Dynamics 365 – The Lead Bucket Overfloweth

In my last post, I wrote about Leads falling through the cracks, but the other extreme, presents some interesting challenges also. I had a call recently from a prospect who was looking to move up from spreadsheets, to a true CRM, and he was exploring Dynamics 365.

Sure, we can do that

His concerns seemed to revolve around Leads, and specifically around importing them. I thought, well this will be easy, and was glad he did not ask me about something harder to explain. I said “Fortunately, net new leads are one of the easiest things to import, because they don’t really need to connect to anything else. In fact, we can create an import map for you and you can do this yourself.” He said, “Yeah, that is not my biggest concern, I am more worried about limits”. Confused I said, “Well, unless you have like 100K Leads (chuckle), I don’t see any problem”. He said, “I have like 400K Leads”. Uhoh.

How do you amass 400K Leads?

By saving everything for the last ten years. He said, “I have been curating lead lists since we started our business; buying attendee lists, collecting them from the website, scraping them from online directories, and buying them from list services”. It appears we may have a professional list hoarder here. BTW, this is a 10 employee company. I seldom see large customers with that many leads, and he definitely piqued my curiosity. He said he had thousands of hours, over the years, cleaning and de-duping his lists. Clearly, his list was his “Pride and Joy”.

Sure, I Still think we can still do

While nothing like this, we have dealt with large imports before. We could use the Lifecycle services data import service, or we could just break the import into chunks and bring them in through the UI. Certainly Dynamics 365 can hold that many records. He started to relax now, a little bit. He was the CEO and had managed this process himself, so I had to ask, “How are you leveraging these leads?”. He confessed, that he had not really been able to up to now, and that was the reason for looking at Dynamics 365. My first thought was, you spent ten years collecting leads and have not done anything with them… but I guess, better late than never.

Let’s take a look as these Leads, shall we?

His leads were squeaky clean, neatly organized, alphabetically by last name, in eight csv files of approximately 50K each. As I looked across the top row of the first file I opened I saw: Last Name, First Name, Email Address, Company Name, Company Address and Phone. It was right at that moment, that I came to the realization, that this poor guy had wasted 10 years of his life. Why did I conclude this? First of all, there was no created date, and in today’s business world, leads go stale a lot faster than they used to. I had already planned to let him know that anything over 5 years would probably not be very good. Also, for consistency with his regimented format, he had stripped off the lead sources, and without at least that, given there was no other data, how could you even segment this list? And lastly, none of these people had opted into anything, so to start messaging them would be a clear violation of any spam laws, anywhere.

Sorry, I Guess we can’t do that

His only concern had been with the size of his list, but actually, that ended up being the least of his problems. He was quite proud of the effort he had invested in cleaning the “debris” off of these, when that debris was the very thing that could have added value to his list. Needless to say, he was not very happy when I informed him of this. I have not heard back from him; he may have found another partner who would just import this useless data for him, and he may well spend the next few years wasting even more time on it.

How could this data have been useful?

Actually, to get any actionable value out of this, he should have done a lot less work. Even the original file names would have provided something, i.e. “2014annualconference.csv”, would have told us something. With this many leads, if you cannot apply some sort of segmentation, where on earth would you start? I guess he could run Insights (InsideView) on each one of them to add the segmentation, but 400K times! If he opted for the enterprise version, he could have uploaded this to InsideView and they would have done this in bulk, but that is not inexpensive. But in the end, I would have to say his number one failure in this effort, was not acting on his Leads as he was receiving them. And by that, I don’t mean massaging, sorting and cleaning them. Nobody ever won an opportunity from a Lead sitting on the shelf.

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