Ostensibly designed to help sellers close more deals, in many organizations, the CRM is just another administrative task on a salesperson’s already crowded plate. It’s a way for sales managers to monitor deal status that adds little, if any, value to their selling activities.

But this approach to CRM is changing. More and more businesses are adopting sales technology tools, such as our analytics solution Scout, that turn their CRM data into actionable insights. By harnessing the power of predictive analytics in concert with proven sales methodologies, Scout analyzes the data in a CRM and shows sellers a sequence of strategic moves that will lead to deals won.

The problem is that the effectiveness of any sales technology depends on the quality of the data fed into it. In many organizations, the CRM platform is a matter of “garbage in, garbage out.” No matter how deep a company’s sales technology stack, salespeople don’t want to spend their time entering data into a system when they could be selling instead, so they enter data haphazardly or not at all.

Organizations need their sellers to buy into their CRM. This is harder than it sounds. Good sellers want to allocate their time to value-added selling behaviors, not sitting behind a screen. Yet, according to research from CSO Insights, salespeople spend up to 65% of their time on non-selling activities, including entering data into a CRM system. When sellers do manually input data into a system, only to have that data disappear into a black hole, they’re not inspired to invest additional time and energy into making their CRM’s data as good as it could be.

How do you turn a little-loved data dump into a data-driven CRM? The key is to motivate your sellers to change the way they view your platform. But therein lies the rub: before you can convince sellers to rely more on your CRM and the analytics that sales technology can provide, you need to feed clean data into the system.

Here are two ways you can improve the quality of your CRM data and, in turn, the insights it yields in your sales team’s results.

1. Clean Up Your Data 

Dirty data sends your sellers down the wrong path of action, hurting your chances of closing deals. Unfortunately, fewer than 25% of respondents to CSO Insights’ 2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study expressed a high degree of confidence in the data from their CRM system.

Before you, or your sellers, can trust your CRM data to give you the information you need to move deals forward, you have to scrub your data—and that takes time.

If you have an established CRM platform, analyze your duplicate records—and delete them. Create a standardized protocol for entering data into your CRM, such as capitalizing names, writing business titles and using the same structure for area codes, phone numbers and email addresses. Look for missing or incomplete data and ask that the sales team fill in any existing records that they own.

If you’re implementing a new CRM, start on the right foot by importing only the data that you are positive is useful and not duplicative.

2. Remove Bias from Your Models 

If you base your predictive models on a flawed hypothesis, you’ll likely have biased results—and your salespeople will be stuck engaging in a lot of unproductive activity. For example, if a seller makes assumptions based off their first interaction with a buyer, such as feedback that the buyer did not have enough budget to invest in a solution that quarter, it may result misleading conclusion. This could lead to a seller disqualifying  situation that is actually a reasonable project.

Ultimately, this can discourage your sellers from using your CRM. A strong sales methodology can help sellers focus on the most critical pieces of information they need.

To avoid building unconscious bias into your predictive models, increase the size and diversity of your data set. The bigger the data set, the lower the risk that your model will deliver inaccurate suggestions. This launches a virtuous cycle: the more helpful and accurate the insights from your CRM, the more data—and the higher the quality of that data—your salespeople will store in it.

If You Clean Your Data, They Will Come

CRM platforms are only as effective as the technology you pair them with and the data you feed them. If your data is dirty, outdated or duplicative, it can jeopardize more than just the deal it relates to—it can also damage your long-term ability to close deals.

It’s not just sellers that benefit from clean sales data. Sales managers can use the data to help coach and provide strategies that improve win rates. By showing your sales team how your CRM platform can inform your sales strategies and how those strategies boost win rates, you’re likely to motivate your sellers to share more—and more accurate and complete—information in your CRM platform.

Contact us to learn more about how Miller Heiman Group can help.

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