On Databases and Decay

It can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Most B2B marketing and sales professionals are emotionally devastated to learn that as many as half the contacts in their CRM or marketing automation database are out of date. The death of once accurate, high-quality leads can be difficult to come to terms with.

Here are the cold, hard facts:

  • According to a DemandGen study, data decays at a rate of 25% to 30% per year.
  • An IDC study from August 2012 concluded that over 50% of leads in the average B2B contact database are obsolete.
  • 84% of marketing databases are barely functional says NetProspex’s annual State of Marketing Data report.

Pipeline data decay is predictable, and so is the sorrow. Sales and marketing professionals experience an expected sequence of emotions when faced with the mortality of their customer data.

Denial — The first reaction is always denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.

“I don’t believe it. My leads are accurate. I know they are. It can’t be possible. My competitors’ databases might be bad, but not mine. There has to be some kind of mistake.”

Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at proximate individuals.

“Why didn’t someone tell me about this sooner? Who on my team is responsible? This isn’t fair. I spent one quarter of my budget last year on lead generation… Who am I kidding? It’s all my fault!”

Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid the cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation is made in exchange for a reform or compromise of some type.

“From now on, I’ll set validation rules for every lead entry. I promise. I’ll unify all my inbound forms. I’ll add dynamic fields and verify email addresses every quarter with a third party.”

Depression — During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the mathematical probability of their pipeline data decay. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.

“My leads are just going to decay no matter what I do. Why bother fighting fate? I’m just going to go check LinkedIn for the eighth time today.”

Acceptance —  In the last stage, individuals embrace the inevitable future. Acceptance typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual and a stable condition of emotions.

“Ok, I can address this problem. There is technology available to help me. Yes, my customer data won’t stay accurate forever, but I can accept that fact and take proactive steps to ensure my marketing and sales automation works smoothly.

Who wants a hug?”

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