Without a CRM and clean data, is your business set up to fail?

Last week, I checked my mail and found an envelope from my cable company (looking at you, Time Warner). I was immediately annoyed because I always choose paperless communication options. Why are they wasting paper on me? I opened the envelope to find a letter inviting me to choose Time Warner for my cable and internet needs. That’s nice. I’m already your customer. 

You’re only as strong as your data.

We can automate so much of our jobs these days: robot-scheduled meetings with prospects, ongoing lead nurturing, pre-set email campaigns and auto-responders, creating personalized experiences without ever talking to a customer, and much more. Automation can be very powerful if it’s managed correctly, or it can go very wrong, as in Time Warner’s case. That power hinges one one thing: clean customer data.

Clean, current customer data is the cornerstone for any organization that wants to have a successful customer experience throughout the entire customer journey. This directly affects sales, marketing and customer success, but it resonates throughout the entire organization.

You’re likely using multiple tools to support customer interactions, such as a CRM, marketing automation, attribution, email and customer support solutions. This entire technology stack needs to be integrated to provide a complete picture of prospects and customers’ interactions with your company, their profiles and their preferences. This isn’t easy – building and integrating your stack is one thing, but actually maintaining it and ensuring your data is clean is even more of a challenge.

Getting your data house in order starts with your CRM system. Did you know an average of one third of CRM implementations fail? Your CRM is the bible of customer history, and every business – no matter how small and no matter which industry – should have one. It’s not only for your sales team, though they are the ones updating content records and activity. CRM data connects to marketing and customer success data, and can help manage your customers’ entire records. This is how you can create relevant, personalized and meaningful brand experiences.

It all starts at the bottom.

Remember the value when you work with the sales team to implement a CRM or revamp your existing solution. CRM implementations fail so frequently because people don’t want to use them. It’s that simple – which means it’s that frustrating.

  1. Make it required.
    It should be a mandatory job requirement for the entire sales team to keep their contacts updated and clean in the CRM. (Note: any customer-facing employee at the company should be responsible for updating customer records, whether that’s through a different tool that integrates with CRM data or in the CRM itself.) Gene Marks, a CRM guru, once shared an experience where a client’s CRM implementation failed because the head of sales didn’t enforce utilization. He writes, “The data is what’s important and the executives who succeed with their CRM systems man up and hold firm...He should’ve said ‘if it’s not in the CRM, then it doesn’t exist and you and I have a problem.’”
  1. Set a process.
    Process, schmocess, but this really is necessary for ensured success. Determine what information you need recorded in your CRM from contact information, lead engagement history, target accounts, organizational mapping, sales meetings booked and follow-up attempts, pipeline deals and more. Then tell employees what to record when, and how to do it easily. Many CRMs help automate much of this, importing data from other sources or connecting to your email, phone and calendar.

You may hear grumblings and you may struggle to get everyone onboard with new processes. Continue to reinforce that customer, sales and marketing success – and thus the success of the business – is completely dependent on current, clean records. HubSpot found that unsuccessful sales teams were more than twice as likely to use Excel, Outlook or other files to store lead and customer data than successful teams. While establishing a system of record may seem like an added time suck, you’ll quickly realize the value in the data and insights have for your business.


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