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27 June 2016

Are you fighting a losing battle with your CRM maintenance?

Content team

Feeling frustrated by your data?

You're not alone.

Internal memo

To: All sales staff (San Francisco, London, Bangalore, Singapore, Melbourne)
From: Sarah J. Martin, Global Sales Director
Date: 21st April 2016
Re: CRM maintenance: final warning


As you know, my regional managers led a detailed audit of our CRM during February and March.

Their teams spent a total of over 400 man-hours checking a sample of our customer and prospect records, cross-referencing the data on the internet, and in some cases calling – or attempting to call – the companies to verify the information.

These expensive efforts yielded revealing but extremely disappointing results.

Despite my frequent requests that you follow our rigorous rules for entering and regularly maintaining customer and prospect data, the CRM – just in the sample data, which was a small subset of the whole database – currently contains:

  • 76 companies with the wrong postal address, of which 21 are due to renew this calendar year
  • 41 companies that have apparently ceased trading, of which 9 are also supposedly due to renew soon
  • 97 companies where the business name appears to have changed or is misspelt in our database
  • A staggering 298 companies in which we record no info on the specific sectors in which they operate
    I could go on.

This is simply not good enough. The untold damage this lack of care and attention is doing to our business development, and to our ability to properly analyse our customers and prospects makes me feel ill.

Things will change. They will change now. And you will all follow our guidelines for CRM data entry and maintenance.

This is the last time I will send such a memo on this matter.


fighting a losing battleCould you have sent this? Can you feel Sarah's pain?

If you move in this space, you probably sympathise with the beleaguered sales director.

But do you really believe that this is the last memo she'll send on this matter?

Because to be fair to her workforce, as frustrating as their actions – or rather inactions – might be, good sales people want to sell and are remunerated on selling. We can't expect them to be the guardians of our companies' data integrity and even the most diligent administrators are only as good as the systems they use.

Marketing people are similarly ill-placed to take responsibility for CRM maintenance.

Numerous studies demonstrate this reality, and you probably feel it intuitively and by your own experiences too.

So why do some organisations persist in relying on sales people to maintain their CRMs, berating them when deficiencies are revealed and failing to investigate other solutions?

Certainly sales people are part of the solution.

Using the right tools

But, to promote responsible data entry and maintenance, they need the right tools and methodologies, most notably those of good customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and of integration of those systems with other databases. Manual data entry processes should also be kept to a minimum.

Even if you're already on-board with these concepts, advances in technology are accelerating so rapidly that a review of your processes might be due.

After all, your competitors might be among those investing in the multi-billion-dollar CRM industry, which in western Europe alone exceeded $5 billion at the end of 2014.

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Content team, Bureau van Dijk

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