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SalesForce Dedupe (removal of duplicate records)

Submitted by Brad on May 31, 2012 - 2:33pm

SalesForce is a powerful tool for managing contacts and relationships for your organization or company. While SalesForce makes it simple to create new accounts and add new contacts, it can be difficult to understand how to remove or merge records that have been added twice (or more). If identical records are imported into SalesForce, the system will identify this problem and attempt to solve it in the following ways: If a duplicate contact is added, SalesForce will automatically merge the two contacts by updating its relationships. If a duplicate account is imported, SalesForce will ask if the two records should be merged. If the records are not identical, as often happens, the record will be duplicated and it will need to be merged or deleted manually.

SalesForce makes removing records simple with a deletion option whenever accounts or contacts are being manipulated. Merging, however, allows a user to ensure that all record values are being retained if two records contain different pieces of the puzzle.

The first important tidbit is to understand how SalesForce organizes contacts. Contacts are arranged under the account to which they are attached and so contacts can only be merged within accounts. This makes sense from the SalesForce perspective because one contact can wear different hats and can be arranged as such. When you enter an account page, you will see the contacts associated with the account about halfway down the page. Merging contacts at this level is clearly delineated at the top of the contact list, as shown here:

Merge Contacts

Selecting 'merge contacts' brings up a list of all of the contacts for the account. Selecting the records you would like to merge results in the following reconciliation page:

Reconciliation Page

SalesForce gives the user the opportunity to pick the relevant values when they are in conflict across the records being merged. Once the user selects the appropriate values, the record will generate a single contact.

For duplicate accounts, the process is much the same but the access point is different. To merge duplicate accounts, you go to the account listing page (the Accounts tab) and click on merge accounts in the tools list in the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

Merge Accounts

To select accounts you have to do a search for the ones you want to merge. You need to search using at least two characters but those characters can be wildcards (like *), so a search of "b*" will turn up all accounts beginning with the letter b. Once two or three (three is the maximum) records are selected, SalesForce will give the user the option to pick the values that are pertinent for each category much like what's shown above for contact merging.

Regular maintenance of your accounts and contacts will avoid confusion and enable the user to maximize SalesForce's potential. Have any advice about SalesForce dedupe-ing? Join the conversation in the comments below.