What Can the Worst Worst Ghost Teach Us About Data Integrity?

What?  You’ve never heard of the Worst Worst Ghost?  Interesting.  Well, the Worst Worst Ghost is a Ghost who is pretty awful at being a Ghost.  He’s not that scary.  He tries to be terrifying, but he always fails.  He’s not just the Worst Ghost, he’s the Worst Worst Ghost.  And he takes things without asking, and he loses stuff, and probably if your shower is cold, the Worst Worst Ghost flushed the toilet.

What’s more interesting is how the Worst Worst Ghost came to be.

I travel a lot for business.  That leaves my husband Josh at home with the kids most of the time.  He does the bedtime routines.  A few years back, my three year old went through a phase where instead of reading books at bedtime, she wanted Josh to tell her stories that he made up on the fly.

Now occasionally, Josh goes away and I’m left alone with our kiddos to do all the things that he’s usually doing, including bedtime routine.  One night, my inconsolable three-year-old is DEMANDING I tell her “the story about the worst worst ghost”.  Now, Charlie is pretty particular, and it really doesn’t matter that I don’t know the story because Josh is the one that invented it, and I can’t reach him to ask him what that story is because he’s somewhere and she’s getting more distraught by the minute.  So, I make up a story about The Worst Worst Ghost.   It’s pretty elaborate.  The Worst Worst Ghost can’t do anything right.  He tries to be really scary in all kinds of situations, and fails.  Charlie loves this story.  For the entire week that Josh is away, the bedtime story of choice is a story that focuses around the adventures of The Worst Worst Ghost, and the situations he gets himself into and how badly he fails at being a scary ghost.

Josh comes home, and I go back on the road.  The first night that I am away, I get a frantic call from Josh because he doesn’t know the story of the Worst Worst Ghost.  So I explain to him how the Worst Worst Ghost came to be.  Josh laughs.   It turns out, the previous week, when I was away, Josh had been telling ghost stories with Charlie and  our older daughter Maddie, and Maddie told a story.  Josh declared it to be “the worst ghost story ever”, but Charlie had enjoyed it, so they continued telling that story for the week.  So “the worst ghost story” became “the story about the Worst Worst Ghost” And so The Worst Worst Ghost was born.  Now?  Well, now our daughter has moved on to the Harry Potter books, but in our house whenever something isn’t going right, we still blame it on the Worst Worst Ghost.  Can’t find the car keys?  The Worst Worst Ghost moved them.  Lost socks?  Worst Worst Ghost.   He’s become a beloved, if somewhat annoying, family poltergeist.

So, what’s the point?  Well, first of all, I just really like telling that story.  It’s a great story.  But second, it demonstrates the need for your sales team to document all of their work.  Accurately.  Clearly.

We solved this problem in our house with a pretty low tech solution – a whiteboard that we write out our daytime and night time step-by-step routines on. This prevents crafty five-year-old manipulations like “Daddy lets me watch my I-pad before bed” and “I’m allowed to have the year-old easter candy I found under the couch before supper because Mommy let me last time.” The checklist details our daily routines, and we update it to account for things like what page we’re on in Harry Potter so that no matter who is reading that night we start out in the right place.  Nobody gets away with not taking a bath or not brushing their teeth.  It’s all right there on the list.  Data integrity is important, even at home.

Here’s an example of why you need clearly defined parameters for your team on what information you track and share:

Let’s assume you have a sales rep who is working on a new prospect.  That sales rep leaves, and you hire a new one.  Your new sales rep begins to work on the prospect data that your previous hire has left behind.  The note in your CRM says “call in the fall”.   That’s it.  So first of all, does “fall” mean the same thing to your old and new reps?  Does fall begin in August or November?  Early fall?  Late fall?   Next; call them why?  Your new sales rep is going to look pretty foolish calling in September to discuss a potential opportunity when the old rep had planned to call them in November to invite them to a hockey game because they went to school together.   Detailed notes matter, and clear transfer of data is essential to sales prospecting.

That’s a fairly simple example, but here’s where the real scary ghost stories begin:  many sales reps aren’t even logging simple notes like “call in the fall”. Most of your sales pipeline lives inside their heads.  On their personal phones.  On a yellow ruled tablet of paper in their briefcase.   When your sales rep (or sales development rep) leaves, if they have not accurately and regularly and consistently logged and updated information in your CRM/PSA, your entire pipeline is leaving with them.

It’s really easy to not challenge top performers to show their work.  They’re hitting their numbers, after all.   So how do you make sure that the Worst Worst Ghost isn’t making off with all your valuable prospect data?

  1.  You create a culture that values data integrity.
  2. You clearly define your data integrity expectations from day one.
  3. You have a data integrity policy that all hires – even superstars – are expected to adhere to.
  4. You tie bonus structure to data integrity adherence.  Your sale counts, but it counts more when you adhere to policy
  5.  You create process flow that isn’t frustrating or redundant.  The easier you make it, the more data you’ll keep, the more deals you’ll win.
  6. You don’t “let it slide” when a top performer ignores process and policy.
  7. You lead by example.  I am expected to enter my notes into the CRM when I interact with a client or prospect in the same way that my team is.

The number one reason to explore outsourcing your sales prospecting is to ensure you’re getting the information you need to accurately manage and predict your sales pipeline for years, not quarters.  Outsourcing brings with it process and consistency.  Alternately, you may want to explore bringing in an expert to build your process with you.  Either way, Managed Sales Pros can help.  Email us at hello@managedsalespros.com to learn more about how we help companies lay the foundation for sales success.  (Or to hear a Worst Worst Ghost story.  I have dozens.)