Enriching data in Salesforce can be a huge pain to part-time and senior admins alike. Salesforce offers tools to help you do this but their practical documentation is weak. In this post we’ll walk through five simple ways you can keep data in your CRM up to date on the cheap.

Before we jump in, is this even a real problem? Two stats to be aware of:

  1. On average 5-6% of contacts change jobs every month. This means that the data in Salesforce decays by at least 50% every year.
  2. The average rep spends 4 hours per week doing data entry.

If you think throwing away 5% of your available contacts every month and burning 10% of your reps’ time isn’t a big deal you should probably stop here.

Step 1: How do we enrich our data?

Your AE’s/SDR’s should be focused on what they do best: Generating and closing new business. Instead, companies have them doing tedious tasks that don’t require their expertise which should always be outsourced or automated, if possible.

To get started, we recommend hiring a freelancer on UpWork/Fiverr/etc. to do data cleanup for your team. Rather than giving them access to Salesforce you can keep things simple and give them access to a Google Doc. This may seem painful at first but it’s the most efficient method of getting data enriched at the lowest cost. Over time, you may want to give Salesforce licenses to these workers to manage the process there. To get started you only need to keep in mind these two keys to outsourcing data enrichment:

  1. Make sure you include the Salesforce record ID when exporting data to make updates easier
  2. Make sure you give extremely simple and clear requirements to your freelancers.

Beyond that, all the heavy lifting is done by your UpWorkers.

Step 2: How do you actually enrich the data in your system?

We’ll use five different tools and walk through how to do an update of 100 records in salesforce and you can judge for yourself which is the easiest to use. At the end is a video walking through how to use each of these tools so you can decide for yourself which method works best.

Salesforce Inspector
– Background: This is a little known chrome/firefox extension that has changed the way I use Salesforce. It’s extremely lightweight, fast and has almost every feature I need.
– Benefits: You move data between CSVs and Salesforce effortlessly. Looking up records with SOQL is a breeze, even if you don’t have much experience with it and it’s ability to re-run failed records makes it a go-to.
– Drawbacks: If you don’t have API access in Salesforce then Salesforce Inspector won’t work for you. There have been times when running large data sets where Chrome/Firefox may get stuck.

– Background: This may seem scary to folks who don’t have a background as a developer but the code for this is not that complex. Anyone with decent skills in Excel with a few hours of practice can get their heads wrapped around this.
– Benefits: The benefits of using Python are that you can execute VLOOKUPS, cross-object queries, etc. quickly. There have been times when we needed to look up a million records against a million records. Excel wasn’t designed to run queries like that and anyone who’s tried has seen how brittle it can be.
– Drawbacks: If you’ve never considered coding before it can have a learning curve but it’s not rocket science. The syntax is one of the simplest to pick up even for non-developers.

– Background: Workbench is a fantastic resource for doing quick updates/insertions/deletions to records in Salesforce. One of the best features is the REST explorer which can help you find the names of flows through their id which you can’t do with the Salesforce UI.
– Benefits: Workbench works on any browser without a plugin. It allows you to easily run bulk queries, test SOQL/SOSL, etc.
– Drawbacks: Workbench has a file limit of 5MB which is easy to exceed when you’ve got 100k rows with 10 columns of data each.

Salesforce Data Loader
– Background: Data Loader has been around for a while now and has all of the major features you’ll need to pull data out or enrich data in Salesforce. It’s a standalone app that used to require a username/password+token but now allows you to login with oAuth making it a bit easier to use.
– Benefits: It’s able to load up to 5M records at once, it can run bulk updates to limit API calls and can easily get large amounts of data into Salesforce.
– Drawbacks: It’s a little kludgy, the UI is awful and there are some situations that can get you hung up if you’re not familiar with them. For example: Inserting leads and running them through routing rules is about the least intuitive thing you can do with Data Loader.
– Background: Mulesoft put out a fantastic product I used for years to do mass updates of records in Salesforce. They have a free, professional and premium tiers.
– Benefits: One of the biggest benefits of this product is the ability to look up records with a separate field. For example, you can use a lead’s email address to lookup the ID rather than having to provide that data.
– Drawbacks: You’re limited to 10k records/month for free. If you’re doing a ton of updates like this every month then the $99/mo might be worth it but in the interest of only using free tools we’d only recommend using the free tier.

In the video below I walk through how to use all of these tools so that even a novice could enrich a few hundred thousand records without breaking a sweat.