Spring Cleaning Your Data

Over time, companies collect an awful lot of data on clients and prospective clients. They can have entire databases full of information that needs effectively sifting for value.

Cleaning out your data is something that you should be doing regularly throughout the year. But it’s often the last thing on our minds. If you want to make the most of the databases you have and run more effective campaigns, it’s time to spring clean your data.

henryImage Source – David Simmonds (CC License)

Removing latent, dormant and incorrect details can save you time and money when it comes to improving the efficacy of your sales team. Without cleaning out the dead wood, your sales team is wasting time chasing useless prospects – just because they appear on the sales database.

One of the very first things to ask is how the data is entered in the first instance. Many times, it is a poorly waged, junior member of staff who is tasked with entering the data. They have little incentive to ensure that the data is 100% accurate; their commission doesn’t rely on it!

If a piece of data is incorrectly entered, it will cause problems later down the line. If that same piece of data is entered differently twice, then the two opposing records result in wasted efficiency, irritated prospects and confused sales staff. Whether you keep physical addresses and phone numbers or email addresses, you need to ensure that you minimise the rate of duplication. Accurate, reliable data is vital to the efficacy of your sales force and incorrect data leads to unsuccessful campaigns.

If you store email data sourced through your web portal, you should ensure that there is a straightforward way for clients or customers to easily change and update their own data. This frees up the time your sales force has to follow up leads by allowing the client to keep your database records accurate for you.

Likewise, with email data or data gleaned from online sources, you should occasionally offer the client the opportunity to opt-in again and delete all of those clients that do not. Why should you do this?

There are two portions of the Data Protection Act 1984 which cover this type of data. Under the law, data must be accurate and it must be given with the permission of the owner. The Data Protection Act is slowly tightening the net around companies that store incorrect data and those that store valid data without the correct permissions.

Avoid the chances of getting in trouble with the Data Registrar by deleting anyone that doesn’t opt-in again. Delete anything that you no longer need, if you don’t – the consequences could be devastating for your business.

Of course, this is considered to be dreadfully boring task. The proper sorting and sifting of masses of customer data records is a thankless and dull job. It’s neither enjoyable nor stimulating, but it’s got to be done. It’s one of those ‘maybe later’ tasks on a priority scale, but it’s far more important than you might realise. An effective, accurate database makes sales; a sloppily kept records system full of duplicates and errors stalls sales, interrupts sales and prevents sales.

Outsourcing the cleansing of your data is a simple and effective way of getting that sales data in tip top shape without the pain of having to do the organization for yourself. Employ a professional organisation to give you a full data audit and you’ll be left with valid, deduplicated data on prospects that are ready to be closed. A company that specializes in cleaning this type of data will offer advice and assistance on keeping the data trail clean now and in the future.

A member of staff should work with the company to determined performance metrics and outline objectives. Lead quality criteria should be established for each campaign and this should guide the third party experts as they use robust screening and validation methods to screen out dead or invalid leads.

The ‘cleaner’ will advise you on your future management of leads in order to better improve the way that you use them. Efficient data management will help you to speed up the time it takes between lead generation and closing. It will also ensure that each lead is given a 100% chance of success. Reducing that chance through sloppy record keeping is inexcusable and it will cost you money.

Cleaning your database is a way of renewing and reinvigorating your sales activities. Without a thorough cleansing, your database loses value on a daily basis. A third party cleansing company will establish the validity of your records. They will contact old clients and open new lines of business for you. As your data is freshly churned, it becomes a part of your ongoing business growth.

A cleaner will systematically plough through your data and ensure that the records your teams use remain accurate. At the same time, you can unleash a two-pronged attack on your data, cleansing it one on hand and using that data to provide new sales leads for your staff to close on the other.

It’s the perfect excuse to contact your old prospects and clients again! This can lead to re-established links with lapsed accounts, connecting new clients, and adding value by increasing the value of your present leads data.

So, if the reason why so many telemarketing campaigns receive low hit rates is just incorrect data, you know what you have to do. People move homes, change jobs, transfer extensions and within a year, almost 20% of your database is out of date and incorrect. That’s right, 20% of your time is spent chasing leads that aren’t ever going to be closed. That’s a serious waste of time and money and it’s completely avoidable.

Bring in a third party cleansing team to get your business back on track by re-energising your current database. Finally, when the job is done, and the dross will be cut away, only the prime, qualified leads will remain.

Andy Dickens

Andy Dickens is a veteran of IT Sales, used to leading by example. He is the CEO of Virtual Sales Limited (VSL) who offer telesales, telemarketing, lead generation and appointment setting services to B2b businesses. He previously was Sales Director EMEA for Red Hat and before that ran sales at Visio before it was acquired by Microsoft.