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A comprehensive and consistently applied data quality process can prevent bad data from ever getting into your database and impairing sales and marketing effectiveness.  This series of articles discusses specific steps you can take to improve your process.  However, even with the best of practices, bad data can find its way into your database.   That’s where data quality tools including RingLead DMS are invaluable in preventing and resolving bad data.

The first two articles in this series outlined how to prevent bad data originating from your Marketo web forms and List Imports.  In this article, we’ll discuss how to prevent bad data originating from your CRM, which is typically entered by your sales team.

First ensure that the Lead page layout prominently displays the essential contact and firmographic data you need to score, segment and personalize communications with these Leads (e.g. Email, Phone, Title, Address, Product of Interest, Persona, Number of Employees, Annual Revenue, Industry).  

Then train your sales team to capture this data and set the appropriate values in process / attribution fields such the Lead Source, Lead Status, Lead Type.  

Do the following to ensure accuracy/consistency in the data your sales team enters.

  • Train sales to not enter comments in CRM fields.  If the Title field has ‘not decision maker’ or some other note appended to it and you send a personalized email using that field, you’ll negatively impact your relationship.
  • Automatically set process / attribution field values for some fields based on the Record Type selected and/or on the person creating the record.   
  • Use field validation rules, picklists and dependent lists to prevent typos, random values and ensure data completeness.  Be sure your Marketo forms leverage these as well and be sure all your existing field values are updated to conform to these rules to prevent sync failures.
  • Use workflow rules to automatically update field values (e.g. Territory, Persona) after the record is submitted.
  • Make key fields required.  Be aware that your existing records may not have data in that field and can’t be saved unless a value is entered.  It’s likely that your salespersons may select a random value for this field just so they can save the record.  Also, existing Marketo records without that data will have sync failures.

Frequently, it may not be possible for a salesperson to collect all the needed contact and firmographic data when they create the record or during initial communications with the Lead.  To ensure you have values in as many of the essential contact and firmographic fields as soon as possible, consider the following.

  • Integrate a data enrichment app such as RingLead DMS with your SFDC and/or Marketo.  These apps can provide missing data as soon as the record is created including the email address and direct dial phone number.  These apps can also verify the existing phone and email address to ensure your sales team isn’t wasting precious time trying to connect with bad contact data.
  • Establish a relationship between the new Lead and an existing Account.  Once you do that you can use formula fields to automatically pull data from the Account such as the Owner, Type, Website and Address.  This can be a laborious manual process to establish the relationship,  but there are apps like RingLead DMS that can do this automatically based on your matching criteria.  Be aware that cross object formula fields don’t always have their values synced to Marketo.  If a field value is changed on the Account, the related formula field on the Lead doesn’t change even though the formula displays a new value.  If the Lead’s modified date doesn’t change, Marketo won’t sync the new formula value.  To work around this, don’t make cross object formula fields visible to the Marketo Sync user profile.  Instead create a parallel field that is visible to Marketo and you use an Apex trigger to set the field value to the new value in the formula field.

It’s not uncommon for a salesperson to create a new Lead when there is already an existing Lead because they either haven’t been trained or don’t want to take the time to search for the email address, name or phone number first.  Marketo will not prevent these duplicate records from being created when they come from Salesforce.  The consequence of this are diluted person scores, inappropriate communications being sent and negatively impacted performance metrics.  To prevent this, install a duplicate prevention app in Salesforce like RingLead Unique Entry.

Often salespersons will delete Lead / Contact records if the person has moved to another company, the contact info is bad or the record is a duplicate.  This will impact your metrics, cause the loss of valuable data and result in orphaned Marketo records that will sync back to your CRM!  Train your sales team to not delete records or better yet, remove the permission for them to delete records.  Instead, they should use the Lead Status or Contact Status fields to indicate that a lead is no longer viable (e.g. Bogus, Not a Prospect, No Longer with Company) or merge duplicate records.  If you do allow deletion, have a Marketo smart campaign with the ‘Lead is Deleted from SFDC’ trigger that deletes the Marketo lead.

Many Marketo instances have a sync filter that prevents CRM records from syncing to Marketo if it does not have a value in the Email field.  If so, you should train if an email address is invalid, to not delete the email address as this will cause sync failures.  Instead create a Marketo Email Invalid custom field in your Lead and Contact objects and make it visible to Marketo.  In Marketo, create a smart campaign that if the value in the Marketo Email Invalid field changes, it sets the value in its Email Invalid system field to the value in the Marketo Email Invalid field and vice versa.  Your sales team can then change the Marketo Email Invalid field to ‘true’ if the email address is bad.  Be sure to create a Marketo smart campaign triggered when the email address is updated with a valid email address and changes the Email Invalid field from ‘’true’ to ‘false’.

Final tip – when you merge duplicate CRM records, be sure that either both are in Marketo or neither are in Marketo.  If the losing record is synced to Marketo and the surviving record is not synced to Marketo (e.g. no email address), the merge process copies the field data you select from the losing record to the surviving record and then deletes the losing record in Salesforce. However, the losing record in Marketo does not have its SFDC Is Deleted field value set to ‘true’ and Marketo still thinks that it’s corresponding CRM record still exists.  As a result, all CRM syncs fail and you cannot merge the losing Marketo record with the surviving record once it syncs to Marketo and you’ll need to delete the losing record to resolve the duplicate.

In this article, we’ve touched on a few data issues that cause CRM sync failures.  There are other causes of CRM sync failures and sync delays that can result in data issues, which we will delve into it in more depth in a future article.

Elliott Lowe has led teams that built solid sales and marketing systems and successful programs at rapidly growing startup and public companies.  At CA Technologies (NASDAQ: CA), an ITSMA charter member, Elliott led its initial Account Based Marketing programs.  Elliott’s an experienced Eloqua and Salesforce power user as well as a Marketo Certified Expert, 3x Marketo Champion and speaker at Marketo Summits.

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