Inside sales teams are no longer a trend that is changing sales: they’re a staple of any B2B sales organization. With traditional structures slowly shifting to a more cost-friendly model that allows a more intimate and comfortable relationship with customers, there’s one nagging problem that inside sales professionals often deal with: bad data.
It’s no secret that inside sales teams routinely manage truckloads of data. As a result, they face a specific set of challenges in their daily operations, that leave them trying to jump over hurdles that are built in the very essence of inside sales. People change emails, jobs, and job titles, businesses change addresses, telephone numbers, and so on. Inevitably, data becomes outdated, inaccurate, and finally - irrelevant. As we take a look at how such bad data can negatively impact the inside sales performance, it’s up to sales leaders to identify these potential pitfalls and cancel them out to create an efficient sales operation.
Not reaching the right leads
Image credit:Inside Sales
Generating large volumes of high-quality leads is a crucial concern for everyone involved in sales (you too, marketing). A study of inside sales managers shows just how grave of a concern that is. More than 24% of sales leaders cited “lead quantity & quality” as their second greatest challenge, with only “training and development” presenting a bigger challenge. On the other hand, for sales reps, lead quantity and quality are significantly more important, with almost half of them rating it as a top challenge.
So how exactly is this manifesting? For one thing, take a look at this gem:
Image credit: OnePageCRM
That’s more than 3 hours spent on seeking contacts out of a standard 8-hour shift. And that’s just the small part of the entire lead generation process. A lot can be said about data-driven lead-related topics, be it the very content what drives inbound marketing, lead nurturing, or even the fundamental lead qualifying. Still, truly frightening aspects of bad data are missed opportunities, lost deals, and high customer churn, leading to an overall poor prospect and customer relationship. So much so that lousy customer communications can negatively affect total revenue by as much as 25%.
Getting overwhelmed by competitors
B2B companies have a nasty habit of not realizing inside sales are stripped of the physical connection field sales had the luxury of making. It’s much more difficult for inside sales to leave a lasting impression, let alone get noticed amongst fierce competition. They’re left to their own devices, with interaction over social media, a cold email, or a phone/Skype call as their only tools to work with. Along with producing qualified leads, arguably the best salespeople can do is to avoid getting stifled by rivals and start a conversation the prospect actually wants to hear: a thorough understanding of their problems and how the proposed solution can effectively relieve those pain points. Bad data muddies the water when it comes to gaining critical insights which provide companies competitive advantage, pushing potential customers away instead of attracting them.
Higher operating costs
It’s simple logic really: compensating for bad data takes out more money out of your wallet than it does to keep your existing database squeaky clean. If your data isn’t reliable, everyone in the sales department has to make compromises to accommodate their daily workflow, adding to a more expensive and less efficient process. Usually, staff will try to correct the problems themselves in order to complete the task in a timely manner. However, this doesn’t address key issues of how or where the data was gathered, how to stop it from repeating and weed out the root cause.
Here’s an illustration of that problem:
Image credit:Harvard Business Review
One more tidbit before we move on to the next point. IBM’s estimate for 2016 in terms of the yearly cost of poor quality data was $3.1 trillion. Yes, trillion. And that’s for the US alone. Stunning, right?
It leads to frustration and low morale
Sales leaders don’t look at it this way, what with all the hard numbers they deal with on a daily basis, but bad data also takes a psychological toll on their sales force. Sales is complex enough without the added factor of inaccuracies hampering their work. This is particularly a problem for sales reps who are paid by commission, where bad data can be a real destroyer of morale and a catalyst for decreased efficiency throughout the team.
How to fix this issue?
Subpar data that is below a certain level of satisfactory quality can be cleansed to improve its quality. Basically, you have two options: you can clean up your database manually. This can take days or weeks, depending on the size of your database. However, this still leaves your collection methods up for review as the source (or more of them) from where you acquire data can be the truly problematic part of this equation. This leaves you with a second, more comfortable option, and that’s partnering up with a digital platform to make sure low-quality data isn’t part of your sales recipe. As relevant position holders change jobs and contact information, and prospect companies change solutions to adapt to savvy customers, it’s vital that you keep up with them.
You have to know which technology they are currently using (and possibly what they have tried in the past), their full tech stack and multiple technology combinations, top clients and geographical spread, web traffic, business type, as well as other data relevant to your sales pitch. That way, you can also discover potential users for your solution and expand your initial focus to new business verticals, technologies, and geographies to tap into. Relying on sales insights solution allows you stay on top of your data hygiene while enjoying perks like real-time tracking to stay ahead of important events, detailed reporting for granular insights, and most importantly - accurate information.
If there’s one word to describe how bad data can affect your insides sales team, it’s inefficiency.
Only quality data is useful data your sales people can use consistently. Anything else means potential trouble and waste. Whether you as a sales leader realize it or not, the quality of your data is directly related to the performance of your sales team, as well as their overall efficiency and productivity. Accurate, relevant data leads to better prospecting, more meaningful relationships with your potential clients, and ultimately, better chances for closing a deal. We’ve shown you the impact bad data has, from one measly account lost to potentially business-ending consequences. Don’t let that happen to you.