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Import Your Data

Importing data to InsideSales.com is a straightforward task, most often done by taking a spreadsheet file in .CSV format and uploading it into the system. You can also import data automatically through InsideSales.com's Web service back end, but this option will be covered in more detail later. This section focuses solely on uploading data via spreadsheet. The data import function is available from two areas of the site, the Admin tab and from the Campaigns tab. In terms of functionality it makes no difference whether you initiate the import from the Admin or Campaign tab; the only difference is that if you import a through a Campaign, the records are automatically assigned to that campaign when they arrive.

Notice that from the Admin tab you can import accounts, deals/opportunities, and calendar events as well, but for purposes of the ISCA Certification, you'll only need to worry about importing Leads.

Unless you have a reason not to, we to assume that Sysadmins will typically run an import from the Campaigns tab, for a couple of reasons:

  1. By assigning sets of data to campaigns, it makes it much easier to track, sort, and report on the data later on, and
  2. If something were to go awry during a data import, it makes it easier to remove bad data and start over. Before going into the actual import process, however, we've found it highly useful to review some tips about preparing the spreadsheet data.

Setting Up Your Spreadsheet

InsideSales.com supports the industry-standard CSV (comma separated value) file format for data uploads. When placed into Excel™, OpenOffice™, or another compatible database application, the spreadsheet app will render our CSV file into a usable database, we just need to lay out the data in the cells properly and save the file.

Also, to make the upload run smoothly, you'll want to make the top row of the sheet a column header.

For database consistency, separate the first name, last name, account name (the contact's full name if B2C, or company name if B2B), and all address data (address, city, state, zip) into separate columns. When finished the spreadsheet should look something similar to the screenshot.

Formatting Dates

Because InsideSales.com’s database runs on MySQL, dates need to be set with a specific format when being imported from a spreadsheet.

Typically when you input a date into a spreadsheet, such as “April 1, 2007,” the spreadsheet either leaves the date as you enter it, or automatically translates it into some other format it prefers. For example, Excel™ typically changes “April 1, 2007” automatically to read as “04/01/2007.”

However, to have dates uploaded correctly into InsideSales they need to be input as a date with the four-digit year first, followed by the month and day, for example, 2005/07/31.

Luckily, it’s not difficult to change the format. Select the cells (or entire column), and choose the "Format Cells" option. Then you'll specify a “Custom,” or “User-defined” format type.

Enter the date format with the year first—yyyy/mm/dd, as shown.

Address Format

Addresses also need to follow a specific format to work properly when uploaded. All components of the address—street number and name, apartment / suite #, city, state/province, and postal code—must inhabit their own column within the spreadsheet. If addresses are listed in a single data column, then they must be split into their component pieces before being uploaded.

B2C Database Considerations

For companies who market on a business-to-consumer model, most lists don’t have a data column that indicates a “Company” (they’re consumers, not businesses, after all). We highly recommend that you substitute the full name of the contact in place of a company name.

If your sheet only comes with a first name and last name, but no full name and no company name, you’ll want to create a FULL NAME column in the sheet, and then use the CONCATENATE function to merge the first name and last name together (refer to your spreadsheet application's help materials for using the CONCATENATE function).

If you already have a full name column, but there is not a separate column for first name and last name individually, you’ll need to use the Data Text-to-Columns function to split your full names into a separate first and last name.

Consult your spreadsheet application's documentation for the Text-to-Columns feature if you need help using this function.

Importing the Leads

Once our spreadsheet is mapped and the needed changes are done, we can go ahead and start our data upload. Go to the Campaigns tab, and look for a campaign to upload the data to, or click the Manage Data Import link inside your Admin tab.

After clicking the Import Leads action, the system will take us to the first step of our data upload process.

Step 1

First, click the Browse button on the page and find the saved .CSV spreadsheet file on your computer. For purposes of this training, we assume that you will only be importing a list of names. In most cases, you will not ever use the Import Notes, Import Tasks, or Import Events options. These are used primarily for importing data from an existing database, such as ACT!.

Unique Companies Option

Notice the check mark option for All leads are from unique companies. This is a key element of doing a database upload, particularly for business-to-business (B2B) users. By default this option is selected, meaning that all leads uploaded will arrive as their own unique entry.

However, if you unmark this option, the system will instead assume that all Leads with the same Account name should be linked—in other words, all common contacts at the same organization should cross-reference each other.

For example, in our test spreadsheet, it shows several names with a single company name, ACME, Inc. For most B2B organizations you'd want to relate these Leads together.

However, if there's any question as to which option should be used, leave the All leads are unique companies option selected. If necessary, you can always re-merge common company records down the line.

Once we browse for our CSV file and choose our unique company option, click Upload.

Step 2

After completing the initial upload, the system takes us to the second step in the process. As shown, this step gives us a chance to do a quick inspection of our data, and decide to move on, or go back and re-upload our spreadsheet.

If you've done a good job of pre-formatting the .CSV file, the list should be in good shape and we can quickly continue on. However, if your list was very large, or you’re unsure how "clean" the list was, go ahead and click the Download button. The system will re-parse the list you just uploaded, and create a separate, temporary copy of the .CSV. Save this temporary copy to your hard drive and inspect it, if desired.

If you decide to grab a temporary copy, look at a few of the suggestions on the Step 2 screen, and see if your data has any of the issues listed. If there is any problem with the data, click Go Back and Upload Again and restart the upload.

If our inspection is satisfactory, click Continue and we’ll move on.

Step 3

Step 3 is where we line up all of the column headings in our spreadsheet to the data field in the database. When you first land on the page, the system will have attempted to do some preliminary matching on its own. Any fields marked in yellow will have a pre-matched column selecting.

You'll want to double check the pre-selected matches to make sure they're accurate. You may need to only make a few minor adjustments. If it looks like the matches are way off, click Reset Mapping, which will clear the existing matches.

To map a field, find the field label on the left, then click the dropdown next to it to show a list of all of the column headings in your spreadsheet. Line up the appropriate rows of data.

If you do not have a column heading for some of the database fields, that’s fine, go leave them marked as [SELECT].

Duplicate Checking in Step 3

Step 3 of the upload process also gives us the chance to tell the system to check for records in the system that may match the records we're currently uploading. The goal is to prevent duplicates from getting into the system, and all of the problems that entails.

While selecting the dropdowns, you may have noticed a small check box to the right of some of the fields. These indicate to the system that when your list uploads, you want it to check against those fields for duplicates. If you select more than one option, it will check against both options in aggregate, meaning that a name in your list must meet both criteria to be considered a duplicate. (Using Boolean logic, that's an "AND" not an "OR.") If you get a match for a duplicate the system will disregard that record and not import it.

The most common criteria, or combinations of criteria for duplicate checking are:

  • Last name and phone number together.
  • Email address.
  • Company name and Last Name together.
  • Some combination of phone number, email address, and a custom field of your choice.

Another check box you may want to use is labeled Duplicate check across all objects. This will extend the duplicate check basis for all other objects, such as Accounts and Contacts. By default the duplicate check will operate only among the records of the object type you're importing.

You can also use the check box labeled Limit the duplicate check to records within specific campaigns. This enhancement allows you to import leads and check for duplicates -- but only apply the duplicate rules if a duplicate is found in specific campaigns. Checking this box will open a list of campaigns for you to select. Hold the CTL button (or Command for Mac users) to select multiple campaigns from the list. You might use this feature if you use the PowerDialer in conjunction with outsourced lead generation, and want to actually include the same lead multiple times in different campaigns, but don't want duplicates WITHIN a single campaign.

Step 4

The final step gives us a chance to do a quick “at-a-glance” inspection of the data we just uploaded, and then ultimately accept or reject the new batch.

We highly recommend that you at least do a cursory inspection of the data. Click the browse the site button, and a second window will pop up with a short view of the data batch.

Notice that the preview does not show you everything about the leads, only a select few key fields. If you need to inspect the data in more detail, then you will need to open the advanced search options and run some searches to get the view that you are looking for. Remember that you will need to narrow the campaign and created date in your search so that you are only looking at the batch of data you just uploaded.

Once you have completed your inspection, close the preview window.

To complete the import, choose Accept. If for any reason the data did not come in cleanly, Reject the data, and the system will send you back to Step 1 of the import process, giving you a chance to start over.

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