Poor data quality can cause up to $15 million of annual financial losses on average, based on research from Gartner. Doesn’t it sound convincing enough to start rethinking the ways you keep your data clean and accurate? But, if you are already exploring ways of instilling trust through your accurate data then it’s the right time to dive with us into the topic of Salesforce duplicate management.
Of course, duplicate data is only a part of the problem if we think about data inaccuracy. It also involves missing fields, invalid data formatting, invalid data like emails, phone numbers, or addresses. But, duplicated data is still the top data management pain point preventing the successful operation of the organization.
And, if maintaining clean a thousand records may seem not a big deal, keeping clean and up-to-date huge volumes of data across various departments or regions of the company can become a real problem.
Moreover, you can choose several options depending on the amount of information stored and entering your CRM system.
This post will explore the key topics related to how to prevent duplicate records in Salesforce, like:
- Why duplicate data poses a problem
- What is Salesforce data management and how it can help to maintain your data clean
- 7 Salesforce Duplicate Rules You Must Activate Straightaway and why a LinkedIn link is our favorite data deduplication criterion for those who sell other businesses
Let’s revise the most common Salesforce duplicate management approaches on how to find duplicates in Salesforce and to get the most out of your platform.
Why Is Duplicate Data a Problem?
Problems related to the data quality may result in:
- Reps accidentally calling leads and contacts that other reps own
- Wasting prospects’ and customers’ time.
- Multiple calling to the same prospects and customers that turn out to be overly pressing,
- Disorganized work of the organization and damaged business’s reputation
- Additional unnecessary costs to verify duplicated emails, send mass email campaigns, make phone calls, data enrichment services
Data disorganization may seem a disturbing sign for customers because if the company can’t track its own business, how can they properly care for their clients’ interests? And it’s when trust in your company can be at stake.
However, Salesforce wouldn’t be the leader in the CRM market if this company hadn’t thought ahead of time and designed ways of weeding out bad data. You can save your sales reps time and prevent them from missing important sales opportunities by flagging records that are potential duplicates and having access to all their prospects’ and clients’ reliable data.
And, as a result, your teams can be confident that they’re capturing correct data at the right time and stop guessing games of whether they’ve qualified the same prospect. And all of this can be achieved with Salesforce data management solutions.
What Role Does Clean Data Play in the Project Success?
Check how to prepare for Salesforce implementation and when and how you should start preparing your data for migration to Salesforce
What is Salesforce Duplicate Management?
We’ve outlined some of the issues that duplicate data can cause. But, fortunately, to ensure that your organization complies with various data protection and privacy regulations, Salesforce enabled duplicate management tools to find duplicates in Salesforce as well as to track your progress in their removal.
Also, Salesforce data management helps prevent your sales reps from generating more duplicates. However, CRM data deduplication isn’t available out of the box on Salesforce and needs manual involvement in the activation of Salesforce duplicate management functionality.
Salesforce Duplicate Management allows you to easily deal with duplicates for:
- Business accounts
- Person accounts
- Records created from custom objects
You can configure its logic up to your needs and exceed just exact detection and matching capabilities. Standard matching logic can identify possible duplicate records based on exact matches. For example, two contacts with the same name.
But if you choose to set up a rule including fuzzy matching, you’ll be able to find potential duplicate records based on a variety of fields.
For example, if you activate a rule including fuzzy matching for first names. Duplicate management tool will identify the two contacts Antony Brandon and Brandon Brown as possible duplicate records.
The inbuilt Salesforce duplicate management tools are already included in Essentials, Professional, Enterprise, Performance, Unlimited, and Developer Editions. And they imply Matching Rules, Duplicate Rules, and Duplicate Jobs.
Now, let’s have a look at the gist of this function. We’ll go through the process of deduplication, and how to determine what’s the best approach for your organization.
What Are Matching Rules in Salesforce?
Matching Rule in Salesforce is about the criteria of identifying duplicates and matching records as a duplicate. You can pair records within an object or across two objects with different matching algorithms. For example, Lead and Contact matching algorithms may include exact matches, fuzzy matches like an acronym, initials, or name variants.
You can also create custom matching rules to include fuzzy matching for phone numbers. Salesforce will flag contacts with matching phone numbers as duplicates, even if one includes a country code and the other doesn’t.
Limitations of Salesforce duplicate matching rules:
- Salesforce Duplicate Management tools also lack a prioritizing method. For example, a matching email address should count heavier than a matching first name.
- Only up to five matching rules can be activated at a time.
- Only up to five matching rules can be executed on an object.
What Are Duplicate Rules in Salesforce?
A Duplicate Rule in Salesforce defines in what situations the Matching Rule can be executed and what action should take place once a duplicate is detected using the Matching Rule.
There are four sets up to cover the different scenarios of comparing:
- Lead to Lead
- Lead to Contact
- Contact to Lead
- Contact to Contact
Duplicate rules can initiate two possible results:
- an alert or/and a report for the user creating a duplicate
- block the generation of a duplicate record
Depending on how you configure duplicate management, sales reps will see an alert if they’re about to create a duplicate or they will be blocked from creating the duplicate altogether.
After matching rules do the work of identifying potential duplicates, duplicate rules step in, and determine what to do with them. As the admin, you choose whether to block your sales teams from creating duplicate records or let them create the record.
You may also watch a video dedicated to using Duplicate Rules and the Potential Duplicates Component.
What Are Duplicate Jobs in Salesforce?
For Salesforce users on the ‘Performance’ and ‘Unlimited’ editions, Salesforce has improved Duplicate Management with Duplicate Job functionality for detecting duplicates in existing data in mass. The Duplicate Job produces a list of duplicate record sets from which you can compare and merge duplicate records.
Ok, now when you already know what Duplicate Jobs in Salesforce stands for it’s time to get to know its constraints.
Limitations of Salesforce duplicate jobs:
- Duplicate jobs are only available on more expensive Salesforce Editions: Performance and Unlimited. If you are on Enterprise or below, duplicate jobs are not offered.
- Duplicate jobs can run on custom objects, but you can’t compare and merge these duplicates.
- Duplicate jobs don’t fit a large amount of data as Salesforce states, “In an org with many records, duplicate jobs can fail.” How many records are implied is unknown. So you’ll probably need to install third-party plugins to exceed the limit.
- Duplicate jobs do not work on required custom fields or encrypted fields.
- Salesforce can’t do a cross-object duplicate detection. Even though Salesforce alerts on manual input for all objects, duplicate jobs are limited to defining duplicates within objects, for example, when you need to identify whether your new Lead is already present in your org, but as a Contact.
Besides, limitations related to Matching Rules and Duplicate Jobs, there are certain constraints related to duplicate merging in Salesforce. Among them are:
- Duplicate merges can be performed only manually. So it means records can only be merged one by one and cannot be done in mass or automatically.
- Salesforce Duplicate Management has a limitation on merging a maximum of three records at a time. If there are more than three matches, the process to clean those records requires rerunning the entire merge process multiple times that will slow your organization down in processing the list.
- Choosing the master record is performed on a per-record basis. You need to review each record to identify which record worth saving. By default, Salesforce chooses the oldest record as the master. That can be not the best option if you want the most recently updated record, or the one with the most information, to be the master record.
- Custom objects cannot be merged.
- Selecting field values can be challenging because you have to manually select which field values of the matching records end up on the final record. Also, Salesforce CRM does carry over fields from non-master records if the master record’s field is blank. And because all the records can’t be distinguished at a glance, they should be manually reviewed.
- Blockage of proceeding new records. It should be noted that the alerting and reporting of a duplicate upon creation or edit only works for manual actions. And if records are added in imports or through APIs, Salesforce will block the creation of a new record and you will lose valuable information in this process.
But the good news is that you can overcome most of the limitations with data deduplication apps or via setting custom Salesforce Apex Triggers.
More details concerning Salesforce duplicate management can be found in the following Salesforce Help articles:
- Customize Duplicate Rules
- Customize Duplicate Management
- Duplicate Detection and Handling
- Manage Duplicates One at a Time
- Manage Duplicates Globally
So, How Does Salesforce Duplicate Management Work?
Matching Rules and Duplicate Rules align together to help your teams work with data that’s duplicate-free. Let’s imagine you create a contact in Salesforce. When you create the contact, the system looks for potential duplicates according to criteria set in a Matching Rule and generates a list of potential duplicates.
The Duplicate Rule defines whether the contact will be blocked from creating or the CRM will create it with a warning.
If you choose to create the contact, the rule can even add the possible duplicate to a duplicate contact report in Salesforce. However, if you have difficulties with figuring out how to activate duplicate rules in Salesforce or how to use Salesforce Duplicate Management tools to your advantage, you can always seek professional advice from our seasoned Salesforce professionals.
Who Does Salesforce Duplicate Management Work For Best?
Salesforce standard duplicate management functionality as Matching and Duplicate Rules ideally fit SMB’s or companies who are new to Salesforce. A firm that works with standard objects, a small amount of data (less than 10,000 records), and has one or two ways new records enter your Salesforce CRM, will be satisfied with it.
The number of newly created records is also an important factor to consider. Tens of new records each day can be easily managed with Salesforce Duplicate Management features. But if you have hundreds or even thousands of incoming data, automation and customization can become a necessity.
7 Salesforce Duplicate Rules You Must Activate Straightaway
Even though data deduplication isn’t available out of the box, luckily, Salesforce allows you to create your own Duplicate Rules for preventing duplicates. And here’s the list of must-have Salesforce duplicate rules you need to enable right now.
We’ll start with the Salesforce Account duplicate check. When users create Accounts (companies of your potential or existing clients), it’s highly possible that they can forget to search for this company and to check if it already in the CRM. And, as a result, they can create duplicates. To prevent duplicate generation, you can create the following duplicate rules:
- Account Exact Name
- Account Name Potential Match
- Lead-to-Lead Email Exact Match
- Lead-to-Contact Email Exact Duplicate Rule
- Contact-to-Contact Email Exact Duplicate Rule
- Contact-to-Lead Email Exact Duplicate Rule
- <Contact/Lead Email or LinkedIn Exact
1. Account Exact Name
By setting up this rule, you can avoid creating multiple Accounts with the exact same Account name.
Here’s how to activate an Account Exact Name Matching Rule in Salesforce
After that, you need to activate an Account Exact Name Duplicate Rule
To do it you need to use the Matching Rule you’ve recently created, and generate a unique error message. Check if you selected “Block” on both Create and Edit Actions.
2. Account Name Potential Match
Account Name Potential Match Duplicate Rule will alert users of a possible duplicate where account names somewhat differ. For example, for company names that include an acronym where users can type “Inc.” instead of “Incorporated” or companies that use similar naming for different regions such as “Bosch USA” or “Bosch UK”.
To create this duplicate rule, it’s necessary to create Salesforce’s Fuzzy logic, and use a different error message.
This is how to create an Account Name Potential Match Matching Rule in Salesforce
While creating an Account Name Potential Match Duplicate Rule you need to ascertain to Allow on Create and Edit Actions
It’s that simple. Now your Accounts are monitored for duplicates!
However, Leads and Contacts duplicate detection in Salesforce is a more sophisticated task comparing to that one in Accounts because they both refer to individual people. And duplicate rules should not only ward off Leads duplicates, and Contacts duplicates, but also they should prevent users from creating Contacts that are already Leads, and prevent users from creating Leads that are already Contacts.
Altogether, there are four possible cases that may happen:
- New Leads have already been created as Leads
- New Leads have already been created as Contacts
- New Contacts have already been created as Contacts
- New Contacts have already been created as Leads
To prevent them, you have to set up individual Duplicate Rule and assign to each of them a very specific error message to direct the user on what they need to do. Also, a good practice is to link rules to a person’s email address because it’s highly possible that several people can have exactly the same first and last name.
Here’s how to create a Lead Email Exact Matching Rule in Salesforce
How to Create Lead Email Exact Matching Rule and Prevent Duplicate Leads in Salesforce
Afterward, set up a Contact Email Exact Matching Rule:
We’re going to use these two Matching Rules to make the rest of our Duplicate Rules.
3. Lead-to-Lead Email Exact Match
Lead-to-Lead Email Exact Match duplicate rule helps to avert the creation of multiple Leads with the exact same email.
4. Lead-to-Contact Email Exact Duplicate Rule
Lead-to-Contact Email Exact Duplicate Rule will prevent duplicate of multiple Leads-to-Contacts with the exact same email.
Prior to creating it, compare Leads to Contacts, and assign it a unique error message.
5. Contact-to-Contact Email Exact Duplicate Rule
With the help of this duplicate rule, you can avoid creating multiple Contacts with the exact same email.
6. Contact-to-Lead Email Exact Duplicate Rule
By activation of this rule, you will prevent the creation of multiple Contacts-to-Leads with the exact same email. Don’t forget to compare Contacts to Leads, and give it a unique error message.
7. Contact/Lead Email or LinkedIn Exact
In this example of the rules our Salesforce consultant, Marissa Mills has set up matching rules and duplicates rules against Leads and Contacts to match on the Email field and a custom “LinkedIn” URL field.
If you sell to B2B companies and don’t track LinkedIn links for your Contacts, Leads, and Accounts, then we strongly recommend starting doing it right away. While not all people obviously have their LinkedIn profiles, the majority of us have them.
Every time when we change the employer we change our work email. However, the LinkedIn profile remains the same.
Based on our experience, you can identify quite a lot of duplicates when simply add LinkedIn profiles for contacts and then run the Duplicate detection rule based on Linkedin profiles.
Why? Because you might have the same person created multiple times with different companies and the email detection rule is helpless in such cases.
Please note that the LinkedIn URL can be slightly different, depending on where you get the link from:
- https://www.linkedin.com/in/name/ – Basic LinkedIn Profile
- https://www.linkedin.com/in/name – The link you get when you click on the button ‘Copy Linkedin.com URL’
- https://www.linkedin.com/in/sales/name – Sales Navigator Link
You should agree with your team on what link format to save to maximize the effect of this rule. And if you have some links in the system, make sure to check and unify them.
Here’s how to create Contact/Lead Email or LinkedIn Exact Matching Rules in Salesforce
Below you may find how to create Lead Email or LinkedIn Exact Matching Rules in Salesforce
The following are the duplicate rules that were set up using the above matching rules. There were four different scenarios of comparing:
- Lead to Lead
- Lead to Contact
- Contact to Lead
- Contact to Contact
To create Lead-to- Lead Email or LinkedIn Exact duplicate rule you need to do the following:
To create a Lead-to-Contact Email or LinkedIn Exact duplicate rule you need to do the following:
To create a Contact-to-Lead Email or LinkedIn Exact duplicate rule you need to do the following:
To create a Contact-to-Contact Email or LinkedIn Exact duplicate rule you need to do the following:
And that’s it! To check if everything works as it’s been planned, you can test these duplicate rules out in your Sandbox or Developer Org first. You can use the following testing scenarios with sample Email or LinkedIn URL data:
- New Lead – No Matches
- New Lead – Email already exists as Lead
- New Lead – LinkedIn already exists as Lead
- New Lead – Email already exists as Contact
- New Lead – LinkedIn already exists as Contact
- New Contact – No Matches
- New Contact – Email already exists as Contact
- New Contact – LinkedIn already exists as Contact
- New Contact – Email already exists as Lead
- New Contact – LinkedIn already exists as Lead
All in all, configuring the above-mentioned duplicate rules is the first step in ensuring high data quality standards and maintaining a healthy Salesforce Org.
For additional information about dealing with duplicates, you can explore the Trailhead Modules on Duplicate Rules Management in Salesforce.
The Bottom Line
Clean and accurate data is an integral part of any successful business. And even though it requires time to manually activate duplicate rules in Salesforce to keep your records deduplicated, the result promises to be rewarding at the end.
However, if you can’t afford to spend much time on getting to know Salesforce duplicate management functionality, our CRM consultants will help speed up the way to a well-organized and healthy database. We’ll select the most optimal approach to your data deduplication and maintenance considering the specifics of your Salesforce org, the number of records, budget, and complexity of the overall project.
Contact us and break the ice between you and the top-notch CRM technology available on the market.
Anzhelika specializes in B2B content marketing and has in-depth expertise in promoting the company's products and services through high-quality content. On the Ascendix Technologies blog, Anzhelika shares her insights of Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM tips & tricks as well as overviews of new CRM tools and technology trends on the market.
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