1. Face your fears
The task of cleaning up a database – unless you have unlimited resources and room of data wonks in-hand – is a bit like cleaning up a garage or a closet. There’s always something that’s more important or pressing. Then, you decide to make a big announcement and you realize that a chunk of your contact data is out-dated, that stack of business cards has just sat on your desk for months, and this epidemic of data procrastination has infected your entire team. Don’t be daunted. Face your fears and dive in.
2. Make it a team effort
If you’ve got an IT staff to manage the data clean-up, you can let them manage the hassles of a database clean-up, but that does not mean that the rest of your team does not have to get involved. If you’re a bit more “nimbly” structured, the team effort will be even more crucial. To emerge with the freshest and most extensive data possible, you’ll need everyone to offer up their business cards, transfer data from their personal contacts, review current data sets for accuracy, and most importantly, be invested in the success of the project.
3. Let the software do the work
IT people know this, but don’t forget that most software is designed to do a lot of the tedious work of data clean-up for you. You don’t have to remove duplicates manually. You don’t have to cut and paste contact information from your email program into your CRM. Email management programs and CRMs are made to talk to each other. Odds are that the software is more powerful than you ever imagined.
4. Use your lifeline (Tech Support)
Whether your CRM platform offers phone or just email support, use it, especially if you are not a database whiz. Rather than struggle for an hour figuring out how to link records or tag and flag a new segment, reach out for help. You’ve probably already paid for some level of support. Don’t suffer in time-sucking silence. Give Tech support a call.
5. Keep it up
To avoid having to run this painful fire drill again, manage your CRM like an expensive sports car. Build the muscle of data maintenance into your organization’s body of work. Integrate it into your staff discussions, “Has everyone entered their recently cultivated contacts into the database?” Celebrate low bounce-back rates on email campaigns, “Our data is cleaner than ever!” And task someone with addressing the constant flow of updated contact information.