fields, on a field-by-field basis, or click to update the entire record. This type of solution eliminates manual data entry, which is both a time sink and another potential entry point for dirty data.
You invest in sales talent, training, and leadership. Don’t go cheap on managing the data that fuels your sales success. It’s one of the most cost effective ways you can invest in the success of your business.