Five easy steps towards a data management strategy

I have seen the three words Data ─ Management ─ Strategy strike fear into the hearts of grown men - from the CEO of an organisation through to the sales teams. But this fear is unwarranted: data management may be complex, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Specialist support and a systematic approach can drastically simplify your data management strategy. Irrespective of your industry or company size, below are five simple steps that will help you achieve your data management objectives and reap the benefits.

1. CRM

Over the last decade, CRM systems have evolved into business critical solutions that combine a vast array of communications platforms. As customer engagement opportunities have increased, CRMs have had to grow in aptitude and complexity.

Choosing the right CRM is the first step so it is imperative that you make an educated decision. Some key questions to consider include:

  • Can the platform be customised to align with our needs?
  • Can it be integrated with third party systems?
  • Will it be accessible to our sales teams when they are travelling?
  • Does it have an intuitive interface?
  • What support is available for our users?

Ultimately, the key to choosing the right CRM for your organisation is to always keep in mind why you’re doing it: to provide the best possible experience for your customers.

2. People

It is all well and good investing money in a CRM but you must not make the mistake of overlooking the people who use it: after all, the system can only perform optimally if it’s being used properly. Everyone needs to appreciate that CRM users are working towards a strategic objective and not simply performing an administrative task. To ensure this happens, you will need:

  • Organisation-wide leadership from the CEO down to make sure that everyone values and ‘owns’ their data
  • Extensive support on how to operate the system correctly
  • A broader education piece on the benefits of data and how central it is to success of the business. This should highlight how data benefits departments across the entire organisation, from Sales and Marketing to Finance, Operations, Customer Service and beyond
  • Performance management, QA and self-appraisal mechanisms

3. Data

Having the best CRM and the most highly trained staff will not suffice if your data isn’t of the highest quality. As the old adage goes, 'rubbish in ─ rubbish out': in other words, poor business data leads to poor business decisions.

Research suggests that databases decay at around 25 per cent a year – which means 1 in 4 records could be wrong after a year in your CRM. That’s a quarter of your sales team’s time wasted on futile calls; a quarter of marketing approaches not reaching the right people; a quarter of your invoices heading in the wrong direction. It will pay dividends for you to work with a data provider that collects, sorts, and aggregates the most accurate data available. Once you’ve got this data, it is then imperative that it is constantly maintained to ensure it is up-to-date and relevant.

4. Enrich

Now you have laid your data foundations, you can start to reap the benefits. In the first instance, you can fill in any gaps you might have (for example, identifying and appending additional information such as email addresses or direct dial phone numbers).

Then you can move on to the more advanced stuff, such as identifying and understanding corporate tree structures, which will allow you to maximise cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

Again, a specialist partner will really add value here by enabling you to discover, capture, and link the data that really drives your business.

5. Profile

One you have the right CRM, a fully trained workforce and enriched data, you will be able to see customers in real detail. From this point you can better understand your customers and uncover valuable insights, including:

  • Who your ideal customers are
  • Where they are based
  • What industries they are in
  • When the ideal time to engage them is
  • Who your best prospects are, and which are most likely to buy right now

These extremely valuable business insights will enable you to link the right products to the right customers. This will boost your marketing effectiveness and sales efficiency, thereby affording your company that sought-after competitive advantage.

Rob Eaton, Director of Sales International at Avention