CRM Implementation, Where’s the Data?


It’s kind of funny that when it comes to getting really started with planning the CRM Implementation “The Data” becomes a big issue. How so? Well sometimes there is so much we don’t know where to start on how to get it organized or all of a sudden there is no data (It’s My Data and I am not sharing it).  Neither situation is good.

If you get “It’s My Data and I am not sharing it” or as often happens they say yes but never share data. This is but a symptom of a far bigger problem. In most every case where someone refused to share data there was something going on, and it wasn’t good for the business. I agree some data must be kept secure and Salesforce has plenty of great ways of doing that, nor must all data be in the CRM. When you run into a situation where relevant data is not being shared it will end up being a major impediment to the implementation, as once it starts others will also dig their collective heals. It is better to deal with this issue up front with your executive sponsor, CEO etc. if they will not put their weight behind getting the data well it is better not to start the implementation.

The first situation is better that is having too much data. Common sources of data are: Legacy CRM, Excel Spreadsheets, Outlook files, Mobile Devices, Trade Show Lists, email marketing lists,  ERP/MRP/Accounting Software, Data Bases etc. To get started we need a sample of each of the sources and a Sample of the Relevant Salesforce Report. So if I were working on Accounts I would download the Salesforce Accounts Report. Now I have a Template for what Salesforce names fields and existing fields.

Legacy CRM: this may or often is not a good source you are implementing a new CRM for a reason, find out why and take a skeptical look at this data. Most allow exporting a comma delimited file, which Excel & Salesforce will easily import.

Excel Spreadsheets: It is amazing to me how many folks even large Orgs in the $100 Mill Plus size still use Excel as a proxy for a CRM and how many versions exist in one organization. I love Excel but version control is a challenge. Getting the right data all together can be a challenge but Excel has some excellent tools like vLookup.

Outlook & Mobile Devices: This is a great source of Contacts & Leads, often having email and direct phone numbers.  If at all possible, capture their corp website this will be critical in tying them to the proper Account later on. This can be tricky depending on your corporate policy, who owns the device & data, National/State/Local laws. Work closely with your Human Resources department to understand the implications up front. In many cases but not all information on company equipment – networks created in the course of employment belongs to the company, verify this first.

Trade Show Lists: Great for building your lead lists and you may get some more detailed info about your current contacts – accounts

email marketing lists: If these are lists your marketing team build then they are probably a great resource. If you are buying lists well it can be a grab bag of stuff. Some of if good most of it well picked over and spammed. But if you can use it to enrich your existing client base it may be of use. Use Caution here some of these lists are expensive and well worn – spammed.

ERP/MRP/Accounting Software: This is a great starting place for Account info. Because this is where the bills get paid the core info will be good. Often times there is a contact listed in accounting that person can be leveraged to get a few other names with some careful quality sales tactics.

Business Cards, Paper Lists etc: There are great scanning tools what will digitize your info. A word of caution, they are all reasonably good, to get good data you will need to have a human look it over as some fonts & logos confuse even the best scanning software.


Other Data Bases: you may have good data scattered in various mailing lists, data bases, etc. Scour your company every bit helps. Tech support & Warranty registrations, are often kept in separate data bases.  A few cautions here: consider careful how you got this data and if it is truly relevant, for example: sending e-mails to every person who applied for a job on your website is well disingenuous.

Organizing your data:

Now that we have a data inventory, we need to sort it out into three basic categories: Is it Account Data, Contact Data, and Lead Data. Yes there is a lot more data in most cases. For now we need to build the foundation, later we will build our skyscraper.

Accounts this is your Clients Corporate Data usually where your bill goes, it is the foundation of your implementation. Look at the data and decide what you want to bring- import into Saleforce and what gets left out. How many years of data do you want to import? For some companies 3 yrs is plenty others 7-8 yrs for tax purposes, some all of it. Involve the departments that will be using the data as well as the folks who supplied the data. Repeat this step for Contact Data and Lead Data. With Lead data you can be a bit more flexible as it is usually fuzzier.

We are only scratching the surface here on data, I hope it will give you all some good food for thought as you plan your CRM implementation.


About Phil Sallaway - Manager Orange County California

Manager at SalesForceMaven in Orange County California. He is a Salesforce Consultant with a strong Marketing & Sales background.
This entry was posted in CRM, Orange County, Sales, Salesforce, Salesforce CRM. Bookmark the permalink.

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