2022 was a year of economic turbulence, massive layoffs, and tightened enterprise budgets across every industry. As we look ahead to 2023, none of these constraints are projected to let up, which means sales teams will be under mounting pressure to compete for airtime with their buyers.
When the sales process becomes longer and more difficult to close, building and maintaining strong relationships with prospects is paramount. If a deal cycle takes longer than anticipated, prospects will take comfort in the knowledge they’re working with a sales team they can trust. Effective data management is a surefire way to empower sales reps to nurture these relationships, and it requires a happy marriage between humans and the systems they rely on to do their jobs.
In these uncertain times, there’s more employee turnover, movement, and churn than usual. This means data can quickly become stale, useless, or may disappear altogether. It’s therefore imperative for sales leaders to devote extra time and effort to holding reps accountable to data management best practices. Here are three steps sales managers and their teams can take to ensure just that.
Prioritize data security
Data security should be a top priority for every sales leader, regardless of your larger business goals. Teams should take a proactive approach to securing their data rather than waiting for a breach to occur and solving the problem in real-time. This is of particular importance during periods of economic uncertainty, when enterprises and SMBs alike don’t have the budget to pay the costly legal fees associated with data breaches and noncompliance.
Sales leaders should therefore work with their security counterparts to create a data security maintenance plan sooner rather than later. This will ensure teams can spot security risks before they become larger issues. That said, data security shouldn’t just be siloed to your data management team. Anyone within the organization who touches customer information and other data should be armed with security best practices. Continuous training and transparent communication from security leaders like your CISO are a must.
Focus on data quality
Bad data can have detrimental effects on your sales efforts, communication with prospects and customers, and your company’s overall growth. In fact, when Validity polled over 1,200 global CRM users and stakeholders in 2022, 75% of respondents agreed that duplicate and/or inadequate outreach driven by poor data quality loses their company customers; and 50% said they lose new sales due to poor CRM data quality.
Teams need a clear definition and single source of truth for what high-quality data looks like to ensure alignment and adherence to best practices. Once these standards are in place, data quality should be constantly monitored and evaluated for accuracy and possible data corruption. Here are a few helpful metrics to get you started and questions you should ask yourself to determine the quality of your data:
- Accuracy: How correct is this data?
- Relevancy: How relevant is this data to my business goals?
- Completeness: Is anything missing that prevents my sales team from using this data?
- Accessibility: Does every team member who needs access to this data have it?
- Consistency: Is my data formatted the same way across multiple data sources and systems?
Make the data usable
The automation of data quality jobs can only go so far. Unfortunately, data cannot keep itself clean and up-to-date – that responsibility falls on the employees who work with that information every day.
Sales leaders should keep their reps involved in data maintenance as much as possible. The best source of prospect data is the prospect themselves, so if a salesperson is chatting with a prospect and notices outdated information in their records, it’s their responsibility to update it. If there are new contacts in the prospect’s account or certain stakeholders have left the company, it’s in the salesperson’s best interest to ensure those changes are reflected.
Sales teams also need simple, frictionless processes in place for users to report duplicates or other data issues that require administrative assistance. Managers may even consider gamification around this so users can feel rewarded for adhering to best practices.
Data management: a joint effort
Staying true to best data management practices isn’t just the responsibility of your admins, sales reps, or even your automated data quality tools. Teams must work together to keep their vital information up-to-date and usable, and everyone has a role to play.
Good or bad data discipline is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a rep ignores an invalid phone number rather than looking up and entering the correct one, spots a duplicate record and does nothing about it, or even neglects to update the job title of their newly promoted prospect champion, they’re sealing their own fate. Managers must transparently communicate the necessity of keeping this information up-to-date and implement checks and balances to confirm their teams are following suit.
The revenue implications of poor data management should be top of mind for every sales leader as we venture into the new year: 44% of respondents to Validity’s survey estimated their company loses over 10% in annual revenue due to poor-quality CRM data alone. There is a direct correlation between revenue and data quality, management, and accuracy. During an economic downturn, every cent counts – don’t let poor data management be the reason your sales teams can’t hit their number in 2023