Simplicity is the key to early CRM adoption. That means being merciless in hacking away at the fields in your Salesforce.com setup – and you can start with your contacts’ mailing address fields. This is, after all, a corporate CRM intended to increase sales, and not your grandmother’s little floral address diary. In an age when post offices are going bankrupt and phone calls are made through computers, there is no excuse for maintaining a costly, large database of mailing addresses.
Why Mailing Addresses are Unnecessary
- If your company has a CRM, it's probably safe to assume that your primary method of communication with others is via email - not snail mail or courier delivery.
- Most of today’s companies have multiple physical locations, and their employees are increasingly working remotely or online. That creates the quandary of which address to archive in your CRM. In many cases, you may not even find a company’s employees at their physical address anymore.
- On the rare occasion that you need to know someone’s physical location, it’s not likely to be up-to-date in Salesforce, given the regular CRM maintenance that this would require.
- Even if your company’s service involves washing customers’ windows or maintaining their onsite servers, it’s much easier (and often more accurate) for you to jump in the car and type the company’s name into Google Maps than to hunt through your CRM to find the address. After all, Google gives it to you right on the main search results page, and before you even finish writing the company's name into the search bar!
There are really only three conceivable reasons that you might need to keep an extensive database of your business contacts’ precise mailing addresses:
- Conducting door-to-door sales or sales by mailer (spammers!);
- Sending physical holiday cards (tree-killers!); or
- Selling the lists (something I’m sure your reputable company would never REALLY consider…right?)
Why Cluttering your CRM with Mailing Addresses Can Be Harmful
What’s wrong with just leaving the default address field in your database?
For starters, long, unformatted mailing addresses take up prime real estate on your contact and account pages in the CRM. That pushes more relevant data – notes or activities, for example – further down the page and out of sight.
Secondly, as we said at the beginning, simplicity is key to CRM adoption. Fields should be scrubbed in an effort to ensure that your sales associates don’t have to become data clerks. The more unnecessary fields you include, the bigger a hassle it seems to be to your employees.
Thirdly, addresses change quickly and are difficult to maintain as current. Including them in your database means more data that needs to be scrubbed clean even more often. And cleaning up mailing addresses is no easy feat. Your CRM administrator would need to search for the new address, format it correctly, look up zip codes, etc. etc. Is that really worth the time?
An Alternative to Mailing Address Fields in CRM
Let’s be clear that we’re not advocating that there be no geographic data at all in your CRM. Your CRM is intended to help hone your targets, and being able to do that geographically is key. If you’re flying out to Tucson, for example, you should maximize on that trip by scouring your CRM for other contacts in the area that you can catch up with at the same time.
That’s why we advocate including a single field – metro area – in place of long mailing addresses. Metro Area is a picklist field based on your company's contacts. It will save your staff having to hunt around for zip codes or specify counties, countries or districts. Instead, it focuses on keeping the key information front and center. Knowing your prospects’ time zones and city is important. Knowing their street address and suite number is not.