A successful sales process relies heavily on a clean, up-to-date prospect database. Yet, 75% of B2B companies have problems with their prospect list. Bad data can be extremely costly, wasting significant time, impeding sales, and often chasing away your best salespeople. Research shows that pursuing bad prospect data can cost sales organizations $32,000 every year.
In this blog, we’ll examine the most common prospect database mistakes and how to fix them to maintain a healthy, accurate database that will drive sales.
Common Mistake #1: Not maintaining list quality
Prospect data ages quickly due to changes in company or leadership, point of contact, or direct phone line. In fact, industry reports show that 70% of B2B prospect data can become outdated every year. As a result, sales organizations that don’t regularly audit their prospect database will have inaccurate, missing, and/or duplicate information.
How to fix it: Evaluate your database to determine the accuracy of your data, and what is and isn’t working with your current list strategy.
An effective way to test the information in your database is to execute one or more campaigns, through email, direct mail, or cold calling. Doing so will help you determine if your data is inaccurate and where you may have holes. In addition, have sales reps (or a dedicated intern or staff member) check all prospect records in their territory to ensure accuracy and completeness of each entry.
Common Mistake #2: Inconsistent standards across your organization
When multiple people work within a CRM, each will naturally have their own style and preference when entering new information. However, when you look at the database as a whole, naming conventions, notes, and other fields will be inconsistent. Problems arise when others try to work with that data, or when running reports or campaigns that rely on certain fields.
How to fix it: Create a guide for data within your CRM. Develop standards for naming conventions, required fields needed for segmentation and pipeline reporting, and how to format notes. Look for opportunities to use pick lists, rather than open fields, to reduce spelling errors (think states, regions, products, industries). As you build your guide, consider specifics such as:
- Capitalization: How should each field be capitalized? Should you capitalize the first word or the entire field? (Example: Decision maker or Decision Maker)
- Abbreviations: Do you have industry- or company-specific abbreviations that should be used in particular fields? Where is it not appropriate to use abbreviations? (Example: Wisconsin or WI)
- Format: How should specific fields such as date, phone number, address, or region be formatted? (Example: (123) 456-7890 or 123-456-7890 or 123.456.7890)
Your goal is an intuitive consistent guide for anyone working within the CRM. After your guide is developed, you may consider using an automation tool to merge and clean data, conforming to your standards.
Common Mistake #3: Lack of targeting or segmentation
Sales are most effective when targeting a defined audience with a tailored message. When leads are generated from website forms, social media outlets, and other sources, they may not be your designated target and your sales reps waste time marketing to unqualified prospects. With an abundance of irrelevant data, some organizations find that they have an insufficient number of contacts in the database that fit their target market.
How to fix it: If you haven’t already, start by clearly defining your target market, including location, industry, company size, function, and other factors. Create personas for each of your target prospects.
Once you’ve nailed down your target market, audit your database and remove anyone who doesn’t fit those parameters. Now you can determine the size of your prospect database to decide if it’s large enough to support your revenue.
Want to learn more strategies for effective database management? Check out this guide: 5 Pillars of Successful B2B List Management. And if you don’t have the resources to implement the above recommendations, you may consider outsourcing your list management.