As far as technology has advanced in recent years, many sales teams are still relying on reps to enter data manually about their interactions with prospective clients. This data can take the form of notes about their calls with prospects, entering details about a prospect’s contact information, and managing tasks, reminders, and appointments.
Manual CRM data entry, however, is prone to a number of pitfalls that make forecasting problematic. So what are the problems behind relying on manual data entry for your sales team–and what can you do to fix them?
1. Humans Make Mistakes
There’s an old adage that software is only as good as the people who use it, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to CRM software. According to a 2014 survey by HubSpot, 20 percent of sales professionals listed manual data entry as their greatest challenge when working with their CRM software, more than any other complaint.
There isn’t a person alive who isn’t sometimes susceptible to boredom or fatigue, which can result in any number of errors: from typos to forgetting an important detail to mixing up two different prospects. In addition, while data entry relies on reps’ discipline and willingness to input data, many teams aren’t good at logging their activities at regular intervals.
2. Managers Don’t Know What to Believe
This human fallibility when it comes to manual data entry creates two opposing yet related problems. First, because of this ever-present concern about human error and omission, sales managers can never be sure that all the relevant data has been entered, and are often left with an inaccurate data set. As a result, managers are less trustful of the data in front of them.
The second problem comes when managers are too optimistic about sales forecasts because they take manually entered data at face value. This could lead to a number of issues for your company, including inaccurate budgets and surpluses of inventory and employees.
3. The Costs Outweigh the Advantages
Of course, the more time that your sales reps spend updating data in your CRM software, the less time they have available for selling. Often, the costs of requiring sales reps to enter and update CRM data manually–in the form of lost time and productivity–are so significant as to outweigh the insights that you gain from having the data in your CRM in the first place.
If your employees are spending even a few hours per week doing manual data entry, that adds up to 10 percent of your staff’s time. These are hours every week that could be spent pursuing new prospects, refreshing stale leads, or closing a sale.
The Benefits of Automatic Data Entry
Think of your sales reps as like the star players on a football team. They’re the ones going out and getting results for you every day. You wouldn’t ask the starting quarterback to do things like refill the water bottles or keep score–he has more important things to do. Similarly, your sales reps’ primary goal should be closing sales, not worrying about things like entering data or creating their own forecasts.
When relying on manual data entry, you simply cannot be certain about your data’s accuracy, completeness, and integrity. This question mark, in turn, makes your sales forecasts based on a shaky foundation.
Instead, look to automatic data entry as a solution for your sales team’s needs. You’ll be able to easily capture data about your interactions with prospects and know when reps have reached milestones in your sales process. Automatic data entry is the simplest way to ensure that you maximize your team’s productivity and have the data in place to get your forecast right.