Essential CRM Hygiene

Many businesses would be nothing without their customers, and the CRM system is the heartbeat of acquisition and management across organizations of all sizes. Successful B2B sales rely on data, and it’s vital to focus just as heavily on quality as quantity.

Any CRM system is only as valuable as the data it contains, and it is easy for records to become outdated or otherwise inaccurate. Whether built from scratch or brought in from third parties, the business world moves fast, and what may be entirely up-to-date one day may be close to useless soon after. Indeed, a 2015 study indicated that 32 percent of organizations in the US alone felt that their CRM data was incomplete.

The Consequences of Inaccurate CRM Data

While incorrect data alone is not a massive challenge for businesses, the consequences stem from becoming reliant upon it. Something as simple as time spent marketing to the wrong contact at another company is time wasted. In cases where the CRM requires a complete overhaul, it can put a massive dent in productivity and positive results.

Few businesses can afford for their employees to chase lost causes, and time is far better spent on the concept of CRM hygiene.

It’s Time for CRM Hygiene

Data becomes ‘dirty’ over time as people leave roles, companies close, and new prospects enter the market. Keeping that data clean is known as CRM hygiene, and it’s an ongoing process to ensure that all data, along with relevant sales and marketing activities, are as accurate as possible.

A CRM spring clean can take place at any time. However, it’s advisable to ensure that it’s carried out at least once each year. The goal is to ensure that the data used for client acquisition and management is as useful as it possibly can be, and this is achieved, among other tasks, through:

  • Deleting records that are no longer relevant to the goals of the business
  • Updating contact information for companies and their employees
  • Checking for errors in data input to ensure accuracy

How to Clean Up CRM Data

The demand for clarity in data is such that most popular CRM systems are designed with hygiene in mind. Tools like Salesforce include a range of functions and commands to ensure that the most common tasks are taken care of with just a few clicks – although it’s always worth involving human oversight rather than pure automation.

A typical clean-up schedule will comprise the following:

Removal of Duplicate Records

Unless a company’s sales and marketing efforts all proceed through a single person, there’s likely to be a certain level of overlap in information added to a CRM system. For example, new contacts within a company may carry out the same role as another employee that has since moved on, or prospects may submit their data multiple times.

Most CRM systems are equipped to handle duplicate entries quickly, and it’s worth using built-in features to prevent the creation of such records in the future wherever available.

Accuracy Checks

It can be difficult to tell at first glance whether a record is accurate or not. However, most businesses have records of their sales and marketing efforts. Bounced emails, invalid telephone numbers, and returned mail should all be addressed at some point. Ideally, this will happen immediately upon discovering the issue. If not, scheduled CRM maintenance provides the perfect opportunity to double-check the accuracy and authenticity of everything.

Limit Edit Permissions

Not everyone within an organization that needs to view CRM records also requires the right to edit them. So while tidying up the records themselves, it’s also worth double-checking access permissions. Most systems provide extensive controls, ensuring that some users have full administrator privileges, while others have read-only access or can only modify certain records.

This does not affect current data but positions the CRM for less maintenance in the future.

Create Policies and Inform Staff

Big data generally works best when it’s uniform, and that’s easiest to achieve through prevention rather than cure. So any business that hasn’t done so already should take steps to standardize their CRM record keeping and ensure that anyone with access and edit permissions fully understands the approach.

In getting it right during the maintenance period, future time spent on tidying up data and verifying records can be kept to a minimum. In addition, employees who prioritize data enrichment while carrying out their core tasks can make life much easier for whoever is responsible for erasing bad CRM data.

Create a CRM Hygiene Schedule

Unfortunately, the process of keeping a CRM up to date for lead nurturing and marketing automation never ends. Even with the most stringent internal policies and monitoring, data can become outdated for reasons outside a business’s control.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median employee tenure in the US stands at 4.3 years. That means that for CRMs that rely on personal B2B contacts, it’s statistically possible for every single record to become outdated in a little over 50 months.

Real-world turnover is more unpredictable, but it’s improbable that every record currently held will remain accurate in 12 months. Some businesses turn to outsourcing, others reorganize departments, and some disappear entirely.

Upkeep can be labor-intensive and won’t happen every day, but 12 months is as long as any business should wait between focused data hygiene maintenance.

The Opportunity

While data cleaning takes time and effort, it’s a worthy investment based on time saved elsewhere alone. Employees will spend less time on contact research and chasing individuals that are no longer relevant. That leaves them with more time to focus on tried and tested business development techniques such as demand generation that will positively impact the bottom line.

However, the real opportunity in CRM hygiene all comes down to growth. One way to look at the process is clearing bad data to save time. A more positive approach is to consider the implications of why the data is bad in the first place. If a named contact is no longer the right person to speak to through direct sales and marketing automation, who is? Just as importantly, where did the original connection go, and could they be a new lead at another business?

While almost half of all workers make a significant industry change at some point in their careers, over half don’t. Someone that was responsible for purchasing decisions at one company will potentially have the same responsibilities with their new employer. Crucially, that new employer will often also remain relevant to a company’s sales goals.

Done For You CRM Hygiene

CRM hygiene and routine maintenance are not always difficult, but it’s often time-consuming and can take away from priority tasks elsewhere in the business. However, companies that prefer to focus on their core competencies don’t have to suffer from bad data, as data cleaning is ideal for outsourcing.

At Impact Enterprises, we prioritize the value of data in growth, sales, and marketing and specialize in using clean data for lead generation. So whether you’ve recently brought a new list into the business or it’s been over a year since your CRM was brought up to speed, we’d be delighted to help. Get in touch today to discover how big an impact clean data can have on your customer acquisition efforts.