Category Archives: Data Governance

Three Priorities of Focus For Sales Transformation

Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools interviewed fullcast.io Founder and CEO Dharmesh Singh for her series on Transforming Sales. Dharmesh explains how sales growth can be achieved through operations. Nancy is the founder of Smart Selling Tools which reviews sales tools and provides resources for sales professionals.  You can read the original interview here.

NANCY: WHAT ARE THE TOP AREAS OF FOCUS IN THE NEXT 12-24 MONTHS FOR ORGANIZATIONS THAT WANT TO TRANSFORM THEIR SALES ORGANIZATIONS?

DHARMESH: I think the first priority is taking control of the tool stack. There has been an explosion of tools in the sales ops world and we feel that today, sales operations professionals are spending more time integrating systems than performing sales operations.  It’s death by a thousand tools. Moreover, most tools aren’t integrated with each other, so you get point solutions that solve a niche need but are not really helping teams grow. Sales organizations are dynamic by nature and if they invest in tools that do not accommodate and align an evolving sales team, teams will outgrow the tool. This has tremendous impacts on sales teams.

The second transformation is Data Governance. CRM is now the source of corporate truth. It aligns and integrates all customer-facing functions from pre-sales to post-sales. CRM should be treated as an enterprise database, and as with most enterprise databases, it’s only as good as the data within it. Teams looking to transform sales organizations need to invest the time to define and enforce policies for data entry and data lifecycle within CRM. Today most CRM instances are in the wild west age of data governance. The lack of trust in the data is holding sales organizations back from taking advantage of their CRM investment to its fullest capacity.

Finally, thinking about integrating operations with your go-to-market plan. Today, operations teams responsible for daily sales execution chores are disconnected from the overall sales go-to-market team. These are two separate functions in most organizations and it’s imperative to integrate and ensure they are working in cadence as the go-to-market evolves. Successful organizations align their resources rapidly to meet the requirements of an evolving go-to-market as change cycles become shorter and competition in the marketplace increases. Companies that build agility in their go-to-market with execution ability will succeed.

NANCY: HOW SHOULD COMPANIES DECIDE WHICH APPROACHES TO SALES TRANSFORMATION ARE RIGHT FOR THEM?

DHARMESH: Take a data-driven approach to making decisions. Sales operations teams are typically working in silos, disconnected with the needs of the executive suite. Successful sales organizations use sales operations as a strategic lever for growth. An investment in sales operations can exponentially help scale sales beyond just adding headcount.

We have created a GrowthOps Framework that we think can help teams think through metrics to drive alignment from the CXO to the sales ops team. The metrics in the “Grow” row are the top-most metrics for most organizations. They should be the north star for teams working on metrics in the “Optimize” row to drive alignment.

NANCY: WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ENSURING THAT TECHNOLOGIES CONTRIBUTE TO SALES TRANSFORMATION IN A MEASURABLE AND IMPACTFUL WAY?

DHARMESH: I recommend folks to go back to the metrics that matter and track to see if they are driving the right behavior. Focus on the process and policies that you want to enable before picking a tool. We have seen success for organizations that take the time to define process and policies before jumping into tools. The tool is a means to an end. Many teams make the mistake of signing up for the newest, shiny toy without taking the time to see how it fits into their go-to-market plan and what policies it will enforce.

NANCY: HOW IS YOUR SOLUTION TRANSFORMING YOUR CUSTOMERS’ SALES ORGANIZATIONS?

DHARMESH: Our platform approach allows teams to bring their sales planning and sales operations together for the first time.  We now have a unified view of how each team is supporting the overall sales motion.

Teams leveraging fullcast.io’s platform are finding that they are able to:

  • Shorten their sales planning cycles and react faster to market changes
  • Build integrated, collaborative sales plans that drive transparent decision making
  • Reduce dependency on IT with the ability to make CRM changes
  • Cut down on ad hoc custom code in Salesforce systems
  • Enforce sales policies consistently across the organizations, resulting in cleaner data and better decision making

NANCY: WHAT ARE SOME GOOD RESOURCES IF SOMEONE WANTED TO LEARN WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK, WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING, OR OTHER FACTORS RELATED TO SALES TRANSFORMATION?

DHARMESH: Fullcast.io has built a community for sales and sales operations leaders. We’ve hosted meetups around the country and plan to host more in the coming months. These meetups have covered everything from career growth in sales operations to best practices in sales planning. We source our community for topics and listen for pain points we can address at our events. On a more daily basis, we’ve launched the Growth Ops App and a LinkedIn Sales Ops Community group for those looking to connect with other sales operations professionals, ask questions, and share ideas. You can find the Growth Ops App in the app store and request to join the LinkedIn group here.  As one of our community members put it, sales ops professionals often stumbled into their role and make it up as they go, so we’re committed to providing resources to empower sales operations teams and help them unlock growth in their companies.

Data Is The New Oil – Only If You Can Capitalize On It

I was thinking about data and an Economist article I read a while back that had compared a new data center to the oil wells of the last century. The article made a point that in the current environment, data is the new currency and companies able to monetize data will be the leaders of the future. If you have not read it, you can find the link here.

Nothing earth-shattering for us in tech, but something to ponder. Does having access to data alone makes the data worthwhile, or is it only useful if you can capitalize on it?

I ask the question in the context of the data sitting in CRM systems. Companies have been acquiring data for years and they are always hesitant to purge it. There is another article from Deloitte Insights that shared an analysis of how incomplete and inaccurate most personal data is, despite reams of marketing data collected as we all browse and shop online.

Biznology did a study that shows B2B data decays an average of 5% per month or 70.3% per year. Think about it – 70% of your data on accounts and contacts decays in one year. Most CRMs have data that has been sitting around for years. There has been no cleanup and no governance process to manage the lifecycle of this data.

Companies not investing in proactively managing the lifecycle in their CRM systems will adversely impact the way their organizations engage with customers. If 70% of your contact data is old in a year, then chances are 7 times out of 10 you are responding to a “dead” contact.

We were working with an organization that has invested in tools like Lean Data to rout leads, yet had to manually route leads to the right person since the underlying data was unreliable. Another customer wants to drive more coordinated engagement among marketing, sales, and support by engaging account and contacts in the context of their journey with the company. They have the data on the accounts and contacts, but it’s not been cleaned and there is no governance structure around managing data. Result: low ROI on campaigns.

Companies owe it to their sales and marketing teams, and to their customers, to get a better handle on the data they have within CRM systems. Cleaning data without a specific goal in mind is not the best use of anyone’s time. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Set goals about what you want to achieve. Consider the various tools ingesting data into the CRM system and run a full inventory to see if all are needed. Identify what data you absolutely need to have to meet the needs of marketing and sales teams and ruthlessly set rules to purge everything else. Understand how your marketing automation data flows into your CRM system, for example.
  2. Make rules for purge and storage. Once you know where the data is coming into the CRM system, work across teams to create a “store” or “purge” list. Purging contacts is important. You will be surprised how often people change roles, companies, or get promoted. Simple flags like no activity over a year, no email address, bad phone number, etc. are reasons to purge records.

Investing in Establishing Data Governance Policies

At fullcast.io, we believe cleaning and purging is not the solution to get a handle on this problem. It is the first step to drain the swamp. As you set about putting rules for the purge, you need to establish policies around data governance. When the data faucet gets turned on, you need to have automation that manages the lifecycle of the key data elements around which you engage with your customers. We believe that selling is a series of events, and each event is supported by a policy. You need to invest in creating these policies and enforce them consistently at the time of data ingestion into the CRM.

Keep your CRM current by applying policies that help you build a self-regulating CRM system. Having data is not enough. Making data work for you so you can disperse leads/accounts/opportunities/cases to the right person is important. You need good data to run a more targeted reach to your customers and engage in the context of their journey with you. It’s rude to reach out to a contact who is no longer an active contact.

It’s a disservice to your sales teams to assign them accounts that can no longer make a buying decision, or have them sell into accounts that may not be in their patch legally because someone else owns the parent account, but your CRM account hierarchy does not reflect that relationship. It’s not fair to your sales planners who struggle to create fair and balanced territories if they are working off an unreliable set of data for accounts.

We would love to learn from your experience on how you handle this at your organization.

Feedback welcome.

Call to action: You need to look at your data if you have done any of the following:

  1. Changed your GTM and ICP.
  2. Entered new markets
  3. Purchased lists
  4. Ingested data into your CRM from third-party tools that push account or contact and activity data into your CRM