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Leads/Accounts/Contacts

By default, InsideSales.com uses two primary record objects, Leads and Accounts. Every other data object and sub-object in some way links to one of these two primary records.


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Leads and Accounts

In practical terms you may hear database objects being referred to as "records." For the most part, these terms are interchangeable. Whether we're talking about a "Lead Record" or a "Lead Object," the meaning is the same—it's the data container for a "Lead" that resides within the database.

Leads and Accounts are the highest-level, general-purpose database object that houses information—company name, phone number, address, job title, company size, current status, description, and more.

Leads and Accounts are different, however, in terms of the assumed relationship users have with them. Lead records are assumed to have a relatively unestablished business relationship, if there is a relationship at all. New records added by a lead provider, a list of names bought from a company like Dun & Bradstreet or Hoovers, or a name you entered yourself from a business card you got at a trade show are classic examples "Leads."

Once a more formal business relationship is established (what that is will entirely depend on your process), a Lead is generally converted to an Account. When you convert a Lead to an Account, all of the existing Lead object information transfers with it.

Once a Lead is converted to an Account, the database "unlocks" three additional secondary object types that can now be associated with the account: Contacts, Deals (sometimes called "Opportunities"), and Cases.*

The difference in assumed relationship between Leads and Accounts can have specific effects on your workflow. Many of the automation tools are "Lead-centric" in their approach, since building relationships with new prospects takes time and effort. Once a Lead is converted, many of the "high touch" nurturing and automation features are less important, since the relationship between the rep and the Account is assumed to be more personal and one-to-one.

Not all organizations want or use the Account object at all, instead keeping their data as Lead objects, which is perfectly acceptable. There's really no inherent advantage either way, depending on your workflow needs; the key is just to understand that Leads and Accounts are the primary objects, and every other component of the system revolves around them in some fashion.

Every secondary object should be attached to one of the two primary object types: a Lead or an Account. Logically and administratively, it makes little sense to create a secondary object without attaching it to a primary object.

Contacts, Deals, and Cases "logically" do not exist on their own without being attached to a primary record. You can create them without a parent, but they will be "orphans" in your database. You will be able to search and view them, but their purpose will be a mystery without an associated lead or account.

Contacts

Contact record objects are probably the most confusing to understand, at least at first. When a record exists in the Lead database, all of the information is stored in a single record view—name of the person, their individual phone number and email, name of the company they work for, company-specific info (number of employees, industry, etc.), and so on. Once a Lead gets converted to an Account, however, the database "splits" the information up. All of the company-specific information gets put into the Account record, and the personal contact information, like the name of the person, their email address, title, etc., moves to a Contact record.

Some wonder why we built the system this way. The primary reason is that once the relationship with a Lead becomes developed enough to convert into an Account, in many cases agents are working with multiple people at the same company. They may have dealings with the VP of Sales, the controller, the front-line sales manager, and the IT director.

For business-to-business (B2B) sales organizations, splitting Accounts and Contacts into two discrete objects makes it easier to track those individual points of contact. For business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations on the other hand, the Account/Contact split is largely irrelevant; for all intents and purposes, the Account object contains the exact same information as the Contact object (for this reason, many B2C organizations do not use Account objects at all, as explained previously).

*It is in fact possible to use Deal and Case objects before a Lead is converted into an Account, but companies that do this are a distinct minority. Contact records are only available when a Lead is converted to an Account.

Using Time Stamps

Using Time Stamps

One of the most common filter criteria you'll use is time—when did a particular action happen? Of these, the date a record was created in the database is typically the most crucial. If leads are being added to the database in real-time off the Web, the newest leads require the highest levels of focus and effort to contact. For example, a comparison between the Date Created time stamp, versus when a Lead was first contacted provides key insights into driving higher contact rates and sales.

The next commonly-used time stamp is Date Modified. If a particular action took place on someone's record, when did it happen? This allows users and admins to track collective effort on groups of data.

Advanced Search Tips

Advanced Search Tips

  • If you run a search and no results appear, double-check your criteria specified. You have either made the search criteria too narrow, or the data you were expecting to see is not contained in the specified criteria.
  • If you run a search, but more records appear than you think should be there, then refine your criteria to narrow it down—by location, status, source, campaign, etc.
  • Remember that the searches are only as accurate as the data contained in the records. If the data is wrong, the search results will be too.
  • Remember the principle of ownership—if you don't have the ability to view data owned by another user, you won't see records you don't own.

Duplicate Merging Tips

Duplicate Merging Tips

  • The Mass Merge tool only lets you view up to 500 leads at a time, or approximately 175-250 groupings, depending on how many duplicates exist. If you find that you have thousands and thousands of duplicates, it's likely the result of a data import gone awry, or of a bad parameter in a Web form that's posting data directly to the system. If this is the case, you may want to consider deleting and purging the recently added data, and uploading it again, using the Duplicate Check options. Then check your Web form posting parameters to make sure it's using the correct duplicate checking options.
  • Be aware that when you select the master record to keep, the main record body of information—name, address, phone, description, status, and so on—are left untouched for the master. If there are notes in the actual Description field in one of the duplicates that you don’t want to lose, you’ll need to go into the duplicate record and copy the description box text into a Note sub-object. Attached notes, files, tasks, and event sub-objects will all pass over to the master record when the merge is performed.
  • If you’re not sure which record you want to keep as the master, use the Last Modified time stamp shown in the tool to help identify which of the files was updated most recently. Be careful, however—if you recently uploaded a new list of data, the newest records may show as being the most recently modified, but the actual working data will be in the original, older record.

How To

Searching for Data

Searching for Data

One of the great strengths of SQL databases is their robust capability for sorting and searching. Potentially any data field in the InsideSales.com™ system can be used to search for information, as long as the data entered into it is accurate and up to date.

This makes it incredibly easy for Sysadmins and users to work with the information in the database, as long as they have a clear picture of what to search for, and how the database organizes the information.

InsideSales.com gives you the ability to organize records by their current status, location (state, city, zip code, area code, time zone), record owner, lead source, and through ANY custom fields you create.

How to Search Using Global Search

The simplest way to search for data in both the InsideSales.com CRM and PowerDialer, is via the system's global search feature. This will appear as a small text input field located in the upper-right corner of the user screen in the Lead Management CRM, and in the left action panel in the dialer.

Global searches work on customer first and last names, company names, phone numbers, and email addresses.

It will accept wild card strings for first names, last names, and company names, but the string must start with the first letter(s) of the name.

For example, if you were looking for a lead named Martin Blank, you could type "Mart" or "Bla," which is the first few letters of the first or last name. If you couldn't remember the Lead's name, but remembered that the company was ACME Industrial Products, Inc., you could search for "ACME" or "ACM," but not "Indust" or "Prod," or "Products."

To work with phone number or email searches, you must have the full phone number or email, otherwise no results will show. Phone and email global searches are often used to find a record in the fewest number of steps.

How to Search Using Basic Searches

In the lead management CRM, each of main object types will have a navigation tab that points specifically to those record types. Each tab includes a basic, short search option to quickly hunt down lists of records.

To run a search, select the criteria, and click the Search button.

A search can display a list of up to 5,000 records, broken into visible chunks of between 15 and 1,000 names at a time. If you run a search that should include more than 5,000 records, the system will create a list of the first 5,000 names ONLY. If you need to work with very large block of records, say 15,000 Leads, you'll need to find a way to break up the block into smaller "chunks" using relevant search criteria.

Once the search pulls the records into a list, it displays them in a series of "chunks," or pages. The number of names displayed in each chunk is controlled by the Results Per Page option in the top right of the screen. The default results per page is 15, but you can change this default number in your user profile to something more appropriate if needed.

To change the view of a current list, update the Results Per Page to the number you want, and re-run the search. You can have a maximum results per page of 1,000 records at a time.

Notice too that after running a search, a Total appears in the upper-right of the screen. This is the count of records that met the specified criteria.

How to Search Using Advanced Searches

In many cases the basic search options are sufficient to started working in the system, but if you click on the Advanced Search box located on the upper-right section of the main list screen, you'll open up a vast number of options to further refine or narrow down your search.

As we mentioned previously, you can search on just about any data field contained in your system.The only option is an and statement.

The key to effective advanced searching is to have some idea of what you're actually searching for. With the right set of criteria you can "hone in" on nearly any key cross-section of your data; you just need a clear picture of how to find it.

Mass Update Data

Mass Updating Data

As a Sysadmin, you'll occasionally find that you need to update an entire block of records at once. For example, you had a list of names marked in one Campaign, but want to move them to another.

At the bottom of each main record tab in the LMP is the Mass Update button. This tool lets you perform actions that can be applied to an entire list of records at once.

Common mass actions include assigning ownership of data, updating record status, changing campaign assignment, or deleting data.

To use the Mass Update tool, first run a search using the right criteria. After your list compiles, next decide whether you want to mass update all of the items found, or only a select few within your list.

To mass update the entire list of results, there's no additional steps required; simply click the Mass Update dropdown, and choose the action or field you want to update.

Then choose the option to update All Search Results.

If you don't want to update all of the records, but only a select few within your search block, you'll first need to mark the items you want to update. This is done with the small checkbox field to the left of the records in your list.

Remember that if needed, you can set your Results Per Page up to 1,000 records at a time. This lets you scroll through a larger block at once if you need to check mark names at the bottom of your list.

After you select the records you want to update, once again click the Mass Update dropdown and choose the necessary field. You'll get the same dialogue to complete the update actions, only this time choose to update Selected Search Results.

When done, click Update Items, and the system will perform the mass update. After completing the mass update, the system will return you to the list screen.

Be aware that if the records you just updated no longer meet your original search criteria, they won't appear in the list after the screen refreshes. If you want to track them down, you’ll need to run a new search using updated criteria.

Mass Merging

Mass Merging Record Objects

Mass merging is actually one of the functions included in the standard Mass Update tool located in any standard records tab area. This function allows you to take two (or more) duplicate records, and combine them back into one record, with all of the attached activities, notes, etc. attached.

To merge records, go to the appropriate records tab, and run a database search. Then click the Mass Update tool at the bottom left of the page. In the dropdown, select Mass Merge.

As usual, the dialogue will ask if you want the Merge tool to look at data chosen with the mass action checkboxes, or all of the results at once. You'll also need to select the data fields on which you want to base the duplicate check. Phone number and email address are almost always effective options, as they are typically unique to a single contact (or company).

Notice as well the Auto-select "merge to" by most recently modified date option. This can be useful if you know that your users have been working some of the data already. This auto-selects the record to keep as the "master" file if it was the most recently updated.

When ready, click Show Merge Groups.

If the system finds any records that match your merge criteria, It displays the results as a series of grouped lists, as shown.

To merge the files, first select the object to keep as the "master," or primary file, and which files you want to merge into it. For example, in our sample image it's pretty clear that Mario and Luigi work for the same company, so maybe we want to merge them into a single Lead file. However, it's also clear that Bruce Wayne and John Wayne are separate entities, so we would want to ignore that group as part of our merge.

When finished, click the Merge button to complete the process. After completion, the system will show a short dialogue showing how many records were merged.

Of all the information you merge, only the fields for the record being selected as 'keeping' will stay.

Deleting and Purging

Deleting and Purging Data

Deleting Data

InsideSales.com uses the same paradigm as most operating systems when it comes to deleting and removing data—first data gets sent to a "trash can," or "semi-deleted" state, where it can later be re-activated or purged from the system entirely.

Anywhere in the system you see the option to "Delete" data, you're in essence sending it to the "Trash Can," though we don't call it that. Data that has been "Deleted" is actually still physically present in the system, with all of its information intact, it's just that it's ignored by the active database. Any time you run a search or a report, the system automatically ignores all data flagged as "Deleted," even though technically the record object still exists.

There's a couple of good reasons for doing this. Obviously it's just safer that way; we don't want users accidentally purging data from the system without warning. If a record accidentally gets deleted, all the user has to do is search for the record using the Advanced Search option to Show Deleted entries. When they find it, the record can be "Undeleted."

Second, if managers want to run long-term historical reports, they may want to include data that was previously "deleted" to increase report accuracy. In this case, they could go back and undelete relevant data sets to be included in the report.

In other words, don't hesitate to delete a record, since it will be in the trash can later, but permanently purging data from the system should be done judiciously.

Like any other action, data can be mass deleted (and undeleted) using the Mass Update tool inside any record object tab.

Purging Data

To permanently purge data, you first need to run an Advanced Search with the Show Deleted parameter selected. After your search runs, use the Mass Update tool, and select Purge.

As always, the tool will give you the option to purge just the records you have checkmarked, or all search results.

If you continue, the system will give you a stern warning that purging data is permanent, and to make sure you really want to do it. If there's any hesitation, click Cancel and think about it. Otherwise, click okay, and your data will permanently be removed, never to be seen again.

Completed Activities Summary Page

Completed Activities Summary

Communications History

A section called Communications can be found on the Recently Completed Activities summary page located at: Leads Tab > Lead Name > Completed Activity History

Email and fax tasks are located under the Communication History heading, along with inbound call logs, outbound call logs, and text message communication.

Columns to Display

As they are with the Completed Events and Completed Tasks, the displayed columns for the Communications section are editable. As with the object sub-list view, not all data columns will have relevant data, depending on the activity type. For example, email activity types will never have a call duration or call time. In these cases, the column appears blank.

You can change which items display as columns in the different sections. To do this, click the Edit button to open the interface shown below. Then click the boxes next to the items you wish to have shown.

When you're ready, click Save.

View vs. Edit / Delete

Some recently completed activities remain editable when shown in the sub-object view (tasks, events). Dialer history activities (outbound calls, inbound calls, SMS) are NOT editable, but appear only with a View link, which will take the user to the activity detail page.

Call logs that also include a subject entry also display as a hyperlink to the activity detail page. This is consistent with the way tasks and events are presented.

Email and fax tasks still operate as they did before (i.e., with Edit / Del links, and the Subject hyperlinking to the activity detail).

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