This is a follow up to my post last week on moving things through the pipeline. You can read it here. Keeping deals and opportunities moving through the pipeline is one of the most critical parts of a sales leaders job. Sales teams have hundreds of active and inactive deals in the pipeline at any giving time. Making sure the deals that are real get closed and the deals that won’t get out of the way is critical.
The only way to know if you’re sales engine is running well is a healthy pipeline and a healthy pipeline starts with good data.
Bad data, inaccurate data and no data at all are the three biggest issues with a company’s CRM and pipeline. A pipeline with bad data is a useless pipeline. As a sales leader it is incumbent upon you to have clean and accurate data in the pipeline.
To avoid bad data:
Keep the input requirements to a minimum – Don’t inundate the sales team with tons of superfluous data entry. Data entry is not what your sales team wants to be doing. They want to be selling. Allow data to be “added” as the sale progresses and in alignment with the sales process. Don’t forces reps to enter everything upfront, let them input a little each time they are in the CRM. Not all data is critical from the onset of creating an opportunity.
Automate as much as you can: Populate fields automatically where you can. Look for ways to auto populate the sales stages, the percent to close, social sites, address, names. etc. Nimble does this very well. It allows you to search someones social graph and when a contact is found, it automatically populates their contact record with their Linkedin info, including their picture.
Do a bi-annual review and clean up- Get together with your sales ops team or your CRM admin and proactively ferret out bad data. Don’t let bad data sit and fester. It’s going to happen, bad data will always enter the pipeline. It’s inevitable. They key is to keep it at a minimum. Be diligent and actively search out bad data.
Create a data culture – Create a culture of data. Make it impossible for a rep to successfully navigate the weekly pipeline review meetings, the quarterly business reviews, etc. without accurate data. Require reps know the health of their own pipeline in tangible, measurable, data driven terms. Create sales KPI’s reps are responsible for reporting regularly. Create an environment where the sales people need data accuracy as much as you do. If a sales rep is required to understand his OWN close rate. Her OWN average time to close. Her AVERAGE deal size, they WILL make sure the data is accurate.
Keeping bad data out of the system is an ongoing task. However, the gains for being successful are huge. Moving deals through the pipeline is at the heart of sales success. Bad data gets in the way and slows movement. Don’t let bad data ruin your pipeline.
Don’t miss the other posts in my Pipeline Movement Series: