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3 Simple Ways To Improve Your Customer Lists Here are some of the top reasons why customer lists are often convoluted.

By Shaun Haase

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Customer lists are the lifeblood of many businesses, yet many of these businesses still live with lists and databases filled with errors. Each entry is a potential opportunity for the business, so it's essential to keep your records void of any hiccups that may cause your sales to flatline. Here, we'll take a look at some of the top reasons why customer lists are often convoluted, and how to solve these common issues.

Eliminate duplicate information

The most common reason why customer lists are inaccurate is because many businesses don't have consistent and reliable processes in place to manage and maintain this information. For example, if two sales reps input the same lead but with a slightly different name or abbreviation, they'll end up with duplicate entries. Inevitably, both sales reps –– due to the nature of the profession –– will continue to pursue the same lead. As a result, valuable time is wasted and the potential lead grows colder (and more agitated) with overlapping outreach efforts.

Avoid this fiasco by setting up an internal protocol that standardizes the process of onboarding new leads. When sales reps are inputting a company name, require them to input the name exactly as it is spelled on the company's website –– letter case, letter space, and all. Better yet, utilize automated lead entry tools that are offered by customer relationship management (CRM) software like ProsperWorks. These tools not only ensure input accuracy but also automatically notify you of potential duplicate entries, saving your team time and from aggravation.

Limit access to reduce errors

A customer list –– whether maintained on a collaborative worksheet or a CRM –– that works across all departments can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, various departments in your company can access the data to process information needed to perform their job. While sharing information across departments can improve efficiency, transparency, and productivity, it also comes with the risk of other departments accidently changing or deleting critical information. When this happens, your data becomes corrupted and can cost you more than just potential leads and new business opportunities.

To mitigate the risk of accidental edits and data corruption, you should limit permissions, access and editing capabilities to specific parts of the data based on each department's usage or customer segment. This ensures that only the people who absolutely need to edit and remove information are allowed to do so.

Even with limited access, you can still allow managers and executives to have access to the data that might be useful to them, even if it comes from a segment of business that they never work on.

Automate outreach and tracking

Manually emailing leads is a time intensive process that opens up a lot of room for human error and can result in inconsistent communications to prospective leads. A disorganized sales rep may forget or even misplace information such as the last point of contact when managing a hefty customer list.

Most CRMs seamlessly integrate with marketing automation software that can help with outreach, as they take customer lists that have been pre-segmented and automatically send emails to each contact. The messages can be personalized for each target segment, populated with the correct contact information and automatically scheduled to go out at a specific time, or based on a specific action. Once emails have been sent, CRMs will track the progress of the campaign, measuring open and click rates, all of which can help sales reps easily move leads along the conversion funnel.

Customer lists are only as valuable as their accuracy. Take note of these potential pitfalls when managing customer lists to improve the productivity of your sales team. When you utilize CRM tools, you'll ensure that your sales reps are buttoned up and armed with the information they need to pursue new opportunities that drive growth.

Shaun Haase

Contributory Author

Shaun brings more than 12 years of business leadership and entrepreneurial experience to his role as CMO of ProsperWorks. He graduated from Standford, obtained various leadership positions and founded two highly successful companies: Bazaar Advertising Solutions (acquired by Epic Media Group), a performance marketing services platform and DNA Games (acquired by Zynga), a social game development company leveraging big data to structure optimized game experiences. Most recently, Shaun ran online revenue at DocuSign, the #1 SaaS eSignature platform in the world.
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