7 Tips to Get Biggest Bang Out Of Sales, Marketing Databases

Published: September 22, 2009

Looking after the database often gets shoved under the rug in the sales and marketing process. Whether a company is using an automated marketing platform and CRM system, or has customer, tradeshow and individual sales rep lists strewn across the organization, it is worth paying closer attention to database management going forward. Here are seven simple data management tips to help improve the effectiveness of sales and marketing programs.

1. Consolidate Prospects, Leads & Customers
There is a difference between Prospects, Leads and Customers, and they should be treated differently.

Keeping a complete “digital biography” of every email sent, opened, and every Web page viewed keeps sales and marketing communications on time and on target.

With assigned distinctions like “prospect,” “lead” or “customer,” marketing and sales efforts can be appropriately targeted based on status and how far along they are in the sales process. By keeping a master list, which is a superset of the CRM and other lists, an organization can effectively market, measure and optimize ALL communications efforts, leading to stronger relationships and a more effective sales process.  And, don’t forget those valued customers when it comes to marketing.  Cross-selling and up-selling opportunities are often missed when a company is not tracking what its current customers are viewing on its Web site.

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2. Clean up the CRM Clutter that Clogs
Keeping the CRM system clean will help the automated processes. If effectively targeting the Served Available Market (SAM), it is likely a company has acquired considerably more prospects in its database than the sales team could ever begin to address. And, more importantly, where should the sales team start? Non sales-ready prospects should be nurtured by marketing with an effective, ongoing automated demand generation program until they are ready for sales interaction, and only then should they be transferred to a company’s CRM system.

Once a prospect is in the CRM system, data critical to the sales process should be automatically synchronized with the marketing automation system. With a complete prospect profile including detailed tracking information, cold calls are a thing of the past. Sales can focus on the warm leads that have digitally raised their hand by engaging with a company’s Website. Avoid clutter and keep the CRM system and the sales team focused on driving sales – and let the marketing platform automate the rest.

3. Normalize
Keeping database content consistent is an ongoing challenge – especially when working with a variety of data sources.  Insertion, update, and deletion anomalies add uncertainty to marketing efforts.  Whether segmenting prospects for a particular campaign or using a specific piece of data to trigger an automated email, bad data can yield inaccurate and embarrassing results.

Normalizing data on an automatic basis goes a long way to keeping a tidy database. Having a system that replaces all “VP”, “V.P.”, and “Vice Pres.” with “Vice President,” for example, makes communications more professional and assures that database searches yield accurate results.  

4. Only Ask for What You Really Need
New relationships are delicate and sometimes the enthusiasm to capture information from prospects hinders the marketing and sales process.  When engaging with prospects via the Website, only request the information needed to effectively market to each prospect.  If a database includes a lot of bad physical addresses – but traditional direct-mail campaigns aren’t being run – this information is not needed until further along in the relationship.

Acquiring information one piece at a time is less invasive and helps improve the quality of the information a prospect ultimately provides. Registration for premium content – including white papers, webinars, etc. – can be an effective way to start tracking visitors to a Website, but don’t forget that asking for too much information too early can turn good prospects away, prompt them to enter inaccurate information just to complete a form, or opt out of your communications all together.

5. Polish Your Data
Prospect information is more fluid than ever.  Nearly 10% of all businesses relocate every year. In addition, changing positions, phone numbers and e-mail accounts means up to 70% of a company’s records will have some type of change on a yearly basis. Keeping information up-to-date is key to making a good impression.  The goal is to communicate with, not insult, a prospective customer.  Sending multiple copies of an email to a single prospect – or addressing them with a three-year-old title – is not professional.

6. Sort, Segment and Target
Maximize the value of the information prospects provide or the competition will. Every piece of prospect information should be closely considered, to see if the database can be better segmented based on the metrics that drive potential customers to purchase. Segmentation clearly depends on the specific market and customer base.  Everything from job title to the type of content an individual prospect prefers can be used to give a company a competitive advantage.

To provide some perspective, a recent report by KnowledgeStorm claims 82% of technology-buyers prefer information targeted to their industry – 67% say content targeted to their specific job function is more valuable.

7. Review and Optimize
While constantly reviewing and updating marketing campaigns, also review the level of detail and the structure of the database. For example, asking for too much detail can be costly when purchasing lists.  Similarly, not asking for enough detail can yield miss-targeted marketing messages.  Potential customers’ businesses aren’t static, so databases need to be updated as your strategy changes.

Get the Most from the Data
Keeping a tidy database will help a company get the most out of it.  An efficient database provides the ability to efficiently track, nurture and identify interested prospects over time and puts that data in the hands of sales and marketing to close more sales faster.

Jim Meyer (jim.meyer@etrigue.com) is Vice President at eTrigue Corp. He has more than 20 years experience marketing products from wireless silicon to consumer electronics.

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