Craig Jordan, co-founder of SaaScend and Head of Growth at RecruitLoop speaks with Node about keeping your data clean in Salesforce.
It’s difficult for Craig Jordan to remember a time when he wasn’t using Salesforce. He’s been using the platform from the get-go when he started his career as a sales system administrator at his first startup. Since those early days, Craig has spent his career consulting with sales and marketing leaders at B2B technology SaaS companies, helping them administer Salesforce and build out scalable sales and marketing processes.
Today, Craig is the co-founder of SaaScend, a digital community that partners with emerging SaaS startups to help them reach the next stage in their life cycle through demand generation, sales and marketing operations, and sales enablement. He’s also the Head of Growth at RecruitLoop, an international marketplace disrupting the recruitment industry by connecting independent recruiters with companies leveraging an hourly model.
Salesforce has become the cornerstone of many sales organizations. It enables companies to make objective decisions that can result in faster sales cycles and more strategic targeting. Although Craig can’t imagine a world without Salesforce, he’s quick to admit Salesforce can easily become a “graveyard of dirty data.” He attributes this reality to two fundamental problems.
First, because they receive minimal training sales reps tend to adopt their own approach to data input. Consider the simple example of populating the location field with “California.” A sales rep may decide to input “CA,” “ca,” california,” or “California.” Salesforce considers these four inputs distinct, which can make geographical reporting challenging. The problem only escalates as your organization scales.
The second issue relates to data structure planning—an issue to which Salesforce novices are especially susceptible. In smaller companies (less than 50 employees), it is common for the Director of Sales or even an SDR to implement and manage the Salesforce platform.
Often, in the haste of getting Salesforce up and running as quickly as possible, there is no system put in place to track metrics that are essential to identify and qualify prospects. When such systems are not established early, companies are especially susceptible to the “dirty data” problem.
Most companies don’t have clean Salesforce data and, to make matters worse; they don’t realize how bad the situation is. The consequences of poor Salesforce hygiene practices can be more devastating than neglecting your daily shower routine—it can lead to poor decision-making and inappropriate KPIs. According to Craig, your best defense against dirty data is to plan your data structure intentionally before investing in Salesforce. Failure to do so is like building a house without any blueprints.
Check out this Google Doc, which Craig recommends completing before developing your Salesforce fields.
After you have set up a blueprint for your Salesforce data structure, standardize the data using picklists and checkboxes. Doing so can work wonders in ensuring sales reps input data in a consistent manner. Not only does standardizing data help make reporting easier, it also speeds up data input and prevents subjective answers (i.e., it solves the “California” example).
Craig also emphasizes the importance of training and listening to sales reps—the end users of Salesforce. SDRs will likely be your best bet to understanding what Salesforce fields are relevant and helpful. Rather than requiring sales reps to input an inordinate amount of data fields, take the time to decide which fields should be required and then build systems to enable reps to input data faster.
An ingenious defense against dirty data is to construct dashboards for your reps to help them understand how their activities affect the overall team. Sales is a competitive sport—if reps can easily see how they stack up against other reps, competitiveness will quickly set in. Competition can drive your team to input cleaner data. It’s a win-win.
Finally, Craig recommends consolidating your data to the bare minimum. Avoid the temptation of believing that more data leads to better results. Sales reps quickly become intimidated when they need to input a bunch of Salesforce fields that aren’t relevant to them.
Take the time to hone your sales qualification criteria and ideal customer profile fields to make it easier to analyze data and spot key trends. If you’re using Salesforce Enterprise, be sure to use “Custom Profile” types.
Sometimes you don’t realize how bad your personal hygiene is until someone points it out to you. Similarly, it can be difficult to recognize poor Salesforce data quality in your environment. Thankfully, several tools can help you discover poor data quality and clean it up. Craig has a few favorites.
Dupecatcher helps sales reps detect duplicate leads, contacts, accounts, etc. When new Salesforce records are created, Dupecatcher will alert the user of duplicates before they click “Save,” helping keep the database clean.
Grassroots training is the best possible proactive way to ensure a clean environment—especially when data is inputted manually. When expectations are clear and data structures are well established, it is much easier to keep Salesforce spic-and-span. If you lack the internal capacity to train your sales reps one-on-one, Craig recommends investing in WalkMe, which allows you to create simple and interactive training courses within your Salesforce instance.
Craig is also a strong proponent of Cloudingo: “It’s a lifesaver when it comes to having to de-dupe a stale CRM database.” Cloudingo is a cost-effective tool that makes it easy to purge your data of duplicates and enable your team to maintain a cleaner database for more accurate reporting.
Dashtab allows SDRs to create visual dashboards of all their leads. They can create “Qualifiers” to help move leads through the pipeline faster and can also prioritize their day with built-in visual queues for items like overdue tasks or lack of activity. Even with the release of Salesforce Lighting and its more visually appealing UI, the UX of pipeline management is still difficult and a tool like Dashtab can be indispensable.
Clearbit can do wonders in helping your organization ensure consistent data. When a new record is created in Salesforce, Clearbit will search the web via its API and auto-populate fields such as “Website,” “Company Name,” “# of Employees,” etc. It can save your reps valuable time while also ensuring that your Salesforce database is up-to-date.
6. Distribution Engine
Distribution Engine helps manage lead flow between marketing and sales. Manual lead assignment is typically too costly for a Director, VP, or Sales Ops professional to perform on a daily basis. Distribution Engine automatically round-robins leads based on geography, company size, or other custom data field. It can even reassign leads when reps are on vacation or are too slow to act, to make sure leads don’t become stale.
Just as personal hygiene is essential to one’s overall wellbeing, clean Salesforce data is critical to the success of any sales unit. By incorporating tools and developing effective hygiene practices, you can help Salesforce data become a competitive advantage for your organization—rather than a source of dirty data stench.