I recently had a conversation with a business owner about how to improve their CRM data. It’s a conversation I’ve had many times over the years.
It’s not that this business needs more data in its CRM or is missing an important prospect list. The CRM in question has plenty of contacts and accounts–think nearly a hundred thousand contacts. It’s that with this huge list of potential customers, the business is not actually easily able to sell. There is too much data and not enough useful information.
If you find yourself with a CRM that is full of data but not easy for you to use to make actual sales and nurture relationships, consider some of the following ways to organize it. Think of this like Marie Kondo for your CRM.
First things first. You probably need to close deals. Usually sales pipelines live in the “opportunities” tab your CRM. First make sure the data for the contacts in your opportunities is correct and that the next follow up actions are properly set. You don’t want to lose deals through lack of follow up.
Next consider that many people miss key contacts in their deals by underestimating how many people are involved in buying their stuff. You may need to add some people to each opportunity in your CRM. (See point #3 in this post, if you are not sure how to close deals with several decisionmakers.)
Priority to your goals
What are your goals? 5-year/1-year/someday? If you don’t know, or are not clear, then you should set aside some time to figure them out. Check out the book The One Thing if you want to learn how to set goals.
Which people in your CRM are the most important to helping you reach your goals? For example, big clients, potential big clients, investors, potential investors, employees, potential employees etc. Are these important contacts tagged so you can find them easily in your large number of records? If not, I suggest adding a field to your CRM called “importance” and giving these folks an “A” in this field.
You will likely find that when you think about it your most important contacts will be in the low hundreds not thousands. They will be a small percentage of your total database. It’s the 80/20 rule to the power of 2 or even the power of 3. These most important contacts will likely be 4% or even 0.8% of your total database (so even for a CRM with 100,000 contacts, they may well fewer than 800 contacts.)
How strong is your relationship with these most important people? In the ideal world you would have 10 out of 10 relationship strength with all your “A” priority contacts. It’s worth tagging your most important contacts with how you perceive your current relationship strength with them. This will let you see the gaps between where things are and where they may need to be in terms of how developed your relationships with your most important contacts. From here you can start to think about ways to nurture relationships that may make a big difference in your business.
So, what about the other 99.2% of the database? (In my example above 0.8% of the database are most important contacts.)
Don’t worry about the 99.2% until you’ve found the important contacts above. But once you’ve organized your most important contacts and want to start looking at other contacts, it’s going to help to throw contacts into groups so you can more easily see what’s in your “ocean” of data.
Consider groups like potential client, potential partner, potential employee, potential investor, networking contact etc. You will also want to start to clean your records so fields like industry, company size, state, city, zip can be used to generate reports that “slice and dice” your data into lists that are small enough to be useful.
In this part of the process, you are dealing with a lot of data, so you may well need to get some help, whether human or AI.