The old adage “you are what you eat” is a quick way of reminding us that consuming good foods is key to health (and the ability to look good in a swimsuit during these last few weeks of summer).
For Canadian businesses, “you are what you know” might be a similar way to sum up how they need to approach the data they put into enterprise applications. A good example might be customer relationship management (CRM), which is probably one of the most commonly-used tools to manage and grow business in vertical markets from financial services, retail and more.
Recently the Sales Management Association in the U.S. teamed up with an independent research organization, ZS Associates, to conduct a survey of more than 115 organizations that use CRM today. The respondents were large enterprises, which means their feedback could be a useful guide for Canadian firms that want to ensure they make the most the technology offers them.
For example, 75% of those surveyed cited data quality as a key issues, along with a need to tie CRM into everyday sales and marketing processes. Of course, data takes many different shapes and forms, but it’s clear that there are some areas where data quality needs to become the No. 1 priority for CRM users:
1. The Customers You Already Know
Only 40% of CRM users said they felt their data on existing customers was accurate. This is obviously a huge warning sign. The whole point of CRM is to nurture and grow business within an account, and errors could lead to customers getting offers for products and services they’ve already bought, offers being made to an outdated contact or worse. On the plus side, this is arguably the area that could be most easily solved, since the data exists somewhere, even if it’s only in the minds of sales reps who need to put it into their CRM system. Think about doing a CRM audit of the sales results, profiles and characteristics of at least three customers to assess where the gaps might be.
2. The Prospects You Want To Convert
Sales reps have a limited amount of time each day, so it’s natural they will only chase a prospective customer if they feel they aren’t going in blind. Sadly, only 19% of respondents said they would count on prospect profiles in their CRM system, and just 10% felt the data on prospect characteristics was genuine. Some of this could be addressed by data cleansing technologies, but it also requires that prospect data aligns properly with the organization’s target segments, company size and so on from the moment it’s captured.
3. The Opportunities You Need To Grow
Only one in four of those who took the Sales Management survey had faith in sales and marketing activities like lead generation. Even worse, this result was consistent across both groups of respondents: sales leaders and sales operations leaders. Of course, sales and marketing teams often butt heads, but the effort but into capturing leads via white papers, webinars and other assets is too big to ignore this problem. Technology won’t solve everything, but as marketing automation becomes more widely adopted, it may become easier to track the accuracy and quality of this data.
Overall, the research concluded that CRM problems aren’t really related to the products themselves, but that organizations need to make the tools support a customer engagement process where data management is fundamental. In other words, the better your data and your process, the better your CRM results will be. That’s probably true of most other major enterprise applications running over the corporate network too.