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Since the start of 2016 I've been seeing a steady stream of advice for sales. Everything from coaching, reaching the C suite, sales performance, forecasting, advancing deals, and the even the importance of how you use your CRM. I haven't seen much about data (probably because it's less glamorous), but having the right customer data is critical to your success.

I'm guessing you've heard the analogy by now that data is the fuel for your high-performance CRM engine. Personally I've never been a “car guy," but I do understand the importance of having an engine running cleanly and efficiently. When it comes to my car, if I use the wrong fuel (or the cheap fuel) there are typically visible signs that something is wrong.  The fuel efficiency may drop or the engine may make uncomfortable noises, but there is usually some indication that the fuel I have used wasn't good enough.

Unfortunately the "fuel" you're using to power your CRM may be hurting your business in ways that aren’t so apparent. Missed opportunities aren't going to reach out to you and let you know that you should have engaged with them. There won't be a red flag on your reports and dashboards to let you know that the insights you're using to drive your business might not be accurate.

Here are some signs to look for in your organization that may indicate there is work to be done on your customer data:

  1. Your sales reps are not keeping all their information in your CRM  

  2. Your sales operations team is spending more time dealing with complaints about inaccurate and duplicate records then they are driving strategy

  3. The leads from your marketing automation system don't have enough detail for your sales reps to effectively follow-up on those opportunities

  4. You're finding your territories are not as well balanced as you had thought

  5. Your IT/admin team is seeing low CRM adoption numbers because sales reps do not trust the data

So what can be done?

Get a handle on the overall health of your customer data. As a Sales Cloud customer, you can take advantage of the free Data.com Assessment app on the AppExchange.  This app will analyze your lead, customer, and account data for data completeness and data quality.