Over the past few months, I have been writing a blog series about how you can keep your data clean and usable. This month, things will be a little different. I wont be writing about implementing new processes and using more tools to improve data quality. Instead, I will focus on required fields the importance of data input flexibility.
Let me start by giving you an example. Let’s say you get a phone call about a potentially big deal for your business. The client wants to handle everything over the phone and post. This means you don’t have an email address for them. If you have email as a required field in your CRM, the sales team has only two options, enter a made-up email with the lead, or don’t enter the lead. In this case, most salespeople will enter the lead with a made-up email.
Given that almost all the businesses we work with just want contact details at lead stage, it is shocking how many require the email field to be completed. Of all the clients that require the emails field at Lead stage, I am yet to come across a single client that doesn’t have fake emails in their CRM.
If you were given the option to store made up data or no data in your CRM, you would probably choose no data. If you were to focus on what you want at the lead stage, it is probably just contact details and not necessarily their email.
What Should You Do?
So how do you prevent the fake email issue? Firstly, decide what is important to you, the emails or the contact details. If you choose contact details, think about making it so that a phone number or email is required. This way, you have one of the two but not necessarily both. This would give your sales team more flexibility and prevent them from adding fake data to your CRM.
This might be a little too simplistic an answer for some businesses that need an email address; we need them in our CRM. In this case, consider using lead stages and dynamic required fields to only require the email once you have had more communication with the lead. This is exactly how we work. Leads can be entered into our CRM without an email, but an email becomes required to move forward. This allows us to add new leads without creating fake emails. It ensures that all leads have their correct email before they can progress.
This issue isn’t just limited to emails; any required field can invite the same fake data issue. It is important to regularly review your data to ensure this isn’t happening, and then if it is acting to ensure it doesn’t happen further.