Here are tips to keep your database healthy and clean.
By Liz Lemarchand and Leonard Yu, MediaDev
Data is everywhere and BIG DATA is one of THE hot topics of our time. But generating more data in and of itself should not be an end goal because it’s what you do with your data that’s of value.
A database is a living and breathing organism; it changes rapidly and can become obsolete quickly if it’s not taken care of. Like a plant that goes without sunlight or a hearty watering, a database that is left unworked will wither over time. This is especially the case when we’re talking about sales prospects: people change companies, companies go through mergers & acquisitions, they change addresses, phone numbers and even their names!
So what can you do to make sure your data is up to date?
Here are our tips to keeping your database healthy and clean:
Run regular data cleansing actions
Emailing campaigns coupled with peer-to-peer telemarketing is the fastest way to determine which contacts in your database are invalid. A targeted email blast to a prospect list can have the double-effect of helping you determine which emails are no longer active (the hard bounces), and at the same time reach out to contacts who could be interested in learning more about your offers (by contacting openers and clickers). Telemarketing can then be used to find replacement contacts for the ones that are erroneous, and help to generate leads.
Be prepared to do this regularly, like cleaning your house. You can’t expect to dust once and never have to dust again (unfortunately)! Setting out a planned period two or three times a year to run data cleansing campaigns is a good start; having a dedicated, outsourced team to do it for you on a constant basis is even better.
Use market intelligence to gain insight into the data you have/don’t have
Teams of data miners can be used to continually conduct research and proactively find new companies/contacts that can be added to your database. They can find new sources of data, because it’s their job to be out there looking for them on a daily basis. Gaining insight into your market (how much data you have versus how much exists) is an important way for you to judge the breadth and depth of your data.
If you target specific verticals, you should have an understanding of how many companies should be part of your database, who the big players are, where they are located, and the job titles that could interest your sales teams. Gaining insight into named accounts (knowing their subsidiaries, affiliations, and group structure) for the large enterprise segment can be daunting just by the sheer volume of information that’s required to analyze. It’s important to set out a plan when “mapping” these companies to make sure that the new information you collect is not redundant with what you already have.
Knowing what you have/what you’re missing will provide you with a road map for data development to enrich your database over time.
Get inbound leads followed-up and in your CRM fast
There’s nothing worse than contacting a company and never getting a response. Inbound inquiries (no matter who they are or where they come from) should be followed-up and qualified quickly to determine their level of maturity. Sometimes they can be disqualified right away (as some prospects are just contacting you out of curiosity but express no desire to purchase); others can enter into a nurture pipeline so that they can mature into sales opportunities. Following up inbound leads with outbound telemarketing is a great way to enhance your existing data and ensure that you don’t miss out on potential deals.
Use technology to help analyze data
Never close your door to learning new skills! There are business intelligence tools that can help automate tasks when it comes to analyzing data so that you don’t need to do it manually. Of course, this will involve technical know-how and proper planning, but given the reward of optimizing operational efficiency in the long-term, it’s worth the investment. The end goal is to provide insightful statistics and at the same time discover patterns within your data; using this effectively can help you gain leverage over your competitors.
Whether you have a lot of data or not, the quality of the data you have is more important than the quantity. How you analyze your data (and with what tools) can help give you the insight you need to make business decisions faster, and get an edge-up over your competitors.
Working on your data regularly will help ensure that the prospects your sales team is nurturing are relevant and up-to-date, and outsourcing this busy work can help maximize the efforts of your internal teams by enabling them to work on other “higher value” tasks. But whatever you do, don’t be scared by your data and sweep it under the rug -- it’s too valuable of a resource to ignore.
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