Questions you should ask yourself before you populate your CRM system

Oct 4, 2011 by

Because I spend so much time working with CapsuleCRM I am often asked to help people set it up for the first time.  There is a temptation to just jump in and import your contacts but my advice is hang fire and spend time planning your CRM system to ensure that you get the most out of it.  The first thing you need to do before you enter any data into your shiny new CRM is to plan it out, use a mind map or piece of paper if you like.

By all means import that CSV file, but you may want to set it up first with the tags and custom fields that you will want to use going forward.  If you haven’t got a clue what I am talking about let me explain the difference between the two.


A tag is not individual to any person or organisation, it’s simply a way of identifying them so that you can filter out the information at a later date using the list function.  It’s not unique.  One record can have a multitude of tags. Examples of tags are:

  • Client
  • Supplier
  • Prospect
  • Name of your networking group
  • Name of event they attended


A custom field is something that is unique to that record, be that a person or an organisation.  A custom field is searchable in the search box as well.  Again, you can use the custom field data to sort a list at a later date.  A custom field can be text, a calendar date, a tick box, a selection from a drop down box but as it is something that can only be entered when you are editing the record it’s best to use it for unique information such as:

  • Anniversary, Event or Start Date
  • Customer Number


So why are you getting a CRM system, do you just want to use it as a souped up address book or do you want to set it up so that it can work for your business going forward?  What do you want to get out of it at a future date?


Think about who will be using the system and remember that however well you design your CRM it is only as good as the weakest user of the system, if you make it too complicated then people won’t complete the fields and the data will be useless.


What do you want your CRM to feed back to you? It can only give back what has been put in, and this is where getting the custom fields and tags correct is important.  You will use both of these to generate lists at a later date so make sure before you set it up that your records are tagged before they are imported or you could find yourself spending an incredible amount of time correcting each record individually.


You can import your LinkedIn contacts, your Outlook contacts and pretty much any csv based list of contacts, but at the moment you cannot merge them at import.  Put your lists together before you import and keep the record that has the most complete information.  Edit the csv before the import stage so that it has as much data on it as possible.  Create columns for the tags you wish to use in your csv, CapsuleCRM will create them for you if they don’t already exist.  You can create notes or background information in your csv file as well.  When you import CapsuleCRM allows you to map the fields to their system.

Useful Tips

  • Don’t add Mr & Mrs, create a separate record for each individual
  • Have separate columns for first and last name
  • Put each line of the adddress in it’s own column, you should have at least line 1, line 2, city, county, postcode, country as columns
  • Make sure you specify if the address is work or private
  • Find out the LinkedIn profile address, Twitter ID, Facebook page address, Skype ID, Website address and Blog address as they are all available fields
  • Background info is perfect for things that you need to stay visible on the screen of a contact record and not get lost in the note history, this could be information such as a customers preferences, their wifes name, or even their customer number if you chose not to record this as a custom field
  • Remember, you can always undo your last import so if you import the csv and realise you made an error delete the last import, correct it and start again
  • If you use the integration available with MailChimp you can add subscribers or delete them from within CapsuleCRM (remember you must have permission from subscriber)
  • You can use the integrated contact form code from CapsuleCRM to have  your website contacts sent direct to CapsuleCRM as well as your inbox

This is just a very brief overview of some of the things to consider before you press the import button.  If you would like we do offer bespoke training sessions where we can help you work out what you need to do to get your CapsuleCRM set up right for you.  Just give us a call on 01904 890212 to discuss this further.


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