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Why You Need a CRM Data Cleanup

Abe Dearmer
・8 min read

No one likes clutter, whether it’s in your office, your email inbox, or in your customer relationship management (CRM) software. It’s all too easy for junk to pile up unnoticed over time until it’s too late, making you feel unorganized, unproductive, and off-kilter.

While we can’t straighten up your house for you like Marie Kondo, we do have some advice to share regarding CRM data cleanup. A messy CRM database doesn’t just make your data feel “cluttered”—it can also have a tangible negative impact on your organization’s effectiveness, agility, and bottom line.

Unorganized CRM data can create problems such as:

  • Failure to keep proper track of your interactions with customers and leads.
  • Wasting valuable employee time by sifting through customer contact information that’s inaccurate or duplicated.
  • Neglecting, passing over, or alienating an important lead who might have become a valuable customer.

The consequences of not performing CRM data cleanup can be drastic for your organization’s productivity and profitability. IBM estimates that poor data quality costs the U.S. economy $3.1 trillion every year, while IT research and advisory firm Gartner projects that this figure is $13.5 million for the average business. Several other studies have estimated that bad data may be costing companies between 10 and 30 percent of their annual revenues.

Fortunately, your business doesn’t have to suffer the same fate. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common reasons for data quality issues and offer our suggestions for performing CRM data cleanup so that you can avoid the most common mistakes and keep your database in top shape.

3 Reasons Why You Need CRM Data Cleanup

According to Salesforce, as much as 70 percent of data in a CRM system “goes bad” (i.e. becomes obsolete) every year. In this section, we’ll discuss the three biggest reasons why nearly every organization needs a CRM data cleanup.

Duplicate Data

Duplicate data is an all-too-common issue with CRM databases, and it can happen for a variety of reasons during the process of data collection and/or data entry:

  • The same lead might sign up using different emails or street addresses, creating a separate record in the CRM for each one.
  • The same data might be entered with different formatting, abbreviations, etc. For example, 555-555-5555, 5555555555, and (555) 555-5555 all represent the same phone number, but your CRM system might not realize this without performing data cleansing.

According to HubSpot, data duplication rates may be as high as 10 to 30 percent for companies who are in sore need of a CRM data cleanup.

On a small scale, the problem of duplicate data is manageable and relatively easy to fix when doing CRM data cleanup—just identify it and delete it. In the long run, though, duplicate data can be a disaster: every additional duplicate record makes it more and more time-consuming to sift through your database, which cuts into the time that you have to follow up with leads. It’s no wonder that sales representatives only spend 36 percent of their time actually selling.

To avoid this, you need to address the problem of duplicate data at the source by performing CRM data cleanup. This means going through your entire dataset, discovering the source of the duplicate records, and standardizing their format. Limiting the type and amount of input options (e.g. by only allowing selections from a drop-down menu, instead of text boxes that allow free entry) is another way to further deal with the problem.

Missing Data

Missing and incomplete data is another painful and all-too-common issue with your CRM database. For example, a lead might fill out contact data such as their email address, phone number, and company while forgetting to put down their own name—and now that you’re going through the database, you realize you have no idea what to call them.

Again, if this is a one-time incident, it’s not too difficult to do CRM data cleanup by researching the missing information, filling in the blanks, and working on converting the lead to a paying customer. But when this pattern repeats on a larger scale, it becomes a much more time-consuming and challenging problem to solve—not to mention the opportunity costs you face from not following up with leads sooner.

The complications don’t end there—without CRM data cleanup, your sales team won’t have access to a complete picture of your customers and leads. As a result, any automated marketing tools you have (e.g. sending more personalized emails to your contacts, or separating contacts by their lifecycle stage) are liable to fail when trying to perform their functions.

As a result, you’ll be unable to contact or separate your leads correctly if at all—so you’ll either have to do it manually and painfully or miss out on them entirely.

Finally, incomplete information doesn’t just have consequences at the level of individual leads. It can also create gaps in your large-scale understanding—things like which markets to focus on, or which leads are most likely to convert into opportunities and customers.

Without a dedicated CRM data cleanup program, you’ll risk falling behind in your ability to compete in a crowded marketplace.

Out-of-Date Information

The older your data is, the more likely it is to be inaccurate—which, for all intents and purposes, makes it basically useless. This fact is especially true for your CRM data. On a daily basis, companies are formed or go out of business, employees leave their jobs or get new job titles, and people change their addresses and phone numbers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, the average employee has been with their employer for 4.1 years, and annual turnover rates at some businesses could be as high as 15 to 25 percent. Even a single inaccurate data point could make it impossible for you to get in touch with, or to follow up with, a contact.

For example, your CRM might show that you have 10,000 different contact records for leads in the Boston region—but what it doesn’t show is that 1,000 of these leads have actually moved to new cities since you collected their data. Without doing CRM data cleanup, you might incorrectly assume that the health of your business is stronger in a particular region than it actually is. In turn, you might make bad judgment calls about your advertising and marketing campaigns to reach these (now-extinct) leads: e.g. putting up billboards in a part of town where they no longer live or buying Facebook ads in their time zone.

Like the issues of duplicate data and missing information, incorrect data due to an out-of-date CRM database can cost you dearly. While correcting one record might not take much longer than a phone call or web search, correcting hundreds or thousands of records will be time-consuming to the extreme (not to mention mentally exhausting for the poor team members assigned to the task).

The Benefits of Clean Data in Your CRM Database

Thus far, we’ve talked about the potential detriments that having a messy CRM database can bring to your organization. But what about the flip side—the benefits of CRM data cleanup, more accurate data, and better data management for your sales and marketing teams?

The advantages of cleaning up your CRM data include:

  • Better-quality leads: When you do CRM data cleanup, the customer data and leads in your database will be unique, complete, and up-to-the-minute. You don’t have to worry about wasting your salespeople’s time when their emails bounce or a contact’s phone number is no longer in service.
  • Higher productivity: Keeping your database clean and tidy with automated CRM data cleanup means that employees don’t have to waste days or weeks of taxing manual effort cleaning it up themselves. Sales reps and marketers will be happier, more productive, and less likely to suffer from overwork and burnout.
  • Increased profits: Instead of correcting bad information and chasing down old leads gone missing, sales reps can spend more time doing what they’re supposed to be doing—selling. And assuming your sales reps are friendly and competent, more time selling is very likely to result in a healthier bottom line.

How to Do CRM Data Cleansing with Xplenty

If your house is a total wreck, the solution is easy—just call up a maid service for help. But what should you do if you need to perform CRM data cleanup and don’t know where to get started?

For many businesses, the answer is right in front of them. The correct and accurate information you need to perform data cleansing and standardization for your CRM database is often already available, but scattered across a dizzyingly large array of data sources, from websites and emails to phone calls and contact forms. Yet without a way to collect, clean, and ingest this data through marketing automation, businesses are no better off with this knowledge than they were before.

That’s why an effective ETL (extract, transform, load) workflow is essential for modern CRM data cleanup. ETL is a data integration process that automatically migrates information from diverse data sources into a centralized repository (e.g. a CRM database). To build a rapid, efficient ETL data pipeline with automation, more and more businesses are taking advantage of dedicated ETL solutions like Xplenty.

At its heart, Xplenty is a data delivery company. We remove all the roadblocks and barriers to the data flows across your organization so that you can streamline your information workflows and maintain a clean and tidy CRM database:

  • With more than 100 integrations with databases, SaaS applications, analytics tools, and more, Xplenty helps you quickly and efficiently connect all of your relevant data sources—there’s no need to use your company’s internal resources, or write the code yourself.
  • Xplenty lets you choose exactly the data you want from each source, when you want it integrated, and how you want it delivered. This freedom and precision mean that your data can be properly connected, synced, and up-to-date at all times, avoiding all the data woes discussed above.
  • The Xplenty low-code platform is user-friendly with a gentle learning curve and a simple, drag-and-drop graphical user interface. Xplenty makes it easy for even non-technical business users to build robust data pipelines from their data sources to a cloud data warehouse or CRM database.

Want to find out how ETL solutions like Xplenty can help automate your CRM data cleanup process? Get in touch with Xplenty today for a chat about your business needs and objectives, or to start your free trial of the Xplenty platform.

This post originally appeared on the Xplenty blog here. Check it out on our website and subscribe to our newsletter if you want to hear more updates.

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