Salesforce Reporting is only as good as the Salesforce Data behind it.
Your company has spent a lot of time and money building up your CRM. Yet, you still have a spreadsheet, or other application that acts as your source of truth for the real numbers. Whenever you show a report there’s always a caveat included about its inherent inaccuracies. If you can’t trust your data, it’s difficult to get a good understanding of the state of your business and difficult to plan for the future.
Let’s look at some of the problems that plague Salesforce (or any) data and how we can fix them.
Confusing, Unstandardized, or Incorrect Data
There are a number of ways that data can be incorrect. One simple example is a lack of standardization for field such as Billing/Shipping State. It sounds silly, but if you are trying to build a forecast for your Midwest territory, it matters if your users input the state as “Illinois”, “IL”, or “Ill”.
Another example is with how a Stage or Status is changed. If a user just decides that the Opportunity feels like it’s in the “Negotiation” stage, that could mean any number of things. Good practice is to make stage changes based on actions so nobody has to guess. For example, when a Sales Rep schedules a demo meeting, automatically change the stage to “Demo”. If they send a proposal, change the stage to “Proposal Sent”.
Finally, let’s talk about Text fields. Descriptions of support issues, instructions for next steps, or notes about what was discussed on a call are great things to put into text fields. Product names, Lead Sources, Call Dispositions, anything that uses the same values over and over again… these things should be in some kind of list. This prevents misspellings, differences in naming conventions, and values that don’t make sense (like writing in Mickey Mouse on your voter ballot).
To resolve issues of confusing, unstandardized or incorrect data issue, your Salesforce Administrators can build in standardization in a number of ways:
- Automate Stage or Status changes based on actions
- Do calculations with Formula fields or other automation
- Standardize choices when possible with pick-lists instead of free text
- Use automated validation rules to standardize things like State abbreviations
Duplicate or Disparate Data
How frustrating is it to have your Home Depot account show up four times in Salesforce? Even worse, what happens when, over time, your users have done work on all four? Not only will you have a hard time reporting on Home Depot, but you might have extra in-progress Opportunities mucking up your pipeline.
There are really two steps to resolve a duplicate data issues:
The first step is to keep it from happening by using Duplicate and Matching rules built into Salesforce. These rules prevent users from creating Accounts, Contacts, and Leads that have the same information. If you create a contact with the same Name and Phone Number, for example, the red flags come up. Salesforce has pretty robust filtering out-of-the-box. It also allows you to customize it where needed.
The second step is to keep your data clean by doing regular audits of that data. I admit, it’s not a lot of fun. But, just like dirty laundry, the longer it builds up the less fun it’s going to be to catch up.
At a big picture level, there are a couple kinds of incomplete data. The first kind is the kind that you would never know without the help of a data enrichment platform. Third party data sources can help give you a better picture of your customers and prospects by adding marketplace data like Dun and Bradstreet information.
The other kind of data is the stuff that someone in your company knows but doesn’t make it to Salesforce. If a lot of your customer data lives in another database or even your own customer platform, consider an integration with Salesforce. It will combine disparate data sources that you already have to give you a robust picture of your customers in one place.
Even more common are the issues where your users are just not updating Salesforce. Sometimes this issue can be solved with automation, validation rules, and other types of guardrails. However, other times, it is a deeper regarding usability and adoption of your CRM. We’ll talk in our next post about issues with Salesforce adoption.
Are you struggling with your data in Salesforce?
Tell us more about it! You can leave a comment or contact us directly!