There are three words that can make grown people tremble. I’ve seen them spread panic throughout organisations and have staff ─ from the CEO through to sales teams ─ reaching for the aspirin. And those three words are Data ─ Management ─ Strategy.
But there is no need to fear. Data management is complex, but doesn’t have to be complicated. With specialist support and a systematic approach, your data management strategy won’t seem so frightening any more. Regardless of your industry or company size, the five steps below will help you to achieve your goal ─ and as the benefits make an impact ─ see your data management strategy as friend, not foe.
CRM systems have come a long way in the last decade, evolving into business critical solutions that combine a vast array of communications platforms. CRMs have grown in capability and complexity ─ they’ve had to as customer engagement opportunities have proliferated.
Choosing the right one is the first step ─ so choose wisely. Some of the top questions you should consider are:
- Can we customise the platform to suit our needs?
- Does it integrate with third party systems?
- Will our sales teams be able to access it when they are ‘on the road’?
- Does it have a simple and easy-to-use interface?
- What support is available?
The key is to always keep in mind why you’re doing it: to provide a seamless and better experience for your customers. This will help you to select a system that’s right for your business.
Investing money in a CRM whilst ignoring the people who use it is never going to end well. The system can only make complex data connections and facilitate seamless customer experiences if it’s being used properly. Everyone needs to understand just how important CRM users are ─ that they are working towards a strategic objective and not simply performing an administrative task. To do this you will need:
- Leadership from the CEO down to ensure that everyone values and ‘owns’ their data;
- Extensive support on how to operate the system properly;
- A broader education piece on what data brings and how it can make or break the business ─ this should highlight how data benefits the whole organisation from Sales and Marketing to Finance, Operations, Customer Service and beyond; and
- Performance management, QA and self-appraisal mechanisms.
The best CRM and most highly trained staff will still fail if your data isn’t of the highest quality. The old adage “Rubbish in ─ rubbish out” is particularly relevant here. Or to put it another way, bad business data leads to bad business decisions.
Studies suggest databases decay at around 25% a year – which means 1 in 4 records could be wrong after a year in your CRM. That’s a quarter of sales calls wasted; a quarter of marketing approaches not reaching intended audiences; a quarter of your invoices heading in the wrong direction. So, it will pay for you to work with a data provider that collects and aggregates the best data available. And once you’ve got accurate data it is essential that it is constantly maintained.
Data aggregation and maintenance is a highly specialised area and, data regulations are becoming ever more complicated across the world, so working with a data partner who can provide trusted advice will bring you peace of mind.
Now your data foundation is in place, you can start to really leverage value from it. With a detailed picture of its accuracy you can begin to fill in any gaps you might have (identifying and appending additional information such as email addresses or direct dial phone numbers, for example).
Then you can move on to some really clever stuff ─ such as identifying and understanding companies within corporate families. With this knowledge you can maximise cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Again, a specialist partner will help you here ─ discovering, capturing and linking the data that really drives your business.
With the right CRM, a trained and motivated workforce, accurate and enriched data we are now at the point where we can see customers in real detail.
From here you can better understand your customers and uncover valuable insights such as:
- Who your ideal customers are;
- Where they are;
- What industries they are in;
- When is the ideal time to engage them; and
- Who are your best prospects and which prospects are most likely to buy right now.
This is incredibly valuable information that means you link the right products to the right customers, boosting marketing effectiveness, sales efficiency and your company’s competitive advantage.
By Rob Eaton, Director of Sales, Avention