Maintain Data Integrity: 6 Tips Every CRM User Should Know

From my days as a member of the End User Education Division at Siebel Systems to providing Change Management and User Adoption Strategy as a Platinum Partner of, I have discovered a number of proven best practices. Here are some of the basics that every CRM user should know.


Whether you’re creating a New Lead or Contact, you’ll want to search before creating the record to avoid duplicates.  Although this may sound simple like a simply task, it is one that is often overlooked.

  • If you search by First Name, you may not find who you’re looking for.  For example: If someone’s name is William they could have been entered by you or a colleague into your CRM as William, Will, Willie, Willy, Bill, or Billy.
  • If you search by Last Name, you may find that the individual shares a last name with several of your other Leads or Contacts.
CRM Tip: Search using the individual’s email address.  Email addresses are a unique identifier.


We may not always have the luxury of meeting our Leads or Contacts in person and receiving a business card.  With that in mind, you may need to resort to their email signature. Regardless, it’s always best to go with the individual’s official information.  If you create a Lead or Contact, enter their official name.  Refrain from using nicknames.  Remember that the data in CRM is shared throughout your organization.  For example, your CRM may be set up to automatically generate shipping labels.

  • If you entered their nickname, the name may not be recognize by the Customer’s receiving department and an order may be lost or delayed.
  • If you’re aware of a nickname and there is no Nickname field, enter it into the Notes or Description fields as a way to continue building rapport.
  • If you have a Role field, you may want to also document the Contact’s Role in relations to closing the Opportunity.  Roles may include a combination of any of the following: Executive Sponsor, Champion, Decision-Maker, Buyer, Influencer, or Gatekeeper.
CRM Tip: If you’re consistent in using their official name, it will be easier when you or any member of your team is searching for the Contact.


If your CRM instance doesn’t already allow you to document salutation, I would recommend requesting that your CRM System Administrator add it.  Greetings are one of the basic functions of communication and triggers positive conversations and relationships.  This is especially true when working with other countries.  Using the proper salutation, is often seen as a sign of respect.  Respect goes a long way.

CRM Tip:  Salutations can also help in properly addressing an individual.  With a nickname like “RJ,” I on occasion have been mistakenly addressed as a Mr. opposed to a Mrs.


In life, a child is unable to exist without a parent.  The same is true within CRM.  In order to create a New Contact or Child Record, an Account or Parent Record must first exist.  By building these relationships, you as the CRM User can begin to visualize a true picture of your Customers.  Know that any information gathered at a Child level, rolls up to the Parent level giving you a true sense of the Account and all its touch-points.

Hierarchy View1This hierarchical relationship introduces the opportunity to define rules for data integrity.  For example, an Opportunity has no meaning if it is not associated with a Contact.  CRM systems require that an Opportunity record be related to a Contact.  Yet, creating an Activity such as a task can be meaningful whether it is associated to another record or not.  It is optional and can always be retroactively associated to an existing Account, Contact, or Opportunity record.

Account Hierarchy  In CRM, you can link multiple offices of a company together by using the Parent Account field on an Account Record. If you sell into different locations or divisions of a company and you’re currently challenged by how to keep this information organized, use Account hierarchies to solve your problem.

CRM Tip: When you create a New Account, use their official company name.  If this best practice is shared throughout your team or your organization you help maintain data integrity.  For example if a User were to create a New Account for SmartDraw there are number of ways it may be entered into CRM: Smartdraw, SmartDraw, SmartDraw Software, and SmartDraw Software, LLC.  There are a number of ways to confirm the name: SmartDraw website, LinkedIn, Hoovers, or ZoomInfo to name a few. 

Account Heirarchy

Contact Hierarchy  Depending on the various roles within your Customer’s organization, you may choose to document the levels of influence among your Contacts.  For example, if  your Primary Contact has an Administrative Assistant with whom you will interacting with you can document their reporting structure.  Overtime, as more and more Contact relationships are built within CRM you will be able to view an organization chart of your Customer thus enabling you to leverage existing relationships.

CRM Tip:  CRM is all about building relationships and rapport with your Customers.  It’s a best practice to document not only business but personal information about your Contact such as hobbies, interests, education, nuances, communication preferences, etc. This type of information will assist you and your organization as you continue to grow your business.
Contact Heirarchy1


Whether you’re importing a CSV file or entering a New Lead or Contact record, it is important to ensure that proper punctuation is used.  It’s important to note that how the information is entered will be inherited by any other records that are automatically created.  For example, when a Qualified Lead is Converted the system may convert that Lead into a New Account, New Contact, and a New Opportunity.

  • If you enter a record in ALL CAPS, it’s Child Records will inherit the ALL CAPS.  This will prove unprofessional if any marketing efforts such an campaigns or mass mailings are sent from your CRM since improper punctuation will be used when addressing your Lead or Contact.
  • The same is true if you enter a record in all lower case, its Child Records will inherit the all lower case.
CRM Tip: Take a moment to check your punctuation before you Save.


An opportunity naming convention is essentially a formula to be used to name your opportunities. By establishing a naming convention, you will be able to search and sort your opportunities with ease and manage your pipeline more efficiently.

Sample Naming Convention Formula:  <<Company Name – Main Product>>  Example: Acme Factory – ACE 4400 Global Selector

  • There are times when you may be away from the office and a colleague may need to assist your Customer.   If you enter Opportunity name using a Contact’s name, your manager or sales associate may not be aware of the name and may not be able to find the Opportunity in a timely fashion. This may cause undo stress for your Customer which may lead to the loss of the sale.
  • If you enter opportunity names inconsistently, you limit your ability to search, sort, created custom views and run Reports.  For example, if you wanted to created create a Custom View or List for all of your Opportunities that include ACE 4400 Global Selector with a 70% probability to close  – you can.  The Probability to Close field is often a required or dependent field so as a User you can depend on using it as part of your search criteria.  As the User, its your prerogative as to how to name your Opportunities.
CRM Tip:   Views are dynamic, whereas Reports are static.  Think of a Report as a snapshot or photo of the information.  In regards to working in CRM on a daily basis, it is best to create your own Custom Views.  In turn, it allows you to view the information that you want to see when you want to see it.  For example, you may choose to create a View that displays all of your Opportunities based on each of your Sales Stages or Probability to Close.