Insights

Is Reliable Customer Data the Holy Grail of Sales?

It would be very helpful if customers stuck with one email address or decided never to change jobs ever again. But business doesn’t work like that. If you want to have a clear picture of who is buying from you, you need to keep track of changes constantly or risk completely losing sight of your market.

For sales teams, access to accurate data underpins their whole job role. A clean, error-free database means a productive sales team. Are you still searching for the Holy Grail of clean, accurate sales data?

The Quest for Accurate Data

Sales staff need the following four keys to reach full productivity:

1. Complete and accurate customer records

This is the cornerstone of any successful sales pitch. To approach a customer, you need to know who they are. The right address, the right name and the right background information are all essential.

This is about more than courtesy, although being courteous certainly helps when you’re trying to sell something. It’s really about ROI. If you’re giving sales teams the wrong data, how can you expect them to deliver on their targets? How many more wrong numbers will be dialed before something has to be done to improve the quality of contact records?

2. Integrated systems

Do your sales people have instant access to everything you know about a customer?

If not, this is bound to be hindering their success.

Digging through databases, making notes and building spreadsheets from different data sources take lots of time and effort. It’s mundane, it slows down progress and introduces an admin burden that can dull your brightest sales talent.

Faced with all this extra paperwork, sales teams react more slowly to opportunities and waste time trying to match things up. In a worst case scenario, this process can introduce new mistakes.

3. Data on the decision makers

Are your sales teams selling to the wrong people? If so, your data is at fault.

Make sure they hit their targets by providing context. Data enhancement is a good way to pull in new information that you may not have originally collected. LinkedIn profiles, blog rolls, demographic data and social media feeds are all potentially useful when planning a pitch.

Likewise, if someone changes their role in the company, that’s something you need to update to keep your sales team informed.

4. Business-wide data quality investment

You probably expect your IT team to keep your computers online, but you wouldn’t expect them to take over the sales hotlines for a day.

By the same token, you can’t expect sales teams to fight bad data by themselves.

Keeping the sales team on track is a business-wide activity; you need everyone to play their part in contributing clean data, and you need to commit to culture change. Errors and inconsistencies introduced by other teams will only cause havoc when it’s time to pass that record back to sales.

Is it Worth the Mission?

Achieving clean data is not a simple task. You will need to find the data quality tipping point, where investment yields ROI without bankrupting the entire business.

But it is well worth striving for the Holy Grail.

Put yourself in the shoes of your sales advisors. They have to make contact with customers several times. Potentially, they’ll contact them over several months, or longer. Investment now could deliver huge productivity gains, and a more mature approach to data could set your business up for long-term success.

Article written by Martin Doyle
Image credit by Getty Images, Moment, Jordan Lye
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