Whether you realize it or not, the efficiency, productivity, and drive of your B2B sales team is directly dependent on the quality of your data.

Good data leads to less time spent prospecting, more meetings on the calendar, and ultimately more revenue.  The impact of bad data, however, can range from one lost account to catastrophic revenue loss.

Last week we discussed how low-quality data can significantly lower the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. If you haven’t read that post yet, you can do so here: B2B Marketing Meltdown: The Impact of Bad Data.

This week, we’re flipping the script and taking a look at how bad data impacts B2B sales. Keep reading.

What is bad data and how does it occur?

As we’ve mentioned time and time again, low-quality data is a real problem for most companies. And unfortunately, because B2B data decays so rapidly, this will likely be a problem for years and years to come. Consider the following statistics (source):

  • 40% of email users change their email address at least once every two years
  • 15% of email users change their email address one or more times a year
  • 20% of all postal addresses change every year
  • 18% of all telephone numbers change every year
  • 21% of all CEOs change every year
  • 25-33% of email addresses become outdated every year
  • 60% of people change job titles within their organizations each year

With decay like that, it’s no wonder companies struggle to keep their data clean. But, before we begin to teach you the ways of data hygiene, here’s exactly what we mean when we refer to bad data:

  • Missing fields
  • Inaccuracies
  • Data entered in the wrong field
  • Duplicate entries
  • Misspellings, typos, and spelling variations
  • Data that hasn’t been normalized

What is the impact of bad data on your B2B sales success?

Bad data impacts every department within an organization—but none more so than the sales department. Here’s how:

1.     Inefficiency.

Think about it—every time a sales rep dials a wrong number or emails an outdated account, they’re wasting valuable time that could be spent selling. In fact, inaccurate data wastes 27.3% of sales reps’ time. That’s 546 hours a year per full-time sales rep (source)!

But, fear not, there’s still hope for your B2B sales teams. With the right initiatives and data maintenance practices, you can increase your productivity in no time. And it’s well worth it—according to Gartner, Fortune 1000 enterprises will lose more money in operational inefficiency due to data quality issues than they will spend on data warehouse and customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives.

This brings us to our next point.

2.     Higher costs for resources and maintenance.

It’s more expensive to compensate for bad data than it is to maintain a clean database. Think about it this way: When a company’s data isn’t accurate, every single employee must make accommodations for it within their everyday workflow.  Doing so is both inefficient and expensive.

When data is riddled with errors, employees take it upon themselves to manually make corrections to complete the task at hand. They don’t stop to consider where the data was collected, how to prevent inaccuracies, or eliminate the root cause. The Harvard Business Review illustrates this perfectly:

b2b sales intelligence solution

3.     Poor prospect and customer relationships.

Unfortunately, lost deals and customer churn are a side effect of low quality data. In fact, bad data in customer communications can negatively impact total revenue by as much as 25% (source).

Bad data results in misspelled names, undelivered messages, account or contact mix-ups, duplicate communications, and much more. Though these mistakes seem small, the impact can amount to something disastrous for your business.

4.     Low morale and frustration among your B2B sales reps.

Understandably, it’s frustrating for sales reps to have to rely on inaccurate information to do their job.  Remember, most sale’s salaries are commission-based, so anything that makes it more difficult to sell will impact the morale of the team.

Here’s what to do about bad data:

If you have a data problem, and it’s likely that you do, we’re here to help. Check out our top database maintenance tips and best practices below:

1.     Audit your database.

Although this process can be done manually, we strongly suggest you partner with a B2B database or sales intelligence solution to analyze your existing database. Ask your preferred vendor for a quality report so you can assess the current state of your data. Then, ask them to highlight any inconsistencies or inaccuracies so you can see exactly where your data is lacking.

2.     Improve your data collection methods.

Your data will never be perfect, but there are steps you can take to drastically improve your collection methods so low-quality data doesn’t become so much of an issue. Here’s what we suggest:

  • Standardize manual entry. Manual data entry can leave a lot of room for errors. And while we suggest minimizing manual entry as much as possible, that’s not always possible. One spelling mistake or typo and you end up with a data quality issue. Prevent this by establishing a company-wide record creation policy.
  • Check your forms. Most data collection happens via online web forms. With an expanding website and multiple landing pages, it can be easy to lose track of old forms. This results in different requirements and form fields. Check your forms and make sure all fields are standardized.

3.     Automate data maintenance.

In the past, once you performed a database audit and improved data collection your job was done. But, if there’s one thing you take away from this article—it’s that automated data maintenance is essential to a business’s ongoing success.

In an environment where data is currency, quality is key. But as previously mentioned, it’s become increasingly difficult to stay on top of data hygiene. SiriusDecisions puts it best: “Organizations must shift their focus from one-time data cleansing to ongoing data maintenance to turn the tide.”

As your prospects and customers change jobs and contact information it’s critical that you keep up with them. We cannot stress this enough. Rather than scheduling the occasional data audit, you must now integrate database maintenance into your day-to-day life as a marketer.

We recommend partnering with a B2B data or sales intelligence solution to automate this process for you. Why leave something so important in the hands of amateurs? Professional help will give you peace of mind and optimal results.

Finding a B2B Sales Intelligence Solution, Bad Data, and Your Sales Team:

Research shows that inaccurate data has a direct impact on the bottom line of 88% of companies, with the average company losing 12% of its revenue as a result (source).

B2B sales and marketing professionals can no longer ignore the state of their database. Now, saying, “I don’t care if my data isn’t perfect,” is the same as saying, “I don’t mind losing a significant portion of my revenue.”

Fortunately, it’s never been easier to prioritize database maintenance. For more detailed information about data quality and sales intelligence, check out the following blog posts:

With the ZoomInfo for Salesforce Suite you can ensure the information in your database is always the most accurate and current with automatic and scheduled updates. Protect your email reputation with access to the most accurate and up-to-date email addresses, decrease the time-to-action with better routing, and improve segmentation and lead nurturing. Let us worry about database maintenance so you can worry about selling. Contact us today to learn more.

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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