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Staying on Top of CRM Data Cleanup

The clutter is piling up. 

It’s hindering your ability to find what you’re looking for. You know you need to clean it, but it’s such a big job. 

However, the longer you procrastinate, the bigger the clutter gets and the less efficient you become. 

CRM data cleanup is one of those clutter-cleaning jobs that’s often a low priority. But, cleaning out your CRM (customer relationship management) system and keeping it tidy will pay off in the long run.  

Getting a Handle On CRM Data Cleanup

Cleaning out all the old contacts and outdated information in your CRM is a daunting task. However, there are some classic data-cleaning techniques that make the process easier: 

Separating the Good Contacts From the Bad

Let’s say you’re a marketer looking to support your sales team, but you’re having trouble finding good contacts among the bad contacts. What should you look for when you begin cleaning?

Start with activity. Ask yourself:

  • When was the last time we connected or tried to connect with this contact?
  • How long have they been in the system?
  • Have we logged any activity regarding this contact?
  • Have we initiated any activity with this contact?

Use a list cleaner to purge old contacts. You can easily discover duplicate contacts and companies. This is not only important for keeping a tidy CRM; it also keeps costs down if your CRM charges by the number of contacts. 

Double exposure of business man hand working on blank screen laptop computer on wooden desk as concept

Monitor the health of your database on a quarterly basis. Hunt down dubious contacts that may result in a hard or a soft bounce, and weed out the junk that’s lingering in the database but is irrelevant information. Lead scoring helps you determine good and bad contacts. HubSpot’s Lead Scoring tool allows you to segment contacts based on what makes a lead high-quality in your eyes. For example, you can segment by geography. If you only serve the United States, Canadian leads would have a low lead score. Consider scheduling a quarterly dump of contacts with low lead scores.  

However, be careful when you do that data dump. It's best if your sales and marketing teams have a shared vision of what a good lead looks like. That way they can hop into the CRM and look at that activity before dumping contacts based on lead score alone. 

But Sales Is Nervous About Deleting Contacts!

This is understandable. You no longer have that contact once they’re deleted. What if a potential lead was weeded out by mistake?

You can ease some hesitation by running a last-ditch campaign in which you reach out to contacts before purging them. Find out what contacts may have in common. Perhaps a large chunk came from the same trade show. Making one last contact can help you realize which leads are not biting and therefore should be removed from your database. 

You want to get your CRM to a point where all leads are either marketing-qualified leads or sales-qualified leads or are soon to be qualified. Your leads should have a purpose for being in your CRM and not just taking up space. 

Cringeworthy CRM Habits

CRMs should be orderly and allow any user to quickly find the data they need. Essentially, the easier it is for people to use it, the more CRM sales team buy-in you’ll see.

However, these bad habits prevent the CRM from being an efficient tool:

Closeup of woman shouting though megaphone with stop sign drawn on blackboard

  1. Inconsistent naming conventions
  2. Inefficient workflows
  3. Failure to change lead status

1) Inconsistent Naming Conventions

The lack of a naming convention makes things confusing. You may have multiple team members working on the same project. You may have clients adding to the CRM themselves. 

Using a consistent naming convention helps keep everyone on the same page. No one should be confused about which version of a file to use or what information is included in the file. 

2) Inefficient Workflows

A CRM is only as good as the data it holds

Each team member should be logging the same information. By not doing so, you essentially have a puzzle with very few connected pieces. 

For example, missing information on contact records can lead to contacts not being linked to company records. A lot of time would be wasted trying to piece that information together. 

Internal workflow automation cuts down on human data entry and frees marketing and sales up to spend more time nurturing leads. 


3) Failure to Change Lead Status

A CRM that has every contact marked as “lead” is unhelpful. Is this an MQL or an SQL? What’s their lead score? 

Developing a marketing or sales strategy based on this (lack of) information is impossible. Not knowing a good lead from a bad, or which stage of the buyer’s journey a contact is in, leads to you pushing out irrelevant content to a majority of your contacts. This wastes time and effort that could have been spent targeting specific contacts with the right content at the right time. 

How Does a CRM Support an ABM Strategy?

CRMs can help your ABM (account-based marketing) strategy by allowing you to find the information that adds a little flavor to your approach. Maybe you’re tracking a contact’s job title or tidbits you got from their LinkedIn page. Make sure that information is easily accessible in your dashboard. 

Knowing this information makes it easier to market effectively to personalize your touchpoints For example, if your sales team knows that a contact works at X company and loves scalloped potatoes, you want to talk about that in your ABM campaign. Don't make the marketing team go find that information on their own. Put it in your CRM where everyone can see it.

A good CRM will also store clear, detailed notes for future team members so they’re not starting from scratch. ABM campaigns can take years, especially in a B2B niche market where the sales cycle is really long. You don't want to have to start at ground zero with a new hire who has no idea what's been executed before.


Marie Kondo Meets CRMs

Oh, what decluttering expert Marie Kondo could do to a CRM. You may know this best-selling author and Netflix star as the tidiness guru. Her process is this: Whenever you’re evaluating whether to keep something, decide whether it “sparks joy” (Don’t roll your eyes!) within you. If not, toss it out. 

This may be difficult at first, especially when you just begin to tackle the clutter. It becomes easier over time, especially if you keep decluttering on a regular basis.

Following this practice with a CRM means you track the things that bring you joy (that turn leads into customers), and you ditch the things that don’t (like irrelevant or duplicate data). 

It’s also helpful to set up your CRM so there's less manual entry. This makes your CRM as easy as possible to use and allows sales to do more selling and less data entry

Finding Root Causes

It’s important to develop a plan for CRM cleanup. Sure, you can sporadically jump in and solve any data issues you see. However, unless you find the core issue, you’ll continue to fix the same data issues.

Keep to a Robust CRM Data Management Plan

Check monthly to identify that the data you want is captured. HubSpot has a tool in its CRM to help you do this. Checking monthly ensures that small problems don’t become big problems. Building regular reports helps you see where the problems are.

Validating emails is important. People are changing positions, and companies are coming and going. You don't want to be sending emails to irrelevant contacts. You can automate this task with your CRM.

Don’t Be Scared to Start Cleaning!

Cleaning table by hand

You may jump into your CRM and see that it’s tracking 100 properties, but only 20 of them matter. You could spend time trying to clean up all properties, but that isn’t a good use of your time. 

Instead, grab all the stakeholders of the business and determine what properties are being used, why they are used, and how. This will help you hone in on the data that needs to be cleaned and the data that should be purged. 

Get the Most Out of Your CRM

Software is created to be helpful, so use it in helpful ways. If you’re a small business, you don’t have to track 100 metrics just because a CRM can do it. You’ll drown in data. Start with a handful of metrics that are really important to you. 

Also, assign an individual or team to be responsible for cleaning company data. This way, someone is accountable for that work and your CRM doesn’t get cluttered.  

Make CRM Data Cleanup a Priority

Whether you're working internally or with a CRM agency, it’s important to stay on top of data cleanup. This will save you time and help you get the most out of your CRM

Problems may start out small, like missing or inaccurate data on a contact record. Over time, these issues compound if you don’t stay on top of them. 

Also, hold a company-wide training when you begin to use a CRM so that everyone uses it the same way across the board.

Need Help With Your CRM? 

Have data cleaning questions? We can help you implement a CRM that your whole team will use, and customize it to align with your sales process!

Schedule a Free CRM Consultation


Looking For a Deeper Dive?

For a deeper dive into the topic, watch the video version of this article above. Josh Curcio, COO and partner at protocol 80 (and self-proclaimed HubSpot expert), and Holly McCully, inbound marketing consultant at p80 (and niche inbound strategy expert), talk about how to maintain a CRM database.

They also talk with Adam Sharrow, co-founder and principal consultant at Process Pro Consulting, about maximizing your HubSpot investment with CRM database cleaning.