When you think about what it means to be successful in sales, plenty of things probably come to mind: persuasiveness, charm, personality, experience… The list goes on and on.
A lot of people think success in sales has to be complex, or takes a certain type of person. And to an extent, it does. You have to be able to handle rejection well, present yourself well, and understand what you’re selling backwards and forwards.
But, at the end of the day, what matters most in effective sales is data. You have to know who to call on, and you have to have the accurate, updated data you need in order to set and hold meetings.
This is where many salespeople and organizations fall down.
At Dakota, we’ve been fundraising since 2006, and have raised over $40 billion in that time. We’ve done that by setting meetings, building relationships, and knowing our TAM. But we couldn’t have done any of that without good data.
Data should be your best friend, because it’s the backbone of your business. If you don’t have complete, accurate, and constantly updated data, things get stale, you miss opportunities, and you don’t achieve the success you would if you had correct, clean data.
Without it, in addition to missing out on opportunities, you’re wasting your sales team’s time, and losing money.
In this article, we’re outlining the three “deadly sins” of sales contact data, as well as how to fix them.
By the end of the article, you’ll have a complete understanding of the problems salespeople run into when it comes to their data, as well as how to prevent (or repair) them at your firm.
What we’re explaining in this article relates to direct sales – calling on a business directly to sell investments or a software product. If you’ve found yourself spending hours looking up who to call on at a particular investment firm, this is for you.
The three biggest problems with most sales contact data are:
- Incomplete data
- Inaccurate data
- Outdated data
First, we’ll explain how data gets overlooked, what the ideal state of your data looks like, then jump into the three data problems.
The misconceptions about data
If you’re like most sales organizations, your CRM can be anywhere from three weeks, months, or even years out of date.
Why is this so common? Because people don’t understand how truly important their data is, or how bad stale data is for a salesperson and an organization.
In reality, 54% of companies say that their biggest challenge to sales and marketing success is a lack of data quality and completeness. If this number seems overwhelming, that’s because it is, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to overcome.
Next, we’ll get into the three major problems you can have with your data.
Problem #1: Incomplete data
First, let’s define the problem: what is incomplete data?
Well, imagine you’re planning a trip to Boston, and you work for an investment firm. You’re trying to develop relationships and set meetings while you’re in Boston, and your database only contains 50 contacts in Boston instead of the 250+ investment contacts that actually reside there.
You’re missing 60-70% of your market opportunity (TAM), which is a really big problem. It’s going to hold you back.
The most successful organizations have a full and complete TAM, broken down by channel. The TAM and the completeness of the data is extraordinarily important because if you don’t have them, you’re missing out on opportunities. if you don’t have the full picture and list of people to call on.
If you don’t know everyone you can call on, you’re destined for failure.
How to fix the incomplete data problem
At Dakota, what we’ve found successful is focusing on one channel at a time. For example, if you start with 200 RIAs, and consistently look for, and grow the number of RIAs who use outside managers. Qualifying the buyer, keeping the data fresh, assessing the buyers in totality, will help expand your TAM.
Additionally, if the entire team is aligned on this, and is working together to input new, clean data into the CRM, the rest of the team will be more inclined to follow suit, as they will know the data within the database is clean.
Problem #2: inaccurate data
At the end of the day, it’s very difficult to have completely accurate information on all of the contacts you’re calling on.
Do you know the right person to call on? The right title? The right contact type? Without this accurate information, you’re emailing someone who could have left the firm, or wouldn’t be the right fit.
This in turn requires your salespeople to do a lot of research to correct the information they’ve been giving. Studies have shown that one of the reasons salespeople leave organizations is because they’re spending too much time doing administrative duties when they want to (and should be) selling.
So, by giving your salespeople accurate data within the database, it is absolutely vital. You don’t want them spending all of their time researching on websites, trying to find who to call on.
How to fix the inaccurate data problem
Using date cleansing tools like Neverbounce, RocketReach, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are all ways to ensure that your data is as accurate as possible. We have a guide to using those tools here.
Problem #3: Outdated data
By now, you probably know that you have to be constantly updating your database.
Accuracy and updates go hand in hand, but updated data is different from accurate because accurate means correct information about a particular contact or firm, while updated means staying on top of the industry and knowing that someone at a firm has changed job titles or roles, and updating your system to reflect that.
How to fix the outdated data problem
Most organizations don’t have a system for updating their data, which becomes a problem for the entire firm. Salespeople aren’t getting results because they’re wasting time trying to update information in the system, you’re not getting the efficiency that you need from your sales team.
If you do have correct data that’s correct and constantly updated, then you can focus on your sales team and allow them to get in front of those contacts.
If it’s complete, accurate, and constantly updated, that’s where the wins lie. That’s how you get the meetings and that’s how you can start following up.
How to keep your data clean long-term
You're probably thinking that keeping data updated consistently, and eliminating all of these problems sounds like a full-time job, and one that your sales team probably isn't up for.
And you're right, it can be a full-time role, but it doesn't have to be. With data cleansing tools like Dakota Fuse, which ensures that your data is constantly updated and accurate, you'll never have to worry about about it again.
If this sounds like it could be a fit for your team, we'd love to schedule some time to talk to you.