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By Liz Stone July 13, 2017

Down with Dirty Data! How to Clean Up Your CRM This Summer

If you’re reading this blog and thinking “I don’t need to do this, my CRM is spotless”, then we applaud you! Few can say they have the time, resources, and/or interest to clean up their CRM systems, and even fewer can say that they’ve completely wrangled their dirty data.

A messy CRM is a common problem for many businesses, playing a major role in lowered sales productivity and failed initiatives. Consider this scenario – you assign a 100-person contact list from your CRM for your sales person to call on. Your salesperson goes down the list but is unable to have any meaningful phone calls – many of the numbers are outdated, or no longer in service. Now your salesperson has wasted several days due to dirty data. 

Regardless of if your CRM has never been organized, or it just needs a little upkeep, the below recommendations will make a difference. Note they are intended for any CRM, but the actual process for completing these tasks may vary depending on the system you use. 

Seven Tasks for a Cleaner CRM

Set formatting guidelines

Rules for formatting will make your contacts more consistent, which will allow for accurate reports and customer information (not to mention mismatched formatting is an eyesore!). Create a list of the styles to be used when entering data for names, company names, job titles, addresses, phone numbers, etc. Drop-down menus can often be used to make this easier when entering new data.

Define your key fields

Determine the mandatory fields for accounts and contacts in your CRM. Once these have been identified and added to the CRM, make sure they are populated for each contact and account. If you can, remove unnecessary fields so they don’t distract sales and marketing from the fields they should be focusing on.

Incorporate your sales process

Use the same stages and language from your sales process in your CRM for easier pipeline tracking. For example, if you have five stages in your sales process, you should have the same five sales stages in your CRM. If you have different terms (MQL, SQL, lead, opportunity, etc.) or percentages for a lead as it moves through the process, indicate these as well. Custom drop-downs and fields will help you match your sales process exactly with your CRM system, so use these capabilities if you have them.

Remove duplicates

It’s highly likely that your CRM contains duplication. If you have multiple contacts with the same name, the best practice is the merge the duplicates under one contact. If you don’t have merging capabilities, or some of the duplicates are completely outdated or void of valuable information, consider archiving or deleting them. To avoid future duplication, have your team search the CRM for a contact prior to adding it.

Update current and recent accounts/contacts

For accounts and contacts that are current or have been recently active, check their information and update new contacts, life cycle changes, etc. as needed. Once all accounts have been updated, make an ongoing plan to review data on a quarterly, bi-annual, or annual basis to keep everything current.  


Archive, mark, or remove inactive accounts/contacts

For accounts and contacts that haven’t been active after a longer time period, you can archive them (rather than delete them), so they aren’t distracting from the accounts that sales should be focusing on. Another option is to tag such accounts with “Disqualified” or “Inactive” to make their status clear to sales and leave them off of reports and contact lists. 

Update your dashboards

Take a closer look at your dashboards to make sure you are tracking the right data. This may require further customization than the default setting that came with your CRM. For more on this topic, read the blog CRM for CEOs: Are You Looking at the Right Data?, which provides the kind of information sales leadership should be ever-cognizant of in their CRM. 


CRM clean-up can be a daunting project, and will likely require more involvement than just the sales department since other groups such as marketing, support, and customer service may also use the system. We’re encouraging that you start it early in the summer so you have several months to work on it. 

One way to tackle this project is to make CRM clean-up a team initiative, and assign a couple of hours daily or weekly to sales/marketing/other involved groups, to make collective headway on the cleanup. If you can, try turning it into a contest or plan a little fun once this project is completed! 

If you are looking for recommendations for a new or existing CRM system, or for help with your sales operations, contact Sales Result. We offer customized sales operations solutions that support sales and make the sales organization more transparent and data-driven. 

Topics: CRM, Summertime Sales

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