Relationship data is complex. Everything from personal information, to where a deal originated, to the best point of contact has to be tracked in a centralized location.
Businesses are built on strong relationships, and CRM (customer relationship management) databases let you collect, organize, and make sense of that data. It’s unsurprising that customer relationship management systems are some of the fastest-growing business applications on the planet. There are dozens of industry-specific CRM solutions out there to choose from, including ones specifically made for capital market firms. Many of the most popular solutions are cloud-based CRMs and operate as software as a service (SaaS).
The database is where all this collected information lives. Let’s explore what it is and how to use it.
What is a CRM database?
A customer relationship management database is where all customer information is stored once it’s collected. From there, you can share, add to, and report on your data. People from across teams can view contact information from a customizable dashboard, leaders can assign dealmakers to specific deals, and track pipeline progress. Operations teams can develop reporting to improve overall dealmaking decisions.
There are three main types of CRM databases:
- Operations, which focuses on deal creation and conversion
- Analytical, which makes sense of large amounts of contact information to provide insights
- Collaborative, which aims to facilitate collaboration between multiple teams
Core elements of a CRM database
Below are some of the key elements of a successful CRM database.
Keeping all of your prospect and contact data in one place is crucial, and it’s even better if you can collect all that information automatically without the need for hundreds of hours of manual data entry. Once stored in a central location, anyone within the teams assigned to that deal can access data such as contact information.
With the right CRM software, it should be easy to assign people to specific deals, see who's already reached out, and determine next steps. You can track progress objectively, and real-time updates are visible as they enter the system. This becomes especially important when a deal pipeline has multiple touchpoints within the organization.
Some CRM tools allow for a host of possible marketing automations. With access to customer and prospect data collected in one place, setting up email marketing campaigns or event invites is simple.
Reporting and intelligence
One of the most critical parts of a database is the ability to analyze and report on your data. This translates to a better understanding of your firm's business and new potential insights that can greatly aid in decision-making.
Benefits of a good CRM database
What can a good CRM database do for you? It can save you hundreds of hours of data entry, make you a better dealmaker, smooth out the deal process, and ensure everything is privacy compliant.
Firms spend hundreds of hours manually entering data and updating contacts and deals. We’ve calculated that our CRM saves dealmaking firms 200+ hours a year by automating the entire process.
After every interaction, Affinity automatically creates a CRM record for each contact and company and then enriches that record with data from industry sources like PitchBook, Dealroom, and Crunchbase Not only does this save time, but it removes the risk of human error that comes with laborious data entry.
Having all the relevant data at your fingertips makes you a better dealmaker. Data needs to be accurate—which we’ve already covered through automation—and it also needs to be accessible. No one wants to spend time sifting through dozens of pages just to separate the signal from the noise. The clean Affinity interface allows you to see exactly what you need to shepherd a deal through without being distracted by irrelevant information. You’ll see a complete picture of all correspondence and the warmest routes of introduction to keep a deal moving forward.
Smoother deal processes
With all portfolio company and prospect information in one place, the best CRM allows dealmakers to easily view the information they need. The right CRM also integrates multiple data streams and apps, combining all that data in a usable fashion.
Not having to sort through a mess of spreadsheets—the reality for some firms who have not yet transitioned to a modern CRM—leads to a better portfolio company experience and allows for better founder support. You can navigate and oversee complex deal cycles with multiple touchpoints at every step along the way.
Prospects and portfolio company contacts expect their data to be protected. A data breach, at the very least, crushes good relationships. A good CRM gives your team access to all relevant data while protecting it from any possible intrusions.
How to audit your CRM database
If users can’t trust the data in a database or it’s full of incorrect or outdated information, they will doubt the system and stop using it in their day-to-day work. Your CRM will quickly become underutilized, dissolving any potential ROI. This is the risk presented by bad data hygiene.
To avoid this, you must perform audits regularly.
Data cleaning should be a routine process that your firm goes through to ensure data integrity. Set aside time to correct or update any incorrect data—Affinity CRM flags duplicate records, which simplifies this part of a data hygiene audit.
Even the best systems have some degree of data decay as contract information changes and contacts move between companies. Make sure everything is correct to the best of your current abilities.
While going through your data, note if any input field seems to be blank more often than not. Eliminate unused data fields to limit doorways for bad data to enter your CRM system.
How to optimize your CRM platform
Now that your data is clean and usable, you can optimize your CRM even further. Two key elements to consider are using data exhaust and implementing relationship intelligence.
Data exhaust is all the background data produced from online interactions or activities. While often overlooked, it represents a whole new source of digital information and insights.
Every email and meeting invite creates data exhaust. These interactions contain meaningful names, email addresses, phone numbers, social media handles, job titles, and relationship insights that should be captured and stored in your CRM database. This data can be automatically fed into your system with a CRM like Affinity—fueling your team's network and providing more data to analyze.
When managing thousands of different relationships, knowing who is talking to who and how often can be a source of valuable information. Dates and times from emails or calendar invitations can be tracked alongside a deal to view a correlation between contract frequency and deal success. See how often your team contacts a prospect and how often that translates to a deal won. Don’t let this valuable insight go to waste by not tracking data exhaust.
Relationship intelligence lets dealmakers focus on what they do best: closing deals. Most CRMs lack any kind of real relationship analysis, but with Affinity’s integrated intelligence, you get insights like the warmest and fastest path to a prospective deal—helping you find, manage, and close high-quality investments.
As part of the software, you also get access to Affinity Analytics. We recently hosted a masterclass explaining how to make business decisions more quickly and confidently using Affinity Analytics. It allows you to:
- Source relevant, actionable data and information
- Set up custom views to generate actionable insights
- Ensure that measurements are set up across an entire deal flow
Investments are built on data. Now more than ever. That’s why we also produced a webinar on Being a Data-Driven Investor in 2023.
In this webinar, you’ll learn:
- The role data plays in helping investors gain a better understanding of their networks and thrive in today’s market
- How to use larger datasets and data enrichment to power sourcing, find investment opportunities, and create more value for your portfolio companies
- How Affinity helps investors incorporate relationship intelligence into their tech stack
While there’s no doubt being an dealmaker takes exhaustive research, robust personal networks, and a killer gut instinct, technology is quickly changing the investment landscape. Custom scoring algorithms, AI-powered data warehouses, and complex forecasting are helping the most innovative firms discover and connect with promising deal opportunities before their competition. Relationship intelligence plays a key role in providing a firm with valuable insights—helping them to find, manage, and close more deals.
It’s time to look beyond traditional CRMs and learn what Affinity can do for you. Request a demo today.