Do you remember the first time you fell in love? I do. How could I forget? The anticipation of being alone — just the two of us — was something I had been thinking about for weeks. That sense of excitement and anticipation is similar in the working world, when a new CRM come into the picture. Suddenly, everyone in the company is distracted.
It’s tough to find alone time with your new CRM, but after hours, when the sun goes down, the lights are dim, and the office is empty, you can finally open your browser and type in salesforce.com.
The first thing I noticed about my new love (a.k.a. Salesforce), was that it was unhappy. We had transferred all of our data from an old Siebel CRM, and my beautiful Salesforce was full of unstandardized data, missing information, inaccurate information, and tons and tons of duplicates.
So I took action. Here are the key steps to create that love fest between you and your CRM.
1. Develop a Normalization Plan
A normalization plan, or a data plan, is a set of standards for your data. Data standardization is a key part of ensuring data quality. Lacking standardization results in bad data, which has numerous negative effects, from sending bad emails, to mailing to bad addresses, to losing customers altogether. For example, review the following ways to write:
Director of Human Resources
Director, Human Resources
Director of HR
DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES
Human Resources Director
Lack of standards is a problem. Why does it happen? The examples above are from a live CRM. Don’t expect perfection: data normalization is an ongoing process for improving data hygiene over time, and with it comes a deeper bond and love of your CRM.
2. Normalize your CRM
Now that you have a plan in place, you must execute on it. The standards determined for job titles, cities, states, countries, etc. should now be rolled out into your existing CRM data, and be part of training for those entering data going forward. Use a helpful tool to get the job done more efficiently and effectively. A tool will help you:
- Standardize all possible variations of titles, names and other common data
- Keep a healthier database and run more effective campaigns allowing your team to work more efficiently
- Customize your data formatting in your CRM with a flexible enforcement scheme
One note: Don’t even think about deduping your data before normalizing. This is a mistake of the uniformed. If a consultant wants to dive right in and dedupe, they are not skilled in the art of loving their CRM.
Dedupe without normalizing first is akin to putting underwear over your pants.
3. Pick your dupe matching rules
While it may take some testing and tweaking, determining your matching rules and logic for deduping is the first step before deduplication. Use a tool that provides customizable dedupe logic to match your business needs. These tools should be compatible in your CRM, such as Salesforce.
I recommend merging the duplicates, versus deleting data. Every piece of data holds value, so merging is the way to go. To make sure the duplicate is merged with the right contact, you’ll need to set master rule settings. This way, all new data matching the original record, or master record, will automatically match and merge. If you have five records in Salesforce, you likely only want to keep the lead source from the first/master record, but use all of the current title and phone number fields from the most recent entries.
Another aspect of your deduplication rules is alerts. Notifications when duplicates arise is important to ensure duplicates are stopped and prevented going forward. Depending on the data deduplication vendor, you can have many different templates to notify the owner of the lead or contact that there’s a duplicate. Typically, the account owner is alerted first, but for new leads, you can route it through your assignment rules in Salesforce. Consider using your active assignment rule or even a hidden inactive assignment rule just for your data deduplication vendor. You can also change the owner of a lead, and reroute it through the assignment rules. For email, you can trade tasks with an email notification.
Deduping is not the first step, it’s the last. When you really love your CRM, you take care of everything else first. At this point, you’ll have a plan, you’ll know about all the little nuances and dedupe will be natural and successful.
A duplicate removal application merges the duplicates and cleans up the database quickly. For every minute that goes by, there will be fewer duplicates until finally, no duplicates will remain. Once your data is clean, you want to keep it that way. Duplicate prevention stops the bleeding, and ensures you’re not simply putting a cap on that leak. Dirty data will continue to infiltrate your system as your contact data changes, but with strong prevention apps, your data will be checked before it enters your system to avoid duplicates.
Duplicate prevention checks your new data against your existing data to make sure that it’s unique. Whether you’re loading the data in or it’s coming from a web form, duplicate prevention acts as like a gatekeeper to make sure all data going in is brand new.
With these plans and practices in place, love will be in the air.
To get started with your data plan, check out the free ebook below.