14th Apr 2015

Data Quality and Business Intelligence – Why the Two are Inseparably Linked

One of the keys you need to master to keep the sales rolling in is quality sales data. This data is the basis for the leads you pursue, the way you pursue them and which media you use to entice them. Collecting this data is not difficult as nearly all online systems have some kind of metrics that show you entry points, exit points and indicate pain points. This ease of collection seems so comprehensive that it’s like a complete map that you couldn’t possibly complete a sale without, but that in itself causes a problem. Sometimes more data doesn’t mean better – all it means is … you got more.

It’s easy to think that by hanging on to this great morass of data that it will come in useful ‘sometime’, or that you’ll definitely need it if you archive it, but as with all things, sometimes quality wins over quantity, and with sales data, this is certainly the case. Whether you have realized it or not, the quality of your data is imperative to the quality of your lead conversion and no amount of collected figures and numbers can make up for poor data quality.

 If you took a critical look at your sales data, how much can you say is top quality? If your answer isn’t up to 95% you are making vital sales decisions on corrupt data. This does not usually lead to successful sales but if you are getting sales, with good quality data you could achieve more and streamline your sales process. Just like you wouldn’t buy a house based on blurry photographs and a chance drive by a midnight, do not trust quality sales leads to come from dirty data. Whatever stage your data is on the quality scale, here are a few tips to help you.



High quality data is based on the three intrinsic foundations of things that you can change – accuracy, completion and consistency.

  • Accuracy is the integrity of the data. If the data has been on the database for a long time it may be that it is out of date or if your method of collection was not thorough, it may not have been accurate from the start. Ask yourself: is the data duplicated, time validated, contain typos, in context or need to be recertified?
  • Completion is knowing that the data you have is complete. Were all fields in the data collection media filled out and filled out properly? Has the integrity of the information been compromised in transfer? Was all the information needed collected at the point of entry. There are many ways that necessary information can be complete. Ask yourself: Are all fields populated? Does the data allow for progressive profiling? Do all departments involved in the sales funnel have all the data they need?
  • Consistency is making sure that all your data is consistent across all platforms. New data collected may conflict with old data, or names and positions change so you don’t know which is correct. Consistency – Is the data standard across all formats? Can it be misconstrued? Are all fields consistent? Often media is sent from different systems and if the data is not the same on each system then your collateral may not reach its destination, or even worse – offend the recipient.

Keeping your data clean and current is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.



When you understand the importance of the things you do have control over you and what things they are its time to take a look at the things that matter.

To any company the things that really matter are the media and devices that bring in a sale. Your lead acquisition, nurturing, routing, prospecting – anything that draws leads into your company is something that is important. You need to know where they are coming in and how effective they are, so look at your whole process and make them into a list.


Prioritizing your data quality is the first step in cleaning up your database. Look at it this way:


To make sure you work hard – and smart – you need to work out the things that matter, and the things that your can change. Make two lists and there will be some items that overlap as there is in the diagram. This overlapping section is the list of THINGS WORTH DOING. This is where you will have the most impact on cleaning up your data and that makes it the best place to start.

By making a list of THE THINGS WORTH DOING you can build up a pattern of where your data is most effective and where you need to concentrate on the quality of your gathering information to make sure that it is as accurate, as complete and consistent as possible. If you can collect the right information at the start it makes the process much easier. 

Remember that the key to data quality is Accuracy, Completion and Consistency so always look for ways to improve these three areas as you search through your databases.


The next stage after you have made a list of THE THINGS WORTH DOING, you need to evaluate the different aspect of your sales a marketing process.


Look at your prospecting strategies. This can include referrals, trade fairs, Pay per click advertising, local events, cold calling, email prospecting, and personal contacts. Does the data you collect help you know more about your contact? What profile can you draw from it? What personas can you identify from the data? How does it help you know your demographic? Why are collecting that particular data? Does it give a clear picture of what you need to know?

Think about the strengths of the prospecting tool you are using and maximize them for data collection. For instance, email blasting is good for collecting very full data in a click through link. Newsletter sign up are great for collecting email addresses, but above all – make sure the data you collect from your prospecting is accurate, complete and entered consistently across all databases.

Lead Acquisition

With Lead Acquisition always questions yourself as you are designing the lead capture pages.  What forms do they have to fill? What devices for lead capture are open to me? Will it allow me to make specific offers to the contact? Will the data allow me to segment better? Can I create a target audience from the data? What information do I NEED to know? All these questions will help you gather quality data in the first place. As you write your lead capture copy this way you’ll be so converted to getting high quality information from the get go, that you will keep it clean to preserve its value.

Lead acquisition is not a random selection of devices collecting a random section of data, it should be highly organized and collect as much high quality data as possible. It is easier to get more detailed information at the beginning of a relationship than further on. As the relationship deepens admin functions often give way to conversations around the sale, and collecting reliable data gets lost in the bonding if you are not careful. Make the most of every lead acquisition opportunity.

Lead Nurture

There is really only one question you need to evaluate your data with where lead nurturing is concerned.  Ask yourself: Does the way we collect and record the data allow us to target offers, complete lead scoring, progressive profile and create and target sales? If it doesn’t – what are you collecting data for?

Lead nurturing is about reaching out to your contact and providing the information they want, when they need it. If the quality of your data is poor you will not be satisfying any of those functions and makes the collection of data moot. To nurture a lead you need to know all about them. What they are interested in, what their pain points are and target them with the right bait to lead them along the sales journey. The more accurate, complete and consistent your data is, the more accurate your targeting. Which is of more value? A marketing 7 points, or a 10 point bulls eye?

Quality data makes a difference.

Sales Lead Routing

How do your sales work? Do they go to a sales line? Salesman? Online e-commerce? Do you have a pre-sales department? Customer service? Gone are the days that you walked in to a store, spoke to a cashier, slapped your money on the counter and walked out with your purchase. The sale never got lost from department to department because you only dealt with one person! Now a lead can come in a myriad of different ways and each one needs to be routed to the right person or they simply get ‘lost’. Not only do you lose a sale, you lose credibility in your brand which is harder much to recover. There is a lot at stake with data quality

Look critically at your databases and data collection and ask: Does the data allow the contact to reach the right department or person? Is that data acceptable and useable to the right person? Will the data produce a sale? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions you need to seriously recalibrate the quality of your data. Remember you need to look at your data for accuracy, completion and consistency in ALL your data bases.

After Sales

It seems a bit pointless talking about the quality of your data after a sale has been made, but can the data you have help with side or cross selling, after sales support, offer selection or success management? Of course it can, if it’s accurate, complete and consistent!

In general only 20% of sales are from new customers, so the chances are the bulk of your sales are coming from repeat business. If you don’t have accurate quality data your will leak out sales through your after care service. Nothing is more annoying than a email or letter addressed to the past employee who did your job, or receiving mail for a person you don’t know in the company. Situations like this are common and destroy the credibility your sales staff have built up during the sale. If you want ot get referrals – poor quality data is not the way to achieve it

Databases That You Need to Create

As you go through your databases checking for integrity errors you will find that there is a lot of data in there! Evaluate why you have that contact in that data base, or if there are other databases you need to create to streamline the quality of your data or to segment it more efficiently. As you do your data audit think ‘outside the box’ and see how the organization and quality of the data can be improved.

Ask yourself: Can you check for errors, trends and patterns from your data? Is the reporting representing the data correctly? Is the data accessible to all who need it? These situations also need their own databases so take the time to create them.

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of information that you have to manually trawl through, but help is at hand. Many of these functions can be maintained by a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. CRM systems are designed to organize, automate and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support through the use of a software program and can make easy work of keeping your data squeaky clean – or the nearest thing you can get to it.

Which CRM is suitable for your company is a personal decision and needs to be based on what you want it to do, but there is a vast range of providers out there so you will be able to find what you want or they’ll build you one!

Keep searching your data the things that matter and the things you can change and working on them, bearing in mind the more reliable your database, the more accurate your marketing and sales will be. And who can afford to say ‘no’ to success?