Are you struggling to get leadership buy-in on a data management process and resources? If so, you’re not alone. Data management isn't a sexy topic or the next shiny marketing trend. While it can be perceived as simple, it is complex. Yet it's an absolute must for any organization that's serious about growing revenue while keeping those of us in marketing and sales accountable.

Making the Case for Data Management

Like many initiatives, data requires a strategy — and an important strategy at that. So present it as such. Imagine buying a house that needs the electrical, plumbing and HVAC upgraded? Or worse, a house that has a crumbling foundation. Instead of fixing the basics, you opt instead for the waterfall island countertop because it looks really good in pictures.

Why wouldn't you invest time and money to ensure the integrity of your foundation (i.e., business)?

Once you get this point across — and this may take a few rounds — propose a strategy that makes sense for your use case and include the process, team members and budget needed. Plus, make sure you communicate to leadership the urgency to make data a top priority.

Who Owns Data Management? (and Therefore, Accountability)

Who owns data management of business metrics? This is a tough one. Which team actually owns the CRM? Is it marketing, sales or both? Or perhaps revops? The answer to this question will be based on the size of your organization and the skill sets that each group has to offer.

Establishing ownership and accountability is the first step to success. It's one of the first questions to answer before talking about strategy. That said, whoever ends up owning the data strategy needs to collaborate with all key stakeholders and understand the needs and use cases of each group.

Related Article: How Master Data Management Can Help Tame the Data Governance Mayhem

Focus on Short-Term Wins While Establishing Long-Term Strategy

There's no such thing as perfection when it comes to data management. It's a continuous and ever-evolving effort. Focus on what's feasible in the short-term while ironing out the longer-term strategy and process.

Learning Opportunities

Here are a few practical guidelines for establishing priorities:

  • What can be automated? Investing in a data provider that can automatically synchronize data to your CRM might be a worthwhile investment. Within that, establish pertinent data points to be synched that help with segmentation, ABM and measurement. Importantly, communicate up the chain on the business value of this automation (e.g., driving more pipeline within your target accounts).
  • Where is the record in the sales process? Focus on updating actively-engaged contacts. For example, a contact might be actively engaged in the sales process but has moved to another company. This is a great opportunity to continue that conversation with this contact so make sure you have visibility into this data. Again, demonstrate the business benefits that are derived from visibility into the data.
  • Last but probably first, establish which data points you care about. This ties into your ideal client profile and buyer personas, so make sure you align on those internally. Additionally, align on KPIs that need to be measured across the commercial teams — ops, sales and marketing.

Consistent and Reliable Reporting Matters

When done right, aligning on KPIs and adopting a strategic approach to data will result in more consistent and reliable reporting. You can also measure results of data integrity quickly, supporting what you’ve laid out to your executive team.

For example if your global hard bounce rate was 40% before adopting a data strategy, after creating a process and removing those contacts from email lists, you might instantly be at 5%. Your leadership team might not understand or appreciate what a 40% to 5% drop in bounce rate means, so communicate it to them in terms of how that benefits the business.

Attribution is another important data point. It would be ideal if you can measure both revenue attribution as well as data hygiene attribution: How did the data hygiene strategy contribute to revenue growth? Providing that type of visibility to your executive team will drive the point home and help you advocate for a more formal, documented, well-funded data management process.

Related Article: Combating 'Commerce Anarchy' With Better Data Management

Getting Executive Buy-In Is a Continuous Effort

Getting executive team buy-in is both the first step and a continuous effort. But once you get started with a data strategy that everyone aligns on and understands the value of, the rewards are pretty significant. It still won’t be that next shiny sexy marketing thing, but who needs that if you can support growth with a proven, data-driven strategy and process?

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