By Scott Gordon, The Chief Revenue Officer
Whenever I perform a CRM implementation or process optimization project, I’m often stunned by the laissez-faire (hands-off) attitude towards the handling of critical sales and operational data. There’s an old expression in database management – garbage in = garbage out. Therefore bad (or no) data in equals poor decision making, bleeding margins, and poor customer experience out.
Usually when I’m asked to conduct a CRM project (generally a Saleforce.com rollout), my client is having challenges related to point solution proliferation (there’s an app for everything these days), disjointed processes that lack definition or accountability (see point #1), dropped balls, missing documents, poor customer communication, and an overall lack of visibility into the real metrics driving their business.
They hope by rolling all of these disparate software and cloud based solutions under one all mighty platform that process, forecasting, and accountability will take care of themselves, but, in my experience, that is seldom if ever the case. If the bridge is out, you don’t need a new car, you need a boat (or a plane), or a new bridge.
In fact, while there can be a lot of heavy lifting related to a CRM platform migration, the implementation itself is just the beginning of a much longer process. Without roll-out and frequent refresher training, many users will simply revert to what they’ve always done because it works for them and change is hard.
Most end users don’t have the perspective to understand why using the new platform you’ve selected is important (because it’s often never explained to them) and why the integrity of the data they enter into it can mean the difference between a profitable venture that provides them with opportunities for advancement and pay increases, and one that eventually succumbs to the weight of its own inefficiencies.
Imagine, you’ve just made a significant financial commitment to Salesforce.com and a consultant to get it up and running for you, but your operations employees continue to track their projects in Google sheets and your salespeople work their pipelines in personal organizers. If you plan on leveraging Salesforce’s powerful reporting and forecasting capabilities (which you’ve now paid a handsome price for) you need these folks to forgo their old ways in favor of the new unified platform where this far-ranging data can be consolidated, organized, and harvested for better business intelligence.
If you are unsuccessful in doing this, no platform, regardless of its capabilities, will ever live up to its full promise. What you’ll be stuck with is incomplete data that continues to live in various buckets in a multitude of formats, all of which lack compatibility with any of the others.
How can you solve this challenge?
In today’s data driven world, organizations that amass data, organize it, reconcile it, and use it to make important business decisions significantly outperform those that don’t – especially at scale.
Integrity in equals profits out. These firms are able to identify dropped balls and stop dropping them. They are able to remove redundant or duplicative process steps. They are able to forecast sales and revenue with accuracy so they can properly staff their businesses to reflect current business conditions. They are better able to deploy scarce resources and make smarter investments. They provide world-class customer service. Most importantly, they become significantly nimbler and more profitable as the data driven improvements they implement compound over time.
Garbage in equals profits out only if you’re a garbage man, otherwise, ensuring that your company is consistently giving its valuable data the respect it deserves it critical to its long-term success. Neglecting to do so, puts your firm at a distinct digital disadvantage in today’s information economy.
If you’re working on disparate I.T. platforms and making decisions based on incomplete or missing data (e.g. going with your gut), it’s just a matter of time before you become a relic of a bygone business era.