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Sales managers are responsible for the overall health of data entered into the CRM by their sales reps. The executive team and board of directors rely heavily on the accuracy of the sales team’s data to make forecasts and important decisions. Reliable data leads to actionable insights and better Salesforce reports, and unreliable data leads to wasted time and resources.

We’ve listened to concern from CRM users about how to improve their reps’ willingness and ability to input accurate data. Read on to learn why data quality is so important, and how to get your sales reps on track to consistently entering accurate data.

The 2 sides of data hygiene

There are 2 sides of data hygiene: the accuracy of the data and the stability of your sales process. To optimize the data output from your CRM, both sides must be clean and consistent.

1. Accuracy of the data

Definition: the amount and quality of data entry for managing the sales process.

What it includes: opportunity value, close date, correct activities registered at the correct times, and miscellaneous notes added to update viewers (the sales reps, managers, and VP) on the status of that opportunity or deal.

Why should data be accurate?

It’s simple, really: you cannot get quality, actionable data if the data in your CRM is inaccurate. It is also much easier to track your deals if data is entered into your CRM in a concrete and systematic way. When you and your reps spend less time getting up-to-speed on each account, time is freed up for more strategic thinking and planning. Coach your sales reps to enter the right data at the right times – it will give them more time to focus on strategic issues.

2. Consistency of the sales process

Definition: the adherence to your company’s sales process from the moment a lead enters your pipeline to close.

What it includes: well-defined sales stages, well-defined criteria for what those stages are, and a consistent process for how a lead or opportunity moves from one stage to the next.

Why is a well-defined sales process important?

It allows you and your reps to track the right kinds of activities – the ones that really have an impact on moving opportunities through the pipeline. Without the ability to track these metrics, you end up guessing which activities are effective. Guessing is not good enough: your story should derive from the data.

Training your sales reps

If your reps are used to a certain level of data integrity, it can be difficult to get them to adhere to a new, higher standard. The key is keeping them accountable for reliable data entry. Start by holding sales team meetings every morning in which each rep runs through his or her goals for the day. At the end of the workday, meet again and have each rep briefly summarize their daily accomplishments. Then, set up weekly one-on-one sessions with each of your reps to go over their individual performance using data from your CRM. By spending a lot of time using data analysis in individual meetings, you will emphasize the importance of accurate data entry.

If you use Salesforce.com, check out our Salesforce.com Data Quality Scorecard that includes step-by-step advice, what to fix in your pipeline, and the top errors in your data.

You can start making sure your reps are diligent about accurate data today. In the meantime, you need to establish concrete definitions for your sales process. Make a PowerPoint to distribute to reps that outlines the name of each stage, the criteria reps should cover within each stage, and the process for how an opportunity moves from one stage to the next.

Monitoring your sales data

InsightSquared customers: Under “Data Quality,” you will find a Fix List feature. The Fix List hunts for errors in data entry – things like value of an opportunity, close date, correctly entered numbers – and reports, in a graph, your data quality score over time per team or individually.

 

What tips do you have about training your team to input accurate data?

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