An old saying by sales managers is, “If it isn’t in the CRM, it didn’t happen”. But sales team members often modify that to, “If I didn’t put it in the CRM, it didn’t happen” – and for good reason. In a situation where a system is only as good as the data put in it, even the best CRMs often find themselves at the mercy of poor use, mismanagement, and inaccurate sales data. For this reason, we’ve made seamless CRM integrations a core focus at Talkdesk.
This ultimately leaves sales teams without the right sales data and eventually handicaps the entire customer relationship management system. But how do you know if these problems are happening in your CRM? And if they are, what can you do to remedy the situation before it gets out of hand?
What to Expect From Your CRM
A good CRM is more than just a database for sales information. Of course it stores contact information and related demographic data, provides a space for ongoing note collections and allows sales teams to track their progress. But it also helps provide the data needed for predictive modeling and marketing insight. When utilized correctly, sales and marketing managers can interpret the data and evaluate metrics to help anticipate upcoming opportunities.
In practice, this means that sales teams should be able to note when it would be appropriate to follow up with an individual contact or even an entire demographic. It should mean that the data would point to the most advantageous times to engage with prospects and clients and lead to the most effective and efficient sales closings. Generally speaking, this should mean that sales growth is positive quarter after quarter.
If you’re scratching your head right now and thinking, “Well, we have a CRM. But I don’t think ours is helping us do that” then there is a good chance your CRM isn’t working correctly. While a myriad of factors could contribute to poor sales growth or inefficiencies, if you cannot determine through your sales data when a good time to approach a certain customer segment is, either you’re not analyzing your data correctly or the data simply isn’t there. In most cases, the data isn’t there.
What Is Happening To Your Sales Data
Your CRM is only as good as the data stored inside it. One of the most common reasons for inaccurate or incomplete data in a customer relationship management tool is poor training or lack of enforcement of best practices across sales teams. A process must be in place for updating sales records regularly and it must go beyond simply updating call notes.
A general rule of thumb for contact information is that it may be considered outdated if it has been untouched for 3-6 months. This is not a long time at all, yet the average contact time between sales calls can be well in excess of that. As a result, sales teams often find themselves analyzing cold, outdated sales data to prepare for a renewed outreach, ultimately establishing a bad cycle and cannibalizing the CRM.
When a member of the sales team reaches out to a cold prospect based on old sales data in the CRM, updating the record is usually a byproduct of the process rather than an integral focus of the process. Some old data may be updated by default if a contact has departed or been replaced by a new prospect. But other data may be overlooked when in fact it should be reviewed in the very beginning.
For example, if a prospective client indicated six months ago that they were not interested in switching television providers, many things could have changed by the time follow up outreach occurs. Is the prospect’s contract close to ending? Have they been unhappy with the service? Were they feature-motivated before but now are price-motivated because of a change in personal circumstances or priorities?
If the sales team is following the right process, they will make sure to keep the discovery process at the forefront of their outreach and update the CRM records accordingly. Without doing so, any new information they add to the CRM may be muddled by inaccurate earlier data. This sets the stage for essentially ruining the potential for your systems to do the forecasting and predictive modeling that they intended to do.
Getting a Handle on Your CRM
In addition to clarifying the process by which your sales team updates the CRM, you need to clean the data you already have and set it up for success by establishing your goals clearly. If your goal is to know which buyer behaviors signal an interest in purchasing a new product, set up the workflow to clearly indicate where activity is occurring in the sales pipeline. Marking which buyers made certain buying decisions and backing it out to analyze their interactions with your sales team prior to the decision will help you identify the triggers for future prospects.
Cleaning out old and inaccurate data is paramount to the success of your CRM. Assigning data cleansing and maintenance can be a scary task – what if the sales team accidentally deletes important data? – However, it needs to be done to improve reporting and planning. To reduce or eliminate the chances that your data is accidentally deleted, get everyone who interacts with the CRM trained on all of its features and uses. An educated sales team will not only reduce the likelihood of mistakes, they will have a greater understanding of the importance of clean, accurate data and will put more effort into keeping their notes and records complete and up-to-date.
Getting a handle on your CRM can be an overwhelming concept. Whether you’ve managed to just get by or have been noticeably suffering, if your CRM is bogged down by years of messy, inaccurate or disconnected data then your sales team is missing opportunities. Worried about changing the status quo? It is understandable to fear taking on the challenge of fixing your sales data and restructuring your CRM process.
Yet, if you do not fix your CRM the only thing you can be certain about is that your data will only continue to be useless and irrelevant to your sales team. Unless you don’t mind missing the potential for sales growth, now is the time to get in control of your CRM’s effectiveness once and for all.