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When You’re Stuck with the Boss’ Son…

Nygel Pelletier
We help dozens of organizations every year to update their database.  At times we come across some clients who aren’t able to outsource the cleansing process.  This was the case recently with a law enforcement association who couldn’t export their data for cleansing because their CRM had limitations that required too much of their IT consultant’s very expensive time.

We would have loved to do the work, but it just wasn't mean to be.  Our recommendation was for them to hire temporary help.  This project would have taken us just two weeks to complete, and now this is going to take them all summer.
Fortunately we were able to connect them with a candidate with roots in our area in Glengarry County.  Nygel Pelletier is a former AHL referree (that's him pictured above!) whose next dream is to get into law enforcement; he was only too eager to get the experience for his résumé!

At times association administrators cannot convince their board or their senior executives that outsourcing is a more efficient way to go.  They are simply told to “hire a student”.   We love students, but what if what if you’re stuck with the boss’ son as your intern to help you clean up your database this summer?  Our client was very happy with how things worked out with Nygel, so we compiled the tips we gave them for your reference:
  1. Establish a clear goal – What information needs to be updated?  What titles/positions or functions are you trying to get information on and why?  For instance, if you’re trying to update a list of potential exhibitors for your tradeshow, outline those potential titles who may oversee the decision to exhibit at events.  Make sure your intern understands how to explain this purpose to the receptionist.
  2. Write out a script – Have your intern write out exactly what they’ll say.  Play act with them any potential objections so they can present themselves professionally.  (e.g. Receptionist: “I’m sorry; I have no idea who would want to exhibit at your Widget Association Show.” Intern: “I understand.  Perhaps someone in your marketing department would know.  Can you please transfer me?”)
  3. Define phone vs. online approaches – The internet is a great tool, but don’t assume contact names are easily found online.  Sometimes it’s quicker to call up a company and talk to a human being than to search for people online.  Also decide whether the intern will have an email address to send requests for update.
  4. Take the time to train – Supervising a less experienced staff member doing tedious work is often a challenge for busy managers.  Updating a list is not rocket science, but it is an art to convince people to give you the time of day to update any information.  Make sure you take the time to show the person what you want, and how they should sound.  Have them listen to you updating the information so they hear how it’s done.
  5. Keep track of progress – If updating is taking place “live” in your database (and not just on an Excel spreadsheet), make sure you print out a master list, by account/organization name or whatever order makes sense.  Have your intern keep track of their progress by checking off organizations as they are completed.
  6. Spot check – Make sure the information is updated correctly and thoroughly.  It’s stating the obvious, I know, but it’s easy do a great job updating names and forgetting to check that the company is still at the same address.   Spot check records if you can by verifying zip/postal codes, and clicking through to websites to make sure the information is correct.  Have someone else check on a few records, just to make sure things are going smoothly.
  7. Establish metrics – After 3-4 days, your intern should be able to tell you how many records he/she has been able to update per hour.  An experienced person should be able to update 10-15 records per hour (we define one record as one contact per company; so 2 contacts at the same location = 2 records).  If the information is particularly dated or obscure, the pace may be closer to 8-12 records per hour.  A pace less than that and your intern may have productivity issues or may be overwhelmed with the task.
And last but not least, make sure your intern realizes how vital their work is!  A clean list is the starting point for any effective and sustainable direct marketing effort.  Don’t let them think you undervalue their work!