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Organizations that efficiently and effectively get data into their CRM can maximize ROI on their lead gen efforts while maintaining a clean CRM. Haphazard data imports are a huge source of dirty data and will cause your team to spend time wrangling the data instead of leveraging it.

Whether you got your list from an event, webinar, or a purchase, we can all agree that leads are too valuable to waste. Like most data processes, there’s a lot to consider when importing lists into Salesforce.

1. Review and prepare the data before import.

A study by SiriusDecisions shows it’s 1/100 as costly to optimize your data import processes and fix errors on the front end; rather than waiting for chaos to manifest and attempting to correct them or allow your team to use these bad data insights.

No one wants to have to play catch up with their database hygiene. Which is why it is important to analyze the list for issues that may cause data performance problems later on.  

  • Mapping your fields is a natural first step in any Salesforce import job. Most lead lists don’t get too crazy with fields, so mapping shouldn’t take too long. Take a look at the column headings on your list. Do they match corresponding Salesforce fields? If there are fields in your source data that don’t exist in Salesforce, you’ll need to create custom fields to house that data.
  • Check for typos and formatting errors and purge bad email addresses. Without a good email address, you won’t be able to match it against your existing data (more about that later) and leverage any pre-existing company or contact data. Many organizations opt for third-party tools to verify and validate email addresses before importing to avoid spam traps and prevent harming their sender score.
  • Normalize your data before importing will help correct the aforementioned typos and formatting errors. Something as little as an improper case or a prefix can hamper data performance. Implement standard naming conventions for fields like company names, contact names, URLs, address information, phone numbers and job titles. To normalize your data before importing, you can either send your list to a bulk data processor or opt for a list import tool with built in normalization.

Being prepared isn’t just for boy scouts. Studies show it’s much more time-efficient and cost-effective to optimize your data import processes and fix errors on the front end; rather than waiting for chaos to manifest and attempting to correct or leave it in disarray. No one wants to have to play catch up with their database hygiene. 

2. Check for Duplicates and Unlinked Leads at Accounts 

Haphazard data imports cause chaos in the form of duplicate/redundant data and orphaned leads. What is an orphaned lead? Simply put, an orphaned lead is a lead that should be converted to a Contact at an existing Account, but isn’t. Avoiding duplicates and orphaned leads is especially important for companies using account-based sales and marketing in their strategy.

Here’s an example lead list. Let’s explore the potential red flags that are about to enter your Salesforce database

Things to Consider When Importing Lists Into Salesforce
John Kramer from Instavision already exists as a Lead in the pipeline and has previously engaged with your content. Ideally, you’d want to merge this new Lead data with the existing Contact for a single customer view. Without proper list import precautions, you would have created a duplicate.
Mary Croley is not yet in your database, yet her company Flashly is. You’re running account-based campaigns and Flashly is a high-value opportunity being worked. Engaging Mary as a net new Lead could potentially harm your brand reputation and tank a deal already in progress.
Virginia Riviera is already in Salesforce with a personal email attached to her Contact along with other personal information. You’d want to automatically add her newly entered business email to her Contact without losing potentially valuable data on the existing record.
James Wright is in a state and industry that fits your ICP to a tee. However, the list lacks revenue and employee count so James does not meet the SQL threshold. He never gets routed to the proper sales queue and potential revenue is missed.
Daniel Weinstein used his .org email, but you only have an Account associated with the company URL ending in .com. Without fuzzy matchers for email addresses, this duplicate would not get caught and your team will have to work with disjointed company and contact data.

How to prevent duplicates and orphaned leads on list imports

You have a few options to check for duplicates on list imports, and even fewer options to link leads to accounts on import jobs. Your database admin (or intern) can check for duplicates and associated accounts by hand, but this is impractical & non-scalable for large lists. Export your existing Salesforce records and checking your list against these records in excel is also possible. However, as record counts can reach the hundreds of thousands, if you’d like to check the list against your whole org this is not a scalable process.

3. Choose the right import tool for the job (hint: it’s not Data Loader)

The data loader, as all SFDC Admins should know, is one of the foundations of any Org. This tool is great for speed and mass imports, but its tools to process data are very basic and it doesn’t come with advanced tools for integrating the new data with your existing data.

Salesforce Data Import Wizard Limitations

The data import wizard is limited in its ability to detect and merge duplicates. It can match duplicates on name, email, and Salesforce ID. As most lead lists do not have Salesforce ID, this matching criteria is not robust enough for most organizations to effectively prevent duplicates. And when using the data import wizard, there is no way to link Lead to Accounts.

The Import Wizard uses exact email match. With typos, non standard naming conventions, and formatting errors, exact matching crtieria is often not robust enough to effectively process this data to prevent duplicates and orphaned leads.

Using a third party tool to prevent duplicates and link leads to accounts. 

You need to check for duplicates and linked accounts against more robust criteria than exact email match. Many organizations opt for an external data processing system to automate lead-to-account linking and merge duplicates.

RingLead provides an intelligent solution to import lists without creating duplicates or orphaned leads, all while normalizing, enriching, and routing in real time.

Our powerful duplicate matching technology automatically checks the list against your database to detect fuzzy match duplicates and merge with customizable match criteria. RingLead also normalizes the data at the point of entry to improve match rates. Lastly, if RingLead identifies an Account match, it can automatically convert or link the new lead to the existing Account.

Check out how the COO of Momentum Events uses the RingLead list import tool

Tired of wrangling data and wasting expensive lead lists?

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