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5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

Most businesses should be making use of Leads in salesforce.

Unless you’re in a known and finite market then there will always be new Leads to be qualified.

(Actually even if you’re in a finite market in which every player is known you should probably still be using salesforce Leads).

But here’s the thing.

The lead process in salesforce is often badly implemented. That means a lack of sales and marketing alignment.

And that means reduced benefits and usually a lot of unnecessary frustration.

In our experience the mistakes made by one company are often repeated by another. So here are the 5 most common mistakes made in implementing Salesforce Leads.

Oh, and by the way. If one of these mistakes has been made in your business then don’t worry. We also explain the action that will fix it.

So here you go. 5 common mistakes made with salesforce Leads and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1. Not using Web to Lead

Your web site is an ideal place to solicit new inquiries from prospective customers.

In our experience if someone has taken the trouble to get in touch with you then they tend to be a pretty warm Lead.

So it’s a shame that companies often do one of two things. They invite prospects to send an email to an address published on the Contact Us page. Or secondly, they publish a form that doesn’t pass the information directly into salesforce.

This is a mistake because it adversely impacts your businesses’ ability to respond quickly and effectively to the inquiry. It means you cannot:

  • Automatically route the Lead to the person best equipped to deal with the customer’s request.
  • Automatically send the prospect an acknowledgement that you have received their request.
  • Gather information about the request in a structured way (we can’t guarantee that the person includes a phone number in their email, for example).
  • Measure how quickly your team respond to new Leads.
  • Automatically link the Lead to a Campaign. This means you lose valuable information about marketing effectiveness.

It also means someone will need to re-type the inquiry in salesforce and that’s a waste of time.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Replace the email address or third party form with a salesforce Web-to-Lead form.

This will automatically create a Lead in salesforce when someone completes the form. It means you can avoid or correct all of the shortcomings listed above.

Here’s more information on how to implement salesforce Web-to-Lead forms.

Mistake #2. Not using Lead Assignment Rules in salesforce

All evidence demonstrates that the quicker you respond to a sales inquiry the greater the chances of winning the deal.

If you rely on team leaders, sales support or managers to assign Leads then you may be delaying the response to the inquiry. And that can mean lost sales.

The quickest way to get a Lead in salesforce into the hands of a person that can contact the prospect is to use Lead Assignment Rules. So it’s a mistake not to use them.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Lead Assignment Rules can be based on any standard or custom field on the Lead. They’re easy and straightforward to set up. Here’s where you can find more information on setting up Lead Assignment Rules (LINK).

Or get in touch if you’d like to know more about the custom solutions that we have implemented for customers. These include the ability to automatically assign Leads based on holidays and team availability.

Mistake #3. Not linking Leads to Campaigns

In many cases Leads are created but no-one knows where they came from. For example, the Leads are not linked to the marketing campaign that generated the Lead or influenced the qualification process.

This means that information on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is lost. It’s impossible to tell which marketing activities work and which don’t.

But it goes deeper than that.

If the Lead is converted and an Opportunity is created then there’s no information on the contribution of the marketing campaign. In other words, the return on investment on marketing campaigns cannot be calculated.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Link the Lead to the marketing Campaign that generated the Lead.

If the Lead came from an advert, trade show or email program then link the Lead to the relevant Campaign. Be sure to modify the Campaign Member Status values to reflect the various types of Campaign. Here’s a blog post that explains how and why to use Campaign Members.

Sometimes there’s no obvious marketing campaign. For example, if the Lead is generated by a Web-to-Lead form on your web site. Our recommendation is to create an ongoing Campaign called Web Inquiries and link these Leads to that Campaign.

That way you’ll get consistent management information on all Leads and understand the contribution played by different marketing campaigns.

One more thing whilst were on this topic.

Let’s clear up the ambiguity between Campaigns and the Lead Source field.

The Lead Source is a picklist that is populated when the Lead is first created. For example, a picklist value on the Lead Source might be Exhibitions. But the Campaign tells you which specific exhibition generated the Lead. So use both in conjunction with each other to get the most informative management information.

Mistake #4. Opportunities are not created when the Lead is Converted

Here’s what happened in several companies that asked for our help in improving the lead management process.

The telemarketing team contacted the Lead and arranged an appointment for a field sales person. The Lead was assigned to the sales person. The sales person converted the Lead to an Account and Contact but without creating an Opportunity.

The meeting created by the telemarketing team was fulfilled by the sales person. If the meeting was successful then the sales person created an Opportunity.

But this approach is a mistake. Here’s why.

The relationship between the Opportunity and originating Campaign and the Lead Source was broken. This is because the Opportunity was not created at the point of Conversion. This means that it is now impossible to determine the effectiveness of different marketing campaigns or lead sources.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Convert the Lead to an Account, Contact and Opportunity when the meeting is arranged. This means the link between the Campaign and Lead Source is retained and passed through to the Opportunity.

It also means that the meeting is recorded against both the Contact and the Opportunity.

As a result, reports and dashboard charts now demonstrate the efficacy of Campaigns and various lead sources in producing revenue.

Both of our customers set the new Opportunity to “Stage 0 – Marketing Qualified”.

It’s perfectly acceptable for the sales person to “Qualify-out” the Opportunity immediately after the initial meeting. The sales person selects from a ‘Reason Lost’ picklist and enters additional information into a text box or the Chatter Feed on the Opportunity. This means there’s a process of continuous improvement fueled by feedback on the success or failure of each early-stage Opportunity.

Study this blog post to understand about Lead Conversion and to download lead management process diagrams. To find more about tracking the revenue contribution of converted leads use, 7 Lead Conversion Metrics You Should Use (But Probably Don’t).

Mistake #5. Treat every new salesforce Lead as if it’s sales-ready

Often businesses don’t differentiate between sales-ready Leads and nurture-ready Leads. They treat everyone as sales-ready.

If someone fills in a form on your web site asking you to get in touch then it’s safe to say they’re sales-ready. They’re willing and able to speak to a sales person.

But that doesn’t apply to everyone that fills in a form. And it definitely doesn’t always apply to Leads from other sources.

Think about your own buying process. You might download an e-book, whitepaper, case study, product specification or other useful content. But it doesn’t mean you immediately want to hear from a sales person.

Yet often companies pass these Leads straight to Sales to call. And that’s a mistake.

Here’s another example.

At considerable expense one of our customers attended a trade show and gathered 160 new Leads. “It will be like shooting fish in a barrel”, said the VP of marketing as he handed the Leads over to Sales.

The Sales team phoned all the Leads. Want to guess how many new Opportunities were created?


12 months later we phoned 10 of the Leads as part of our research project for the customer. Here’s what we found.

  • 2 companies had purchased from a competitor.
  • 2 companies were actively engaged in a purchasing process but neither had involved our client.
  • 1 hadn’t started a formal purchasing process but expected to do so in the next 6 months.
  • 4 had taken no action following the trade show and didn’t expect to make a purchase any time soon.
  • 1 was only interested in winning the iPad giveaway competition.

In other words half of the Leads were legitimate potential customers. In fact two had already bought from a competitor.

At the time Sales contacted the Leads the prospects were not sales-ready. They were nurture-ready. The fact that our client failed to communicate or nurture these Leads on a regular basis after the trade show was a mistake. And that mistake meant missed opportunities, and in all probability, lost sales.

Read the full story here.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Those Leads that are sales-ready need to be contacted quickly. But not all Leads fall into this category. In fact the majority probably don’t.

To deal with the nurture-ready Leads implement a regular program of targeted marketing communications to move Leads along the path to being sales-ready.

The most effective way to do this is by using a marketing automation platform such as Marketo, Hubspot or Pardot. These applications enable sophisticated targeting to support lead nurturing. They also provide lead tracking and scoring to indicate when a Lead appears to be sales-ready.

If you don’t have access to and advanced marketing automation tool then use a mass email tools such as Dotmailer or MailChimp. The capabilities are less advanced but they can still be integrated with salesforce to track how well specific Leads are responding to marketing communications.

Of course don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like our help with Leads in salesforce in your business. We won’t necessarily regard you as sales-ready but we promise to contact you quickly. 🙂

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How to Prevent Duplicate Accounts in Salesforce with This Free App

How to Prevent Duplicate Accounts in Salesforce with This Free App

Ever felt you’re seeing double when you look at Leads and Accounts in salesforce?

Or treble? Or even quadruple?

Like unwelcome guests at a party, duplicate records have probably sneaked into your salesforce system.

Or they arrived in droves and marched through the front door.

Like unwelcome guests, duplicates are there because nothing was done to stop them getting through in the first place.

But here’s a secret. You can prevent duplicate records from being created. Nip them in the bud.

And best of all you can do it for free. That’s right, you can prevent duplicates at no cost.

How? By deploying a must-have application from the AppExchange. It’s called DupeCatcher.

The Duplicate Problem Explained

Duplicate Accounts, Contacts and Leads in salesforce can be a big problem.

Imagine calling a Lead only for them to tell you that they were called earlier by your colleague. Or worse still, that they’re already a customer. It’s not the best way to make them feel valued.

Thinking about targeting your second-tier Accounts this month? Good idea. It’s been a while since Acme, Acme Ltd and Acme Limited all had a call.

So let’s break the problem into two separate challenges.

First, you need to prevent duplicate accounts and leads from being created in the first place. We recommend the free DupeCatcher app to do this. This blog explains why and the steps you should take to get the best out of DupeCatcher.

The second challenge is to merge existing duplicate records. Depending on the scale of the problem there are different ways to do this. We’ll explain all in separate blog post. (Tip: you can install DupeCatcher today which at least will stop the problem from getting any worse).

Here’s how duplicate records get created in salesforce

Duplicate records find their way into salesforce from a variety of sources.

  • Imported external databases.
  • Migrated data.
  • Web-to-Lead entries.
  • Manually entered by Users.

We often find it’s the last one that causes the most duplicates.

When a new Account, Contact or Lead is created there’s no standard feature that forces the User to search for existing records. So often, people don’t search.

And ownership can be a contentious thing. Sometimes duplicates get created because someone else already owns the Account, Contact or Lead.

These include obvious sources such as purchased databases but one of the common and discreet sources is data manually entered by users of salesforce.

Prevent duplicate Accounts, Contacts and Leads being created

DupeCatcher might only do one thing. But it does it very well.

It prevents duplicate records from being created.

DupeCatcher is a free app available on the AppExchange that prevents users from creating duplicate Leads, Accounts and Contacts at the point of entry.

It’s provided by Symphonic Source. They also sell a cracking paid-for application called Cloudingo which is great for merging existing duplicate records.

DupeCatcher is easy to configure and can prevent duplicate Leads, Accounts and Contacts each time a user attempts to create or edit these records. It also identifies possible duplicates from Leads to Accounts and from Leads to Contacts.

Prevent web-to-lead duplicates

DupeCatcher can also be set up to prevent duplicates from being created via your website web-to-lead forms.

This can be crucial to prevent the same person or company being duplicated in your database at different stages of your sales cycle.

But hang on. Can’t sales and marketing people just use the Find Duplicates button on Leads?

The short answer is yes, they can. The realistic answer is that they often don’t. The smart answer is why clean your dishes when there’s a perfectly good dishwasher to do it for you? Especially if that dishwasher is free to use!

Here’s how DupeCatcher prevents duplicate accounts

DupeCatcher allows you to create a set of Filters to detect potential duplicates when manually creating or editing records.

To get you started, DupeCatcher even has several pre-built filters to cover several simple ways to detect duplicates. These include checking if any new Accounts match the Account Name of existing Accounts and if any new Leads match the email address of existing Leads.

Account filters in Dupecatcher define duplication types and actions.

Fundamentally this is how DupeCatcher works.

Each Filter checks for duplicate Accounts, Contacts or Leads (Filter Type) and performs an Action depending on whether the record is being created (Insert Action) or edited (Update Action).

Filters operate on an ‘OR’ basis, which allows us to have more than one way to detect duplicate Accounts, Contacts, or Leads.

Prevent Account duplication with filter names in Dupecatcher

Each Filter then contains a set of Rules. Rules are the next level of granularity and state what fields are being matched and how they are matched (Matching Approach).

Rules operate on an ‘AND’ basis which means that all Rules must be true before the Filter will say it’s a duplicate.

Prevent Account duplicates with Name Rules in Dupecatcher

The best part is that Filters and Rules can be customized so you control how possible duplicates are detected and say what should happen depending on whether you are creating or editing a record.

Let’s take the example of Dave Apthorp who’s eager to set up an Account for GenePoint so he can start working on his latest deal. The trouble is that Dave never checks if the Account is already in salesforce and always tries to create a new one. Not only is GenePoint already an Account, but it’s owned by his colleague Shaun Yates.

Genepoint Account duplicated.

Here’s where DupeCatcher comes to the fore.

When Dave attempts to create the Account he is receives the following message.

Error message when preventing duplicate accounts using Dupecatcher.

In this scenario DupeCatcher stops the Account from being created and provides a list (and links) of the potential duplicates identified. From here Dave can go directly to our existing GenePoint Account and confirm if he is creating a duplicate or not.

If Dave thinks he’s creating a duplicate then should stop creating the Account and go have a friendly chat with Shaun about sharing his Account.

If after checking the GenePoint Account Dave decides that he’s not creating a duplicate, then we have given him the ability to ‘Override DupeCatcher’ and create the Account by clicking New Account.

As with the Filter Actions, the Override DupeCatcher feature is optional and can be turned on or off in the ‘Dupcatcher Application Settings’.

This is power of the DupeCatcher. Choose the type of Filter. Define how duplicates are detected. Adapt the available set of subsequent actions to the scenario.

There’s also a nice set of options including whether you wish to bypass record visibility (see the example below). This provides a great level of flexibility and control throughout the entire process.

Here’s how to get started with DupeCatcher

Don’t hold off and let the issue of duplicates snowball. Every day that duplicates are allowed to enter your salesforce will only add to the data clean up job later on.

Head over to the salesforce AppExchange and install DupeCatcher today. If you’re not 100% sure if it’s right for your business, then install it into a Sandbox first and test it more rigorously.

DupeCatcher can be downloaded from here:


On the details page you’ll also find handy links to DupeCatcher’s Info Sheet and FAQ’s.

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5 Tips to Help You Create Perfect Salesforce Reports

5 Tips to Help You Create Perfect Salesforce Reports

Information allows managers to act; data doesn’t. That’s why effective salesforce reports present information in a way that is quick and easy to assimilate. They draw attention to the essential facts. They allows managers to act, not analyse. So here’s our 5 tip guide to creating effective, action-oriented salesforce reports.

  1. Draw the eye to the key information.
  2. Present information in a structured way.
  3. Remove clutter that distracts from the main message.
  4. Group data into meaningful time periods.
  5. Be consistent in the way colour is used in report charts.

We explain what each tip means and how to achieve it in salesforce. We’ve even included videos to show exactly how to apply each tip to salesforce reports.

1. Draw the eye to key information in salesforce reports

Let’s start by answering the question I’m most often asked about salesforce reports. “How do you use colour highlighting to focus attention on the key data?” Here’s an example of what we mean.

Salesforce report with conditional highlighting so that the eye catches the important information.

The report shows the pipeline opportunities for each Account. We can see the account names on the left, and the opportunity close dates across the top. It’s a report that contains a lot of zeros. The important information is any figure greater than zero. That tells us the Account has opportunities that are due to close in that month. Look at Athena Home Products in the top row. The green highlighting immediately shows that this customer has opportunities in two months – February and July.  United Oil & Gas (third row from the bottom) has open Opportunities in months February though to August. The colour shading is done using the ‘conditional highlighting’ feature. Here’s what the same report looks like without conditional highlighting.

Salesforce report without conditional highlighting makes it much more difficult to see essential information.

The viewer has to work much harder to find the important information. In contrast, conditional highlighting means managers can quickly run an eye over the report. They immediately get to see which accounts are contributing to the pipeline, and when. This video shows how easy it is to set up conditional highlighting on a salesforce report.

Incidentally, this report allows managers to challenge their existing account management and business development strategy. It’s key information for funnel reviews so we’ve created a dedicated blog post that explains how to create and apply the Accounts with Open Opportunities salesforce report.

2. Present information in a structured way

The way data is presented makes all the difference. Structure it well and managers can access the information quickly and easily. Present it badly and they’re left to dig the information out for themselves. And that means, nine times out of ten, salesforce reports should be presented in a matrix format. We’ve published many blog posts that explain how to use dashboards to gain visibility of the sales pipeline. In virtually every case, the underlying information is displayed in a Matrix Report format. The ‘Accounts with Open Opportunities’ report in the conditional highlighting tip is an example of what we mean. In this case the matrix has account names down the left, close dates across the top. The information is accessible in a way that allows managers to absorb it quickly and make decisions on how to act. But here’s an alternative way to present the very same information. This time it’s using the Summary report format.

Summary report makes it much more difficult to understand the data compared to a matrix report.

The report is showing exactly the same data. But the Summary format presents the information in a much less usable and accessible way. In fact the resulting report is so unwieldly we had to truncate the screenshot just to display it in this article. So unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise, insist that your salesforce reports are created in Matrix, rather than Summary format. This video shows you exactly how to create a Matrix report.

3. Remove clutter that distracts from the main message

When it comes to sales performance reports, very often less really is more. For most sales managers time is short. So salesforce reports need to present the information clearly and concisely. But very often salesforce reports contain distracting clutter. And chief amongst the clutter is the Record Count. That’s the number of records in the system that make up a total dollar figure. Think about the Accounts with Open Opportunities report. Only the essential information – the value of deals due to close each month – is visible in the report. Here’s an alternative version of the same report. This time it includes the Record Count.

Including the record count in a salesforce report often adds unnecessary clutter.

Does the Record Count add compelling value to the report? Well, it tells us that for American Banking Corporation, the £136,000 that is due to close in March, is made up of two opportunities not one. But the sacrifice we have to make for this piece of information is a lot more data in the body of the report. Plus it almost doubles the overall length of the report, meaning the viewer has to scroll much further down to see the full report. It event means we have to truncate the screen shot to fit it into our blog post! So unless the Record Count adds meaningful value in your salesforce report, remove it. Here’s another example of clutter. Again the same report. But could you manage effectively using this report?

If details are shown in the salesforce report it is much harder to access management information.

What’s happened here is that the report is set to run with ‘Show Details’. In other words, when the viewer runs the report it immediately presents the full underlying information. But effective managers will look at the summary information first. If they need more detail – in this case information on the specific opportunities that make up the report – they can get it by expanding the report. But in the first case, unless a piece of data adds compelling value to the report, remove it. And that process usually begins with the Record Count and setting the report to run with Hide Details. Watch the video on matrix reports to see how to remove the Record Count and set the report to run with details hidden.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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4. Group data into meaningful time periods

Most salesforce reports that provide information on the sales pipeline or won revenue summarise the data by date.

For example, managers want to see the value of deals due to close each month. That’s what our Open Opportunities by Account report tells us.

But managers need the information in meaningful time periods. For many of our clients, the sales cycle is typically three to five months. So salesforce reports need to present the value of opportunities due to close for each calendar month.

Conversely Taylor Woodrow operate in the construction industry. There the sales cycle is often three to five years. So salesforce pipeline reports present the information in calendar quarters. For managers in Taylor Woodrow, that’s a meaningful period of time.

In either case, it’s not relevant to present the pipeline in daily segments.

But look at what happens when you first apply a date to a salesforce report. Here’s our Accounts with Open Opportunities report again.

By default salesforce groups by individual dates on reports.

The Close Dates across the top automatically group by individual dates.

That’s a severe case of not being able to see the wood for the trees.

Fortunately it’s easy to fix (we show it in the video on tip #2), it’s just not always done!

5. Be consistent in the use of colour in salesforce report charts

A picture paints a thousand words. That’s why every great salesforce report has a chart.

Everyone can assimilate information quickly from a chart. But doing it efficiently means having consistency across charts in different reports. Particularly in the use of colours.

And unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Have a look at the two salesforce report charts below, taken from the same salesforce environment.  Both charts show the sales pipeline by close date, grouped by opportunity stage.

Use consistent colors across report charts showing the same data.

The size of the pipeline in both cases is the same. But there’s a major difference.

Different colours have been assigned to the opportunity stages in each chart. On the left hand chart, for example, opportunities in the Prospecting Stage are in blue. On the right hand chart, they’re in brown.

And that’s confusing.

Even more so if you have these two charts alongside each other on the same dashboard.

It happens because salesforce dynamically assigns colours to charts. Ask your administrator to use the feature, “Assign Fixed Colors to Picklist Values” in the configuration area.

So use these tips to increase the impact of the salesforce reports in your business. Make it easy for viewers to quickly access the information they need. Present the information effectively. Remove clutter.

The result will be information, not data. Information that drives the sales pipeline and sales performance.

Good luck.

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10 Tips to Prepare Salesforce Import Data

10 Tips to Prepare Salesforce Import Data

“Where on earth do I start?”

That’s a common reaction when contemplating how to import data to Salesforce or improve existing data quality.

And it’s true. There’s a lot to do. Much hard work can be necessary when it comes to importing data. Combined with a certain level of attention to detail.

But relax. Whether you’re importing data for the first time or improving your existing salesforce data, use our tips and best practice guide to make the process a lot easier and achieve a better data quality outcome.

After all, high quality data is a proven driver of salesforce user adoption and accurate report and dashboards. And that means all salesforce users have better insight into sales performance and the sales pipeline.

And remember, if you’re importing new data to salesforce then download our Account and Contact template to get off to a winning start.

1. Spreadsheet for importing data

You can’t just import data from any old spreadsheet into Salesforce. The spreadsheet itself has to be properly formatted and structured. Downloading our Account & Contact template is a good way to start.

Collate your data from the various sources. Existing CRM systems, accounting packages, users’ own spreadsheets, business cards stored in desk drawers are all common sources of existing data. Pull it all together and start populating your spreadsheet.

If you’re improving existing salesforce data here’s what you need to do.  Create a tabular report containing the Account and Contact data you want to improve. Don’t forget to include the Account ID and Contact ID – you’re going to need these when you import your changes. Export your report to CSV format and then follow the tips below to improve your data. When you’re finished, use the Data Import Wizard to update your existing data.

2. Account Name

Sort the spreadsheet by Account Name. Scroll down the list, correcting any obvious spelling mistakes. Check for inconsistencies. If you have three Contacts you’re going to have three rows in your spreadsheet. So make the Account Names consistent within each row.

3. Street Address

Many organisations will have several components to their Street Address (we’re talking about all parts of the address before the City).

It’s essential that the Street Address for each Account is contained in a single cell. Likewise for the Street Address for Contacts. In our case, for example, “3rd Floor, 9 Devonshire Square” goes into one cell, with the two components separated by a comma.

Whilst you’re at it, strip out all the zip codes, city data, phone numbers or anything else lurking in the Street column. Cut and paste that data into the relevant column in the spreadsheet.

4. City, State and Country

Sort the spreadsheet by each column in turn. Scroll down the spreadsheet, making sure the data is consistent within each column. The City column should contain only town and city data for example. State, zip codes (and any other data for that matter) belong in their respective columns.

While you’re at it, correct any obvious spelling mistakes. And make abbreviations and values consistent. CA or California across all data values, for example. UK or United Kingdom. Not a mix of both.

5. Phone numbers

First things first – don’t lose your leading zeros. In your spreadsheet, format all columns containing numbers (US readers, that includes the zip code column) to TEXT. You don’t want 0203 280 3665 beginning with 203 in Salesforce.

Then look for cells with more than one number. The company Switchboard number belongs in the Account Phone column and a direct dial number in the Contact Phone.

Look for any obvious inconsistencies. All UK mobile phone numbers, for example, begin with 07. Cut them out of the Account Phone column and paste them into the Mobile column for the Contact.

6. Email Addresses

The scourge of data import!

More problems arise from incorrectly formatted email addresses than everything else put together.

Here are the most common errors:

– Punctuation marks at the beginning or end of the email address.
– Missing @.
– No period mark.
– A character space within the email address.

Here’s how to test for these problems.

  • From the Data menu within your spreadsheet, select Filter. This will add the Filter dropdown function to each column.
  • Click the filter down arrow in the column containing the email addresses.
  • Hover over the Text Filters menu option.
  • Select ‘Begins With’.
  • In the top dialogue box, type the comma mark and then click OK.

This will return all the emails that start with a comma. Go ahead and fix the problem.

Then do the same for the various other potential issues using the same process. Check for character spaces within the email addresses by placing your cursor in the ‘Select’ dialogue box and then pressing the space bar once.

7. Contact Names

Here again you have a choice in how you format your spreadsheet. Place the First Name and Last Name in the same column. Or split them into separate columns. Unfortunately you can’t mix and match.

Remember that whichever approach you choose, each Contact needs to be on a separate row. So if you have five Contacts at the same Account, you’ll have five rows.

Make sure the Account Name and Address are the same in each row. That way, when you import the data, Salesforce will de-duplicate the Accounts so that you’re left with one Account and five attached Contacts.

Check for any obvious errors by sorting the spreadsheet by Name (or First Name and then Last Name if you’re using two columns for Contact name). Make sure names are properly capitalised, that way when you send a mass email you’ll be addressing Gary and not gary. If you’re confident in fixing any spelling mistakes then go ahead and do so, remembering names can be legitimately spelled in different ways (Gary and Garry, for example).

8. Type and Industry Fields

Now is also a good time to set the correct values for the Type and Industry fields. The chances are that if you don’t do it now, then it’s probably not going to happen in the future.

You may need to change the standard salesforce picklist values for these fields. The typical values you’re going to need for Type include Customer, Prospect, Supplier and so on.

There is also a wide ranging set of standard values in the Industry field. Customise these to the specific needs of your business. If you operate in a particular market niche then you may want to change the values to be appropriate to that niche. Be careful not to overlap with the Type field. The two sets of picklist values should be mutually exclusive.

Then sort the spreadsheet by Account Name. Populate (or get someone who knows the data to populate) the Type and Industry values for each record. Laborious, but if it doesn’t happen now then the chances are it’s not going to happen any time soon after you’ve imported the data to Salesforce.

9. Record Owner

This refers to the User that will own the Account & Contact records when you import them to Salesforce. Every record needs to have an Owner, albeit the Account Owner and Contact Owner don’t necessarily need to be the same person.

If you don’t specify the Owner then the person that performs the data import will be set as the Owner. Which may be fine. You can always re-assign the records later using the Mass Transfer function in Salesforce. However, if you’re getting ready for go-live, then ensuring the data is assigned to the correct Owners will often avoid lots of unproductive argument and discussion during the training!

10. Field Length

Nothing is more frustrating than spending lots of time preparing your data then doing the import, only to find some data didn’t load because the field length was too long.

Every field in Salesforce has a maximum length. This is invariably large enough for any well formatted set of data. The problems that occur typically arise due to problems that weren’t picked up in preparing the data, for example, two email addresses in the same spreadsheet cell.

To check for this use the LEN function in a blank column in your spreadsheet. The maximum character length of some of the most important fields is:

– Account Name: 255
– Street: 255
– Phone: 40
– Email: 80
– Last Name: 80

Remember spaces count as characters when you test your data.

Now it’s time to import your data! If you’ve just finished doing the data preparation then have a coffee break before you move onto the import process. You don’t want to mess it up now after all that hard work!

And finally, if you have any difficulty get in touch and we’ll give you some guidance by email or over the phone.

Additional data import resources:

Detailed instructions for using the data import template

  1. Enter Account (i.e. company or organisation) data in columns A to M.
  2. Enter Contact (i.e. person) data in columns N to AB.
  3. If you have custom fields in salesforce and need to import that data, simply create additional columns in the spreadsheet. Use the custom field name as the column header name. It doesn’t matter where you insert the new columns, just locate them in either the Account or Contact sections of the spreadsheet.
  4. If you use multi currency, enter the relevant Currency value in Column B for the Account. Copy this across into Column R for the contacts.
  5. If your salesforce environment uses record types for Accounts (or Contacts) then create a new column. Remember that if you’re using the Data Loader to import the data, you need to enter the record type id not the name.

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10 best practice tips for high impact salesforce dashboards

10 best practice tips for high impact salesforce dashboards

Dashboards deliver huge benefits to salesforce.com users. But the benefit is greatest when the dashboard is properly set up. Follow these 10 best practice tips to create awesome salesforce dashboards.

1. Pull the dashboard chart from the source report

Cut your work in half. The source report that drives the dashboard should, itself, always have a chart. So don’t create the same chart twice. Pull the dashboard graph from the source report.

pull the dashboard chart from the source report in salesforce

It’s simple to do. Click on “Use chart as defined in source report” on the Component Editor.

2. Set the dashboard width to be Wide

Laptop screens are shrinking. People are using tablets for work. It’s a fact that many of your Users are going to be viewing your dashboards on pretty small screens. So it’s essential to make full use of screen real estate.

However by default, salesforce sets the dashboard column width to Medium. This results in the right-hand third of any screen not being used. So set the column width to Wide. The dashboard will scale to fit the full screen width that’s available on the Users’ device.

Set the dashboard width to wide in order to make full use of screen real estate

3. Group similar dashboard charts using the chart ‘Header Bar’

A dashboard will often contain several charts that display different views of the same data. For example, pipeline deals by Stage and Opportunity Owner.

Use the Header Bar to create the summary headline. Then use the Chart Title to identify the specific characteristics of each graph.

Use the header bar on each dashboard chart to group graphs together

For example, the charts above show two views of the sales pipeline. The first is summarised by Opportunity Stage. The second categorises the same data by Opportunity Owner. The Header Bar groups the two charts. The Title distinguishes between the two.

4. Use the Footer to note dashboard filters

Sometimes the source report contains filters that might not immediately be obvious to the dashboard viewer. Use the Footer to record these filters or any other important notes.

Use Footers on the dashboard chart to note filters

In this example the Footer reminds Users that the Prospecting Stage is excluded from the chart.

5. Align the Chart Title, Header and Footer with the source report

Here’s one of the most common errors on salesforce dashboards. Misalignment between what the chart says it displays – and what it actually displays.

Check that everything is consistent. If the Chart Title is ‘Deals won this Financial Year’ then make sure the source report is indeed running on Financial Year and not Calendar Year. And use terms like ‘This Financial Year’ or This Calendar Year’ rather than simply ‘This Year’.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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6. Put the Legend below the chart

Dashboard charts are relatively small. And the User may be viewing it on a small screen. So maximise the size of the graphs within the dashboard by setting the Legend to be below the chart.

Salesforce doesn’t do this by default. It places the Legend to the right of the chart. Which as you can see in the example below, squashes the dashboard chart.

Place the Legend below the dashboard chart

7. Enable Hover on dashboard charts

Enabling the hover feature on each chart means that Users can get additional information directly from the dashboard. This saves drilling down to the source report.

Enable hover on each dashboard chart


Make sure you enable Hover on the source report chart and then this feature will be automatically enabled on the dashboard chart.

8. Put the chart below the report

Strictly speaking this isn’t about the salesforce dashboard appearance. But it is about how Users interact with your dashboard.

By default, salesforce places the chart in the source report above the report. So when a User clicks on the dashboard chart to drill to the report, the first thing they see is the graph they’ve just clicked on. Which probably isn’t what they want.

Edit the chart on the report so that it sits below the report. That way Users will quickly get access to the important information they’re looking for.

The screen shot above shows a properly formatted chart on the source report. Legend below the graph. Hover enabled. Chart below the source report.

Put the chart on the source report below the report to make it easier for users.

9. Auto-refresh the dashboard

If you’ve created a high quality set of graphs and charts on your dashboard then Users will look at it first thing in the morning. Before they get down to the business of the day.

Set the dashboard to automatically refresh overnight. And select any Users that should be automatically emailed a copy of the dashboard.

Auto refresh the dashboard each night.

10. Choose the right chart for the job!

Think carefully about the chart style you’re choosing. Many reports that are displayed on dashboards contain a time dimension. The sales pipeline by Close Date for example.

This type of information is often best represented using bar charts. Probably of the stacked variety. And definitely not a pie charts.

And be careful when you do choose a stacked bar chart. By default salesforce selects the parallel stacked chart. What you may well want is the one in the middle. The stacked bar chart.

Chose the right chart on the dashboard for the right job.

Sales leaders quickly get frustrated if they can’t find information quickly. Follow these 10 best practice tips and you’ll create awesome dashboards that will keep Users coming back for more.

More tips for awesome dashboards

Now you’re ready to take things to the next stage. Which dashboard charts should you create to provide full visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance? Try these blog posts:

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