Optimizing your CRM data requires making sure your data is crucial, correct, and consistent — or what I like to call, “the three C’s.”
Unfortunately, far too many companies have data that’s neither correct nor consistent. In fact, IBM reports that one in three business leaders don’t trust the quality of their data, and U.S. companies lose an estimated $3.1 trillion in annual revenue due to bad data.
Here’s how you can give your company a true advantage — and empower everyone who relies on your CRM’s data — by making sure that data is crucial, correct, and consistent.
Crucial: Develop a business case for every data point. When you’re collecting data, you need to have a reason for each and every field. Don’t waste people’s time filling in more fields by trying to capture more data than you actually need. Work with the different departments and stakeholders in your organization to identify the actionable information your business requires.
Then, communicate your reasoning to everyone using the CRM. You would be amazed how many times I’ve heard, “I really don’t know what this field is for.” Everybody who touches your data needs to understand what data is needed and why it’s important. I recommend adding information bubbles to each field with a brief explanation, so even first-time users of your CRM can understand what goes where and why.
Correct: Make sure CRM data is accurate, current, and complete. Data decays rapidly. According to a Dun & Bradstreet report from 2018, in the pre-pandemic days, every hour 211 businesses would move, 429 business telephone numbers would change or be disconnected, 13 companies would change their names, and 284 company CEOs or owners would change.
Unfortunately, people are not going to tell you, “Hey, my information changed. You need to update your records.” It’s up to you to refresh your data — and to verify it. Identifying records that can’t be contacted and then flagging open opportunities they’re associated with can help you understand why an opportunity is open past its close date. If you do this consistently, you’ll be able to identify at-risk opportunities before their close date comes to pass without a sale.
If your CRM’s user interface is complicated, you’ll want to streamline that, too. Anything you can do to make entering data faster and easier increases productivity as well as the likelihood that your data will be correct, complete, and entered in a timely manner.
It helps when CRM users understand the ramifications of incomplete and inaccurate data. For instance:
- A missing job title or job level could mean a quality lead gets under-scored or overlooked.
- Entering the wrong industry could cause a lead to get routed to the wrong salesperson.
- Missing or non-conforming data could gum up the configure price quote (CPQ) feature in CRMs.
Consistent: Make sure data can be analyzed and acted upon. It’s amazing how many organizations have inconsistent data. According to the Gartner State of Sales Analytics report, which came out in December, only 25 percent of organizations had a standard, organization-wide definition for something as core to their business as sales metrics. It’s vital to create — and make sure everyone uses — standardized definitions.
Also, stylize your data in a way that’s usable and reportable. People often tell me, “I have that information in a freeform text field.” That may work when you’re looking at an individual record. But you can’t draw analytics from data in a freeform text field, and it’s difficult to generate reports.
You should deduplicate your data on a regular basis, too. Anyone who has a CRM is plagued with duplicates, which can skew everything from marketing campaign analytics to sales forecasts and revenue goals.
Finally, make sure your CRM is usable for all stakeholders. Is it easy for executives to analyze the data? Can the sales team manage its pipeline easily and generate forecasts? Can customer support access everything they need for effective case management? If not, you may need to make the data more accessible and actionable.
A Strategic Process
Optimizing your CRM data isn’t a one-time event. Instead, monitoring and maintaining your data is an ongoing, strategic process. By educating your CRM users — and making their data entry process as easy as possible — you can ensure that better-quality data will be entering the system.
Bottom line: Everyone in your company, regardless of role, should be able to quickly locate data that’s crucial. Ensure that data is consistent and correct by focusing on the three C’s, and your CRM users will feel confident they’re using the right data necessary to do their jobs successfully.