University of Scranton reports that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them. In our experience, that’s about the percentage of meetings industry sales teams that have the time, resources and discipline to maintain their database properly.
Let’s face it: whether it’s losing weight or getting your database into shape making lasting changes is hard.
Just as health is a person’s most important attribute, your customer database is your company’s most valuable asset. And it is a highly perishable asset. In the data cleansing projects Greenfield has executed for meetings industry suppliers since 2003 , we have found data accuracy diminishes at a rate between 15% and 60% annually. Acquiring new prospect data is costly, so it makes sense to put processes in place to preserve your database assets.
The following are six best practices we have compiled to help you better manage existing client data:
- Reduce the number of accounts your sales reps are responsible for: A LinkedIn poll we ran in 2011 found the majority of salespeople had more than 250, some even 500+ accounts under their initials in their company’s CRM. That is way more than anyone can effectively manage. CSO Insights reports that 100 accounts is probably the maximum number of actively managed accounts a rep can handle PER YEAR. If you want your data to be better maintained, cut back on the number of records assigned to each person.
- Put the rest on auto-pilot: So you have a team of 4 or 5 sales people. This means you should be effectively communicating with 400-500 accounts and related contacts. But what about the rest of your data, you ask? Put them on auto-pilot with Marketing Automation. Marketing automation involves connecting your CRM with a tool that has the ability to (among other things) send regular email communication (e-newsletter, special offers), to build up your database of new interested contacts from sign-up forms on your website, and even track website visits through social media posts. There are lots of marketing automation vendors out there, many with a wide array of functions that may or may not be suited to your needs. If you want to know more about how it works, let us know.
- Audit your database: Performance improvement expert Dr. H. James Harrington said, “If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” So give someone on your team the task to randomly call 30-40 contacts from your database. How many are still at the organization, requiring no update? How many have left the company and a new person is in place? How many companies are out of business or can no longer be reached? Use those metrics to benchmark what percentage of your data may need updating.
- Assign a chief data officer: Salespeople are not very good at most admin tasks, especially updating data. I can say this because I’m one too! So make it ONE person’s job to enforce data hygiene. Give the power to your sales coordinator or CRM operator to dole out rewards or punishment, and give that person a bonus/reward if they can maintain a certain level of data cleanliness.
- Have a mechanism to track & flush: If your CRM/marketing automation is used to send out regular communication to prospects and you must enter the data before the prospect is fully qualified, make sure you assign a source code and date. That way you can easily send dedicated follow-up messages (e.g. Thank you for stopping at our booth…). This also allows you to query your CRM to assess response to any campaign, organize a follow-up call campaign and eventually delete the data if there is no response. For Canadian marketers, with the implementation of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation in mid-2012, it is now mandatory to track this information so you can distinguish between express and implied consent in your opt-in marketing practices. (For more information, download our Anti-Spam Checklist
located on our Free Resources page. It was originally written for professional and
trade associations, but the same rules apply for all marketers!)
- Nurture your clients: Maybe that important planner who was interested in your hotel for their annual incentive just got let go. How would you know unless you call as soon as you find out her email bounced? Remember to mix up the types of “touches” with email, direct mail, invitations to events, phone calls, etc. Not only will you generate leads but bounces and mail returns will tell you who is no longer there so you can update your data.
We hope the above tips will help your hotel, CVB, convention centre or other meetings industry service stay on top of its database. And good luck with those New Year’s resolutions!