Data Quality

Salesforce Data Management: What It Is, How To Do It Effectively, and Why It Matters

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We all know that CRM data fuels business growth, but mishandling it poses considerable risks. 

Neglected data becomes unwieldy, harming the very business it should empower, meaning effective data management is paramount for ongoing success. 

Fortunately, CRM platforms like Salesforce provide a powerful arsenal of tools and features to help streamline how we manage data.

Below, we’ll delve into the world of Salesforce data management, exploring what it is, why it matters, and how it can empower you and your teams to make informed decisions, optimize customer interactions, and supercharge business growth.

What’s Salesforce data management (and why is it so important)?

Effective data management is the linchpin of success for sales teams, marketers, and CRM administrators alike. However, the true potential of the platform can only be harnessed when your data is clean, accurate, and well-organized.

This is where Salesforce data management comes into play, serving as the cornerstone of your CRM strategy. 

7 Salesforce data management tips you should know

Below are seven of our best tips to help you make the most of your Salesforce data and improve your business’s bottom line.

1. Build a cross-functional data governance team

Virtually all departments within a business rely on data. So, when it comes to the valuable data in Salesforce, it only makes sense that each department has an equally vested interest in its health and accuracy.  

Create a data governance team of representatives from each business function (sales, finance, IT, marketing, product, etc.) to ensure your data complies with all industry regulations and that each department’s needs are met when capturing that data.

This team should work together to rules for things like:

  • What data each department needs and in what format
  • At what frequency they will access/update data
  • Which standards should be put in place for fields, data types, etc. 
  • How to delegate ownership/stewardship of the data to the appropriate individuals and teams.

2. Develop a data security model

Salesforce data security can be managed in so many ways, it can be daunting to identify which approach is most efficient and manageable. Choosing the correct model is best supported by a conversation with the data governance team, which should determine who in the organization should and shouldn’t be able to see/edit fields, records, or objects.  

 Salesforce admins must take this information and formulate the right mix of security features to effectively protect sensitive information and provide proper access for all users. Keep in mind that a security model is not static. It should be reviewed at least twice a year to accommodate changes in industry regulations and internal needs.

3. Deduplicate data regularly

Duplicate data undermines sales processes and marketing efforts, skews pipeline details, and can result in multiple salespeople contacting the same lead—leaving a bad first impression of how well your company communicates internally.  

To help solve this, admins must make deduplication an ongoing effort. As a best practice, admins should put automation in place for both individual record entry and deduplication en masse after imports/uploads, and (potentially) integrations with other systems.  

Admins working with larger datasets should rely on solutions with specific data dedupe functionality like Validity DemandTools, which can prevent dupes at the point of import and block or report dupes in real-time.

4. Continuously standardize your data

CRM data fuels reporting, sales and marketing activity, and product development. If data elements are not standardized or if free-form text fields capture most of your data, it will be next to impossible to provide accurate reporting. 

Standardization involves using picklist fields where possible and running data standardization actions on key reporting elements like state, postal code, country, industry, account type, and other fields that lend insight into the people and organizations you have a relationship with.  

Additionally, validation rules verify that the data a user enters in a record meets the standards you specify before the user can save the record.

A validation rule may contain a formula that evaluates the data in one or more fields, returning a value of “True” or “False” and displaying an error message to the user when the rule returns a value of “True” due to an invalid value.

Related: What is data cleaning?

However, sometimes using rules and mandatory fields can lead to user adoption issues. Most users don’t like being told they have entered the ‘wrong data’ or the ‘wrong format’.

 To overcome this challenge, admins must find a balance between adding mandatory fields/validations and letting the user work how they want.  

The good news is that there are tools like Validity DemandTools that can provide automations to help admins clean up the database after users have entered non-standardized data.  

For example, if four users enter the following into a country field (US, USA, US of A, and United States), a standardization automated job could be run at predetermined intervals to standardize all those inputs to “United States.” This gives the end user a better experience without sacrificing data quality.

5. Devise a backup plan

Most companies have data flowing in and out of Salesforce constantly, making the data vulnerable to inaccuracies and unplanned changes that create a domino effect in data corruption. And even the best admins will likely encounter situations in which they’ve deleted or modified records by mistake.

These are just a few reasons why every admin should have a proper data backup strategy.

Salesforce provides customers with the option to manually back up their data once a week. As a note of caution, users should also manually back up data before undergoing any significant data project.

Users can also manually restore their data with Salesforce-provided tools like Data Loader.

Other third-party data quality applications offer backup options that can be executed on-demand or on a schedule. Users can browse their options on the Salesforce App Exchange.

6. Refresh and verify your data

People change jobs, companies, email addresses, and phone numbers. But they don’t normally reach out to everyone they do business with to let them know. It’s up to you to uncover those details.  

Many data enrichment solutions integrate with Salesforce to corroborate data points and fill in any missing pieces. 

Companies can also clean their databases using contact verification software like Validity BriteVerify. This solution empowers users to verify email addresses in real-time in Salesforce and purge bad contacts.

Email verification is one of the most cost-effective ways to save on CRM costs and protect your sender reputation. (A clean sender reputation ensures that future sales and marketing campaigns can be delivered as expected.) While real-time verification is important, it’s equally important to go back and do a refresh at least quarterly on your existing data.

7. Publish your data processes

If you want data to make its way into Salesforce properly, users need to be trained on your data best practices and have easily accessible documentation.   

Utilizing the field-level help bubbles in Salesforce is a great way to quickly remind users of each field’s purpose and how data should be entered. 

But in a larger sense, admins should use all available processes, reports, and automations to monitor and report on how data is being entered and its efficacy. They should pay particular attention to how data is being entered, even after documenting processes, to see which aren’t being adopted. That way, they can uncover why and see if there is an automation that can be put in place to improve the data and the end-user experience.

The key to successfully implementing these tips is consistent communication across teams.

Leverage tech tools to manage data more effectively

In the age of information, the sheer volume of data generated and collected by businesses can be overwhelming. To harness the full potential of Salesforce and ensure its effectiveness, impeccable data management is essential.

 Thankfully, there are a myriad of tech tools that can revolutionize your data management practices, reduce errors, enhance speed, and ultimately boost your sales and marketing efforts.

Data loading and importing 

As you work diligently to maintain your organization’s CRM system, you may find that managing and updating data can be a challenging task. 

Data loader tools streamline the process of importing, updating, or deleting data within your CRM system in a structured and controlled manner. There are several data loader tools available but for now, we’ll focus on ones that are owned by or are compatible with Salesforce, namely:

Data quality and cleaning 

Inaccurate or duplicate records can wreak havoc on your CRM system, causing confusion, hindering decision-making, and frustrating your teams. Tools for data quality and cleansing should help identify and eliminate duplicates, standardize data fields, and validate email addresses, ensuring that your database remains pristine. DemandTools is just one popular option.

Data integration and automation 

Streamlining the flow of data between disparate databases is crucial for efficiency. Data integration and automation platforms eliminate manual data entry, reduce errors, and accelerate data exchange, empowering your teams to access real-time information seamlessly. 

Work smarter, not harder by connecting Salesforce with relevant third-party tools (i.e., email marketing platforms or ecommerce systems) like:

To expedite specific routine tasks and maintain consistency, workflow automation tools can be indispensable. Such tools allow you to create and manage workflows that trigger actions, send notifications, and update records automatically. By automating repetitive processes, you not only save time but also reduce the likelihood of human errors. 

Analytics and reporting 

To make informed decisions, sales and marketing teams need insights derived from Salesforce data. Reporting tools can significantly enhance the accuracy and speed of your data analysis, leading to more effective campaigns and strategies. 

Look for tools that enable you to create interactive, visually compelling reports and dashboards, helping your teams visualize data trends and identify opportunities. Some examples are:

Data governance and security 

Protecting your data from breaches and ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations is paramount. 

Salesforce offers robust security features. But for additional layers of protection, you may want to leverage tools like OwnData to safeguard your data against loss or unauthorized access, giving you peace of mind and maintaining data integrity through verification/validation.

 Data productivity

Encouraging Salesforce adoption can be difficult when your users have to waste hours clicking back and forth between tabs and windows to update their data and find the information they need. Instead, look for a data productivity platform like GridBuddy Connect, that can combine Salesforce data into editable, spreadsheet-simple views so your team can get all of their insights in one place.

Better data = better business decisions

TLDR; Salesforce data management isn’t just about maintaining records; it’s about harnessing the full potential of your CRM. Leveraging tech tools and applications like those mentioned above can help you maintain data quality, accelerate processes, and derive valuable insights from your data. 

By incorporating these tools and best practices into your data management strategy, you can empower your sales and marketing teams and CRM administrators to work more efficiently and make data-driven decisions, ultimately driving business growth and success.

Speaking of tools admins need to defeat data drama and wrangle their CRMs into shape––our guide “Today’s Top 7 Data Management Challenges: A Benchmark Guide for CRM Users and Stakeholders” is full of expert tips to manage growing volumes of data and prevent data quality issues from crippling your bottom line!