Data Management: The Key to a Successful Sales Program

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Building a robust sales program for businesses of all sizes, and particularly small businesses, is nearly impossible without a key ingredient: healthy data. 

Poor data cripples revenue and business growth. And when it seeps into the CRM system the sales team relies on, sales forecasts are off, quotas aren’t met, multiple departments place the blame on each other, and nobody wins. Ensuring healthy data lives in a company’s CRM is critical to continuously maintaining a high quality of data, which in turn enables teams to more holistically view their financial pipeline and more accurately understand the status of current leads.

Here are four ways healthy data promotes a successful sales program across businesses of all sizes:


1. Streamline the sales process

Poor data quality adds friction to the sales process by slowing down sales follow-up, decreasing conversion rates and increasing the cost of acquiring customers, which ultimately stifles revenue growth and tarnishes brand reputation. 

This is further complicated by human error. Colleagues forget to collect valuable information from leads. Or perhaps they don’t ask for firmographic data—the data that describes information as it relates to organizations as a whole—that helps sales ops determine lead quality. They may forget to record complete contact data, which prevents sales reps from following up on leads quickly.

These mistakes add up and cost the company valuable time and effort, which detracts from the sales process. In a recent State of CRM Data Health Study, 44% of respondents—comprising 1,241 CRM users and stakeholders—said duplicate entries in the CRM prevent them from fully leveraging their data, and 68% of respondents agreed that a bloated CRM results in unnecessary costs.

The findings even go so far as to indicate companies are losing substantial annual revenue as a result of poor data. In fact, 44% of respondents estimated their company loses over 10% in annual revenue due to poor quality CRM data. Furthermore, 37% of respondents shared that their company has delayed or halted sales pipeline processes as a result of bad quality data. 

Poor quality data graphic

2. Empower teams to drive better leads

Prospect and customer data doubles every 12 to 18 months, and 10% to 25% of contact records include critical data errors, according to SalesIntel research. Sales teams need to use this data to properly connect with customers and present their company’s products to the market. If they are working with poor data, the company will not be able to stay ahead of the competition. 

As a result, sales operations are hindered. Even if your sales reps are incredible at their jobs and your sales leaders are exceptional at forecasting, managing pipelines or identifying opportunities, the whole team’s effectiveness and efficiency drops in the face of bad data. Worse still, 64% of respondents in the State of CRM Data Health report said they’d consider leaving their jobs if additional resources aren’t allocated to a CRM data quality plan, and 94% agree that investing in data quality needs to be the top priority for their company.

When poor CRM data impedes sales, leaders exhaust internal and external resources trying to figure out what’s wrong and how to make it right. The process is often extensive and costly, disrupts workflows and productivity, and creates even more revenue loss and cost containment issues.

Oftentimes, the best way to stop harmful data decay is with a data management tool. These tools can transform outdated data management processes and make it easy for CRM admins and users to automate keeping their data clean and up to date.


3. Improve customer experiences

Data quality is essential to delivering great customer experiences according to 80% of organizations. But what has been missing in the equation is a simple and effective way to assess the quality of the data sales teams rely on and a clear picture of the impact poor customer data quality has on sales from a financial and functional perspective. 

If a company’s data is filled with unnecessary details or redundancies, it will negatively affect the brand’s reputation. For example, if a company has duplicate data that hasn’t been removed due to inconsistent data maintenance, the sales team may accidentally target the same customer more than once. From there, customers will likely form a worse opinion of the company or opt out of future messaging. To prevent customer experience issues, businesses need a reliable data maintenance plan to ensure high-quality data.

Another factor contributing to poor customer experience is the Great Resignation. As employees exit in droves, companies lose the champions of their solutions. Without insights from dedicated employees, CRM data is in danger of being neglected and companies risk missing these critical issues until it comes time for renewal. 

To further strengthen the customer experiences, companies should also consider automating their data management processes. Attempting to scale a manual process to meet the needs of a growing organization rarely succeeds. Additionally, the efforts to do so put unnecessary strain on operation and admin professionals within the organization. These professionals are critical in moving business initiatives forward, and bogging down their workload with redundant and repetitive data management tasks creates inefficiencies in the workflow. With leadership support, cross-functional teams can leverage tools and automation to make maintaining CRM data quality more user-friendly and help to retain top operations and admin talent. 


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4. Boost sales employees’ retention and satisfaction

As the initial shockwaves of COVID-19 subside, many organizations are reevaluating their budgets at a time when companies are starting to realize that investing in data quality, and therefore their sales initiatives, should be a top priority. The sheer volume and velocity of data flowing into most CRM systems warrant making its management a full-time responsibility. To fully realize the benefits of high-quality CRM data, companies need to appoint a full-time guardian of the CRM and its data. Furthermore, teams will see best results from appointing a cross-functional data management team. 

Data management graphic

However, the reality is companies across the globe have been in survival mode for the past two years. Most haven’t had the budget to allocate to issues like data quality and the teams that maintain them, and that impacts the current talent. In the State of CRM Data Health Study, 64% said they would consider leaving their current role if additional resources are not allocated to a robust CRM data quality plan. 

While CRM may have historically been recognized as a tool meant primarily for sales teams, its reach, impact and utility extend far beyond that because now the entire organization is dependent upon this system. Members of a successful data management team might be a combination of sales, marketing, operations, customer success, customer support, product managers and IT professionals. Only with a fully staffed team can data management truly be successful. 


The importance of healthy data

No matter if a business is big or small, healthy data is critical when it comes to supporting the sales team and, ultimately, it should be the company’s bottom line. By investing in a qualified data management team, automating the data management process, and leveraging a technology partner, companies are setting themselves up for success and achieving a holistic view of their financial pipeline and the status of current leads.

  • Originally published July 18, 2022, updated April 26, 2023