The Most Important Element in B2B Sales Data? Consistency!
There is strength in data… if it’s used wisely and with rigorous consistency.
It’s easy to imagine that the ever-increasing volume of data is the driving force behind new sales opportunities. The more sales data you collect, the more accurate your forecasts.
Numbers, however, don’t tell the entire story. Every day, data comes in an impressive array of unpredictable formats. When your data points are inaccurate, unorganized, and lost in silos, there’s a greater risk that poor intelligence will yield nonoptimal decisions. That’s why, ultimately, your data is only as good as its consistency.
Let’s zero in on why having a consistent view of your data is a powerful asset in your sales arsenal.
What Is Data Consistency?
Picture this: your prospect data is stored in a dedicated platform. Beyond contact details, that data also includes company information, all the records about your previous interactions, and everything in between.
With prospecting being a daily activity, your database is in a constant state of change. Although you have a predefined layout, not all salespeople will follow the same data entry ruleset. One representative might type in ‘Account Manager’ next to a prospect’s job title, while a different representative could go with the acronym—‘AM.’
At some point, you’ll want to find out how many ‘Account Managers’ you have reached out to. Will your platform recognize ‘AM’ as ‘Account Manager’? Maybe you noticed the issue and found a solution to count the acronym. But how can you possibly take into account all the other ways in which a sales representative might record prospect information? Or worse—what if a person completely bypasses a specific category?
Let’s say you have solved your data entry errors and identified the contact information of a highly-prized Account Manager—T. Davis. Is that Tania Davis or Thomas Davis? The prospect’s company details confirm it’s Thomas Davis, and so you contact him. The only problem? The prospect’s business has expanded to more than one location. You stored your data in two different systems, and now the information doesn’t match:
Name: Thomas Davis
Job Title: Account Manager
Address: New York City
Name: Thomas Davis
Job Title: Account Manager
Any discrepancy between these inputs gives rise to inaccurate datasets. Eventually, you’ll spend too much time filling in the blanks and not enough time acting on data.
No matter how much data you have, it needs to remain consistent. Otherwise, it serves no purpose.
There are no exceptions to the rule: every piece of information should enter the database in the same way, at all times.
The same principle applies when the data is exchanged between systems: similar types of information should be kept in similar formats. When the values differ across platforms, you’ll inadvertently end up with duplicates. As a result, the usability of that data will be extremely limited.
Potential clients may do research online, yet 82% of them still want to meet sellers early in the buying process. Your pitch might seem top-notch. But if conflicting information has found its way in, it can immediately put the brakes on your sales activity.
Why Data Inconsistencies Occur
Two major factors can lead to a lack of consistency in data handling:
1. The human touch.
Relevant, timely, and accurate information is vital for seller success. Yet manual data entry is both time-consuming and prone to error. It can significantly corrupt your data points and, in an instant, distort your sales process. Yes, the human touch is not obsolete. Nonetheless, even well-seasoned sales representatives may find it difficult to avoid data entry flaws. Whether they rename a file without notice or simply forget to input important information into your dedicated system, the pre-set standards will not be met.
2. The technology that powers your selling efforts.
You did it—you have gathered first-rate prospect data. You’re in the process of correlating that information from two systems when it happens: one platform crashes. Sometimes, data recovery is possible. Other times, the platform is restored to its original factory settings—or its previous state—and all the data is lost. Such system failures can prevent future sales activities from running smoothly.
No matter what happens, inconsistency hurts your sales efficiency. Identifying which procedures influence your data directly should be high on your priority list.
Placing Data Consistency at the Core of Your Sales Activities
From prospecting to closing the deal, sellers rely heavily on B2B data. To truly capitalize on it, it’s important to maintain data consistency at every single level and ensure:
1. Data Validity.
More often than not, a diverse set of sources is used to capture sales information. At times, you might opt for instant access to a vendor’s built-in B2B databases. Or maybe, you’ll prefer to manually collect most of your data. In both cases, the validity of your newly acquired information cannot be assured unless it conforms to your predefined standards.
Valid data points are much like a roadmap to a functional sales structure. It’s not enough to gather useful information; you have to test it, validate it, and correlate it in a way that speeds up your sales process and empowers you to convert leads to sales opportunities.
2. Data Accuracy.
Every data point must be unambiguous to maintain its accuracy.
Now, all the information you have collected may be both correct and unambiguous. Yet gradually, those records will become less accurate. A lead might have been promoted to a new position. Someone could have moved to a different organization. Several people may have changed their phone numbers or email addresses. It happens—data decay is unavoidable.
Your sales forecast depends on B2B data accuracy. Minimize decay and don’t let inaccurate information lead you astray.
3. Data Integrity.
Suppose you just performed a new database update. When all is said and done, has your data remained unaltered?
Such changes shouldn’t affect your operations in any way.
That’s why data integrity must be protected—anytime, anywhere, and across all your systems. This process provides more than the reasonable assurance that your data is accurate and consistent over its lifecycle; it also minimizes user error, rules out compromised information, and improves decision-making.
Keep every piece of B2B data neatly organized, make sure that it continues to adhere to your set of predefined database rules, and watch your sales soar.
Understanding the Impact of Data Consistency
1. Data consistency is key to sales analytics.
It takes a lot of foresight to grasp every sales opportunity hidden behind data. For that reason, sales analytics have rapidly become a powerhouse of granular insights that can fuel your business growth.
In short, these insights pave the path to top-tier prospects, while helping you analyze your past sales records, monitor your current performance, identify company-wide patterns, and refine your actions.
Are you eager to turn data into insights? Not that fast: the success of a powerful sales analytics program hinges on the usability of your data. Without consistency, you can’t take full advantage of analytics.
Distorted data perpetuates misinformation. Those who extract analytics exclusively from high-quality B2B data can accurately forecast their sales and build a strategic plan.
2. Where there’s data consistency, there’s better decision-making.
Trust your gut, but be careful—intuition can only take you so far.
The business world runs on facts, not assumptions, which is why data-informed sales decisions must be prioritized.
Although sales representatives need readily available information, avoid using any type of data. If the information you have gathered is not useful, you’ll have a skewed view of your prospects. In short, inaccurate data leads to misleading sales conclusions.
The higher the consistency of your data, the more confident you will be in making decisions, and the more sales deals you can close.
3. Data consistency sets the stage for innovation.
Gold miners know how to find the treasure—they’re looking for the mother lode or, in other words, the source.
In sales, data is the source of accuracy and its consistency is at the heart of innovation.
A new idea might be the goldmine of B2B sales success. But how can a consistent data infrastructure drive innovation? With business-relevant information at your fingertips, it’s easier to stay on top of the biggest trends and find new ways to make your sales processes more efficient, cost-effective, and personalized to the evolving interests of your clients.
The pace of innovation should never slow down. In a crowd of competitors, ingenious data-driven sales ideas help you pan for golden B2B prospects and drive more revenue for your organization—continuously.
In the End, It Can’t Be Said Enough: Data Consistency Is More Crucial Than Ever Before!
Data is always telling a story.
There is, however, a very thin line between worthless and priceless information.
Sometimes, sellers have to correlate multiple internal/external data points into usable information at a moment’s notice. A pile of B2B data has no real value if it can’t help you make a confident decision—quickly.
Sales data is a priceless resource; you just need to take full control of it. Checking your data consistency regularly is the first step towards thriving B2B sales portfolios.