Does your sales pipeline suffer from any of these forms of “pollution”: inaccurate or incorrectly formatted prospect data; slow movement of prospect data from lead source through internal processes; insufficient data to ensure targeted content or messaging?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’re not alone.
We interact with lots of B2B and B2C marketers, and virtually all of them struggle with one or more of these problems. Unfortunately, the prevalence of data pollution won’t give you a pass with your corporate leadership. That’s because the impact of low-data quality is so widespread that it poisons the well for sales, marketing and your customers’ experience.
The good news: marketers and their sales colleagues don’t need to continue living with low data quality. The first step in developing a better way is posing tough questions about your people, processes and technology. Here are the top three questions I think you must answer:
Do you want your people to function as marketers, or manual laborers?
Any marketer who has invested time in lead generation is well aware of lead-gen data cleanup tasks: validating demographic data’s compliance with required filters; ensuring email addresses align with target account lists; placing titles and other data in standard formats for acceptance by CRM systems. It’s ugly work. And that doesn’t even include email and phone validation.
Data cleanup prevents marketers from using their creative, analytical and strategic skills while they focus on work that requires no unique marketing knowledge. The problem is tailor-made for automation that verifies the validity of phone numbers and email addresses, kicks out leads that don’t meet account list filters and standardizes lead data so prospects can be submitted to internal systems as quickly as real time. Let marketers focus on work that requires human marketing expertise.
Can you pinpoint how current marketing processes pollute your pipeline?
In order to unclog the pipeline and increase data quality, you need to know how it’s getting gunked up in the first place. Poorly defined or inefficient lead flow – how quickly you can get leads from origination into nurture and follow-up mode – can mean delayed or lost revenue as prospects remain in limbo. So, too, can the time lag as leads are captured in one system (internally or from third-party sources), manipulated and then manually uploaded into another system.
The solution: automated movement of leads – in real time, leveraging API sales and marketing software integrations – into the marketer’s CRM or marketing automation system, enabling timely follow-up. With such processes automated, leads are managed in the background by predefined workflows and integrated systems. Sales is happy and so are the marketers who no longer contribute to the bottleneck.
How bad of an experience are you willing to inflict on customers and prospects?
An effective customer/prospect engagement strategy requires a 360-degree view of the customer. What content have they engaged with? What topics interest them, based on data from email and online activity? What topics are NOT of interest, also based on online/offline behavior? Among the worst things a marketer can do is bombard prospects with content they’ve shown they don’t want. But in the absence of a complete customer view, inaccurate targeting is inevitable. Response and conversions go down (bad for marketing) and revenue does the same (bad for sales).
What’s the solution? Two-way flow of information between third-party lead capture systems and marketers’ internal systems, so marketers can build a complete picture of a prospect across touch points and topics. That requires your systems and processes be integrated.
The impact of a polluted pipeline is felt by internal stakeholders and customers alike. Marketers who commit to cleaning up the pollution can fix the problems by applying automation, data governance, and systems and process integration. Those that don’t will continue to run with the pack – and so will their results.