The skills that make for top-flight salespeople are fairly well known. People who can close the deal tend to be great with communication, building relationships, active listening, organization, time-management, dealing with conflict, and collaboration. They’re confident in what they know and how their products or solutions can help others.
Here are two traits you’ll almost never see on the list for the average sales professional: data entry or analysis skills.
And there’s a reason for that. Sales personnel, in general, aren’t great with the data required for modern analytics. And yet, in almost every company across the globe the responsibility for keeping the CRM database up to date falls to… yes, you guessed it, sales.
5 Reasons Not to Rely on Sales for Data
Here’s a look at five reasons you shouldn’t rely on sales for data accuracy — and what you can do instead.
1. Salespersons often rely on instinct.
You can train good sales professionals, but the best salespersons have natural quality and talent. It’s partly the ability to instinctually determine what a prospect is feeling in their buying journey and delivering what they need to hear most. The best salespeople can often tell what a client’s big challenge is through listening and deductive reasoning, which helps them position their product or pitch in the right light to close the deal.
Having relied on interpersonal skills and instinct for so long in their career, however, sales staff can find it difficult to switch to a more data-centric approach. The data that they do gather may be colored by these instincts and their previous experience.
2. Sales teams don’t want to deal with data because they’re not making money.
More than 30% of sales staff are spending an hour or more a day just entering data into a CRM or other software program. And many salespeople only spend around a third of their time actually selling, which is not ideal for them or for businesses.
When sales staff spends time collecting and entering data, they’re not leveraging their skills to make money for your business. With many salespeople working on a commission or bonus structure, they’re also probably not using their skills to make money for themselves either. That can turn data work into dreaded tasks that hurt morale and, in the end, your data quality.
Morale issues can drive down employee production, which can drive down revenue.
Whether conversions are lackluster because sales doesn’t have the time to sell or because the team is burned out on other tasks, the problem is evident—working with data is a drag on the sales team.
3. Relying on sales for data can hurt your bottom line.
Driving data via sales can diminish your bottom line in other ways, too. Manual data collection and entry in an organization at any scale is a risky proposition even when you have data-minded staff manning the keyboards. Turning to people who don’t enjoy these tasks or who are talented in other areas can further muddy your data waters.
In many cases, it can lead to data that is mostly incomplete. Data might be duplicated, leading to extra work and inaccurate predictions about revenue or client demand. Manual entry without any automated management can also lead to a lot of obsolete data that sends sales, marketing, customer service staff and others down dead-end paths, wasting resources like labor time and money.
All of these truths lead to something else that can hurt your profits: In many cases, sales and other departments simply don’t adopt the expensive CRM or other solutions you invest in. CRM systems are widely used across various industries, but data from the Miller Heiman Group notes that adoption rates are still lackluster. Among organizations that implemented CRM systems, less than half achieved adoption rates of 90% or more.
This might mean that for sales teams within those organizations, engaging with the CRM solution is seen as requiring too much work. As a result, sales staff opts to spend time closing deals rather than feeding data back to the organization, which means you could be making decisions on inaccurate analysis.
4. CRM doesn’t provide historical insight valuable to sales teams—making the data entry seem pointless.
Even if you get full buy-in and sales staff feeds all the requisite data into your CRM, you might still find your analysis wanting.
That’s because a traditional CRM provides an isolated and limited snapshot of customer data in the moment. But in a fast-paced market where consumer interest waxes and wanes frequently and significantly, you need more robust analytical capability.
A time-aware CRM that doesn’t rely on static data entered by sales reps lets you understand buyer’s journeys at big- and small-picture levels. It also helps you understand how that journey passes through various departments, including marketing, sales and customer service, so you can provide holistic service that supports customer loyalty and increases the lifetime value of each customer.
5. Sales important data differs and everyone else is stuck with yesterday’s information.
That brings us to a final reason you shouldn’t rely on sales for data accuracy: Sales is not production. They are not marketing, accounting or even customer service. The information that’s important to sales may not be the same data other parts of your organization needs, and siloing data collection within a single department (or even two or three) can be a mistake.
There’s also the matter of where sales sits in the buyer’s journey. In some cases, around 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before they even hit the prospect funnel—and that’s only going to increase as digital channels and intelligence grow.
If you’re relying on accurate data from sales, then your marketing teams are building on yesterday’s information. Considering the pace at which trends change, that information is often not relevant enough to remain competitive today.
What Should You Rely on Instead?
Sales staff shouldn’t be spending time with manual data entry because they possess a very different set of skills. Furthermore, understanding that your data burden should be eliminated from your sales team is a great way to increase your overall customer experience strategy.
Instead, rely on a CRM and sales system that gathers its own data, helps organize and maintain it, and even predicts top prospects and leads so sales teams can maximize their time doing what they do best. Automation can weed out risky, duplicate, or outdated data and help move information seamlessly between parts of your organization to match the customer’s journey.
SugarCRM is a proven CX platform that helps organizations leverage AI and automation to improve sales performance. Results include a 15% increase in booked meetings and win rates. Find out how you can put this technology to work for your teams today.