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How to merge records in Salesforce

3 min read
Sayer Martin
Director, Product Management Conga
Woman using Conga software on laptop

There aren’t many maxims when it comes to database management, but I’d like to offer at least one truth: a clean database is a happy database. If you’re seeing recurring duplicates or recurring duplication of data in your Salesforce org, you aren’t going to have a happy admin or operations team. And by extension, you won’t find many happy clients either. Thankfully, there are tools available to make sure that this is a headache you don’t have to suffer through. Duplicate Management (a tool natively built by Salesforce) is set up and activated by default for business accounts, contacts, and leads to get you started on the right foot. In today’s post we’ll take a look at maintaining multiple types of duplicate data and the nuances of each.

How to prevent your team from creating duplicates in the first place

The first step to maintaining a clean database is to take proactive measures. When you buy a new outfit, you don’t immediately run out into the rain. You plan for the perfect weather so you can show off your threads without worry. The same type of approach to database maintenance can help you prevent duplicates before they’re created. All you need is a little planning.

Salesforce provides some great resources to help you do this, right out of the digital box. You can activate tools that will flag users while they’re creating a record if the system sees duplication of data already present in the database. They can then do a double-check to verify they are creating an actual new record instead of adding a duplicate. It’s also a good practice to provide training to your team to help them utilize clean data practices. If you aren’t going to use a data duplicate blocker, a simple quick search in your Salesforce org can go a long way to removing duplicate entries. It may take a few seconds to check before taking action on something, but the team will save time on the back-end when they don’t have to search for and remove or merge duplicates later.

If duplicate entries are a consistent problem and it’s not your team’s doing, you may need to do a review of where your Salesforce org is syncing data from. Are you pulling information from multiple sources? If so, do an evaluation of your other data environments to be sure they are all necessary. Integration is wonderful, but integration without guidelines and consistency can be a nightmare.

Merging different types of data

Even if you take careful proactive steps to keep a clean database, there’s a chance something might slip through the cracks. If you do end up with a duplicate, you’ll need to understand how you can merge records. You may end up with notes or other important information split between each of the duplicates, and you don’t want to lose any of that data. Luckily, there are some native tools built into Salesforce to help you find and merge duplicates.

There are various ways to address the issue, but here’s one simple example in Salesforce Lightning. You’ll need to launch Duplicate Record Sets from your app launcher. If any results show up, click on “Compare and Merge” to go to the next step—which, as you might expect, is to compare the records the tool has found and then allow you to decide what to merge on them. At the risk of being obvious, one thing to keep in mind: When you merge records, they have to be of the same kind. For example, you can merge Accounts with Accounts, but not Accounts with Leads.

Third party solutions to consider

As you think through your strategy on how to prevent duplicates from taking over your database faster than a couple of wet Gremlins, it’s important to take note of all the options available to help you in this task. There are a number of native and third-party duplicate checkers and verification tools on the market Salesforce offers the native Duplicate Management Tool to help, as well as many third-party solutions available on the Salesforce AppExchange. Rather than call out any specific solutions, we’ll link you to the search results here to help you get your research started.

What are some best practices your team has found that are helpful in cutting back on duplicate records in your Salesforce org? Let us know what tools you’ve found to be most helpful. If you’re just beginning with Salesforce, we want to help. 

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