When 'Cleaning a Database' is Destructive, Not Helpful

When 'Cleaning a Database' is Destructive, Not Helpful

Be cautious about which information you delete when you go about cleaning your database—you never know when it might come in handy again. 

Last week, Yahoo! made an announcement that seemed to rankle tech experts, media pundits and, maybe most importantly, some of its own users.

Effective July 15, the company announced in a Tumblr post, it was deactivating user IDs that had been inactive for more than a year and re-releasing them to the public. So, if you’ve longed for a short, sweet and simple Yahoo! ID such as “[email protected],” Yahoo! says that you might finally be able to snag it.

Sounds reasonable enough. So, why all of the hullaballoo?

As Wired Magazine pointed out, releasing IDs and email logins could open Yahoo! users to security and piracy issues (although, Yahoo! quickly refuted that concern). And then there are the numerous users who could lose IDs that they’ve held for years, even if they don’t use them as frequently anymore.

For me, however, the announcement simply agitated my frustration with a different issue—the overzealous tendency for technology companies, database administrators and, in some cases, marketers to purge “old” or seemingly outdated customer information in the interest of database cleansing.

Why Databases Aren’t Just a Marketing Tool

Frankly, it’s an issue that’s bothered me for a while.

Of course, I understand database administrators want to keep their databases clean and compact (databases that are overpopulated with inaccurate information can be a nightmare, after all, and storage isn’t free). But all too often, companies are too quick to purge information they feel is outdated without first considering how it will impact their sales reps.

Yes, I said sales reps. Not marketers or lead gen reps.

Databases serve a critically important role in relationship-building, not just in push marketing and campaign management. And salespeople very often rely on them to quickly pull up information on old, current or prospective customers.

For instance, take an interaction I had with a prospective customer recently, who sent me an email that said, “You won’t remember, but we spoke at a CompTIA Breakaway conference in the early 2000s…” Normally, that prospective customer would have been right. The likelihood of me remembering a nearly decade-old conversation is slim.

But thanks to my trusty database, I was able to quickly look that prospect up and find notes that I’d taken from our conversation. From there, I responded with a message that said, “Yes! We did. We met in 2005 in Las Vegas.”

Incredibly, with just that tiny bit of information, our relationship practically picked up where it left off eight years earlier, despite the fact that the person was working at a new company entirely and hadn’t been an “active” contact.

Be Careful What You Clean

Yes, I’m a sales expert, not a database or marketing expert. So why am I weighing in on database cleansing?

Because salespeople use database information, too. And because I’m tired of database admins (or marketers) who think that “cleaning up” a database by deleting seemingly “old” or “dead” (and I don’t mean that literally) contacts is a relatively simple, straightforward process.

The reality is that prospects sometimes go into hiding and then resurface. And when that happens, salespeople need to be able to quickly tap into their communication history with those prospects to rekindle that relationship. So, please, be cautious about which information you delete. You never know when it might come in handy again.  

Oh, and speaking of cultivating relationships, I’ll be at this year’s CompTIA ChannelCon conference in Orlando, which kicks off July 29. If you are planning to attend, I’d love to meet you!

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the newly released book, “The Sales Magnet,” and the award winning book, “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.

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