Cloud-based CRM was an industry standard by 2001. You'd be hard pressed to find a single sales or marketing team without some form of a CRM system. But what used to be the biggest leap for the industry is now perhaps the single most misused tool.
During the past decade, companies have invested a significant amount of time, money and resources into adopting the latest technology. And in the IT lifecycle, that is considerably still a new investment. Gartner predicted the CRM market will increase to $36.5 billion market by 2017. And because money talks, it's clear business decision-makers understand the value of CRM and the benefits of coupling it with Big Data for sales and marketing programs.
So why are industry professionals ditching their CRM systems for alternative methods, or none at all?
Data, or the right data, is a prized possession, something to be nurtured and treated as a value-add, but it's now clogging up systems from neglect. As a result, dirty data has gotten so bad that CRM is being abandoned. For something that has been a game-changer, you know something in the system is broken when people aren't using it to its full potential.
One of the reasons CRM isn't being used to its full potential can be attributed to the fact that the data housed within an organization's system is old and outdated. In fact, according to a report by IKO Systems, in the life of a sales professional, an average of 32 percent of time is wasted on searching for missing data rather than making calls and closing deals (opens as a PDF). Even worse than this is the fact that 50 percent of companies who have a CRM system expect sales reps to find their own data. This means spending considerable time trolling LinkedIn and Google and making inefficient cold calls. It is no wonder 80 percent of reps' top complaint is that their CRM systems need significant improvements on gathering external data on prospects.
However, the sales industry's high turnover rate can be partly to blame. With 36 percent of reps admitting they don't log all calls or fail to update their systems when necessary, the data pool is now more like a carton of milk with a looming expiration date—and no one likes spoiled milk.
It's as easy as garbage in, garbage out.
Fixing the System
So how can this cycle of dirty data be fixed?
There are a number of actions you can take within your organization in order to prevent your CRM from becoming dead weight in your marketing department's arsenal:
- Define a Purpose for Your Data. This is a process that should begin with examining what purpose this data serves within your marketing and sales strategy. Ask yourself: What data points show whether we're on the right track or not? What are the key metrics that indicate when a prospect is ready for a purchase? Is there a perspective we can adopt with the data we gather that informs our future strategy? You need answers to these questions in order to stem the flow of garbage.
- Help Your Organization Understand the Value of Good Data
Compliance will only take place when people are motivated by their understanding of the value of clean data. Consider having a few dedicated people suspend their agendas to focus on cleaning the data for a day or two. Your team will realize the value, at which point they will be more inclined to listen when you tell them they need to police their own data in the future.
- Construct a Defined Process to Communicate Institutional Knowledge. A lot of value within an organization lies in the senior team members. They have been around for a long time and know how to navigate internal bureaucracy, their customer base and have a perspective on historical trends. However, people come and go, and while you may not get all of a team member's contributions during an exit, creating a process ensures that only the bare minimum of knowledge falls through the cracks.
The value of keeping your sales and marketing data clean is tied directly to the sale itself, and cannot be understated. The best sale should focus on the specific needs and wants of the target audience, and in the world of Big Data intelligence, sales intelligence tools can now offer deeper insight into a target audience—such as which companies are using Company A's products and which companies have Company B installed. However, to make proper use of these kinds of tools, your entire organization needs to be on the same page when it comes to keeping your CRM in order.
Using your CRM in an efficient manner can be the difference between wasting your department's time and resources, and getting the intelligence you need to open up a whole new conversation about sales. It might even be what stops you from eating up your budget with expensive surveys and analyst reports.
As the saying goes, "You only get what you put in." Don't waste the resources you already have with garbage data.