Updating customer data is critical to successful sales and marketing. In the USA alone (according to Dun & Bradstreet):
- ⇒ A CEO changes every minute
- ⇒ A business changes name every 2 minutes
- ⇒ A business closes every 3 minutes
- ⇒ A new business opens every minute
- ⇒ A new business files bankruptcy every 8 minutes
What this means is that 1/3 to 3/4s of your database becomes obsolete each year (3 to 6% of your data goes out of date EVERY month).
Now, these were the relevant statistics before COVID-19. Mass job losses resulting from the pandemic have likely made most customer database records obsolete!
Unmaintained and outdated data leads to:
- ⇒ Undeliverable communications
- ⇒ Lost business opportunities
- ⇒ False intelligence
- ⇒ An unprofessional image
- ⇒ A bad reputation
- ⇒ Frustrated customers
It’s critical to have a strategy for maintaining customer data.
Customer data hygiene – as I like to refer to it – is about correcting inaccurate and outdated fields and standardising formats and data elements.
Database management takes commitment of time and resources, but not doing it can degrade your operations and the effectiveness of your marketing to the point of no return.
Managing customer records and data requires daily diligent effort much like brushing and flossing your teeth. In this post, my goal is to make you aware of the importance of maintaining your data. In addition to hygiene and maintenance, you can utilise LinkedIn to grow your database. As a starting point, below is a four-step process for how you can utilise LinkedIn as a sales research tool to find new prospective customers.
Before asking your staff to spend time on the process below, it’s highly recommended that you set clear targets for the growth of the database in a set timeframe and do this on the basis of knowing the health, integrity and reach of your current database.
Use LinkedIn as a Sales Research Tool to Grow Your Database
Top sales performers focus on strategy and process. They look for new prospects, listen, understand, plan then deploy.
There is a four-step process you can apply to use LinkedIn as part of your sales research procedure:
1) Research on LinkedIn to understand the customer’s business and learn more about the individual decision makers. You can do this via the LinkedIn advanced search tool which lets you specify the geographics, demographics, and job title of the people you want to connect with, just to name a few.
2) Contact the people in the target company who can actually buy or influence the buying of the solutions you offer, but ensure your message initially focuses on building rapport based on your understanding of the individual from researching their profile. Don’t go straight for the sales pitch. Try to determine how your solutions might be able to resolve a problem they face.
3) Identify the decision maker. The first person you contact in an organisation may not be the decision maker, which means you are unlikely to close a deal. Find the source of power (the decision maker).
4) Utilise your online communication and customer service skills to befriend someone at the target company and build rapport with them. This person may be able to give you additional information about how the business operates. They can also help you sell your solution to decision makers.
Remember the goal is to make contact with the decision maker, qualify whether they are indeed a good lead for your product or service, and gain their permission to add them to your database. Get to know your prospect by using LinkedIn as a sales research tool, or you won’t be able to answer their questions, convince or reassure them that your solutions can help resolve their problems.
In a future post I will share more insights on how to use content development to position yourself as a subject matter expert – which is another key ingredient for growing your database through LinkedIn. In the meantime, stay tuned and stay efficient.