How to Manage CRM Imports

excelThis is the 16th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

In an early stage marketing team that supports a growing sales team, there likely isn’t a separate “sales operations” function. When it comes to managing the infrastructure and intake of data, it often falls on the marketing team. For example, the sales team goes to a conference and comes back with a list of leads that need to be nurtured. How do those leads end up in the CRM and marketing automation system, enrolled in the right nurture campaign and tagged with the right field values (e.g. persona and lifecycle stage)?

While it sounds like a simply process, there are so many opportunities to make a mistake in the process. To ensure it gets done right, let’s break down that process, step by step:

1. Acquire contacts through multiple sources

Contacts will enter your marketing world many different ways. The category “offline sources” includes old email lists, conference attendees who visited your booth and registrants from a webinar that you co-hosted with a partner. Each of these sources likely starts out as an Excel spreadsheet.

2. Standardize and clean data

We now need to get that spreadsheet into the right format. If done incorrectly, this can create a big mess in your CRM. The old saying “garbage data in, garbage data out” always holds true. Therefore, we need to ensure you are only importing clean, quality data. A few things to consider here:

  • Ensure all names are properly capitalized
  • Split names by First and Last so they aren’t both in one field
  • Ensure company name is spelled the same in the spreadsheet and CRM
  • Label the top row of the spreadsheet so the import tool auto-detects fields
  • Delete unnecessary columns so you don’t unintentionally clutter your CRM

3. Add additional fields

Once the basic data is properly formatted, you may want to add additional columns for fields that wouldn’t normally be included in the original dataset, such as persona and lifecycle stage. This likely requires you to go through the spreadsheet manually to add this data. There may be other required fields (i.e. if you segment your leads by industry) to include. All of this extra data work should be done in Excel prior to importing.

4. Make the CRM / marketing automation import

Now that your additional fields are added, export your spreadsheet as a CSV file. From here, your CRM and marketing automation system should have an import tool to upload the CSV. If you use an all-in-one system like Hubspot, this can be done in one step for both the sales and marketing sides of the funnel.

5. Track contacts on a static and smart list

Once the upload is complete, your CRM and marketing automation system should generate a list of just those imported contacts (in Hubspot, this is referred to as a static list). This list can be used to enroll these contacts in specific nurture workflows, or perhaps send them a customized follow up email if you met them at a specific conference.

This post is part of a 50 article series on startup marketing

Greg Skloot is a technology entrepreneur and marketer. He is currently VP Growth at Netpulse, the #1 provider of mobile apps for health clubs and a $40M VC backed software company in San Francisco. At Netpulse, he leads marketing, operations and strategic growth. Previously, Greg was CEO and Co-Founder of, where he built the initial product, raised $3M and hired a team of 30. Contact Greg at

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