Eight exercises to get your data fit for 2016

BLOG ARTICLE BY ZEB KHAN FROM AVENTION ONESOURCE SOLUTIONS

Today, success belongs to the sales teams that speak to the right customers at the right time with the most relevant messages. And it’s accurate data that makes the connections.

No matter how bad you may feel your data is, it still has value, so use it! Cleansed, accurate and constantly updated data makes your CRM systems more efficient and your sales teams more effective. Follow these eight exercises and you will deliver data that’s fit for purpose in 2016.

EXERCISE 1: Start simple

Before anything else, make sure that addresses in your databases are complete. It’s a simple step, but also a fundamental one. Data is your foundation and if it’s flawed, your sales strategy will be too. With complete address data, you are able achieve a wide range of sales and marketing goals, such as territory planning, as well as send direct mail to the right contacts – a much underused and undervalued tactic!

EXERCISE 2: Enrich and expand

Now you can move on to build additional capabilities. By appending phone numbers and email addresses, for example, you give sales teams a head start ─ better able to reach key decision makers within target organisations. The more contact information you add, the greater your sales effectiveness ─ ensuring account teams aren’t chasing the wrong targets.

EXERCISE 3: Keep it current

Trying to engage companies that have ceased trading or been acquired/merged with another organisation, or contacts who have moved, reduces sales and marketing efficiency. The quality of the information within a database degrades very quickly, so see them as living entities that need to be fed and maintained on a regular basis. Create a data maintenance strategy because if you look after your data, your data will look after you.

EXERCISE 4: De-duplicate and concentrate

Virtually every database contains duplicates ─ the same contact entered more than once, probably with some variation in detail. But just because it’s inevitable doesn’t make it right. Duplicates dilute sales, marketing and customer service efforts. You don’t want two (or more) sales execs chasing the same target, for example: it’s a waste of your time and budget and can cost you dear in terms of damaged reputation. Regular de-duplication helps you to concentrate sales approaches.

EXERCISE 5: Attribute for smarter engagement

By identifying your ideal audiences, and then pinpointing the attributes that make them so, you always focus on the right targets. By collecting and maintaining the data that allows intelligent segmentation, you can make better and more profitable decisions. At the most basic level, an organisation needs to segment by company size, industry and revenue.

Think about your ideal audiences and then:

  • identify their attributes;
  • ensure that the relevant fields are available within your database to capture them; and
  • build in ways to ensure they are populated by those who are responsible for collecting data.

EXERCISE 6: Get relative

Now you can get really smart. Establish, for example, the relationships between accounts and link companies that are part of the same corporate group. Again, you’ll need to ensure that your databases have the relevant fields in place to record this kind of data. But it’s worth the effort:

  • understand the connections between companies in the group;
  • identify and exploit cross-selling opportunities; and
  • allocate a single account manager to multiple companies within the same corporate family to build understanding and enrich relationships.

EXERCISE 7: Standardise

All of this is meaningless unless databases are standardised. Fields must be populated correctly ─ mix up a Postcode and City field, for example, and sales materials may go to the wrong place, the likelihood of creating duplicate records increases, attribution becomes difficult and establishing corporate relationships is harder. Create a strategy to hardwire effective data capture and recording, however, and you’ll deliver better reporting for more targeted, personalised and effective campaigns.

EXERCISE 8: Partnership

Don’t fear the process. Choose the right vendor and you’ll increase data sophistication and grow business potential. Key tips to help you choose are:

  • Proof: any potential data partner should provide an assessment of your data as part of the evaluation process ─ to help you to gauge solution suitability before investing.
  • Flexibility: one size fits all approaches rarely lead to happy outcomes, so ensure your vendor can deliver to your specific needs.
  • Automation +: look for vendors who combine automation with human oversight to embed quality assurance.

It’s an exercise regime that keeps your engagement strategies toned ─ and ensures that your sales teams keep up the pace in 2016.

Check out our 8 Exercises infographic today for more information on keeping your data fit!

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