Best Practices for Keeping Your Salesforce.com® CRM Data Clean

Modern businesses have many valuable assets, but skilled employees and data quality are probably the most profitable resources. If you’re one of the millions of Salesforce users, chances are you’re aware of the inherent issues found with data quality.

We’ve touched on how to keep people motivated and how rewarding them adequately can keep them productive and focused. But how do you ensure your sales team focuses on not only the end goal, but also on the optimal process towards meeting those goals?

First and foremost, you can ensure the quality of your Salesforce data by developing a robust CRM data plan. Salesforce offers both self-paced training and classroom training for administrators, but what about other end users? That’s where the CRM data plan comes in. This is the blueprint by which you set the standards on:

  • How your existing Salesforce data is cleaned

  • How you manage customer and prospect data

  • How your Salesforce CRM stays clean and running smoothly

Data quality is consistently one of the most ignored facets of Salesforce CRM management, but it is one of the most important functions not only to the integrity of the data being collected, but also inherent value of the entire process.

The Origin of Dirty Data

First let’s address some of the most common challenges of keeping data clean. The Salesforce platform is easy to setup and start entering data, unfortunately that also means that data may be coming in from several sources and not all of those sources follow the same informational template.

  • Poor Formatting

  • Duplicate and Missing Data

  • Decentralized Storage

To keep your Salesforce data quality at the highest level, here is a simple set of “best practices” you can use to create a CRM data plan your entire organization can adopt:

Know Your Salesforce.com Data – Appoint a data steward (someone who is infinitely familiar with the data and uses it often like a sales or marketing staff member) who is responsible for monitoring Salesforce data quality and constantly applies whatever data cleansing techniques that have been chosen such as running filters and sample checks will help identify changes in quality.

Get Everyone On Board – Set a standard for Salesforce data quality and then educate all users across an organization on why healthy, clean data sets are important is half the battle.

Check Data Sources Often – Check to make sure new data sources are clean BEFORE you merge them with your data set.

Make Data Complete – Incomplete or missing data can ruin the integrity of Salesforce®. Unfortunately, appending missing data isn’t something that can be automated or maintained entirely by your data steward. It’s everyone’s job to look for incomplete data and errors.

Don’t Be Duped – As Salesforce data comes in from varied sources, it is by far easier to check data quality to weed out duplicates and other junk data before it merges with your clean Salesforce CRM.

Keep It Clean and Valid – Keeping data free of expired records is a huge time sink and requires regular checks to ensure the integrity of the data. A quarterly review for expired records is the minimum recommended interval.

Data Enrichment Increases Value – Add periodic end user polling to your Salesforce CRM data plan to ensure you can stay on top of their needs and understand how they are using the data provided.

Reward the Right Behavior – Data quality issues begin when your team doesn’t update Opportunity stages or types, record meetings, add products or populating the custom fields you’ve added to your sales process. To ensure adherence to data quality standards, incorporate data quality practices into your current employee motivation programs with apps like ThinkSmart, built from the ground up to work within Salesforce.

Motivating Success

Most Salesforce CRM experts recommend you automate data cleansing with data cleansing tools, such as those on the AppExchange. There are dozens of great apps that can help you make short work of Salesforce data quality such as apps that eliminate duplicates, or flag empty fields, and while helpful, they won’t fix behavior. That’s where ThinkSmart really shines. ThinkSmart for Salesforce helps businesses improve their data quality by motivating users to deliver cleaner, more complete data.

Feel the Clean

Planning your Salesforce data strategy, constantly updating standards and motivating users to follow standards will ensure the health of your Salesforce integration for years to come. The key to Salesforce data quality is preventative measures rather than reactionary or timed data cleansing techniques. After all, everyone can benefit from a clean work environment!

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