This post originally appeared on the Wishpond blog.
As competition for market share and customer dollars grows increasingly fierce, data-driven decision making is becoming ever more critical to the success of businesses.
A recent survey of global sales leaders conducted by Tableau and the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that companies that rate themselves as being ahead of their peers when it comes to data usage are also 3x as likely to rate themselves as being ahead financially.
“I knew it!” you think to yourself. “We need to start being data-driven,” you tell your colleagues. “We can do this,” you say, rolling up your sleeves with the best of intentions. But then you start to dig in and you realize: you can’t be data-driven because you don’t have enough data. And the biggest gap is where it hurts the most: your leads and customers.
So now what do you do? How do you make up for lost time and ensure that your prospect and customer data stops slipping through the cracks?
Don’t panic – your dreams of being data-driven are far from dashed. There are many ways you can increase the quantity and quality of information available for analysis.
This article will cover 6 of them…
1. Customize Lead Generation Forms
One of the most immediate and effective ways to start gathering more information about your leads is to revisit the fields on your lead capture forms. What kind of information do you currently ask? Is there room to request another data point or two? Capturing simple information like zip code or job title can actually reveal some pretty telling insights about your best customers and the types of leads you should be chasing.
Step two here is to make sure that when a lead fills out this form, all the information is being passed directly into your sales platform or CRM. While some sales solutions offer the ability to create, customize and manage lead capture forms, other marketing automation platforms pass this information along through direct integrations with your sales platform of choice. Which brings us to our next tip…
2. Integrate Business Systems
The only thing worse than having no data is having bad data. This tip may not exactly help you capture more data, but it will help you better manage what you do collect. The ability to compile data across marketing, support and sales tools gives your team a complete view of your customers and prospects that powers more meaningful conversations and contextual selling. Having all this data in one place makes it much easier to be data-driven and extract meaningful insights.
3. Choose an All-in-One Sales Platform
Accenture reports that 59% of reps complain that they are required to use too many sales tools. Having to toggle between systems to send emails, log calls, run reports and various other tasks is a serious deterrent for adopting and using these tools, let alone taking the time to to input data. Not to mention the data that does exist gets scattered and siloed across these point solutions, making data-driven decision making extremely difficult.
Instead, search for an all-in-one sales platform that provides calendar integrations, real-time push notifications, call dialing, contact management, reporting and more in a single tool. These types of platforms are proven to increase rep adoption rates by as much as 95%, making it possible to capture more data at every point in the sales process and lead lifecycle. What’s more, this all-in-one approach eliminates the need to connect the dots across dispersed customer communications and touch points for more accurate and complete information.
4. Think Like a Consumer
Would you use Spotify if it only worked with a certain type of headphones? What about Venmo if you had to first log into your bank account and transfer funds to Venmo each time you wanted to pay back a friend? The answer is almost certainly not. As consumers we absolutely refuse technology or applications that fail to make our lives easier and our days more productive. But as business people, we are often forced to use software that not only fails to make our lives easier, but actually makes them harder.
It shouldn’t surprise management that when employees are told they have to use clunky marketing automation software or a sales reporting tool that makes Excel look cutting-edge, they rebel. And in doing so, data gets lost. Take a good hard look at your current business tools – do they make it easy for your team to enter and collect information? Are they consumer-worthy? If not, it might be time to replace them.
5. Be Mobile Friendly
A recent survey by Workplace Options revealed that 65% of American workers use mobile devices as part of their jobs, while 59% continue to work via mobile after business hours. Think about how much more often this must occur for field sales reps, and of the amount of data that is subsequently lost by reps using cumbersome or read-only mobile sales applications! By not giving sales teams the ability to easily input data in real-time, businesses run the risk of reps forgetting to enter certain information once they’re back at their desks, or entering it in a less complete and accurate way.
Any sales software worth its salt will have a native mobile experience that gives reps the same capabilities and insights that they get from their desktops, optimized for their tablets and smartphones. This includes offline access and the ability to input information without an Internet connection. Smart sales leaders make certain their reps are able to enter data wherever they are and when it’s fresh in their minds.
6. Automate as Much as Possible
One final way to maximize lead and customer data capture is to automate as much of this process as possible. For example, some CRMs automatically track call information, email conversations, tasks and more, saving reps the time and the headache of having to log these activities and communications manually. Not only does this strategy ensure that this highly valuable data is being collected for analysis, but it also helps maximize data cleanliness and accuracy by minimizing human error and the time between data creation and capture.
Making Data a Priority
To truly measure, understand and optimize sales performance, you must first make data collection a priority. Companies that make this transition will quickly be able to replace educated guesses and hypotheses with systematic, data-driven processes that provide important measurements and insights.
If you happen to be a sales leader and would like to learn more about how your organization can begin collecting more sales data and lead the charge toward data-driven decision making, download this free eBook: From Art to Science: 5 Steps to Predictable Sales Growth.