Managing customer data is a hot topic. According to a recent article in the LA Times, consumer data is arguably the single most valuable commodity in the corporate world and needs to be treated and safeguarded as such.

A sales team handles a large volume of data, and to be successful, it needs to be able to take charge of that information. Conscientious control of customer data doesn’t need to be an impossible challenge. With just a little forethought, your sales team and your company can start being smart data owners. Here’s a list of 7 ways you can effectively manage your customer data.

1. Gather information ethically

Trust is a major component of building relationships with your leads and clients. This means that your company needs to be transparent about its data collection policies. Keeping your clients in the dark is a breach of that trust, and if they feel you’ve betrayed them, they’ll never come back. To cover all your bases, draft a privacy policy to display on your website and other online properties. For guidance, produced a simple guide for drafting your online privacy policy.

2. Know what you really need

Adopting a transparent approach to gathering data may lead your team to cut down on unnecessary collection. If you only obtain information that your business really needs to close the sale, then you can streamline the processes. A cleaner sales process can mean lower overhead and a boost to your overall financials. If you’re collecting information about customers using marketing automation software like Hubspot, think about the data you really need. For example, do you need both email address and phone number?

3. Smart CRM storage

Businesses that take data seriously will store their customer information in a CRM. After all, these tools are designed to make organization and collection of important intel safe and easy. With Base, you can customize many of your data entry fields to have an accurate snapshot of the information you need most. It’s a tool that has responsible data ownership in mind.

4. Take security seriously

When you gather personal data about clients, from their home phone numbers and addresses to details about their company financials, you must be able to keep that sensitive information safe. Protection is the next step in maintaining customer trust. Think about what a scandal it is in the business news every time a major brand has a security breach. It almost always involves a drop in customer confidence and a hit to profits. Don’t let it happen to you. Take whatever measures you need to keep data under lock and key at all times. If that means a investment, it’ll be money well spent.

5. Train your team

Having big ideas about how to collect and protect customer data don’t mean much if your team can’t put them into action. Spend enough time on training and education that your employees know what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. Especially if your business has a BYOD policy that allows employees to do work on their personal electronic devices, you need to have policies in place to protect sensitive information. Make sure those policies are going to be easy for your team to follow, but still comprehensive enough to be effective.

6. Redundancy is important

In many things, redundancy is frowned upon. When it comes to customer data, redundancy is actually of great importance. You should have a well-guarded backup of all your customer data in case there’s an issue with your system. If you’re careful to find a secure failsafe, then you can always have your customers’ backs. The right backup keeps their data safe and makes your business a reliable partner.

7. Think about access

Once you’ve laid a strong foundation for how to gather and protect data across your entire company, the next step within the business is to find a way to make that intel available when you need it. This is where your CRM choice starts to make a big impact on your operations. You want to be able to securely access data at any time and place.  It’s a tool to take your data with you wherever you go.

This post originally appeared on the Base blog.