There is something reassuring about having accurate information. Even when it merely reinforces what you already thought you knew. Even, more surprisingly, when it overturns what you thought you knew. Because now you really do know. Now, you can decide what significance to attribute to certain factors. Now, you can stop pouring 80% of your energy into 20% of your gains and focus on the big prizes: “Targeting the best potential customer with the optimal message in the most cost-effective medium at the ideal time.” —Analytics – Wikipedia

You’ve selected the most appropriate CRM for your organization, got things up and running, all your most valuable sources of information integrated and people developing good habits. Now it’s time to start mining all that data. Ugh! Sounds so labor intensive.

But this is the prize. This is why you needed the toy with the big wheels. As I pointed out in our first post in this CRM series, if you don’t use the analytics functions – reports, dashboards, and so on – you are simply creating an enormous address book.

So, where to start?

It can be overwhelming to consider the enormity of all the data you could be collecting or even now have at your fingertips. But the point of analytics is that it provides an informed basis to subsequent action. If you paralyze yourself with a tsunami of data, you may stall before you have a chance to get going.

My advice is to take a kind of I-Ching approach and just start anywhere. Ask a question. Throw the coins up and see what the output is. My guess: the output will get you going on the proverbial journey that starts with a single step.

You might be wondering: who are my clients? You might be wondering: how are my personnel/resources/tactics performing? How many leads do I have to touch to generate 10 sales? Which communication channels are working best for me? Are my team consistently responsive to our customers? How long is a piece of string?

The 3 Important Things To Do

1. Make sure you are collecting the information you want.


Any database worth its salt offers you the option to create fields and values you need, and your average CRM is no different. So, for example, you may have a picklist to identify your Lead Source that is currently sporting generic values that shipped with the software. Go through a sample of your leads and identify where they actually came from. Then create values in the picklist that usefully distinguish your lead sources and indicate where you should be seeking further leads. Produce a report or a dashboard each week and bring to the meeting or circulate it to your sales team.

2. Incorporate the means to sort the information into purposeful ‘buckets’.


Use checkboxes, categories, labels and tags, whatever mechanisms your CRM offers, to differentiate between information types. Stuff that applies to groups or stuff that is specific to individual clients – the extra information that helps you to understand and communicate personally with clients like where they went to school, what interests they have, etc. Decide: are these yes/no answers or individualized answers? Getting these right will enable you to optimize your search functionality as well as pulling out valuable groupings to determine the best activities and campaigns to pursue.

3. Ensure that the output of your information promotes comprehension and stimulates effective responses.


The gorgeous thing about a good CRM is that it does the hard work of translating your numbers into stories that have meaning. So whether you are seeking to analyze patterns over time, rank items in some kind of order, or understand deviation and part-to-whole relationships, it will enable you to output a visual communication that is easily accessed and prompts evocative responses.

“The human visual system is a pattern seeker of enormous power and subtlety. The eye and the visual cortex of the brain form a massive parallel processor that provides the highest-bandwidth channel into human cognitive centers.” —Colin Ware, Information Visualization: Perception for Design

The point is to get going, gain momentum.

You can’t see the patterns without learning to see the patterns. Sometimes you don’t know what you want to know. And if you’re really stuck, hop over to your Facebook Page Manager or Google Analytics to get a feel for what other successful data miners are looking for and pick a metric at random. Heck, even Pinterest is offering you pretty analytics. And the best part is – it’s addictive. Before you know it, you’ll be boring everyone with the amazing facts and figures you are now using to drive your business practice and marketing strategy up a gear or two.

Give us a shout if you need a prod in the right direction. We’re always happy to talk in 1s and 0s.