Why dedupe is a strategic play
For many operations leaders, deduplicating leads, contacts, and accounts can seem like lower-level work. Dedupe is deemed to be work easily done “later,” on a date that constantly gets pushed further into the future. Instead, operations leaders need to understand the strategic value of deduplicate lists, now and as an ongoing process.
First, are the costs. Many platforms charge based on the number of records. A high proportion of duplicate leads in your database can artificially inflate the database size, causing additional expenses for data that don’t bring additional value. This problem will compound over time, leading to excess costs year after year.
But the additional technology cost is really the least of your worries. The real problems come with all the places where duplicate leads impact your revenue, and these are numerous.
If you’re tracking lead activity, failing to deduplicate lists and leads means that you’re potentially splitting up the activities between two or more leads, causing the scoring or the engagement-based marketing and sales responses to be inaccurate, or worse, never triggered at all. Allow me to use an example to demonstrate.
Juliet Capulet is duplicated in your database. Juliet 1 is created and she downloads a white paper, Juliet 2 is then created and she attends a webinar. The combined score of both activities, or engagement, would have triggered a follow-up by sales. But now, without the ability to know Juliet 1 and Juliet 2 are indeed the same person, neither lead has enough value to trigger an action to be routed to the right person. Juliet Capulet gets distracted by another project, and without the proper follow-up she would have received, she forgets all about starting to research your product and moves on.
That’s a lost opportunity.
What’s worse, even if you manage to capture the information about Juliet, now your attribution models are thrown off: instead of one lead with first touch attribution as the white paper, now there are two leads: one with the first touch as the white paper, one with the first touch as the webinar. Since Juliet didn’t get a follow-up, both of those campaigns are now showing as ineffective lead generation assets. If Juliet had been followed up, the white paper would have been the first touch and the webinar would have been a mid-funnel touch, and you might have had an opportunity showing that these assets were both important in influencing the lead.
But let’s be optimistic and say both Juliet 1 and Juliet 2 do get to sales. Yet because of your round-robin assignments, they go to different sales opportunities. Juliet 1 gets a call in June. Juliet 2 gets a call in early July. Now Juliet is annoyed because she JUST HAD THIS CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE. Why is your company so pushy? She had a great call with sales rep 1, but had said she wanted to talk again in August, not now. With the second call so soon, Juliet is now annoyed and tells her colleagues how disorganized and pushy your company is, eroding your reputation. The situation is now not good for your brand or your opportunities. And your sales reps are pointing fingers at each other and not making quota.
In a worse scenario, Juliet 1 goes to your sales rep and Juliet 2 goes to your channel partner. Now both are bidding for her business and you have a self-made channel conflict.
The duplicate issues compound when you’re trying to define your ICP and duplicate leads exist. In this situation, you’ll get erroneous results when you determine how many leads you have from a specific company, how many leads you need on average to close a deal, and which roles participate: if Juliet is a director, do you need one director-level or the two showing up in your analysis?
Finally, duplicate leads can wreak havoc as you segment your database and identify white space for your ABM campaigns. While your database will show you that you have two director-level people at that company, in fact, you only have one because Juliet 1 and Juliet 2 are both being counted. If you use this data for a white space analysis, you’ll think you have more contacts at a company than you actually do, and when you then try to execute on your ABM campaign you might have many fewer leads to reach out to than you assumed in your planning.
So in this example above, here are all the possible breaking points in your sales cycle:
- Lack of proper follow-up from Sales
- Broken campaign attribution model
- Possible channel conflict
- Inability to identify ICP
- Faulty white space analysis for ABM
So while duplicate leads might be seen as an “in the weeds” project, in fact they can impact all your strategic goals. After doing your basic cleaning and segmentation in Openprise, which prepares you for a successful dedupe project, please consider eliminating duplicates as your next step.