Data Quality

Strategies for Mass Deleting Records in Salesforce

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Whether you’re part of a sales team, marketing department, or any role that relies on Salesforce, you’ve likely encountered the challenge of dealing with massive amounts of data cluttering up your organization’s CRM. Deleting records in Salesforce can be a daunting task, especially when you’re dealing with thousands or even millions of entries.

Fortunately, there are effective strategies and best practices that can help you streamline your data management process, improve system performance, maintain Salesforce data quality, and ultimately, supercharge your Salesforce experience. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the most valuable techniques and tips for mass deleting records in Salesforce, empowering you to maintain a clean, organized, and high-performing CRM system.

5 reasons why you may need to mass delete Salesforce records

Managing a Salesforce database efficiently isn’t just about accumulating data; it’s about maintaining data quality, system performance, and a positive user experience. Mass deletion of records is a critical component of this strategy for several reasons:

1. Data cleaning

Over time, Salesforce databases can accumulate redundant, outdated, or irrelevant records, cluttering the system. Data cleaning by way of mass deletion helps keep your data clean and relevant, ensuring that you’re working with accurate information. It’s also a way to undo imports gone wrong or to remove data being transferred to another system.

2. Improved performance 

A bloated database can slow down system performance, affecting the productivity of your team. Deleting unnecessary records can significantly improve the overall performance of your Salesforce platform.

3. Compliance 

Depending on your industry, there may be legal or regulatory requirements for data retention and privacy. Deleting records that are no longer needed helps maintain compliance and ensures proper data governance.

4. Cost efficiency 

Storing large volumes of data in Salesforce can increase storage costs. By eliminating unneeded records, you can save on storage expenses and use resources more efficiently.

5. Improved reporting 

A cleaner database means more accurate reporting and insights. Deleting records you don’t need ensures that your reports and analytics provide meaningful data for decision-making.

In essence, mass deletion is a necessary part of keeping your Salesforce environment streamlined, cost-effective, and optimized for the best possible outcomes.

How to mass delete records in Salesforce: a step-by-step guide

Managing and maintaining your Salesforce database efficiently often involves the need to mass delete records. To do this effectively, follow the below steps, per Salesforce’s User Help Guide:

1. Identify and back up crucial data

Before you embark on any mass deletion efforts, it’s essential to identify which records are no longer needed and which must be preserved. Export or extract all records you plan to delete. This ensures that crucial data is safeguarded in case of any accidental deletions. Salesforce strongly suggests running a report to archive your information and exporting your data every week.

2. Use Salesforce’s built-in mass delete function

Salesforce offers a native mass delete functionality that, while somewhat limited, is secure:

  • From Setup, enter Mass Delete Records in the Quick Find box
  •  Select Mass Delete Records and click the link for the type of record to delete.
  • Review the information that is deleted from the records.
  • Specify conditions that the selected items must match, for example, “State equals California.”
  • If you’re deleting accounts, specify whether you want to delete accounts with attached closed/won opportunities or attached opportunities owned by others.
  • If you’re deleting products, select Archive Products if you also want to delete products that are on opportunities. 
    • This option deletes products that are not on opportunities and moves them to the Recycle Bin. It also archives products that are on opportunities. These products are not moved to the Recycle Bin and cannot be recovered.
    • To delete only those products that are not on opportunities, don’t select Archive Products. Selected products that are on opportunities remain checked after the deletion to indicate that they were not included in the deletion.
  • To find records that match, click Search and select the items you want to delete. To select all currently displayed items, check the box in the column header.
  • To permanently delete records, select Permanently delete the selected records
    • Note that selecting this option prevents you from recovering the selected records from the Recycle Bin.
  • Click Delete. 
    • If you did not select Permanently delete the selected records, deleted items are moved to the Recycle Bin.

Note that selecting this option prevents you from recovering the selected records from the Recycle Bin.

3. Use a data loader tool for bulk deletion

For more extensive data deletion tasks, Salesforce’s Data Loader provides another option:

  • Download and install Salesforce’s Data Loader if you haven’t already.
  • Next, export the records you wish to delete, this time using only the record ID as the desired criterion.
  • Launch the Data Loader and follow the delete or hard delete wizard. Map only the ID column.
  • After the operation, review your success and error log files.

However, users would be better off using DemandTools Free Edition, a free Salesforce data loader from Validity that has Import, Export, and Delete functionality. This solution is far more comprehensive than Salesforce’s out-of-the-box functionality and needs fewer steps to achieve the job. 

4. Use third-party tools for enhanced data management

In some cases, third-party tools can be beneficial for advanced data management:

  • Research and select a reputable data management tool or app from the Salesforce AppExchange. Validity’s own DemandTools helps manage Salesforce data in less time, enabling everyone to do their jobs more effectively, efficiently, and profitably.
  • Install and configure the chosen tool.
  • Remember to exercise caution when deleting records, as it’s a permanent action. Always double-check your selection before confirming deletions. 

In short, with the right combination of native Salesforce features and other tools, you can effectively manage and optimize your Salesforce database through mass record deletion.

How to overcome common hurdles of mass data deletion in Salesforce

While mass data deletion is essential, it’s not without its challenges. Here’s how to overcome some of the most common hurdles:

Address data dependencies and relationships

One of the most significant challenges when deleting records en masse is dealing with data dependencies. Records in Salesforce are often interconnected, and deleting one record may disrupt related data. To tackle this, start by conducting a comprehensive analysis of your data model to identify dependencies.

Before deleting records, ensure that no other records or processes rely on the data you’re about to remove. You may need to use a data loader or other data management tools to export, modify, or update related records, ensuring the integrity of your data while performing mass deletions.

Manage user permissions and security

Effective data management in Salesforce must align with user permissions and security requirements. Depending on your organization’s setup, not all users may have the necessary permissions to delete records—nor should they. To address this hurdle, ensure that users who need to perform mass deletions have the appropriate permissions. Create profiles or permission sets that grant the “Delete” permission for specific objects. Also, consider creating a separate mass deletion user profile to maintain security and control over who can execute large-scale data deletions.

We suggest leaving mass deletion to admins and super users in your organization. End users should not be able to just delete records at will. For example, if a disgruntled employee deletes data before they quit, things can get ugly fast.

Implement a request process to ensure any mass deletion of data is known by the broader organization and that only a select few employees hold the keys to that castle.

Consider API and bulk data processing limits

Salesforce imposes API limits and bulk data processing limits to ensure system stability and performance. When performing mass deletions, it’s crucial to remain within these limits. To manage this challenge, break your data deletion tasks into smaller, manageable chunks to avoid hitting API and processing limits. Use Salesforce’s batch processing features or third-party tools to automate the process and ensure you stay within the established limits. Monitor your data deletion progress and make use of Salesforce’s Bulk API to efficiently process large volumes of data while adhering to API limits.

Keep Salesforce data up to date

Poor data quality wreaks havoc on businesses by adding friction to the customer journey, increasing customer acquisition costs, decreasing conversion rates, confusing and slowing down sales follow-up, and ultimately tarnishing your brand reputation. While overcoming these hurdles requires finesse, doing so will ensure that your Salesforce data remains well-organized and up-to-date.

To help you do just that, we interviewed 12 current DemandTools customers about their data management challenges. Learn more about how these customers achieve an ROI of 418 percent from our solution (and other insights) in our cheat sheet, 4 Benefits of a Complete CRM Data Management Solution.