If you’re reading this, you most likely have encountered duplicate records in your Salesforce and know how annoying they can be to deal with. For example, imagine if a rep calls a cold lead who turns out to be an opportunity in the proposal stage already? That would look bad from the lead's perspective and decrease sales productivity. Yet this example barely scratches the surface in managing duplicate contacts.
Avoiding duplicate data in Salesforce is essential for your Go-To-Market efforts and your data hygiene. Salesforce deduplication helps align your sales, marketing, and customer success teams so that you can get a clear and accurate view of your sales data.
Read on to learn more about how to manage duplicate data in Salesforce.
What is duplicate Salesforce data?
As the name suggests, this is when you have multiple records in your SFDC that share data with another record. These might be carbon or partial copies with missing data in some fields. For example, these could include email addresses, phone numbers, or names. The partial duplicates can be more damaging than the 100% exact copies, especially your marketing and sales team's efforts. The reason is that they are more likely to go undetected by the system and don’t look like a duplicate at first glance.
Furthermore, orphaned contacts, contacts without an account associated with them, pose another risk as your team can mistakenly remove them without realizing that they do have an account. Your team, for example, may also attempt to contact them to create an account and, again, waste time and cause the existing client to question your organization's professionalism. These all create frustration and waste everyone's time and money at the end of the day.
Why Duplicate Data is a Problem in Salesforce
- Poor customer experience
- Lost opportunities
- Inefficient marketing
- Inflated forecasts
- Inaccurate reporting
- Scattered data
- Uninformed decisions
1. Poor customer experience
One of the main reasons to begin your journey to a duplicate-free CRM is to improve customer success. Put yourself in the customer's position: How would you feel getting the same email twice from marketing? Or imagine you call customer support, but you have to explain your problem more than once because they have different records each time you are referred to the following department to help you. Having duplicates in your system makes it harder to keep customers happy and risks your gross retention rates. It’s meant to create a seamless customer experience, not create more friction.
2. Lost opportunities
When you have duplicates in your Salesforce, this can create a staggering waste of the sales team's time and generate unnecessary frustration among the team. One of the most significant issues is when a rep contacts a lead already in negotiation with another salesperson. This is an awful experience for the customer and a big waste of time for the rep.
What can often happen when there are too many duplicates is that salespersons end up not trusting the data available in Salesforce and begin to question it constantly, essentially vetting every contact. Again, another colossal waste of time and resources.
3. Inefficient Marketing
Many businesses that rely on physical marketing, including flyers, samples, brochures, and more, may experience reduced ROI. What can happen is the same person may receive the marketing materials more than once in a given time space which reduces their effectiveness.
Most heavily impacted are email marketing and specific audience segments. Your ability to personalize and segment emails effectively is reduced massively. If you have many duplicates with inaccurate data, you cannot ensure the right person receives what is relevant to them, or if the email address is wrong, you can end up with many unread and wasted sends.
This can tarnish your business brand reputation and, worse, impact your email sending reputation due to potential spam flags and undelivered emails. You want to be only sending emails to those that want them and are most likely to be opening them, with the potential to convert into a sale.
4. Inflated forecasts
Duplicate contacts can completely wreck your forecasts by inflating your numbers. Forecasts are usually created by estimating the number of prospects moving through your organization’s marketing and sales funnels. When the numbers are inflated because of duplicates, your forecasts will not be accurate and you will not be able to make the data-driven decisions you need to drive growth.
5. Inaccurate reporting
Inaccurate reports lead to slow and poor decision-making. Reports that contain duplicate records are less trustworthy and cannot be used to guide decision-making. Additionally, the organization will have difficulty predicting what it needs to do to expand.
Additionally, when your numbers will be inflated, your crucial enrollment reports will be incorrect if your database is jam-packed with duplicate records. You won't be able to use the information to guide strategic decisions for your organization. Accurate information free of duplicates is essential for useful, meaningful reports.
6. Scattered data across multiple duplicate records
The amount of labor required to discover and merge duplicate records increases progressively as the number of records increases: Deduplicating two records requires less work than finding and merging four duplicate records.
In addition, when the number of duplicate fields rises, the amount of cleaning required increases exponentially: Combining four data fields requires more than twice as much work as combining only two. The more duplicate fields there are, the more difficult it is to create and implement the unification logic.
7. Uninformed decisions
If you want your team to make good decisions, you need to have a single customer view that consolidates all customer data. Click, and transactional data and contact details could be included here.
Measuring the effects of any action across all channels to promote better decisions is essential. When you have duplicates in your database, any analysis will not be of good quality for that specific customer.
The Salesforce Duplicate Management Feature
Salesforce has two integrated rules aimed at helping solve your duplicate issue: The Matching rule and the Duplicate rule.
This rule involves locating the duplicates: Firstly, you set the parameters for matching records and classifying them as duplicates. You have the option to match records within an object or across two objects.
This rule compares the fields in a pair of records with different matching algorithms. Within Salesforce, there are three out-of-the-box rules: The first for business accounts, one for contacts and leads, and one for personal accounts.
This kind of rule determines what happens when the matching rule identifies the duplicates, and it can trigger both types of outcomes. The first could be an alert or report for the user who is creating a duplicate or the second could trigger blocking the creation or editing of a duplicate record.
How to Manage Duplicate Data
- Automate instead of relying on manual data entry
- Add a data audit step before importing data
- Include proper validation on all CRM-connected forms
- Invest in a Salesforce deduplication solution
There are multiple ways you can prevent duplicate data from getting into your Salesforce and clean up your existing data to ensure customer success in the long term.
It’s essential to keep in mind that if you are not preventing duplicate data from getting in, then cleanup is pointless. For this reason, you must put steps in place for your team. Some of our favorite tips for reducing duplicates and preventing them include:
1. Automate instead of relying on manual data entry
Some mistakes are made when people enter data into Salesforce. The best way to stop errors is to limit where human data entry is required. With each data point you track, ask, "Can this be accurately captured automatically?" If it can, make the switch to automation.
2. Add a data audit step before importing data
One of the most common causes of duplicates in your Salesforce and poor data quality can occur during data importing. When importing data from another software, the chances of an error are very high. This is because they might use different methods of processing your data for reading, saving, and importing, which may conflict with your Salesforce or other CRM.
The best way to avoid this is to create a data quality audit step before importing any new data into your Salesforce. This will help identify errors before they get in and limit the potential for duplicates.
3. Include proper validation on all CRM-connected forms
You should ensure that you have good validation on all contact and information capture forms that are directly connected to your Salesforce CRM.
You must keep phone numbers, city names, addresses, and emails in check to ensure excellent data quality in your CRM. You could have your phone numbers formatted in one way. This would make it easier to locate duplicate records. Using accurate validation standards to clean your Salesforce data is also good practice.
4. Invest in a Salesforce deduplication solution
Salesforce’s duplicate management integrated features are often insufficient for larger companies with much larger databases in the tens or hundreds of thousands and beyond.
Salesforce deduplication tools such as Insycle, LeanData, and Syncari are great at preventing duplicate records from ever reaching Salesforce. Not only can they protect against duplicate records, but also check for existing duplicates simultaneously.
Syncari is a leading no-code data platform for RevOps automation. It integrates easily with Salesforce to enable you to clean duplicate leads easily based on custom logic. You can easily create rules to find lurking duplicates and merge them in bulk.
Syncari’s lead-to-account matching software cleans, synchronizes, and dedupes your data in a precise manner following your business logic. Simply define your matching rules and leave it up to Syncari to complete all deduping steps.
Teams can easily deduplicate in HubSpot, Salesforce, Intercom, and any other CRM system that Insycle interacts with. Smart rules may be created to find master records, comparable records rather than exact matches, and combine duplicates in bulk.
With LeanData, you can automate lead routing to provide quicker response times, increased pipeline production, and quota attainment for your team. Time-based actions may help organizations satisfy SLAs and boost conversion rates by automatically reassigning leads who still require interaction.
SetSail Away From Duplicates
Salesforce provides a handful of native features that can help find (and fix) potential duplicates. Every sales organization should take advantage of these, but they’re only the first step. They involve a lot of manual oversight, it doesn’t work with custom objects, and it’s difficult to scale.
Many businesses also have an automated activity capture tool in place. This is the second step toward gaining a cleaner CRM, but again, it comes with problems. Many of these tools frequently create duplicate contacts or incorrectly map activity to duplicate accounts. Monitoring the automation tool then takes an extra “layer” of manual oversight, leaving many to wonder why they’re automating the process at all.
Fortunately, you can solve both problems at once. SetSail provides an automated activity capture tool called CRM Writeback which captures sales activity and writes it back to the correct account or opportunity. SetSail also enriches your CRM data with key contact details like email, phone number, and department.
SetSail avoids duplication by two main avenues:
- SetSail automatically applies a unique identifier on every object they write
- SetSail won’t create a contacts if the contact’s email address already exists in the CRM
Taken together, these steps virtually eliminate the possibility for duplicate contact or activity creation.
Once your data is captured and in Salesforce (without duplicates or other data issues), SetSail takes the extra step of finding actionable insights. SetSail uses machine learning to identify the most effective sales behaviors and lets managers and reps alike track those behaviors on intuitive dashboards. Customers like Cisco, ADP, and LinkedIn have used SetSail to save time on manual data entry and sell more effectively.