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Clean CRM data is not a priority for most people—until they hit an outdated entry or turn up at the wrong office for their prospect meeting. Even when that happens, though, few sales reps will ever want to make the time to sit at a desk on a sunny Sunday and scrub through their contact lists to update phone numbers and addresses on Salesforce. Maybe fewer will remember to take the time to update the information in real time as it’s received.

Their instinct is right. CRM data cleanup is a necessary hassle, but not one where top-performing sales reps should be spending their time. That’s why all sales reps—both those who offload their CRM updates to a personal assistant or Salesforce administrator and those who have to do it themselves—need to develop best practices around it.

Step 1: Set Up your Salesforce Instance to Make Updates Seamless

Default contact profiles have a number of fields that you may never use. We suggest keeping things like addresses out of the contact profiles, since they change too often. Instead, focus on keeping a phone number, email address, account name, and title up to date. If you’ve integrated a metro area field, that is especially helpful to update when your contact is not a big traveler.

In addition to the traditional fields, create a Salesforce field for LinkedIn URL. LinkedIn usually has the freshest data for your contacts because, even if they change jobs, LinkedIn allows you to always find them easily.

Lastly, create a “last review date” field. By putting a new date in this field each time the contact is updated, you can easily sort through contacts that may need updating. You can also get a sense of what percent of the CRM database is updated and how often it’s being reviewed. We recommend updating contact profiles at least once every six months.

Step 2: Take Advantage of Opportunities to Update Your CRM

Even when your CRM is optimized for quick updates, procrastinating on doing the work will set you back. Putting CRM updates into a massive “deferred” folder on your to-do list will make the task about as desirable as scrubbing toilets.

Instead of seeking them out, identify key points in your workflow or interactions where updates will make themselves known and make the changes as they occur.

  1. Mass Emails: When you plan to send out sales emails to a large group of people, set aside time in advance for you or your assistant to manage the pingbacks. Any email sent to more than 50 people is likely to garner at least a few responses saying that your contact has either moved or has a new title or email address. Put those changes into the CRM as they come in.
  2. Meeting Scheduling: Whenever you’re setting up a new meeting with someone, take the opportunity to check the information in their email signature with the information you have in your CRM. At the same time, even if you haven’t made any changes, update the “last review date” field so that you can pull the profile out of your cleanup pile.
  3. Viewing a Contact: Whenever you’re looking at a contact or prospect in your CRM, create a shorthand method to mark that profile for updating. We like to create a “to review” check box in contact profiles. The button gets checked in real time, but allows the team to sort records by what needs to be updated when they have to time to do it later.

Step 3: Perform Regular Checks on the System

No matter how much you try to avoid this, it will need to be done from time to time. The good news is that you won’t need to do this in real time. The processes below are designed to kickstart the updating process for you or your assistant.

  1. Set up a de-duping system to ensure that all updates are being done to the right contact profile.
  2. Spot check your data by sorting for empty fields. For example, find all contacts that are missing a title or metro area and create buffer projects for an admin to fill in the holes.

Stick to these processes and you should be able to keep your CRM up to date with minimal time investment. You’ll even get bonus points for delegating them all to an admin to handle on your behalf.

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