The big data revolution has been quietly growing for decades. Now, nearly every sales leader understands that there is untapped power in their data. However, as teams have jumped headfirst onto this bandwagon, too many of them have ignored some basic realities of selling. The end results are wasteful: too many teams are diverting salesperson attention from selling and many of these same teams are spending more money on third party data sources that don’t provably help them sell any better.
At team after team, we see a common mistake repeating itself. Too many sales leaders and their marketing counterparts are simply equating “more data” with “better data.” And, in plain fact, more data very often is better. Since most CRM systems are so easy to modify, we see incredibly elaborate customizations in which sales reps can enter sales data into several dozens of fields.
However, in seeking so much feedback from salespeople, we are often losing sight of the salesperson’s most important job…SELLING! Ask yourself this, have you ever heard a good sales rep ask the following question: “What do you want me to do, close deals or enter data all day?” Whether the question is fair or not is irrelevant. Of course we want reps to close business AND comply with company CRM standards. But before we just brush off the combative rep, perhaps it is worth examining our CRM expectations.
At piLYTIX, we closely monitor CRM usage stats. Remarkably, we have found an inverse relationship between the number of added custom fields and the level of rep CRM usage. Hidden deals, surprise short term closes, and clear “sandbagging” indications tend to be highest at the organizations that have asked reps to enter the most fields of data.
While our clients benefit from specific recommendations for CRM adaptation, we encourage all senior sales leaders to consider the following when considering their data policies:
- Take the time to educate sales reps how they will directly benefit from complying with your CRM standards. Hint: if you can’t convince sales reps of what’s in it for them, you will never solve your data collection problems.
- Focus on those fields that directly speak to the most important priorities of stakeholders throughout the organization.
- Learn which fields correlate with deal success (or failure) and ensure that there is focus on those fields. Don’t assume that these fields will be identical from one team to the next.
- Stop paying for so many third party data sources if you can’t prove how these data sources are helping you to close business.
- Recognize that while sales reps are tremendous sources of market intel, they are not professional market researchers. Determine what information is better collected via full time professional market researchers?
- If you use third party prospect engagement technologies, ensure that the quantitative outputs of those systems is integrated into your sales data. If your sales rep is doing the hard work of selling and you have paid a vendor to track open rates, phone meeting time, or web conferencing data, then it seems reasonable that you would want that the output of that technology seamlessly integrated with your sales data.