There was a time not too long ago when sales ops positions were viewed by executive leadership teams as a needed expense to keep the trains running on time. Too often, though, sales ops professionals lacked the organizational support to think in bigger terms of the wider strategic impact they could have on the rest of the organization – marketing, finance, and corporate strategy. The big data revolution which has been accelerated by advances in technology and business schools’ focus on “data driven decision making” has rapidly changed the profile of sales ops leaders. More often than not, we are seeing today’s sales ops leaders having a sharper quant focus. They are seen as having a more integral role in the C-suite.

Exactly as expected with this newly refined profile of sales ops leaders, a focus on better sales data has taken center stage. However, at company after company, we see a common mistake repeating itself. Too many sales ops leaders and their marketing counterparts are simply equating “better data” with “more data.” And, in plain fact, more data very often is better. Since most CRM systems are so easy to modify, we see incredibly elaborate customizations in which sales reps can enter sales data into several dozens of fields.

However, in seeking so much feedback from field reps, there are too many practical realities of 21st Century B2B sales that are being ignored. Ask yourself this, have you ever heard a good sales rep ask the following question: “What do you want me to do, close deals or enter data all day?” Whether the question is fair or not is irrelevant. Of course we want reps to close business AND comply with company CRM standards. But before we just brush off the combative rep, perhaps its worth examining our CRM expectations.

At piLYTIX, we closely monitor CRM usage stats. Remarkably, on average we have found an inverse relationship between the number of added custom fields and the level of rep CRM usage. Hidden deals, surprise short term closes, and clear “sandbagging” indications tend to be highest at the organizations that have asked reps to enter the most fields of data.

While our clients benefit from specific recommendations for CRM adaptation, we encourage all senior sales ops leaders to consider the following when considering their data policies:

  • Take the time to educate sales reps how they will directly benefit from complying with your CRM standards. Hint: if you can’t convince sales reps of what’s in it for them, you will never solve your data collection problems.

  • Focus on those fields that directly speak to the most important priorities of stakeholders throughout the organization.

  • Recognize that while sales reps are tremendous sources of market intel, they are not professional market researchers. What information is better collected via full time professional market researchers?

  • In the world of 21st Century B2B solutions sales, no one has ever purchased anything because they received a birthday card. Your reps prove the value in the offering that they are selling or they don’t. Personal information on prospects can be the first fields to go.