Data Quality – Supporting Your Sales Team’s Unnatural Disposition
I should start by saying that I love data – or more importantly I love the information that data can unveil to an enquiring mind. I am seldom happier than when I am looking for trends in whether salespeople decide to make more telephone calls straight after the sales meeting on Tuesday afternoons, what the average sales cycle is for Widget A versus Thingummy X, and if there is a correlation between customer spend and activity. I could spend hours in there, figuratively speaking.
However, I’m afraid I am a walking cliché – a sales professional with a natural disposition to spend as much time as possible talking to clients, and as little time as possible in the “non-revenue-generating” task of capturing the correct and complete data in my CRM system. Salespeople don’t do attention to detail, right? They are the hunter-gatherers who stalk the beast, slay the beast, bring the beast back home and put it on the fire they made. Someone else can do the washing up. If they did attention to detail, they’d work in systems analysis surely?
Well yes, all of this is true. Up to a point. I called it a natural disposition deliberately. It doesn’t mean I don’t do quality data capture, it just means that I need to work at it a little harder. I do this because my many years of working in sales have lead me to witness the odd uncomfortable situation, such as;
- Products, desperately needed, sat at the wrong office because I didn’t check the address properly
- Commissions on substantial orders left unpaid, as the invoice sent from the washing up department known as Accounts disappeared into the black hole that I’d created. Compounded by the cost of replacing the bit of worn-out carpet between my desk and the financial controller’s office
- Losing a whole day to trawl through my CRM before I could answer the simple request from Marketing, “who would you like to target with this campaign?”
- Bare-knuckle brawling on the sales floor over 2 John Smith’s at ABC Co, on whom 2 of us had been working simultaneously on separate CRM records (I exaggerate, slightly, and some names have been changed to protect the innocent)
All of the above semi-fictional scenarios lead to loss, or waste. Loss of reputation, time, and revenues. That’s why now I work a little harder. I may not always get it right, but my heart’s in the right place.
So from the lofty position of Sales Director I can impart this well-earned wisdom to sales teams. I can reward commissions based on completeness of the data. I can even use psychometrics to ensure that I recruit salespeople who have a high natural disposition to attention to detail and completeness, also often known as an Introvert Thinking style. However if I have a “sales rock star” in my team who is consistently overachieving and is loved by clients, but CRM-averse, then perhaps the easy thing for me to do is to accept the odd bit of wasted profit and inter-departmental ill feeling?
Luckily there is another way. I’m now fortunate enough to work for an organisation that is passionate about data being the lifeblood of business. And what I’ve discovered is that companies who whole-heartedly embrace this principle do so not through a top-down, push behaviour approach. Rather, they create a culture that encourages everyone to contribute to absolute data quality, and support them with the tools, techniques and technology to do so.
Technology to enhance, validate, verify, authenticate and cleanse your customer data is readily available. It comes from DQ Global. And the good news is, it costs much, much less than the cost of lost orders, duplicate mailings, missed opportunities and replacement carpet.
If as a Sales and/or Marketing Director, you have just made a career-defining investment in a CRM system, it is worth considering what you are also doing to protect that investment; to protect the lifeblood of your organisation. If those brilliant yet data-shy salespeople in your team are finding it too difficult to overcome their natural disposition, and are risking the value of the data you hold inside that expensive new vehicle, then perhaps we could talk.