If you’re anything like us, the very sight of a Salesforce report full of duplicate contact names or alternative company acronyms is irritating. Over time, we’ve realized that even the best CRM optimization processes can be defeated by a lack of standardization as companies work toward achieving business growth strategies.
CRM systems like Salesforce or Sugar are only effective if your whole sales team is using them. But, with several people managing the same data, mistakes are easy to make. Multiple people may enter the same contact or account in different ways. Mass data uploads inevitably result in duplicates entering the system. Either you hire someone to keep your data clean (a virtually inconceivable task for many large companies) or you set some ground rules before launching that expensive CRM product company-wide.
Here are our top 5 tips for how to maintain clean CRM data:
1. Do a search before creating a new record:
- When adding data manually, searching for the record prior to creating new ones will help avoid many duplicates.
2. Standardize account names:
- Don’t use descriptions of a company’s legal structure (i.e., LLC, Inc, Corp, etc.)
- Avoid adding .com, .net, .org, etc. to the company name
- Spell out company names instead of using acronyms (e.g., TWC should be Time Warner Cable)
- Use a capital letter as the first letter of the company name (unless the official name has a lower case letter, e.g., eBay)
- Include any articles in the company name, (e.g., ‘the’ in The Center for Disease Control)
3. Standardize contact names:
- Make sure to use capital letters to begin both the first and last names
- Do not add middle initials to the first name field or any other field in Salesforce
- Do not add salutations (i.e., Mr., Mrs., or Ms.) in the name fields
- If a person’s official name is hyphenated, use the complete name including the hyphen in the appropriate first and/or last name fields
4. Standardize addresses:
- Do not use abbreviations in the street address for words like street, road, avenue, parkway, etc.
- Keep the suite number in the address line
- Abbreviate suite numbers using only a number sign (e.g., 123 Main St., #213)
- Use abbreviations for state names
- Always include country names, even for addresses in the United States
- Type in the full country name instead of using abbreviations
5. Standardize case:
- Check to ensure that your caps lock button is off BEFORE you start entering the data.
Standardized data can make all the difference to your CRM implementation. Unless the database can pull out up-to-date, complete records every time, your team will eventually stop looking to CRM for sales as their go-to resource and your company will lose its visibility into sales.
Even with these standardization rules in place, your company may still need to regularly hire a data cleaner or work with a virtual executive assistant trained in CRM management.