Do you practice proper CRM hygiene?

by in Marketing, Sales


Practicing personal hygiene is one of one of the most important parts of leading a healthy lifestyle. Greasy hair, bad body odor, etc. can quickly cause others to turn the other way and leave a nasty impression. In a similar light, CRM hygiene is an essential part of sales excellence. Poor CRM hygiene (in the form of incomplete, inaccurate, or duplicated database fields) can cripple a sales organization. It can easily jeopardize a company’s ability to acquire and retain customers.

Unfortunately, CRM hygiene is more difficult to maintain than personal hygiene. Approximately 60% of companies have an overall data health ranking of “unreliable”.  As well, 54% of US B2B marketing executives estimate that more than 25% of their marketing database is sullied by old, inaccurate, unusable, or duplicate leads. Duplications are especially commonplace and represent 15% of “dirty data” (invalid values or ranges represent 10% and missing fields represent 8%).

Every year sales departments lose approximately 550 hours in selling time (equivalent to 27% of selling time per rep) as a result of relying on poor CRM prospect data. It’s well worth the time, money, and effort to maintain proper CRM hygiene.

When practicing best-in-class CRM hygiene, you’ll do well to follow three core mantras:

1. Be proactive

Unfortunately, only 46% of sales professionals use tools to automatically enrich, append, clean, or de-dupe leads before they entered the system. Garbage in, garbage out. The 1-10-100 Rule states that it takes $1 to verify a CRM record when it is initially received, $10 to “clean” it later, and $100 to do nothing (as a result of lost revenue). Best-in-class sales organizations recognize the benefits of being proactive and ensuring that all incoming CRM data is cleansed before use. As part of a proactive approach, best-in-class sales organizations standardize data entry by requiring specific syntaxes, fields, etc. Various tools such as RingLead and Cloudingo (which help prevent duplication) help standardize data entry.

2. Schedule periodic reviews

Merely being proactive isn’t enough to ensure proper CRM hygiene. CRM data decays at an alarming rate of 70.3% annually. This is not all that shocking. After all, 60% of people change job functions each year.

The results of data decay can be disastrous. It can cause sales professionals to lose critical opportunities or, worse yet, degrade the trust of customers. According to Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing, “Dirty data is the silent killer of marketing campaigns. It makes you look bad, depresses the impact of great content and offers, and can put your brand, reputation, and domain at risk.” Approximately 42% of marketers say inaccurate contact data is the biggest barrier to multichannel marketing.

The data decay rate is only going to accelerate in upcoming years as we collect more and more customer data and implant it into our CRM systems. One of the most effective hedges against data decay is to schedule periodic reviews of CRM data. Depending on the volume of data, companies should consider employing the expertise of vendors such as NetProspex by D&B, by Salesforce, or others to help facilitate and optimize the review process.

3. Invest in “cleansing” solutions

Just as there are various products – shampoos, soaps, deodorants, etc. – to help us maintain personal hygiene, there are several tools available to help sales organizations maintain proper CRM hygiene. Best-in-class sales organizations embrace tools such as Datanyze, SalesLoft, and Yesware, which offer sales professionals a means by which to import contacts directly from LinkedIn, etc.


The results of poor CRM hygiene transcend far beyond a bad odor. According to Experian Data Quality research, the cost of inaccurate data has a direct impact on the bottom line of 88% of companies, with the average company losing 12% of its revenue as a result of “dirty data”. Follow the mantras above and you’ll help ensure that your CRM system is smelling sweet as roses and you’re primed to optimize sales.



About The Author

Rebecca Hinds
Rebecca Hinds - View more articles

Rebecca Hinds graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a M.S. in Management Science and Engineering. In 2013, Rebecca co-founded Stratio, a semi-conductor company developing infrared sensors. The company was selected by the Kairos Society as one of the 50 most innovative student-run businesses in the world.