If data collection is your second-biggest priority, finding the best way to organize it should be your first. Here’s how to make sure you have an effective customer relationship management (CRM) and data collection plan:
Don’t Let Data Go to Waste
Collecting data like names, numbers and emails are incredibly important. Without it, you have no way to connect with your market. But collecting contact information is only a small part of the process. One of the biggest issues I often see, especially with small-market teams, is how client data is collected. A lot of key client information can get lost, thrown out or taken away by departing employees. The problem is that every time this happens, repeat business and potential prospects are no longer accessible, forcing your team to start from scratch and rebuild its contact list every year. It’s a vicious cycle that prevents you from growing your business appropriately.
I’ve also witnessed organizations do a tremendous job of collecting contact information, gathering thousands of ballots and online entries, just to have it sit in a box. They may get handed out to staff members to call once, but then they may never be seen or heard about again.
This data is the food that sales staff need to eat. It represents the people who have stated openly they are interested in your product and given you permission to contact them — the “Glengarry Glen Ross” leads. But if you are not managing this data in a way that allows you to keep it organized and control its flow, it’s just a waste of paper. Every team should have a CRM and data-collection plan, possibly requiring the hiring of a data manager who understands how to coordinate all these contacts.
Build a Path
The first part of any plan is mapping it out. Outline where the info goes as soon as it’s collected. Who inputs it and where? When a lead is given out, how is it tracked? A franchise shouldn’t let a lead sit exclusively on the desk of one salesperson; refile the data after it has been used to make sure it is still available for everyone.
House Your Data Appropriately
New technology has made housing data a lot easier, but you would be amazed at the number of spreadsheets I still see living exclusively on one computer. Using software like Salesforce can streamline data storage and lead control in a very effective manner. Although some of these CRM systems are costly, they offer an easy, functional strategy:
- Make the data open and available to everyone if need be, but at least to key stakeholders who can control the overall data flow.
- Keep the data somewhere that allows for real-time updates as changes happen — from contacts and calls to sales and revenue.
- Make categories. Look at the different target metrics and establish categories to sort your contacts and data. Then you can create targeted campaigns and move data accordingly based on team goals and targets.
- Archive data. Keep everything you collect; even if it’s old, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking at some time down the road. As you change your products and offerings, new opportunities may arise from someone you spoke with two years ago, when that opportunity was not available.
- Back up, back up and back up some more. Make sure that the way you keep and hold all this info is safe. Nothing is worse than an unfortunate incident wiping out your entire contact list. Back it up to a secondary, secure source.
Keep It Clean
Although this task is daunting, now and then you should “clean” your data. Update the contact info, clear out dead leads or contacts that may no longer be available. Archive other leads to an appropriate place. This can be done in two ways: You can use an email campaign and ask recipients to update their info, or you can directly call contacts. I prefer the latter; it keeps the relationship alive. Build in enough time to do this.
Use It or Lose It
It’s important to have a plan of attack. When you receive contact information, what happens to it? There is only a certain amount of time you have before you’re no longer fresh in the target’s mind. Therefore, develop a strategic contact plan. When info comes in, who reaches out to it and when? Define base metrics so you can follow along with the path you built to push the info along, keeping it relevant, useful and timely. Don’t let it sit around for too long; a lead can lose its value pretty quickly. There are many echoes that hackers are stealing data and selling to third parties, to secure your data use a virtual private network, learn more about it in this article “VPN for the UK“.
CRM and data collection are the lifeblood of ticket sales and lead nurturing. Have a set of guidelines for how you are controlling its use and flow. Making your data open source and easily retrievable keeps it continually accessible and manageable by everyone who sells for the venue.