Customer data helps you really get to know your client base, speak to them as unique individuals, and fully understand what they need your business to say, do, and provide. The better the data set you control, the higher capacity your business holds to meet expectations. Whether you like it or not, data runs your business… but it’s not easy. Successful data comes in three stages.

  1. Data generation; namely, lead generation and enrichment.
  2. Data management; keeping data clean, accessible, and structured.
  3. Data utilisation; using data to your business’s benefit.

Flicking through the CRM Lab archives, we realised that we’ve given you a lot of information about how to generate data. You can use web forms, native integrations, and other CRM strategies to find and refine your dataset. Similarly, we’ve given you a lot of number three, data utilisation. We’ve been through how to segment data, personalise marketing campaigns, and those bits that bring you closer to conversion. The thing is, we’ve never taught you how to structure data in your CRM properly.

Nobody has.

This article looks at why the structure of data in your CRM system is important. Obviously, it also explains how to structure your data to be clean, accessible, and ready to be utilised.

Why is CRM data structure important?

Data structure is vital for many personal reasons, even beyond the simple peace of mind it gives workers of knowing everything is in its proper place. There’s greater accountability for workers when the systems in place are saturated with data and work properly. They’ll know better where something went wrong previously, so it never happens again. Data structure is vital for many business reasons too… most of which end with a greater chance of conversion.

  • Quicker and easier access to data for customer-facing workers.
  • A shared source of truth for better accountability.
  • Comprehensive, reliable reporting and analytics on processes.
  • Structured CRM data means fewer overlapping systems and open tabs.
  • GDPR, other data regulations, and audits are adhered to easily.
  • Personalised, segmented, manual outreach to leads and customers.
  • Customer context at your fingertips, all the time.
  • Automatic email campaigns are better personalised with mail merge.
How to make sure customer data is clean and correct
This article is for sales managers who want to clean up their data. It features seven tips and three business leader voices explaining exactly how to do it!

How is data structured in CRM?

It’s time for the nitty-gritty. It’s logical to start with the bigger picture of our CRM system and drill down to the smaller aspects of your CRM system. In this section of the article, we’ll look at the most significant component of your CRM system: the workspace. From there, we’ll have a gander at the different formats of folders in your workspace, and finally we’ll figure out what a record is and what kinds of data fields we can include there. Here comes your complete guide to CRM data structure.

What is a CRM workspace?

A CRM workspace is the first thing you log into in the morning. It’s your dashboard, your hub, or whatever else you want to call it, where all the data in your CRM system lives and can be accessed. It’s also where you can change the permissions and settings of your chosen CRM system, who can access and edit your data and who can’t. It’s important. Being a busy entrepreneur, you might have multiple CRM workspaces dedicated to the different businesses you run. There’s not much to advise about the structure of your workspace because it’s just there. It’s just a good thing to know what you're dealing with.

NetHunt CRM is a Gmail CRM. That means that your workspace isn’t necessarily your dashboard but simply a user space where workers log in. You can log in to your workspace on NetHunt’s desktop app, mobile apps, and experience it as a full integration with your Gmail inbox. NetHunt tucks itself neatly inside Gmail with all the same functionality as the desktop application.

What is a CRM folder?

CRM folders tend to represent a single business process, such as your contact database, tech support tickets, pipelines, and all that other good stuff. In NetHunt CRM, you can make as many folders as you want, call them what you want, and structure them how you want. You can access your folders on the left-hand sidebar of our Gmail and desktop apps. Each folder comprises several individual records, but more on that a little later in the article. 😉

When you sign up for NetHunt CRM, you’ll find three preset folders ready to be edited, refined, and made unique to suit your exact business processes. Let’s look at those three folders - Companies, Contacts, and Deals - and figure out what they mean for data structure and organisation. Think about how they could work specifically for your business. If you want the professionals to tell you how they could work specifically for your business, book a free demo!

The Contact Folder

Contacts are the prospects, leads, and clients your company has engaged, is or will engage. Each contact can be linked to a particular company and deal, so all their correspondence is recorded where we need it. We could sell our product to a company’s C-level but be in constant communication with their sales manager, marketing team leader, or whoever else. Each individual has a record in the contact folder, and all those records are linked to the same, separate company folder.

The Contact Folder contains simple data fields such as first name, last name, email address, telephone number, company, position, and social media links.

The Deal Folder

The Deal Folder stores all the data that’s related to individual deals. It differs from a company and contact folder for two reasons. The first is that you can conduct multiple deals with the same company or individual through cross-selling or up-selling. This folder lets you keep those deals separate from each other, structuring different data in suitable ways. Still, they’re linked to separate company and contact fields.

The second reason is that a deal folder contains a different data set to its contact and company counterparts, such as managing rep, priority, primary point of contact, deal stage, start and expected end date, deal volume, and the product that a deal relates to.

The Company Folder

The Company Folder holds all your company records in the workspace, no matter which contacts from that company they’ve come from. This is useful because during a B2B sales deal, a sales team might communicate with any number of employees from a target company and conversations can get scattered across different rep dashboards and contact records. This way, whoever is working on a deal at any time always knows where it’s up to, no matter who’s been speaking to who.

The Company Folder organises and visualises data fields such as the name, the industry it operates in, its workforce size, lead source, and the dedicated rep that works with them.

What is a CRM sub-folder?

The records inside a folder can subsequently be organised and structured into sub-folders. In NetHunt CRM, users can view sub-folders in two different ways, either as a card-based or list-based view. These views are then saved and accessed on the left-hand sidebar, underneath the folder they are part of. Sub-folders are entirely customisable. Sub-folders make data easier to find, offering instant access to specific segments of deals or leads. Here are just a few CRM sub-folder ideas...

  • Leads created this week with a breakdown of lead source.
  • Users who subscribed to your newsletter.
  • Users in trial period.
  • Inactive deals.
  • Leads that are going to be closed this month.

Look at how Anastasia creates a subfolder (view) for deals assigned to her.👇

How to create and manage views in NetHunt CRM

A common method for our users to take advantage of NetHunt’s views is to build different sales pipelines. A sales pipeline is a visualisation of the steps in your sales process. Multiple pipelines are handy when you’ve got numerous sales channels, when your post-sales push requires specific pipeline stages, and when your company provides different products or services.

Read about how to build an effective sales pipeline!

What is a CRM record?

Your folders are made up of a set of records. Records are like profiles of all the companies, contacts, and deals in your CRM database. Depending on which folder they live in, they contain the data fields related to one company, contact, or deal. CRM records are made up of fields, the most fundamental type of data in this list. To ensure the quality of the data in your CRM, you should set required fields so users can’t create a record without the necessary fields.

Correct field management starts a domino effect of correct business, data, and team management. Good fields make good records; good records make your folders effective; when your folders are effective, your workspace works. When your workspace works, your whole team is on track, aiming for the same goals with a structured sales process.

So, which fields should you make required for your whole team to be on track, aiming for the same goals with a structured sales process?

  • Full name.
  • Company name.
  • Lead source.
  • Lead manager.
  • Phone number.
  • Email address.
  • Location.
  • Company size.

The next section of this article outlines all the different types of fields you can store in NetHunt CRM.

What is a CRM field?

A CRM field is used to define individual entries of data into a CRM system. They are the most fundamental type of data in this list. If you want your sales and marketing strategies to be successful in 2021, it all depends on the data fields you collect on your customer. The best advice I can offer about fields is to keep it strictly one data point per field. Like, our CRM dataset should feature both a first last name field, rather than just a name field. This helps searching and personalisation.

NetHunt CRM offers complete flexibility in the types of fields it provides. Whether you’re a tree surgeon in Timbuktu or a Green Energy Provider in Greenland, we’ve got an unthinkable, never-ending list of  fields you can include in CRM records.👇

Number fields are for numbers; auto-numbers assigns reference numbers to records. Percent is for deal forecasting bits like probability; the currency field can indicate a deal’s amount. The user field shows which manager is working on a deal, and they can store contact information in email address, phone, Skype, socials, address, and URL fields. Checkbox and dropdown fields help keep your data standard between reps; the formula field is for high-level forecasting and reporting.

Not enough? Put whatever you need in single-line and multi-line fields. Statistic fields open up a whole new world of fields in CRM records. They use system data to show pre-set, important slices of information such as when a deal has been added, when you last received an email from that contact, how many threads they’ve got in their record… and so on. Read the complete list here!

If that sounds good - and that does sound good - you can book a free demo with our award-winning customer success team. They’ll show you how to build records, folders, and workspaces that work specifically for your business and industry. Simply pick a demo time and get growing!

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