The Signs of Bad Data in Your CRM Software

May 30, 2023

Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps businesses track and manage relationships with customers and potential customers, organizes the data of your sales and marketing efforts, and makes it all visible and connected in one place.

When used correctly, CRM software can make your business a more efficient, data-driven company where information flows smoothly between departments, employees, and customers.

As a B2B digital marketing agency, our CRM software of choice is HubSpot, which is built around B2B inbound marketing methodology, but there are plenty of options out there. Regardless of the platform, every CRM software requires its users to record data in order to function. This is where things get messy.

It’s a tale as old as time. An ambitious marketing or sales leader will implement a CRM to boost performance, and after a honeymoon period, the CRM will either be filled with bad data from poor implementation or abandoned altogether as teams fall back into old habits. As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. The garbage here being bad data.

Bad or “dirty” data costs companies money. According to a study by IBM in 2016, poor-quality data costs the U.S. $3 trillion per year. The Harvard Business Review refers to the time wasted and opportunities missed by using bad data as “the hidden data factory,” the extra steps that organizations must take in order to check and correct data. Your CRM software is a toolbox filled with the drills, hammers, and wrenches your team needs to build a masterpiece, but an unorganized toolbox means the process is slow, frustrating, and inefficient.

How can B2B businesses avoid this? What are the signs that your CRM software is headed down the wrong path? Is it wearing a leather jacket? Smoking cigarettes after school?

Signs of Bad Data in Your CRM

Unfortunately, the signs of bad data are far more insidious. They creep in from things like employee turnover and unestablished best practices, slowly eroding the quality and trustworthiness of your CRM software data over time. The symptoms of poor data quality below are probably present in every company’s CRM software, it’s when they become seemingly omnipresent that you have a problem.

Missing Data

Some information is necessary for the function of your business. What’s that data for your business?

Is your sales team making phone calls, yet half of your contacts don’t have phone numbers associated with them? Does your sales team have to comb through twice as many contacts than necessary, wasting time and making them less likely to utilize a CRM to its full potential?

Identifying which data is necessary, whether you have it, then determining whether it is retrievable can solve a myriad of issues users may have with CRM software.

Incorrect Data

Imagine you’re using CRM software to create an email campaign. You know that personalizing marketing emails increases the likelihood they’ll be opened and read.

So, you use CRM software to generate personalized email intros. The only problem is that the data in your CRM is unreliable. Instead of calling a lead named John, John, your marketing email refers to him as Hans Gruber. These sorts of mistakes hurt your brand’s perception, damaging a customer’s confidence in the level of care that goes into all of your services.

Incorrect data can lead to much larger problems than just incorrect names, though. It can lead to missed opportunities, sales and marketing efforts focused on the wrong audience or product, and lost business deals.

Stagnating Performance

Implementing CRM software should result in improved performance in your sales, marketing, or customer service efforts when compared to no CRM at all. Excluding other external variables, after implementing your CRM and 6 months – 1 year of use, your company should begin to see an overall performance increase in the areas you apply it. If there is a lack of marked improvement, the quality of the data being entered and used could be the culprit.

Benefits of Quality Data in Your CRM

More confidence in your data means more confidence in your data-driven decisions, happier customers, and better leads.

Informed Decision Making

CRM software contains reports and analytics that offer insights into the performance of products, services, sales, marketing, customer service, and everything underneath.

Without a CRM or with a CRM with poor-quality data, you are much more reliant on guesswork. If a line of products is lagging in sales, you may assume that your customers are no longer interested in the offering. But if you dig deeper into your CRM software, you may discover there are other variables impacting sales, such as fewer sales team members dedicated to selling the product or fewer marketing campaigns promoting it.

HubSpot includes things like customizable dashboards, so you can organize all of the most important data to your company, service, product, or department all on one screen. Which marketing materials are earning the most downloads or clicks? Which sales team members are performing the best? Which customers are most interested in your upcoming products? CRM software with clean and accurate data can tell you.

Happy Customers

CRM software can be used to transform leads into customers, but it can also be used to retain and delight current customers. As companies learn more about customers from marketing materials, products bought, and services used, they can refine offerings. This saves time for both parties. Customers receive what they want, and companies can deliver offerings that their customers will love.

More Leads, Better Leads

Similarly, as marketing and sales learn more about the leads they’re engaging with, they can discover which goods or services will be a good fit. This saves companies time when they can more precisely focus offerings rather than casting wide nets.

One of the ways HubSpot executes this is with Lead Scoring; as you learn more about your leads from marketing interactions, HubSpot can be configured to add or subtract points based on the quality of the lead. Accurate lead scoring isn’t possible without clear and accurate data.

Ways to Improve Data Quality in Your CRM Software

For many organizations, improving data quality in CRM software often starts on a micro level, such as deleting duplicate contacts or removing missing fields. While those activities can certainly help, it’s likely that these are symptoms of larger issues, and until the larger issues are addressed, the symptoms will continue to pop up.

Instead, take an organization-wide philosophical approach to improving your data quality. At Hivehouse, we say it’s all about people, processes, and tools.


Let’s start here, as organizational improvement is driven by people. Gather your key stakeholders, the people who generate and enter data, and the people who make decisions based on data. Hold a meeting, or maybe a few, to identify your key performance indicators (KPIs). What are your organizational goals? Which data is driving your most important decisions? KPIs are your guide, but people decide which are most important.


Once you’ve identified who needs data to reach their goals or to perform their job more effectively and what they need from your data, you can begin implementing processes to eliminate future errors.

The step is establishing a standard for your CRM data. What is necessary for data to be useful in your company’s ecosystem?

For example, what does a sales rep need in their lead contacts in order to effectively pursue the lead? What information has led to successful sales before? At Hivehouse Digital, we create content around topics we can provide help with— like this blog, and when leads show interest, it’s a data point our sales team can track and use to qualify leads.

By identifying which data is most important to your goals, then outlining which information that data needs to include to be useful, you can create rules around how information is processed.

A common pitfall in executing data processes is failing to get buy-in from an entire team. If meeting sales or marketing goals, such as qualifying leads, requires cross or intra-departmental cooperation, you’ll need to make sure your processes aren’t just outlined and documented but followed.

This can be achieved by setting up training for current team members and including the new processes in onboarding new employees.


Each CRM software focuses on different business functions and sizes. Some are enterprise-size with a sales focus, and others are small and built around customer service. As we mentioned previously, we use HubSpot, which is inbound marketing-focused CRM software. Deciding the best tools for your situation depends on your goals as an organization and the software that helps you best achieve those goals. But remember CRM software will only take you as far as the people and processes in place allow it.

Need More Help?

Like an unorganized basement or garage, many organizations realize their CRM software is in dire need of assistance but lack the time and manpower to get started. At Hivehouse Digital, we help B2B organizations get their HubSpot CRM not just in order but optimized to take advantage of its full suite of capabilities. Want to learn more about how Hivehouse Digital can help your business become a more data-driven company? Let’s talk!

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Megan SherwoodPrincipal
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Chris BeecherPrincipal