Loading Account Information in Salesforce with Data Import Wizard

When dealing with a new installation of Salesforce, one of the first things needed is to load data from whatever sources into the new Salesforce Org. It is essential to consider which information needs to be loaded first. For example, if you load monetary transactions before creating accounts, there will be a mess to clean up sorting out which transactions belong to what accounts.

So, when I start a brand new installation, the first things that I consider loading are accounts and contacts. I include contacts because, if I’m working with a non-profit, each contact may be affiliated with a professional organization, but the contact belongs to a Household Account. This means in the Non-Profit realm that creating a contact may create a new account.

If your organization is small, the data is likely a hodgepodge of spreadsheets, post-it notes, outlook accounts, or whatever people can record information on. If you are in a large organization, it is quite possible that you also have many sources of information. So, data cleansing can be a big chore. It is time to get it organized.

The first thing I do is to identify any professional organizations that are represented by all of your contacts. These may be companies, charitable organizations, volunteer groups, or anything where people work together for a common cause. For this discussion, we will call these “Organizations,” and each unique organization will have its organization account.

Each organization will need to be represented by a single row in a spreadsheet, with consistent columns and no blank rows. Of course, some of the information you collect may be missing at this point. But the idea is to gather as much as possible about each organization, such as:

  • Name
  • Mailing Address (separate column for Street Address, City, State, Postal Code, Country)
  • Physical Address (again, separate columns)
  • Account Type (Organization – as opposed to Household)
  • Phone
  • Industry

You may want to look at the Salesforce Account screens to see if there are other editable fields for Organizations that you want to include.

Once all the organizations are uniquely identified, and the information is collected, save the file in a CSV format. You are now ready to begin importing the data into Salesforce.

Several tools can be used for importing. A simple way is built into the user interface, and it is called the “Data Import Wizard.” In Salesforce, go to the Accounts tab and click on “Import.” This invokes a Bulk Data Loader screen. This has some limitations, but its ease of use is quite helpful when dealing with smaller datasets. Of course, you must have permission established, allowing you to update this information before we can go any further.

Click Import from Account screen

This will take you to a screen that walks you through the import process. Select “Accounts and Contacts.”

Select “Accounts and Contacts.”

Next, Salesforce asks what you want to do with Accounts and Contacts. Do you want to Import, Update, or Both (also called Upsert)?

For this example, we will Insert new accounts by selecting “Add new records,” as shown below.

Once a selection is made, Salesforce asks for more information about the source.

Insert Match, Trigger and Campaign options

For “Add new records” (or Insert), the first two options are pre-selected in a way that makes sense. If we were updating or upserting records, we would want to know if the Contacts should be matched on Name, Email, or an internal Salesforce ID. For Accounts, the options are the organization’s Name or internal Salesforce ID. Since we are inserting, neither of these exist in Salesforce, so no match can be made.

Following that, if we were updating or upserting information, there’s a checkbox to update existing information about accounts. Since these are new records, we should leave this unchecked. Of course, if we are performing an Update or Upsert of Accounts, this should be checked. During inserts, this question is not asked.

Next, there is the option to invoke Triggers or Workflow rules with these records. If you have a process designed around new Accounts or Contacts being created, then you may want this option checked. Also, if you want to enforce validation rules, you will want these options checked. Some considerations, though – if any error occurs because of how these triggers or workflows handle the new records, then none of the records will be loaded. Additionally, the logic may slow the process down a bit.

The final option is for contacts to be included in campaigns. This will allow the assignment of these contacts into a campaign.

For our purposes, leave these elements all with the default settings for the “Add new records” option.

The third step is to describe the data. This means telling Salesforce where the data resides, either in a CSV file, or from Outlook, ACT! or Gmail. We can drag a CSV file to the form.

Drag the CSV.

After dragging your file, Salesforce determines a bit of information about the file.

File to load into Salesforce

At this point, we are ready to begin mapping the information for import, which means telling Salesforce which columns relate to which Salesforce fields. So click “Next” to move into the mapping process.

Click Next to begin mapping

On the next screen, Salesforce presents the list of fields from the CSV file and allows defining how they should be mapped to the accounts (or contacts) in Salesforce. On the right side are a few examples from the import file. On the left, we see how the fields are mapped. In the case below, there was only one field which was mapped automatically. So we have some work to get the rest set up properly.

There are a couple of ways to correct this problem. One way would be to rename the column headings in the CSV file and try again from the previous step. But for our purposes, we’ll use to tool.

As mentioned, one field is already mapped – the account type. You can see how it is assigned in the second column, and if that is not correct, the first column (change) allows changing it. In our example, all of the other fields are not mapped.

Clicking on the “Map” button for each field (row on the screen, which corresponds to a column in the CSV file), presents a list of all fields available for accounts or contacts.

Field list for Accounts

In our example, we want the “Institution” to be the “Account Name,” so we select “Account: Account Name” and click the Map button. This returns us to the previous screen, where we can do the same for all the other fields. The final results are shown below:

Completed map for the Import file

Clicking the “Next” button brings us to a summary screen describing the actions defined, how many fields are mapped, how many are excluded, and other information. This is the point where we either continue importing or we back out. To continue, select “Start Import.”

Final Step before actually importing

And the results for our import are confirmed with the message below.

Import Confirmation

If you want to see in greater detail what has happened as a result of this import, from Salesforce Settings, search for the “Bulk Data Load Jobs” and select that from the menu on the left. This will show you a list of the Bulk Data Load Jobs, such as the one we just completed.

Bulk Data Load Jobs

If we click on the Job ID for any of the jobs listed, that will open a detailed log for the import job, such as the one below.

Bulk Data Load Job

And on the bottom, there is a row that contains links to the requested file, and the result file. If you had any errors, you could review the result file to determine what they were.


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