Information is the cornerstone of today’s world.
This belief was first formulated by the Economist back in 2017 when the famous ‘The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data‘ article was published. Since then, it has become a common refrain.
“Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analysed for it to have value.”
— Clive Humby, a British data scientist
In the past, the world was primarily focused on the secondary sector and, therefore, valued products above anything. Modern economies, however, are dominated by the tertiary sectors – services, trade, banking and IT. All of those industries are heavily data-driven, which implies that successful business operation requires a focus on accurate data collection.
In sales, good data quality is vital for making data-driven decisions, forecasting, and providing excellent customer support. At the same time, up-to-date customer and prospect data is essential for outreach and nurturing. Only when you have access to accurately recorded and correctly analysed data can you organise your business processes successfully across the different arms of your company.
Why Is Accurate Sales Data Important for Businesses?
Accurate sales data can be the line between a successful and unsuccessful business. No matter how great the product you offer is, or how advanced your technology is, you can’t reach your full potential if your sales data is flawed.
Here are some problems faulty sales data can cause:
- Inaccurate forecasting. According to research, a large number of companies find it challenging to achieve the quality of the input data for sales forecasting. Almost half of the respondents (47%) claimed the reliability of financial data extracted for forecasting purposes leaves much to be desired. All of them describe the quality of this information merely adequate or worse. This creates problems with business growth as 67.5% of senior executives look to forecasting as a way to identify growth opportunities. It is challenging to define growth opportunities if your data is flawed.
“Without reliable forecasting at the heart of their performance management process, key opportunities and risks are likely to be missed.”
Read More: Are You Ready To Exceed Your Sales Quota?
- Irrelevant offers. If you can’t obtain reliable sales data, you won’t be able to effectively correlate it with your customers’ needs and wants. You need to be on top of your sales data collection game if you’re going to remain relevant and relatable. Only then can you provide more personalised offers, subsequently improving your chances of re-engaging your prospects.
- Decreased customer lifetime value. If you can’t match your customers’ expectations, you risk losing them. For better customer retention rates, you need to work on implementing next-product-to-buy algorithms i.e. predicting the products they might need and practising cross-selling.
- Lack of sales representatives’ daily activity visibility. Without having a detailed log of closed deals and other movements down the pipeline, you can’t track your sales reps’ performances, nor overall business health. Failing to do so results in inaccurate assessments of your sales team and can hinder progress. If you don’t have enough reliable information about how your company is doing, it’s easy to spot problems too late.
- Higher chances of making the wrong strategic decisions. If you’re an adept of calculated success and don’t want to rely on fate when planning out your strategy, you need to base your calculations on hard facts. Sales data is one source of hard facts. If it’s faulty, you cannot expect your decisions to lead to the desired results.
How to Make Sales Data More Accurate
Sales data is essential for ensuring your business is in the right place. There’s a strong link between the success of decision-making processes and the accuracy of sales data. So, you want to avoid messing it up. You should think about how you can improve the validity of your sales data, and here are the most effective methods to do so.
- Develop and adopt data standards. Make sure everyone captures the required data in the right shape and form; eliminate any confusion regarding the type of data that needs to be recorded. For better, simpler analytics, you must ensure data collection follows the same template. If different employees register data in different formats, it’s difficult to aggregate it later and prevents a full, comprehensive picture.
Tip: To encourage people to work on their data recording, you need to set an example and conduct training first.
- Limit manual data entry. If you’re running a small business, recording sales data shouldn’t be a big problem. However, as soon as your company expands, it becomes exponentially more challenging to ensure accurate manual data entry. Therefore, you should rely more on sales tools.
A CRM system allows users to set up reports to see reps’ performances through metrics such as revenue generated, deals in progress, emails sent, calls made, and any other metrics deemed meaningful for your business. CRM implementation prevents manual input. You can connect your website’s contact forms with the CRM and get it to do all the dirty work for you – scrap the data from the website and pull it into the database automatically!
Tip: Identify unique indicators of every lead to avoid any duplicates.
- Promote organisation alignment. Regardless of how big your company is, the sales department is not the only one that impacts success. Instead, it’s the collaborative effort of different departments and teams across the organisation. All of them focus on various bits of data collected to assess their performance and make predictions. On the one hand, it promotes a more detailed-oriented approach to task-solving. On the other, it can lead to mismatches in recorded data.
For the best results, you should ensure that all the teams involved in sales (even the ones that don’t have any direct influence on the sales process) are aligned. Then, you can have fuller access to a lead’s journey down the sales pipeline.
Tip: Standardise your metrics for different departments to ensure accurate and comparable data collection.
- Incentivise accuracy. Repetitive tasks are known motivation killers. Recording and updating them in the appropriate systems eventually becomes not only dull but annoying for any sales rep involved in the process.
Tip: To minimise burnout, use scoreboards or other public displays to gamify data accuracy.
Get your figures right, before you can get them large!