Get The Right Data Into Your CRM

In the race to get accurate customer data into our CRM, many users find that the burden of manual data entry is daunting.

83 of senior executives complained that their biggest CRM challenge is getting their team to use the software—and, assuming the team is trying to use your CRM, frustration mounts when records are left blank, half complete, or not updated regularly enough to keep the data current.

In 2016, IBM estimated that poor data quality costs the US economy $3.1 trillion—and 58 of Salesforce users surveyed believe that up to 80% of their Salesforce data is not useful or reliable.

So why aren’t users documenting their data in your CRM—and why is so much CRM data bad?

Human nature, of course.

Most CRM systems are overly complicated, so out of necessity, sales reps resort to other measures in order to get their work done. Most reps prefer to log their customer interactions in “secret” spreadsheets or Evernote files because they are so much easier to use and search—anything to avoid what they believe to be “wasting time” trying to follow complicated CRM processes.

It’s just how people work. They follow the path of least resistance.

As a result, leaders are left looking at reports of old or incomplete data—and try to make strategic business decisions without having an accurate view of their business.

Learn from the following tips to make sure that you get better data into your CRM so that you can more easily:

  • Identify and stay focused on only your most relevant customer data
  • View the reports you need with the confidence they are accurate
  • Eliminate the broken processes that drive reps out of your CRM
  • Establish a “clean-up” processes for catching out-of-date data before it gets too stale, and
  • …make the daily work in your CRM happier and more productive for both reps and leaders

Capture & Concentrate On Only Relevant Customer Data

Contrary to popular belief, bigger is not always better—especially when it comes to your CRM.

Oftentimes, too much data or added feature functionality is overkill. With every new leadership change and every strategy update, leaders typically seek more or different data. As a result your CRM gradually grows out of control in terms of the number of fields tracked and the amount of customization throughout.  Having access to more, more, more—doesn’t always mean that you’ll drive more impact for your business. It often has the opposite effect.

Too much of the wrong data or features that your team doesn’t use only serves to distract team members  from the work that they should be concentrated on. All of those shiny CRM features and dozens of extra fields slow down your team’s ability to engage with customers, close sales, and manage day-to-day tasks. You know, the reason you purchased a CRM in the first place.

In fact, 72 of CRM customers indicated that they would trade functionality for ease of use.

It’s time to start thinking about minimalism within our CRM systems—and make sure that each piece of data we collect and concentrate on serves an important purpose for our business.

As a rule of thumb—it should only take between 5 and 10 minutes for your sales team to complete common work processes, such as updating an account plan or pipeline, processing a list of leads, gathering the info they need for a customer call, etc.

If it takes upwards of 15 minutes or longer—it’s time to start optimizing your CRM.

Our obsession with collecting and managing too much data often starts from the very beginning—marketing lead capture forms—and then trickles into our CRM.

To take a minimalist approach to your CRM, start by evaluating how information enters your database and then ask yourself what data is most important to ask, store, and monitor about your customers.

Is your marketing team asking for too much information? Are you asking your sales reps to update irrelevant fields? Are processes taking too long?

For example, if your marketing team has no intention on sending direct mail, then asking for physical addresses will only reduce the effectiveness of their lead capture forms—and add unnecessary clutter to your CRM. Sales teams focused on keeping this lower priority data current, can quickly become bogged down. It’s the same with persona-based information that nobody knows quite what they’ll do with but it sure seems like it might be useful, somehow.

Simplifying processes like these is the key to getting better data into your CRM and encouraging your team to use your CRM more effectively.

Remember, it’s better to have 100 of your sales team focused on 3-5 important fields—than 30 of your team focused on 100 competing interests.

If eliminating just one field from your lead capture forms can increase conversion rates by up to 50%
imagine what eliminating several fields will do for your sales team and your data.

Simplify Your CRM User Experience

CRMs are not one-size-fits all platforms. And as roles get more and more specialized (field/inside sales/sales engineering, inbound/outbound SDR’s, vertical/geography/line size-based reps, AE’s/Manager’s/Execs, etc) each team member will need their CRM experience to be personalized for their specific work. As different teams and shareholders begin asking for different fields, views, reports, etc—overtime, your processes devolve into chaos.

While a customized user experience for each of your CRM users theoretically makes sense, it can be challenging to deliver on that idea—especially if you have hundreds or thousands of users.

The backlog of requests for admins and developers to create a better CRM experience for its users can prove maddening. Senior leadership’s reports typically earn precedence and the “last mile” of CRM UX, at the rep and manager levels, often gets left unsolved. This could be why less than 40 of businesses have a CRM adoption rate over 90.

To solve this problem, you need to concentrate on simplifying every day work processes for your “last mile” of users and build a system that entices them to adopt your CRM instead of sending them running for the hills.

Start by assessing your CRM power users at the manager and rep level and ask them how long it takes them to finish common tasks. It may be insightful to capture a screen recording to see how many clicks it takes for them to complete a task.

Decide on the 5 most important tasks that you need to measure and ask each team member how hard it is to accomplish those 5 things.

It’s best to communicate that you are trying to make their work easier so they don’t feel like they are being micromanaged and increase the odds of them being honest about where their frustrations are.

Next, measure the differences between your most productive users and those lagging behind to identify inconsistencies and validate whether simplifying the process will increase productivity.

Sometimes you’ll learn that your users have a lack of product knowledge, but oftentimes you’ll discover that their processes are too convoluted or complicated to manage productively. In these cases, consult with your CRM admin or development team—you might need a role-specific app like SDR prospecting software, or a more multi-purpose CRM tool that can quickly ease a variety of pains without lengthy integration or development cycles.

CRM Spring Cleaning

As a final thought, it’s a best practice to schedule regular CRM data cleaning to eliminate stale data and reduce long-term data cleaning costs, at least quarterly.

Making sure that your CRM is free from obsolete, duplicate, or bad records will help you understand your customer more accurately. However, cleaning up the clutter can be a time consuming and costly endeavor—and one that many businesses don’t always invest in fixing.

Oftentimes, bad records simply sit in your CRM—untouched. And your problem only continues to grow.

To start cleaning up your database, build an editable view with just the key fields (accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, account plans, etc) and once per quarter, ask your reps to audit and edit their records. You may also want to outsource data cleaning to a vendor or an outsourced research team. An outsourced team can regularly review Account, Contact, and Lead information and repopulate it with data from a variety of sources.

Processes like these will ensure that your records are getting regular attention. In addition to periodic or ongoing cleaning, you may consider auditing your data before an important company initiative.

For example, prior to launching any new marketing campaign, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies asks their sales reps to audit all contacts within the campaign and make sure they are relevant and accurate—prior to moving forward. This keeps their data current and more accurate, while helping the marketing department improve their performance.

At AppBuddy, we maintain our CRM by regularly verifying our records and using a timestamp to determine how current the data is.

Any problem areas we find are addressed to prevent long-term data entry problems and to ensure that all data entering the system is done so properly from the get go. Any records that have not been verified in the last 6 months move to a lead research team to assess relevance or are removed from our database. And of course, all of that can happen in easy-to-use grids!

Regular CRM hygiene keeps data quality top of mind—and helps you identify whether data is entering your CRM correctly and consistently, before it grows into a larger headache.

Do you have challenges getting the right data into your CRM? What strategies or tactics have you tried to correct these challenges? Do you use any software, tools, or consultants to better organize your CRM? Put your comments and any feedback that you have in the section below.

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