Digital Sales Data: The (Real) Secret to Moving Deals from Prospect to Closed

digital sales data article
Sales Operations

In an ideal world, 100% of your data ends up in Salesforce (or your CRM of choice). But sadly, that’s not what’s happening in the real world.

According to a recent Salesforce study, poor data hygiene costs the average business nearly 30% of its revenue, amounting to a total economic loss of a whopping $700 billion a year.

You know it’s important to capture high-quality data to help you conduct QBRs, analyze your account health, review handover processes, report on your opportunity pipeline, and forecast win rates at your organization. Every (good) manager knows this.

So, why is it that the average customer’s contact database is composed of 90% incomplete contacts, with 20% of records being useless due to a myriad of issues? We’re talking about as many as 74% of the records being in need of updates and a full quarter of them being duplicates!

average customer database

Here’s the Problem

You’re asking your team to input data into Salesforce without giving them anything perceptible or useful in return. Why would reps spend their valuable time doing this? Sales reps want to sell. The way you pay them just underscores this.

Let’s take a step back.

At every point of the buying journey, your prospects and customers share valuable insights with you into their world, giving you visibility into their needs, pains, competitors, and more. This information ultimately fuels other parts of your business, right?

As a result, it should:

  • Be far-reaching at all stages of your sales cycles
  • Align with how you make big business decisions

But what good is receiving customer feedback if it’s not living in the CRM? All too often, that information lives in Evernote… OneNote… Google Docs… Notepad…

Pick your poison. In almost every sales organization, it’s not just one app that houses vital customer data. It’s a combination of things! Heck, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had scrap pieces of paper scattered on my desk with notes scribbled down on them.

When so much relies on having current information, can you really afford to have 88% of your customer data living in disconnected sources? Ugh, why isn’t it there?

Here’s the thing…

Your team doesn’t prioritize entering data into the CRM because it doesn’t immediately provide them value.

From a rep’s perspective, managers reap the benefits of this data for better analytics and more accurate forecasting, whereas the rest of the team views Salesforce as a data dump and reporting tool that takes away from their paycheck.

Good luck changing behavior without heavily incentivizing the desired behavior.

RELATED: The Real Cost of Dirty CRM Data

The ONLY Effective Way to Improve Deal Data in Your CRM

What’s the #1 incentive you can use with your reps? Help moving deals forward.

Give them that, and they’ll go out of their way to keep the CRM up to date.

Here are 3 steps you can take to make CRM maintenance standard practice in your business starting today:

  1. Simplify data entry
  2. Align incentives
  3. Create a positive feedback loop

1. Simplify Data Entry

Let’s be real. Simplifying data entry won’t inherently fix the problem — but it will make the next two steps simpler.

Make it as easy as possible for your team to input data so they aren’t making any excuses.

Rather than asking reps to fill out the pain field in the CRM, start having them ask a prospect a specific question that relates back to the field you want answered.

Translate data requirements into sales and buyer-centric language, and your adoption will increase ten-fold.

You need to start aligning the CRM to the sales process, as opposed to data entry. Take Outreach and SalesLoft as examples — every email logs directly back into Salesforce.

simplify data entry

2. Align Incentives

You have a couple of options here.

Option #1: Pay reps for data entry.

It’s not ideal, but it can hypothetically work. You could still get junk data in the CRM here, and it’ll require constant auditing and upkeep for commission reconciliation. But hey, it does speak their language.

Option #2: Push key information in exchange for data.

This has to be context-specific data. You want data beyond just industry, company size, etc. If you’re only receiving generic information, you can only push out generic content, which leads to a generic sales process and dirt-poor results.

Instead, consider pushing your team’s specific data points based on specific deal intel gathered:

“Oh, you mentioned you had XYZ pain, are growing your sales team 3X, and want a system that can scale with you? That sounds exactly like XYZ customer.”

aligning incentives

3. Create a Positive Feedback Loop

Cool, a battle card shows up citing exactly what you need to say live on a call. Now what?

If you’re mentioning what’s on the cards, you need to relay feedback on the effectiveness of that content back to the creator.

As a marketer myself, I want to know if the articles and case studies I’m writing for my sales team are even helping them move the needle on deals. If I know interviews with sales thought leaders in the industry are providing us more credibility than case studies, then I’ll allocate my time accordingly.

The goal is simple: know what talk-tracks and content perform best, so you can continually optimize your enablement strategy and playbook.

positive feedback loop

Side note: Quantifying the results of your enablement efforts isn’t easy. More to come on this, but think about some sort of NPS metrics around your content and you’re on the right track.

Making Data Entry a No-Brainer

At the end of the day, you want your team to want to capture information and share it with the rest of the business (and the CRM).

After all, it helps them win more deals.

Whether you’re leading sales enablement or sales operations at your organization, you want to help your team make the most of every customer interaction.

If you’re making data entry a no-brainer, enabling them with shared sales playbooks, and advocating a positive feedback loop — you’re setting your business up to put data in motion, because the incentives to do so far outweigh the drawbacks.

Wouldn’t you love more time for coaching during your 1-on-1s instead of wasting time triaging your sales team’s deals? We thought so!

To improve the quality (and utility) of the data in your sales organization, you need to understand the bottlenecks to putting your data in motion and sharing it broadly. Get rid of those bottlenecks in a way that makes everyone win and, ladies and gentlemen, you’ll uncover the not-so-secret, secret to moving deals from prospect to closed!

Neha Varshneya heads marketing at Dooly, a real-time sales enablement platform trusted by the likes of Asana, Intercom, and Contentful. Dooly helps teams drive productive customer meetings, enrich Salesforce with customer insights, and champion transparency and teamwork across the organization.