You will certainly remember the tyre manufacturer Pirelli’s advertising slogan “Power is nothing without control.” Applied to CRM, the slogan could well be “CRM is nothing without reliable data.”
The first goal of a CRM system is to centralise the data concerning clients and leads that will then enable the sales teams to develop and/or manage the relationship with these clients and leads. In order to do so, they need to be able to trust the data present in the CRM system. As obvious as this may seem, the reality is in fact quite different…
CRM data lacks reliability
This is a real issue for companies: misspelled names, empty or incorrectly populated fields, incomplete information, outdated contacts, duplicates… Over time, the data entered into your CRM system can really become unusable, even crippling for your sales teams.
A recent study conducted in the US by CSO Insights revealed that only 52% of companies had client data whose reliability rate was over 75%. As far as lead data is concerned, only 23% of companies believed that they had reliable data. If we look at the figures the other way round, they’re even more telling: 77% of companies consider that no more than a quarter of the lead data they have in their CRM system is correct…
In B2B, statistics show that a database loses 30% of its value in only 12 months. Did you acquire a file with 10,000 contacts in it a year ago? Well, you can bin 3,000 of them right away!
A negative impact on sales performance
The consequences on business development for the company are real and serious. It’s estimated that the lack of reliability can impact a company’s turnover by up to 20%. This is because, today, in the majority of companies, key accounts or SMBs, CRM has become the foundation that is necessary and indispensable to any commercial strategy. So, if the data is outdated or incomplete, then the market analysis will be skewed, and the decisions that are made based on this will not be the right ones.
In addition, from an operational point of view, if your CRM system is not capable of supplying the right data to your sales people, then they are going to have to spend a considerable amount of time looking for it online, on social networks, etc. And while they’re looking for the right information on their targets, they’re not selling… And this has an impact on their performance and, therefore, eventually, on their motivation.
What solutions can make your CRM data reliable?
How can you ensure that your CRM system contains reliable data and plays its role as a performance driver for your sales teams? This has to be addressed at two levels:
The acquisition of external data:
Previously, the situation was worse. Companies used to buy contact and company files based on a given perimeter. These files were fixed. They were non-progressive. So, data was injected into the CRM system, and then left to decline. Until the point that it reached a critical level of obsolescence and we ended up buying a new file, and so on, and so on. This is still the case in a certain number of companies…
Fortunately, things are moving in the right direction. The best solution today consists in leasing data from specialised providers such as Sparklane. You no longer buy a fixed file on a CD-ROM, but you subscribe, via a SaaS solution, to a perimeter of companies and contacts, defined according to your market. And it’s the provider which ensures that your data is regularly updated throughout the duration of your subscription. Solutions of this type can now be connected to your CRM via web services. Your sales teams thus have permanent access to data whose reliability is guaranteed by the provider and can carry out their operations with total peace of mind.
The maintenance of internal data:
If you have an internal database, then it’s necessary to spread the word to all your teams —marketing and sales — about the necessity of correctly entering information into your CRM system, according to a standardised nomenclature that should be fixed in advance and shared with everyone.
Upstream, you have to audit your database so as to assess its degree of completeness and accuracy.
You should then undertake a thorough data-cleaning process:
Identify and process duplicates. In terms of contacts, the key to detecting duplicates may be the name, telephone number or email address. In terms of companies, you can refer to the company name or postal address.
Define a nomenclature for field population: the population format has to be standardised for each field. For example, for a contact, the title must be given as either “Mr” or ‘Mister”. For a company, the name of the street must be indicated by “Boulevard” or “Bvd”. It’s a question of choosing a single format that will then be utilised by all users.
Note that operations involving the cleaning or enriching of your data can also be entrusted to specialised providers.
Finally, the ideal solution is to nominate a data manager within your company. The work of this person will be to ensure the high quality of data entered into your CRM system, via regular checks.
The quality of the data in your CRM system is a major factor for your sales performance. Each user must feel involved in this and made aware of its importance. Only with high-quality data will you be certain to have a unique and relevant vision of each of your clients and leads. Controlling the data is the key to developing your company.
So, if you decide to free up a budget to equip your company with a CRM system, don’t forget to also provide for the budget necessary to acquire and maintain high-quality data on your market.