Beware the Cost of 'Dirty Data'

often too broad to be useful in customer engagements, what's the best path to transforming it into truly useful and great data?

The first step is to implement a data management strategy and a clear set of rules for connecting cloud-based data to your existing CRM infrastructure, where IT staff can automate the process of aggregating, scrubbing, and mapping specific data to customer profiles and sales categories within your system.

Next, seriously consider the question "When is free not free?" as it relates to cloud-based data. There is a huge potential expense involved in verifying publicly available information. Fortunately, there are several services that will do much of the work for you, providing commercial information and insight on businesses that will integrate with your CRM solution. When you make such a service the foundation for your customer data, you gain access to millions of top-quality company profiles and contacts. The information is accessed and updated directly within your CRM system and is fully integrated with existing business processes and workflows. This allows you to not only start with quality data but also easily maintain it on an ongoing basis.

If this is done correctly, sales teams will prefer the new overall data strategy (a mix of traditional and cloud-based data) since they'll have absolutely everything they need to sell better, all in one place. Data is automatically optimized for the use cases your sales team cares about most and is kept up to date without a significant time investment from the sales team. When the data solution is constructed correctly, sales teams can save time, boost prospecting and sales efficiency, and generate more leads. Your team will understand that instead of wasting valuable time conducting their own research, they now have the ability to access trusted and comprehensive information from almost any connected device. The legwork has been done for them.

In closing, in order to have a successful data strategy, you need to combine internal and external sources in a way that's trusted, relevant, and timely as part of your CRM strategy. Your team will be happy you did.

Andy MacMillan is the senior vice president and general manager at Salesforce Data.com.

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