Data Quality is Boring

There I’ve said it.  Nobody grows up saying, “I’d like to spend my career worrying about database quality.”  It seems unglamorous, nerdy, and boring.  In fact, it often goes unmentioned as a way to improve your CRM or marketing automation programs.

But boring doesn’t imply unprofitable.  In fact, there is a compelling ROI argument to be made for strong data hygiene.  In my last post, I discussed the costs of bad data, but there is also a set of benefits that accrue to sales and marketing teams by focusing on data quality.

One of the most obvious benefits is a reduction in keying required at the inbound call center or by your sales reps.  They can quickly pull up full company profiles for a prospect and synch the record with the CRM.  Not only are keystrokes cut down significantly, but accurate, standardized data is uploaded into your CRM.  And by displaying full profiles, the sales rep can quickly qualify an opportunity or review key fields (e.g. size, location, industry, job title and function) prior to contacting a prospect.

And when the rep pulls up a profile that hasn’t been updated in a few months, she can quickly perform a “stare and compare” to update the record.  A stare and compare screen displays your CRM record against your hygiene (or sales intelligence) vendor’s information warehouse.  Fields which are missing or differ between the two views are highlighted, allowing the sales rep to quickly decide whether to update some or all of the fields.  Thus, in five to ten seconds, the sales rep has identified new or changed information about the account, contact, or lead record and updated the profile.  That is accuracy on demand.

stare and compare

Batch updating of your CRM should also be viewed as a best practice as it performs automatic updates against your database on a scheduled basis (e.g. monthly).  Batch updating ensures that the latest firmographic information is associated with account records.  It can also identify companies that have recently relocated and contacts that may have left a company.

By associating accounts, contacts, and leads with third party verified reference files, marketing and sales processes operate more effectively.  Marketing and sales operations have fuller and more accurate segmentation reports, lead scoring and nurturing are more effective when you can properly target your campaigns, and leads are routed to the proper sales rep.

Simply consider how you could mishandle a lead for a small location that is a branch of a Fortune 500 company.  By mislabeling this lead, your messaging would be different and you would likely route it to a territory or SMB rep instead of a named account rep.  Furthermore, the territory rep might immediately label it as another “weak lead” and fail to follow up on it.  Either your enterprise sales team never receives the lead or hears about it much later after the branch location has been approached by a different sales team.  Channel conflict ensues.

So while data quality is boring, it should be viewed as part of the basic blocking and tackling for sales operations managers and marketers.


Table 1: Lead handling is distorted by bad data.  A branch of a Fortune 500 firm is handled much differently when linkage data is missing.

Michael Levy
Michael R. Levy is a contributing writer to our blog and the principal of GZ Consulting, a market research and competitive intelligence consulting firm based in Massachusetts. Michael founded the firm in February 2012 after leaving Infogroup where he was the Manager of Strategy and Competitive Intelligence. Michael focuses on information services including sales intelligence, CRM, data hygiene, and marketing automation.
Michael Levy
Michael Levy

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