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How To Find The ‘True North’ Of Your CRM Strategy

Marketers know the value of keeping their CRM up to date, as 96% of practitioners agreed that accurate CRM data improves their conversion rates. But a startling 44% estimated their company loses more than 10% in annual revenue due to poor quality CRM data, while an additional 69% reported their organizations do not pursue and/or complete potentially valuable sales initiatives due to low-quality CRM data.

But with 80% of marketers indicating that CRM data is the lifeblood of their company and a key growth driver, Validity’s SVP & Global Head — Data Solutions, Chris Hyde, took the B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange stage in August to discuss how CRM systems should act as the source of truth for all B2B businesses. Throughout his session, “Transformational Growth Levers: Finding ‘True North’ In Your CRM Strategy,” Hyde discussed how organizations can strengthen their CRM systems by enhancing/refining their data collection and management strategies by focusing on the end-user.

Strengthening Internal Alignment For Smoother Client Communication

First on the docket was the role of sales and marketing alignment, a struggle that’s plagued organizations for years. While various pieces of research show that businesses are starting to figure out to keep internal teams working in unison, there's still room for improvement. In terms of how this misalignment affects CRM strategies, Hyde let his experiences do the talking by sharing an example of disjointed communication.

He explained that he recently received an email from a salesperson thanking him for visiting the company’s booth at a recent event, and in the follow up email the salesperson even recalled a conversation they had. But in reality, Hyde didn’t attend the event.

“It’s clear that somebody in marketing gave my information to a salesperson, but it had gone through a broken automation process,” said Hyde. “As marketers, we need to level up our speed to lead process in an accurate way — and we need a chain of data that flows from us down to sales. Research found that only 7% of companies respond to leads within five minutes — but the majority, 55%, take five or more days to respond. Outreach must be fresh, and you have to contact the inquirer as soon as its appropriate.”

However, despite embarrassing automation stories, Hyde explained that automation is ultimately beneficial to help businesses act quicker on intent signals — it just needs some manual help. He explained that through his CRM system, he has a prioritized list of organizations and contacts and tracks all their interactions, such as SDR outreach, assets downloaded, website interaction and more.

“Monitoring those actions gives you a fuller picture of the person you’re talking to, which gives a better experience to the prospect and the whole process going forward,” said Hyde. “This also increases the prospects’ propensity to interact with your organization as a whole.”

Streamlining Data Flow Without Creating More Work

As Hyde moved on and focused more on the data itself, he shared that 87% of practitioners said decision makers within their company rely on CRM data to make their decisions — but 91% said that data they rely upon is sometimes or often inaccurate.

“If SDRs, BDRs or the sales team use inaccurate or duplicated data, it’s useless and turns prospects off,” said Hyde. “I’m sure we’ve all been contacted by two different people from the same company due to duplicate information in the CRM. What’s going to happen when two separate people contact you in a slightly different way, or reach out about an event you were never at? You won’t trust that company — and relationships are built on trust at every level.”

According to Hyde, bad data exists due to a handful of issues, such as lack of user adoption due to perceived difficulties in using the CRM. He explained that oftentimes, CRMs ask too much of the user, especially for systems that have been around for a while.

“People don’t want to use CRMs because they’re hard to use — 60% of sales updates are not captured in the CRM,” said Hyde, citing more Validity research. “Instead, they’re primarily captured in Excel. Everyone loves Excel, but the problem is the data is only accurate for you for the time you’re using and, all the while, the data in the CRM is growing stale, and then when salespeople try to sync it back up, it just creates more problems.”

To help solve those problems of data inaccuracy and promote end-user adoption, Hyde suggested organizations refine their CRM systems by:

  • Eliminating extra clicks and redundant fields — “I’ve seen systems that require 20 mandatory fields, but if you only have a business card with three pieces of information on it, you’re going to mash the keyboard to fill the fields and create dirty/inaccurate data”;
  • Refining forms to only collect only one or two pieces of prospect information by turning to third-party data providers to fill in the blanks — “if you go to Validity’s website, all we ask for is your email address; we have data intelligence providers to supplement the rest”; and
  • Presenting each user with the data they need to do the job — i.e., sharing the renewal period with customer growth teams or supplying details about previous cases with the support team.

“CRM data quality should be a priority for everybody in the company because it affects revenue,” said Hyde. “It’s impossible not to have data decay and problems, but you can minimize the problems to the point where it will uplift revenue in the interactions you have with the customers today. Make the CRM systems user-centric by thinking about how the user interacts with the data.”