3 tips for keeping your data clean in your CRM and Outreach

Posted July 25, 2019

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By Jonathan Muller

Salesforce architect, developer, and admin at

One of the worst things that can happen to someone in RevOps is when a customer is upset because of an issue caused by your system! Imagine if one of your customer’s requests got lost because your system did not properly detect their already-existing Contact. This duplicate record would prevent downstream automation from kicking off, and ultimately delay your sales team’s ability to help that customer.

Unfortunately, without a process in place to keep your data clean between your CRM and SEP, these sorts of issues can happen all the time: lead/contacts with more than one email address (e.g., jane.doe@domain.com vs jane.doew@domain.com or jdoe@domain.com), duplicate or similar Accounts, and having to identify the correct one costs valuable time and resources. Without processes in place to protect your data in your CRM and SEP, sales and operations teams are haunted by:

  • Broken integrations and automation
  • Sellers engaging with prospects/customers who don’t exist in Salesforce
  • Re-creating lead/contact records in Salesforce that have already been determined to be junk

To keep your reps moving and your customers happy (read: not getting spammed), it’s imperative to prevent duplicated or dead leads from filling your CRM and Outreach.

Here are my top 3 tips for keeping your data clean.

Tip #1: Align Your Merge and Delete Business Strategy with Your Platform Rulesets

First, you'll need to make sure you define what actually constitutes a “duplicate record.” This often entails making sure that your business strategy reflects these same rulesets so that what you expect to happen with your data actually reflects how you organize your sales teams.

For example, in healthcare, you may treat each individual office location as its own Account, and similar Account names are not an indicator of a duplicate record. In the CRM and Outreach, these Accounts may have similar names, but could be entirely different customers with different sales representatives and territories, so using a broad merge and delete strategy in order to keep your data clean would spell disaster.

When considering and defining what constitutes a duplicate record, make sure to consider factors such as:

  • Parent-Child: Do you want to treat the parent company and its subsidiaries as a single account or separate account? A good way to think of this is Alphabet, Google’s parent company; do you want to treat Google and Youtube as separate accounts from Alphabet? While this is an extreme (dreaming) example, it easily illustrates how companies need to factor in assignments, territories, and more when they enact their business strategy to keep data clean.
  • Similar Records: Do your business processes require that different office locations have different Accounts? How do you identify similar Contacts? Some standard rules are:
  1. Fuzzy Match Account Name: Similar Accounts may be flagged or merged
  2. Same email addresses: Leads and Contacts with the same email address can be flagged or merged
  3. Similar company and first/last name: Some employees may have an old or multiple email addresses, and you'll want to decide how you want this handled in your CRM.
  • Merging Guidelines: Make sure you have a standards around how you identify the ‘master’ record in a merge, and and the data you want to retain. For example, if I have a duplicate Contact with a different phone number - which number should you keep? What if one Contact has opted-out of emails? Be sure to establish guidelines around common use-cases like this.

Tip #2: Use your merge and delete features!

Let’s be honest - there will be duplicates in your CRM. But the good news is that well-established tools have some method(s) to manage duplicate and/or deleted records. Ideally, these functions will be turned on at the beginning of the integration so the syncing rules are established before data is exchanged to prevent the need to delete or isolate data after it’s already been exchanged.

Salesforce Duplicate Rules

For any company, large or small, Salesforce’s duplicate rules are the easiest way to quickly prevent common duplicates in your CRM. Keep in mind, these rules only mitigate duplicates in your Salesforce instance by either preventing or alerting things like exact email addresses and similar company names (fuzzy match). When dealing with a 3rd party integration that is either creating or modifying your Lead, Contact, or Account records - be sure to use an integration user and profile to exclude that integration from those rules.

Outreach’s Merge and Delete Feature

Our merge and delete feature reflects any changes you make in Salesforce so that the data is the same in both platforms. For example, if you delete a lead in Salesforce, the corresponding Outreach prospect will also be deleted. Additionally, if you have merged duplicate leads into one record in your CRM, Outreach will recognize and do the same with prospect. This ensures you don't have orphan prospects floating around in Outreach and your reps are acting on the most updated information.

Tip #3: Decide on Next Action and Automate

Once you’ve defined duplicate records, you’ll need to decide on your strategy for dealing (and deleting) them. There are endless ways to isolate and attack. From having in-house data specialists whose sole job is to search the CRM for duplicate accounts based on the business rulesets, to third-party tools that take your rules and scale across your data. Regardless, you’ll want a plan to continually manage duplicate records in your CRM and SEP and keep that data clean and your sales team moving.


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