March 21, 2015

Good Data: How to Avoid Duplicate Data

In my first post of the Good CRM Data series, Clean CRM Data: Planning Your Data Model, I focused on the planning portion of building your data treasure chest. With an understanding of the relational data model and a customer relationship management system (CRM) selected, you are now ready to begin populating data.

You will quickly realize that with so many sources of data to choose from, you can quickly become overwhelmed.  Where do you find the time to enter your data? How do you avoid duplicating data in your CRM? Do you enter data manually or buy a list?  Great questions. For now let’s assume you are entering data manually and using your current team.  I plan to cover the topic of data providers in the next article of this series, so stay tuned.

Let’s assume you have a team of five and each member is going to enter 25 companies and 25 people. Right away, you are off to a good start… until you realize that each of your five teammates has some of the same data as you do!?!  And in fact, everyone did their part by entering in John Smith and Acme Widgets – four times.  You went from a great start to “..our data stinks…” in just a matter of minutes. Bad data is the nemesis of every organization, but there are ways to avoid the problem.

The following tips will  help you avoid duplicating data in your CRM:

  1. First and foremost: Identify a good method for uniquely identifying a company or person.  This is commonly referred to as a globally unique identifier or GUID in the data world.  Your first reaction may be name or telephone number.  Though it makes sense at first, you will soon learn there are a lot of John Smiths out there and Acme Widgets uses the same telephone number for everyone. How about address?  Good…but a company may have many addresses or perhaps they have moved.  Early on, I thought limiting my data intake to one data provider and using their ID would work.  It does at first, but as soon as you want to try another firm, your plan is foiled.Then I realized there are two very good unique IDs that could be used for every data vendor.  For companies, domain address is perfect.  Even if a company has multiple domains, they are always directly associated with the company.  It would be very rare – if ever – that a company would share a domain with another company. Formatted the same way, domains are a terrific unique ID for companies.So how about people?  In keeping the same thought process, email addresses are a great unique ID.  Sure people can have many, but rarely is a personal email shared with two people.  Make those pieces of data required when entering records and you are on your way to building a good clean database.Now that you have the unique identifiers, how do I keep from having duplicates?
  2. Avoid duplicating unique identifiers by checking rules in your CRM.  If your CRM does not have a duplication checking rule, FIND A NEW CRM!  You will work far too hard and too long to build a good database only to have it destroyed by duplicates.  Most CRMs will prompt the user about potential issues during the entry process provided you have established the criteria.  Be sure your formatting is consistent to avoid misses.  Duplication checking should be one of the first must haves on your CRM selection list.Recognize that in building a good database, you will have duplicates.  Like I mentioned Seeking Good Data: Planning Your Data Model, the process is not perfect.  Using unique identifiers will however help to keep the duplicates to a minimum.  Stay tuned for the new post in the this series where I plan to talk about data sources and the question of manual entry versus buying lists.  Until next time, happy selling!

Interested in assistance setting up your data model or just want to learn more.  Just click the link below to find out more.

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About Kip Smith

In each of his leadership roles, Kip found his success was directly tied to his ability to effectively and efficiently manage sales and operations with technology. Never losing the desire to find success as an entrepreneur, Kip abandoned the stability of the corporate world to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. He started Alternetics in 1999. Fifteen years later, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Kip.

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