So you have a CRM database with lots of data – YAY, great for sales and marketing! 

Hmmm – maybe. 

Are you having challenges reaching the right people in your marketing efforts?  Are your e-mails and regular mail being returned? Phone numbers disconnected? Do you even know if you are reaching the right people?
Lastly, are you capturing the right data to truly make the best business decisions?  This not only includes standard information such as name, address, phone and e-mail, but information from social channels, customer preferences, buying patterns, etc.
If you are experiencing any of the above, you are not alone.  Have you ever thought about how much money your bad and incomplete data is costing you?  Do you even want to think about this question?
According to Gartner Research, poor data quality drains the average company of about $8.2 million annually in squandered resources and expenses for operational inefficiencies, missed sales and unrealized new opportunities.  WOW – $8.2 million.  In addition, a Forrester research study reveals that only 12% of companies actually use data driven intelligence to guide key business functions and corporate strategy.  That means 88% are putting up with waste, inefficiencies and lost opportunity that dirty data creates.  
What does clean data allow your sales and marketing team to do?

·         Target the right prospect

·         Service the right customers

·         Provide a better return on your sales and marketing efforts

·         Eliminate sales and marketing inefficiencies

·         Stronger pipeline

·         Increased customer retention

All of the above can add up to a lot of money for both small and large companies.
Given the hard costs and lost opportunity costs, what can you do to improve the quality of your data?

1.      Realize that data hygiene is not an IT issue, but a business issue.

2.      Take the leap of faith that data quality does deliver a measurable ROI

3.      With the appropriate team members, discuss and develop a plan of action to maintain data quality across the company. Most importantly, focus on the point of entry which could be a sales or customer service employee, web form or marketing list import.  Some of the specific action plans can include:

a.      Train your team on speaking with customers and prospects to acquire all the information necessary and to S L O W down in their data entry.

b.      Simple required fields in your CRM.

c.       Ask for all necessary fields on your Contact Us page on your website.  Now, I know there is a fine line between asking for too much and loosing the prospect, so you will have to navigate this.  However, what good is a partially completed lead anyway?

d.      CRM training.

e.      Ensure your CRM data entry forms are easy to use and navigate.

f.        Invest in a list provider that regularly cleanses and updates your data with your CRM application.  A great one that Webfortis uses is http://www.dnb.com/sales-marketing/dnb360-crm-integration.html#.UeTAFW2JQnM. 

g.      Integrate social media into CRM for your sales and marketing team to quickly interact with prospects and customers.  Webfortis does this with http://www.webfortis.com/webfortis-social-media-solutions.aspx.

h.      Integrate your CRM database with the U.S Postal service for address verification right at the creation of the record in Microsoft CRM (shameless promotion, just ask us how).  

Here are a few ROI benchmarks for companies that have gone before you on the path to clean data.

As you review the above, what could any of these numbers mean to your company in dollars?  For example: if your company does $10 million in sales, how does an additional $200,000-$300,000 sound to you in up sell/cross sell.  From a marketing standpoint, an additional 1-2% response rate can equate to a lot of sales.

So will your data ever be perfect? No. Are there steps your company can take to improve its data quality? -Yes. Is it worth the effort? ABSOLUTELY because it means new found money.