Three top ways to kill a prospect!
Scenario #1: Don’t you guys ever speak to each other?!?!
Imagine this scenario: as a result of government restrictions, your business office has shut down and you are working from home. Sound familiar?
Your phone rings. It’s a number you don’t recognise. You are intrigued and answer the call. You’ve been isolated for a while, so a chance to have a real conversation with another person is exciting. It turns out to be a call from a business you hadn't previously been aware of and you become interested in what they are offering. You enjoy a long and pleasant chat with the caller and request more information and more details be sent to you. When you hang up you are feeling positive about the possibility of doing some business with them.
Ten minutes later you get another call from a different person, from the same organisation making the same offer. This time you aren’t quite so happy about the call as you were just getting back to what you needed to be doing and you felt this was an unnecessary interruption.
Next day you get yet another call from that same organisation from yet another different caller than the first two. By now you're feeling very frustrated and when you receive the information you requested from the first person you had the great conversation with, you simply unsubscribe.
Key cause: the vendor had three duplicate records of you and a team of people calling, each unaware that another had recently called.
Scenario #2: Mail merge lunacy.
Sometimes I get emails which start with “Dear Laurence V”. My middle initial is “V”. While this appears to be inconsequential it makes me feel like that organisation lacks attention to detail and so I’m reluctant to engage fully with them.
Key cause: probably happened when the vendor changed systems and didn’t sanitize the data fully
Scenario #3: Keep it relevant!
I now live in Tasmania and yet I often get calls from organisations offering services which are relevant to the Sydney metropolitan area only. I used to live in Sydney and, while this may have been relevant 5 years ago, it isn’t any longer. I find this annoying and frustrating and always ask to be removed from their database, which clearly doesn't happen because I keep getting calls from the same organisation.
Key cause: the vendor has failed to regularly wash their data
If these scenarios sound familiar to you, think about how they would make you feel if it was you on the receiving end. Would you want your prospects and customers to feel the same way about you in these situations? I expect you wouldn't.
How did it come to this?
These sales killing scenarios are all outcomes resulting from poor quality marketing data. The really bad news is that we are now supposed to be in the age of Personal Marketing. Just take a moment to think about what that really means….
It's best expressed by Patrick McGoughan who used to yell in The Prisoner - “I AM NOT A NUMBER!!!” For those of you too young to remember, check it out on YouTube. The unfortunate truth is that you are, in fact, now reduced to a number - a Contact ID in someone’s CRM… And, you sit on the end of an automated process, often fueled by some very iffy data.
As an organisation, we specialise in improving the quality of our customer’s marketing data and can tell you that things are pretty bad. As much as between 60% and 80% of the data we clean can often be duplicates, outdated, irrelevant and poorly formatted.
It’s sounding familiar. How do I fix this?
So what can you do to ensure that your prospects are not the victims of these horrible, but all too common, data scenarios?
If you have the necessary skills and time available, a very simple and effective technique is to get the data out of your CRM so you can get a look at it in a new context. Export your contact list to a spreadsheet, such as Excel or Google sheets and then assess it through a series of sorts, based on different criteria. For example, sorting by company name and then surname will often identify duplicates provided the company name has been recorded consistently and the contact names have been formatted consistently. This can be a challenge, however, if you have a contact list consisting of many thousands of names.
Another option is to use a CRM that has the capability of identifying potential duplicates at the point of data entry. Depending on its level of fuzzy search abilities, this may help to reduce the number of new duplicates created, but it won’t improve the ones that are already present in the system.
Alternatively, you could employ someone and give them the responsibility of managing your data. Their role would be to constantly review the data, fixing inconsistencies, identifying and cleaning duplicates and generally making sure you are not one of the offenders described above. The right person for the job is a budding data scientist - hard to find and can be expensive. However, given the impact of COVID-19, having something right now for staff members to be doing while sitting at home could be a good way to keep them occupied and provide useful benefits for your business. The danger is that data inconsistencies are, invariably, proportionate to the number of people who get involved.
Finally, you could engage an external expert to help clean up the mess and unearth the real nuggets buried in that pile of stuff referred to as your prospect database. There are many companies offering data cleaning services. At DFI we have a range of data-centric services to ensure our clients get the best ROI on their marketing spend. These include data cleaning, regularisation and enrichment. We can either do it all for you or work in conjunction with your staff to simplify their job.
If you want some help or advice on this, please visit our website (www.demandflow.com.au) or feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Laurence V Harrould
Assistant Market Geologist, DAVE (Data Accuracy Verification Engine) Architect and Data Transition Guru