• September 1, 2015
  • By Jim Dickie, research fellow, Sales Mastery

Make Sure Your CRM Is Well Informed

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Suppose for a moment that you've gone to an Amazon.com-like Web site to pick up some books. As you navigate through the site, you find that some of the books you were hoping to locate are not available. Finally, you come across a book that you really need, and you download it to your e-reader. You blast through it page by page, thinking, "This is great; this is exactly what I was looking for." Then you come to the end, only to discover that the last chapter of the book is missing! How likely are you to ever go back to that site?

Now put yourself in the position of a salesperson trying to effectively do his job in today's marketplace, and let me share with you one of the key findings of CSO Insights' 2015 Lead Management and Social Engagement Study. When we asked study participants to assess the quality and quantity of data they had on accounts in their marketplace, we found the following:

Sept. Dickie chart

In terms of having correct information on their customers, only 52.1 percent of the firms surveyed reported having data accuracy rates of greater than 75 percent. That number plunges to a troubling 23.1 percent when you assess the data these companies have on their prospects. No wonder companies are still struggling to increase CRM usage adoption. If salespeople don't have sufficient confidence in their company's CRM data, why would they opt in to using the CRM solution as part of their daily workflow?

To put this issue in perspective, our research found that the No. 1 objective for sales organizations this year is to capture new accounts, and the No. 4 objective is to increase penetration into existing accounts. Poor data quality is impacting sales performance in both these areas. Our research found that 21 percent of a salesperson's average work week is consumed doing prospecting and account research. When CRM software can't give them the data they need, sales reps have to take the time to go find it on their own.

And this is not just a lead-generation issue. To close a deal today, salespeople are almost always required to get a committee of people to buy in. Somehow they need to be able to identify all the various players they'll need to reach to secure a yes. That the win rate of forecast deals is languishing at 45.9 percent is symptomatic of salespeople not being able to effectively engage all the right stakeholders. The result is that deals they'd expected to win are going to the competition, or ending up as no-decisions.

Is this an unsolvable, fact-of-life problem for sales? It doesn't have to be. There are numerous sources to which companies can turn to augment the data and insights they have on prospects and customers. These include services provided by LinkedIn, InsideView, Data.com, ZoomInfo, Avention, Lead411, DiscoverOrg, and so on.

Minimally, these services give you access to accurate contact information. Leading-edge solutions provide information and insights on the client's marketplace, social media analysis of stakeholders, buying-trend trigger events, and more. A CRM system that contained all of this information would be indispensable to salespeople.

In the 1780s, Napoleon Bonaparte observed, "War is ninety percent information." The same holds true today in the world of sales. If you are going to invest in a CRM solution, be sure to make an additional investment in the information needed to empower your sales teams.

Jim Dickie is the managing director of CSO Insights, a division of MHI Global, and specializes in benchmarking CRM and sales transformation initiatives. He can be reached at jim.dickie@csoinsights.com.

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