CRM has been widely adopted across the organization of all sizes over the past decade for effectively managing all customer relationship functions, though a large focus has been on sales force automation. Sales and lead management have been streamlined a lot with CRM systems and though there are newer challenges, the sales management process would be terribly cumbersome to manage without a CRM. However, as organizations have been into CRM for a few years now, a fresh new challenging has been staring at them - the challenge of managing lead data to keep it complete, accurate, relevant and actionable.
Leads and business contacts have a shelf life as contacts change their roles, leave and take up other jobs and in doing so create a dead lead in the databases of vendors who were selling to them. And if this happens with 1000 leads out of a total of 40,000 leads in the CRM database of a vendor, then how do you really keep track of those 1000 leads and deal with them? More and more companies are losing significant amounts of budget to campaigns that are sent to dead or no-longer-qualified leads. This is not an easy problem to solve but it is an important problem to address. I call it Marketing Database Operations. Over the past few
I call it Marketing Database Operations. Over the past few quarters, I have come across marketing managers whose sole responsibility is lead data management - its a dire need and a new marketing role is being defined around building and managing marketing databases that are to be maintained on an ongoing basis. Its a tough job as lead data grows every day and an unknown fraction of it becomes unusable everyday. Here are a few recommendations for marketing database operations managers to constrain the problem and potential create a system that works:
- Focus on quality of data over quantity. This will help you reduce the enormity of the problem on an ongoing basis.
- Lay strict rules for new data that is added to the system from the perspective of completeness and verification status. Any data that is not complete or verified should not be added to the CRM database.
- Don't use web-t0-form features of CRM application as this is a major source of junk leads entering the CRM system.
- Don't allow website traffic data to be pushed to your CRM system without verification and acquisition of role-based contacts at the companies that visited the website.
- Purge bounced email records from the database on a regular basis to remove records that no longer seem valid. If the email bounces (which was not bouncing earlier) you can safely assume the contact is no longer at the companies, unless a sales person shows call activity on the contact.
- Remove and build a plan for data that has not shown any activity in the past 90 or 120 days depending on your specific scenario. Chances are that leads that are not called or have not shown any email responses in the past 90 days are not valid or dead anyway. One way to deal with this is to export these from the CRM database and create a strategy to re-verify/re-connect with them and if some of them respond or qualify themselves then, those can be loaded back into the CRM system.
- Purge duplicate data on an ongoing basis across leads and contacts databases if you are using Salesforce.com.
- Get a clear perspective of all the lead records that are missing critical contact data like email addresses and phone numbers. Other data like industry, number of employees might also be critical for segmentation and do consider that as well. This will give you an idea of how much of your past data needs to be fixed for it to be truly usable and will also prompt you to consider what you need in the new data for it to be ready for upload to your CRM database.