Updated: Feb 17
Given the sheer importance of data, it still amazes me how many businesses have data that doesn't work for the teams it's there to serve. I am yet to work in or talk to anyone that hasn't got issues under the surface. We all use powerful platforms that can help any business in any scenario, whether you are a Salesforce, Hubspot or any other CRM user. However, as with any system, process or tool, it can only be as effective as the data that goes in and the processes that the users follow to capture it. Poor data quality can lead to inaccurate reporting, lost opportunities, and frustrated sales teams, which can negatively impact sales velocity and increase the workload for your Revenue Operations Teams.
In this blog, we will look into the importance of keeping your sales data clean, and its effect on sales velocity and provide tips and strategies for improving data quality and increasing your sales velocity.
Sales velocity is the speed at which a sales team is able to close deals and generate revenue. A high sales velocity is an indication of a healthy sales process and a productive sales team
So let's start with the obvious one - Why is data quality so important?
Data quality is critical to the success of a Go To Market team. Poor data quality can lead to many problems that affect Sales Velocity and overall performance including:
Inaccurate reporting: I guess this one is the most obvious! If your data is inaccurate, your reports and analytics will be unreliable. This can lead to poor decision-making and missed opportunities for growth. It means you are to be reactive and not be able to note that the pipeline is dropping from Channel which will mean a 15% decrease in bookings created over the next quarter. That lack of agility will mean you are fighting fires that are already raging.
Lost opportunities: If your data is incomplete or inaccurate, you may miss out on potential sales. It is as simple as that. It can be anything from a contact's phone number being incorrect, you will not be able to reach them to follow up on a lead to not knowing a champion has moved into a new role and losing that chance to sell again to them.
Frustrated sales teams: Sales teams rely on accurate data to do their job. If they are constantly having to deal with incomplete or inaccurate data and spending time doing basic data entry, they will become frustrated and less productive. Your sales team are a hugely valuable resource that is grossly underutilised if we don't give them the data and tools needed to work deals the way they know best.
Poor buying experience: If your data is inaccurate, it can lead to poor customer experiences. For example, if you reach out to a prospect that we are already engaged with trying to reintroduce yourself as another Sales Rep who didn't know an Opportunity was already open, it will lead to looking unprofessional and potentially the prospect looking elsewhere.
These can extend the deal length or lead our SDRs to produce fewer opportunities or target lower-value prospects. All of this negatively affects our Sales Velocity.
75% of businesses who improved data quality in 2021 exceeded annual objectives - Experian
With all these problems, what are the solutions?
Well exactly how we can improve data quality in and increase sales velocity will differ. (My least favourite answer... 'It Depends') but there is usually no quick fix. It is a continuous process that requires a combination of technology and human effort. Some strategies you can implement to improve the quality of your sales data and increase sales velocity are:
Automate data population where possible: To ease any burden on the sales and marketing teams, you should gather data from external and internal sources and automatically update the basics. This helps identify the critical businesses within your ICP and will allow the sales teams to do what they do best, talking about and selling your products!
Implement data validation rules: Salesforce and Hubspot allow you to set up data validation rules that ensure that data entered into the system meets specific criteria, such as format or length. For example, you can set up a rule that ensures that phone numbers are entered in the correct format. This will help ensure that your data is accurate and complete, which will, in turn, help you close more deals and increase sales velocity.
Use data deduplication tools: Several tools help you identify and merge duplicate records, keeping your data clean and accurate. This can help reduce inefficiencies in the sales process and increase productivity. If you need help selecting a tool, don't forget to check out my post about vendor selection.
Establish clear data governance policies with a committee: Define who is responsible for maintaining data quality and what data is allowed with a data dictionary to educate everyone on changes in terms or calculations that are agreed upon by a cross-functional committee or data experts in your business. Meet regularly, share information and build a common set of key fields, metrics and language. Starting with the very foundations has to be done company-wide. As we know in Rev Ops, working on your part is not ever going to work, and it does take a village.
Capture only what you need when you need it. To help with the balancing act of data being a hindrance or a help, map your sales journey and ensure you only capture what you need when you need it. There is no point in requesting all the financials to credit-check a business if we haven't managed to gain their interest.
Build and manage dashboards for tracking data quality. Highlight the key points of data in your business at a contact, lead and account level and review weekly the missing data and what could be needed to proactively update and auto-populate data for the teams.
And a bonus tip for those still reading - make sure you get to know your sales & marketing teams. Know what is causing them pain, and work out the most important things to solve. Work with them on what is essential, and be transparent in what you can and can't do. Poor data but a good relationship and understanding of the processes will still take you a long way.
These simple things can make a massive difference to your business and help improve the buying experience and increase your revenue.
If you want to hear more or want to speak with me about how I can help build a data strategy for your business, please feel free to meet with me anytime! I can use my decade of experience to help get the outcomes you are looking for.