Early in my sales career I took over a territory that had been vacant for a few months. Not long after I started, I asked for a Account & Contact List and got a blank stare. As I later found out the prior sales person had a traditional business card folio, which no surprise he took with them when they “Exited the Building:. Ouch. The phone was a personal phone. The quoting process was more or less a manual one, at least we had some idea of pending sales to follow up on. Leads, what Leads. The best we could do was to run a list accounts out of the accounting software. Me I spent 3 months running through that list cleaning it up, it was re-inventing the wheel on a massive scale. I don’t suppose this has ever happened to you or your company?
Oddly enough the place to start is your Human Resources Department. Yes HR it the place to start. Who owns the data may well depend on company policies, employment agreements, where the data resides, was the data gathered as a product of their employment and who owns the devices where the data is stored? Usually these devices are returned ‘Before” they Exit the Building. The laws will very from state to state. I am not a Lawyer or expert on Human Resources, employment law etc. Often times but not always if it is on a company computer, company network and part of your job it usually belongs to the company.
Once your company has established it’s policy explored and identified relevant laws etc. It is time to establish policies and procedures for data governance. Here is where Sales Operations, Sales Management, IT, & HR need to work together. Policies & Procedures are nice but it is through execution that rubber meets the road. Some companies create an auto backup every time a device connects to the network. Make sure the new copy doesn’t over write the old backup, so if the departing salesperson deletes up their files you don’t end up with a copy of blank data fields. Monthly back ups of your Salesforce Instance will achieve the same result.
Similarly having a web based CRM like Salesforce will provide protection from the sudden departure of a Salesperson. Of course the data is only as good as the process that gets it into the data base in the first place.
Epilogue: After weeding out 600 bad accounts I was down to 160 good Accounts with contacts It took a good 3 months, to build that up to 320 good active Accounts, Contacts, and Leads. It took a lot of hard work and asking for referrals & introductions, some internet sleuthing, networking and a few trade show. When I moved on I gave my boss a complete excel spreadsheet with full data, giving the next sales person a great foundation to get started.
On the off chance any of this resonates with you all, maybe we should talk?