Sales managers need every tool at their disposal to close leads, and a good CRM is the backbone of an organization’s — and sales managers’ — data success. It’s important that your CRM works for you, and for that to happen, your destination marketing organization needs good processes. 

This leads to creating a data structure, and from there, it comes down to maintenance. 

We’ll review the following strategies for setting up your database, cleaning it, and maintaining it:

  • Processes and structure
  • Data types
  • Duplicated data
  • Missing information
  • Old data
  • Routine health

Processes and Structure

Your processes are most likely based on goals and metrics that need to be reported on. If not, it would be a good idea to reevaluate your processes to be more efficient. Defining what your organization needs to report on defines the information you need to collect. The information you need to collect impacts your processes. However, this changes over time, and a board may change opinions on the organization’s goal, or a new director or CEO may decide other metrics are more important than the ones used in the past. Change and adaptability are part of growth and success. Some newer destinations may emphasize engagement efforts, tracking completed traces for follow-up and sales calls; in contrast, other destinations are more focused on converted leads and generated revenue because, over time, they’ve refined their data and now pursue the most relevant opportunities that lead to converted business. 

It’s never too late to restructure your data. Mary Poppins wisely said, “Well begun is half done,” but wasn’t afraid to jump right in and make her environment work for her. It’s okay to push a reset or soft reset button if it will benefit you in the future. Your data can be moved around, sanitized, and even augmented. Consider a few options when creating a structure or moving data around, or even deleting it:

Where does my data need to be stored? The CRM already has core fields that come standard, but you have the option to create custom fields, define your list values, and categorize your data. Top-level records, like Accounts, are an umbrella for other records, such as Leads, Listings, Contacts, Profiles, etc., and types of records can store values pertaining to just itself or any of the child records below it. Data stored on a record type or level defines the essence of that record type.

Here are five questions to consider: 

  1. Does this information apply to only one lead or to the entire account and all leads?
  2. Will this Account field apply to all listings, or should the data be stored separately for each individual listing? 
  3. Does this information pertain to the actual person/contact semi-permanently (name, address, email), or can it change over time on different inquiries (reason for visit, interests, position applying for, etc.)?
  4. Do I need one account or multiple? Some destinations receive 10 leads from a meeting planner in a single day, so accounts are built out for each local office or regional area. Other destinations receive 30 leads a year from the entire planner, so they only need one main account. The decision to break out individual accounts or listings is very much worth considering. The key point is to set them up to be linked so you can identify the entire organization’s leads. The CRM team receives many requests to move data around because this wasn’t carefully considered earlier in building the structure, or data slowly crept to a point where it needs to be updated. 
  5. Is this information relevant, and do you have enough information? Just having a name and a phone number and company may be all one can get from a trade show meeting, but it’s sorely lacking. Create a trace, and follow up to research the business. Collect information on what the business does and how your organization can service it. 

Data Types

Now that we’ve talked about processes and structure, let’s turn our focus to data types. Here are some best-practice approaches:

Use a text field, even if the data is strictly numeric

The rule here is that if you ever need to calculate a value, it should be a number; otherwise, it’s text. There aren’t very many good cases for adding, subtracting, or multiplying a zip code from another number. A zip code is a Text Type. Another example would be a reference ID, which can include tracking numbers or identifiers from other systems. These would not need to be mathematically manipulated as well. Also, any value that begins with zeroes, i.e., 00019482, will be saved without them: 19482. This can have a major impact on syncing or referencing other data. 

Numbers instead of text can help in searches

Using a text field to store a value of “Meeting rooms” can be useful if a hotel would like to add additional information, but it doesn’t help in identifying hotels with a certain number of rooms. If a meeting needs at least eight meeting rooms, you can’t create a search using the text field.

Be mindful of Yes/No values

Yes/No values can be problematic because the default is set to No. If there is a new field for “Pet-friendly” and almost all the values are No, none would come up in a search. A solution would be to use a dropdown, with Yes and No as options. If the field isn’t edited, it will be blank, or you can add another item for “N/A.” Yes/No is appropriate in many cases, but it’s good to think it through when setting up a field like this.

Choose wisely — dropdowns and multi-selects

A dropdown can be converted to a multi-select later on, but it’s tough to go back from a “many” to “one” structure. Each has value, but multi-selects can duplicate the output of searches and reports, and dropdown lists need to be precise. 

Several reports can help visualize the structure of your data, like the Amenity Review and Category/Subcategory reports in Member/Partner. The CRM team can help with creating searches and reports for many other cases. Once a good structure and fields are appropriately set up on each record type, we can get to the actual cleaning. 

Duplicated Data

Duplicate records can impact anyone on the team, from those entering new records or updating existing ones, to those that are reporting. Superficially, duplicated data is just clunky and can lead to tasks being done by separate people, duplicating efforts. When entering data, it’s important to be able to find the correct record accurately and quickly. If there are two or more records for the same account or event, we start to see tracking and actions applied to each separately or even on both. 

This affects not only processes, since traces can be applied to each duplicate record, but it also affects reporting since one “won” or “lost” business is doubled. The CRM has various tools and reports for merging or identifying duplicate records. In cases where duplicates are found, like in Leads, a CRM administrator can help edit snapshot history, or statuses, to combine the two. In other instances, merging simply takes the data from one record and applies it to another, recycling the first record. Exporting searches and using a spreadsheet program to find similar data can also be useful. The CRM team can help with various methods to help identify and clean duplicate records. 

Missing Information

Missing data is a common occurrence and needs regular maintenance to clean out and remove irrelevant data, or to do some research for potential partnerships. Each organization and each department will place more importance on various fields. You can set up simple searches, where a value is set to “Is Empty,” along with other criteria, to find this data that can either be improved or set up for recycling. Some missing values to consider include:

  • Market segment - what do they do?
  • Region - where are they located?
  • Contact - who do we get in touch with?
  • Email - how do we contact them?
  • Category - restaurant, hotel, attraction, etc.?
  • Source code - how did we get in contact with them?

Get creative and find whatever will help your team recognize good prospects and identify the junk data. The CRM team can help you with a pool of ideas and searches/reports that have been built over time. 

Old Data

There are data hoarders out there. Not every piece of information is relevant to the team or organization if it becomes outdated. A common threshold is four to six years for accuracy, which might depend on what kind of record. Hotels may not change much, but restaurants certainly can change quickly. Also, just because the information was collected at some point doesn’t matter if the data isn’t used.

Let’s look for Accounts that:

  • Have no Leads
  • Have no completed Traces
  • Without Contacts
  • Were last updated more than four years ago
  • Have no tags

In general, if a record is taking up space in the CRM and hasn’t been used in over four years, it’s probably clutter.

Routine Health

Regular maintenance to find data that has passed a deadline or needs updating is important. It happens quite a bit, but simpler searches or reports, organized by the sales manager, can help divvy out some small chunks of work to the team. 

  • Leads with decision date past due that are in Lead status
  • Incomplete traces of various types (Member outreach, annual meeting check-up, follow-up email, etc.)
  • Snapshot or status history updates. Making sure the record statuses maintain the correct path is important. If a lead jumps from Lead to Definite, back to Tentative, to go to Lead again, it can make a mess of production reports. Identifying records with a history or snapshot status that changes back and forth can be helpful in cleaning up mistakes or bad data entry.

Most of the maintenance is usually done by the CRM Admin, so some practices should be put in place for the regular users:

  • Educate the team on processes, how to store data, and the proper data journey. If a mistake is made, let CRM Admins know to contact an administrator to correct history data such as status dates or snapshot information. 
  • Ask the team, or set up a committee to review what’s being recorded, and how, and if it’s relevant. Furthermore, discuss what might be more relevant that’s not being tracked. The metrics and goals of each organization will define how to store and clean your data.  
  • Review necessary data that might be overlooked. Make fields required or document a process, and use trace triggers to set up action items for data follow-through. 

The Simpleview CRM team is happy to assist with any advice in recommendations and best practices on how to clean your data or even restructure it. Reach out if you need fields to be required, or conditional based on status, or anything. There is also a user forum where you can ask questions to people doing the same things you might be doing. Please let us know if you have any questions or need anything at all.

For another article, check out, “The struggle is real … for sales managers.”