Duduping a CRM is like an equation waiting to be solved. Just like a high school math, the more variables you know the values for, the easier the problem is to solve and the more likely you will come up with the correct answer.
CRMs include is a vast number of “Data Markers”. These markers are a literal road map to filling in missing data. For example, if 100% of the emails for a particular company have the email format of Firstname.Lastname@domain.com, then you can probably fill in missing emails for other contacts with confidence. If you have the email domains for contacts, but the account record is lacking a website, that can be filled in too.
A company’s website address is a unique identifier. It is more important than the company name. Look at Peoplesoft as an example: long after the company was acquired by Oracle, you could navigate to www.peoplesoft.com. A few years later, it was totally absorbed…but the website did outlive the company.
Done properly, leveraging data markers within a CRM allows the properly trained consultant to pre-fill data for a more complete picture…BEFORE deduping. In addition the data should be standardized (sometimes called Normalized) before the dedupe process is done.
If you take the correct measures of: (1) data normalization and (2) data fill before deduping, your dedupe process will be greatly improved.
- “Wrong phone number”
- “The company was acquired”
- “Wrong title”
- “I have duplicates”
- “The data is old”
- “The emails don’t work”
- “My CRM data sucks”
- “I just called someone who’s been dead for a year”
If you’ve heard any of the above comments or something similar; you have a CRM problem. Are their solutions to these problems? Yes, however; today I will give you a deeper understanding of WHY the problem occurs. Many good vendors exist to solve the problems listed above. I want to arm you with a deeper insight, the WHY.
If you understand the WHY, you will be able to:
- Have a deeper understanding to the nature of the problem
- Remove unrealistic expectations (solve the problem, don’t chase a rainbow)
- Define best practices to minimize bad data
- Be informed when choosing a vendor (flashy interface does not solve THE PROBLEM)
- Understand how your CRM decisions effect CRM data
- Help you be an advocate for change management within your organization
- Make you a more informed client (some vendors will like this, others will not)
So what is the WHY?
Contact data decays
If you have a short attention span, if you are brilliant, or have limited reading time, we are done here. That’s all you need and you know what I am going to say in the long answer. Thanks for reading.
First, let’s establish a baseline from the US Department of Labor.
The national average tenure across all jobs in the US is 54 months. That breaks down to 1.85% per month of job attrition. For high-demand IT workers the tenure is shorter with 3% monthly job attrition rate. The rate for Silicon Valley start-ups is almost ridiculous with the average tenure being just over a year.*
*Not from DOL. garnered from several Venture Capital blogs…take it as an extreme example.
A full year of data decay – base factors
A month at a glance does not show the full picture when factored across an entire year. Look at the picture across a year’s time.
When reviewing an entire year, data will decay at about 12%. However, that does not take into account many additional factors including: (more…)
Where does your company is rank for the variables that impact duplicate data? Take a moment to take the quiz below.
How to score the quiz: Each question has a maximum. Give yourself a score on the continuum from zero to max points. Good luck & be honest!
The Dirty Data Quiz: Is Your CRM at Risk?
CRM Data Plan. 15 points. Does your company have a CRM Data Plan? A CRM Data Plan is a standard format for treating CRM data. If you don’t, this is where you start the entire process. To comply with best practices, your CRM Data Plan should be centrally stored, accessible by anyone who enters data into your CRM. In essence, the Data-Plan acts as a single-point-of-truth for your company and how it treats data.
Your points: ______
Staff Training. 5 points. Has your staff has been trained on your Data-Plan and it is easily accessible? While this is a great step, it is not as important as making the CRM enforce your data plan automatically. If your CRM does offer a feature like this, the training is most important for your IT department who can circumvent the constraints put on the average user. Your points: ______
CRM Cleaned. 5 points. Has your CRM gone through a full normalization and deduplication process? Once you have your Data-Plan developed, you need to ensure that the data you have meets the plan. Why only 5 points? A one-time cleaning does not solve the long term problem. Don’t pat yourself on the back for this, if this is all you do, you will have one month per year of clean data. Your points: ______
CRM Enforcement. 15 points. Is your data plan enforced by your CRM? This is tremendously important. If your provider does not have this feature, it means you must either build or find an add-on to your CRM. An even better option is to provide all users of your CRM Broadlook’s Contact Capture to automatically and error free enter contacts into your CRM. Contact Capture is FREE (not trying to sell anything here). Your points: ______
Product/Integration Enforcement. 10 points. Do other products that bring information into your CRM adhere to your Data-Plan? Beware of products that dump data to a Excel or CSV file. Sometimes it is unavoidable, however, direct exporting systems that comply with your Data-Plan and do deduplication in real-time are always a superior choice. Your points: ______
Vendor Enforcement. 10 Points. Do vendors that provide you with list data deliver it in compliance with your Data-Plan? Some vendors may push back at first; however, it has been my experience that the entire process will go smoother if the vendor complies to the Data-Plan. Hold your ground and remember that list providers want your business. Show them the format that you want your data …and don’t compromise. Your points: ______
Import Enforcement, by culture. 5 points. Does the IT staff buy-in to following the Data-Plan? The best way to make this happen is include the IT department in the development of the Data-Plan. Your points: ______
Import Enforcement, by technology. 15 points. Is your IT staff prevented from circumventing a Data-Plan by rights management? Everyone must obey the Data-Plan. If your IT staff can circumvent best practices established by management, problems will arise. It the IT staff disagrees with a Data-Plan, best practice dictates that the Data-Plan reviewed, discussed and potentially revised. Again, this maintains the single point of truth and enforceability to make your Data Plan work. Your points: ______
URL Enforcement. 20 points. Do you have a URL (website) field for each company in your CRM.? The URL of a company is more important than a DUNS number, location or anything else. It is the single best piece of company-centric information that can be used to update the CRM over time. The URL can be used to update and add contacts to your CRM with tools like Broadlook’s Profiler. Your points: ______
How did you do? I want to hear from you! Send how you did to Donato Diorio (me AT dioriodiorio dot com).
Understanding how your data and processes rank is paramount. Dirty CRM data is a huge problem with sales force efficiency. You may think that cleaning your CRM on a regular cycle is a good thing. Don’t pat yourself on the back just yet; cleaning CRM data on a cycle is treating a symptom. Just like good physical health, the best solution to eradicate dirty CRM data is prevention. Prevent dirty data from getting into your CRM and your CRM be clean and healthy. You may even enjoy using it again.
Controlling human behavior is a huge step towards getting a handle on CRM Deduplication. Unfortunately, on the journey towards a clean CRM, we encounter humans. They mis-key information, don’t follow a CRM Data Plan, and generally take any shortcut possible that will reduce amount of work they have to do, when getting data into the CRM.
Get used to it. There will always be some level of human input with the CRM. If you embrace it, you stop trying to control it. You can’t win. Instead, put together strategies that will minimize the damage. Even if you have controls to enforce data entry formats, there is always the admin user that can bypass your controls. Don’t ignore the human side of the equation.
Here are some ideas to help your team:
1. Educate your staff on why a CRM Data Plan is important. If they don’t know it is important, don’t expect them to obey best practices.
2. Post your CRM Data Plan. Every sales person, receptionist, administrative person, even the CEO should have it at their desk. If your organization is paperless, put it in a corporate wiki. If your CRM has an area for documents, put it there.
3. Get buy in from your technical team for your CRM Data Plan. If the guys who have administrative access to your CRM don’t see things your way…all hell can break loose. Avoid this incongruity by bringing in your tech team from the inception of CRM Data Plan.
4. When possible, use data entry automation. There is a free technology called Contact Capture that captures contact information from any electronic form and exports to most major CRM systems including salesforce.com, MS dynamics CRM, ACT!, Goldmine and many others.
5. Use the language of your Data Plan in sales and Pipeline meetings. Example, your talking about XYZ Incorporated and you use your Data Plan uses the short form of “Inc”, then refer to the company as “XYZ Inc”. This seems trivial, but reinforcement from all angles will reinforce data quality.
6. Tie good data management to fun incentive bonuses. Free lunch or night out for the king or queen of data. If the record is not correct, conformed and complete (3 C’s of data entry) then no bonus.
7. Publicly humiliate people that don’t conform the CRM Data Plan? No, negative reinforcement is short-lived. Think positive. I’ve hung up $20 bills for sales reps to make it through a morning without saying “Um”, “Ahh”, or “you know”. It is a great training tools to bring attention to behavior they were not aware of. Make good data entry practices part of your culture.
8. Hire the right people. Good reference question to ask when hiring. “Was (Joe) the kind of person who had good data entry practices..did he document the sales process?” CRM is so important to an efficient sales process, but little is asked about a person and how they utilized it in a previous job role.
Even if you have a technology solution like Broadlook’s CRM Shield to enforce your chosen data entry standard (CRM Data Plan), the human side of the equation plays a big part in overall CRM health.
Next Post: The Dirty Data Quiz – How Healthy is your CRM?
Why can’t my CRM vendor keep my data clean?
Nearly every CRM company and internal corporate IT department has taken a stab at solving the problem of keeping your data clean. You may have heard of it referred to as CRM Deduping, CRM Dedupe, CRM Deduplication as well as Data normalization.
Unfortunately, no one has done it right! Not Oracle, not Salesforce.com, not Microsoft and not SAP. Why?
Think about it: Who decides the standard? Do you want saleforce.com or Microsoft dicatating the format for data storage that you use? Of coarse not, every business model has unique needs. While one business may prefer storing “The Container Company” another may prefer “Container Company, The”. It would be suicide for a vendor to enforce a single set of rules on all their clients. So the problem is not necessarily ignored, but it is accepted as status quo.
Why didn’t my CRM sales rep tell me this?
Since the issue is accepted as status quo for the industry, it is simply not addressed. Sales reps are not in the habit of pointing out a problem that they do not have a solution for. If the issue is addressed, typically it is periodical crm deduplication process.
CRM Dedupe only treats the symptom
If you think of CRM duplicates as the symptom of a disease, how do you cure the disease vs. treating the symptom? The answer is to never allow duplicates into your CRM system in the first place. The first start in that process is developing a CRM Data Plan.
CRM Deduplication services are a profit center
Your dirty data is another company’s profit center. Many of the major CRM providers have professional services that you can pay to periodically clean your CRM. While these services typically do a great job, they do not solve the issues with inefficiency and lost revenue *between* the data cleansing cycles. Basically, every time you fix your CRM, the cure is short-lived.
Why didn’t I see this coming?
Don’t be hard on yourself. Think about it. When you buy a CRM, it is usually empty. If you import dirty data from an old CRM, the new CRM will be dirty. The problem is not the result of you forgetting to turn on a feature in the new CRM. Massive duplicates and miskeyed data does not become a problem until after you start to use the CRM. When a CRM is implemented, it is typically at that time the buyer realizes there is a huge problem with the information.
Without a systematic way to start with and keep information clean, duplicates will be introduced into your CRM. Good for professional service firms; Bad for you and your CRM. The best solution is not treating a symptom, but curing the disease. The first step to curing the disease is creating a CRM Data Plan… which will be the next blog post.
Next post:What is a CRM Data Plan