What is De-Duping Accounts?

It is the process of finding duplicate accounts in your CRM and establishing a hierarchy by merging duplicate records together. It typically also includes bringing all connecting record types associated with that account. Typically, this includes bringing over contacts, opportunities, cases, etc…

De-duping accounts usually is the first step in your database cleanup.

Why should you De-dupe company records?

If you have duplicate company records you may accidentally assign the same account to two different sales people, contact the same company twice, assume you have a higher number of potential accounts than you actually do, mess up your reporting, and the list goes on.

When should you de-dupe accounts?

Typically, the time frame or frequency of data clean-up including de-duping company data depends on company size, budgets, and other projects. However, a good rule of thumb is if you do a data audit and you have potential company duplicates which exceed 3-5% then, I would suggest it is is time to clean it up. Obviously if the sales team is complaining about data integrity, you have probably waited too long!

Risks associated with de-duping company records:

Anytime you are doing clean-up, you have a risk of something going wrong. The risk is small when you are merging accounts and depending on the tool used you could have some time to retrace your steps. A good way to ensure nothing gets lost is to do a data dump of all your accounts prior to merging so that you can always re-create the account should you need to.  Another way to decrease risk is to look at the business rules to make sure any account that is a customer record is excluded (unless doing customer clean-up), anything with an opportunity or close to finalizing a sale is the master record, etc…

What fields to use to identify duplicate account records:

The following fields are typically used when identifying duplicate records. It is a good idea to establish a confidence level of the duplicate. For example, some records may match on all the below fields but others may only match on website as there are different brands inside the CRM.

  • Website – most commonly used identifier
  • Address
  • Phone #
  • Company name
  • Contact e-mail domain – this is a creative solution and needs to be used with care as there could be personal email addresses, same domain across different countries, etc…

Steps to take to de-dupe accounts:

  1. Pull all company records from the CRM for back-up. And also include any other records which are link if applicable for your business rules.
  2. Identify duplicate by the records mentioned above
  3. Assign a unique duplicate group ID for all duplicates found which match each other. (Note, there maybe more than 2 records that are duplicates).
  4. Assign a confidence level to the duplicate groups.
  5. Establish a Master/Merge hierarchy based on business rules (more on that below).
  6. Check records manually for either a sample or all depending on file size.
  7. Merge accounts, move contacts and any associating records to the surviving account record. Make sure you fill in the blanks between the accounts so no information is lost.

How to establish Master (surviving) record:

Establishing a master record is typically a job for marketing or sales operations or even a quick review by sales reps themselves. In order to save time, here are some rules that we see companies apply:  Please note, most companies have a hierarchy for many different scenarios.

  • Has an opportunity? If yes, Master.
  • Completeness level – higher completeness = master record.
  • # of contacts attached. – The higher the number of contacts the greater chance it should be a surviving record.
  • If one of the accounts is already a customer.
  • Date Created – could be the longest in the system or the more recent.
  • Other custom fields.

You’ve de-duped Account records. What’s next?

  • Once you have successfully merged all duplicate account records, you can re-run your analytics, review your sales distribution, and re-do any account based scoring.

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