Importing New Leads
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a nice tool that imports data from any file that is formatted as a comma-separated value file. You will see people refer to this type of file as a "CSV" file, but the general gist is that every value in the file is separated by a comma, and the set of data ends with a carriage return. The system and wizards can then understand where one piece of data ends and the next begins, as well as when one record of information ends and another begins. This file is also an industry standard, so if you purchase data from another company or if you get a list of leads from a trade show, you will most likely be getting that list in either Microsoft Excel or Comma Separated Value (CSV) file format. If you are familiar with Microsoft Excel, you can save any Excel file as a CSV file. If you use a field separator in your data, such as the comma in Smith, Smith and Jones LLP, you must also enclose the field in a data delimiter, such as double quotes. An example of what a few lines of a CSV file might look like is as follows:
Name, Topic, Phone Number
John Doe, Interested in large purchase, 425-111-1111
"Smith, Smith and Jones LLP", Dropped by booth, 425-333-2222
CSV files separate each value with a comma or each value with a comma and double quotes. The double quotes are nice when you have company names with commas in them, such as the company name Smith, Smith and Jones LLP.
In Figure 6.1, you will see that the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Data Import Wizard lets you choose what separators are used in your CSV file.
Figure 6.1 Data separators.
The other key item that you want to be careful of when preparing or reviewing your data for import is that special characters are not always digestible by the system. For instance, an @, #, &, or * often have other meanings to computer software, and if they are embedded in your data, they can cause the system to literally choke. International characters can also have the same effect. Microsoft Dynamics CRM will check for characters that are not agreeable and will prevent data from being uploaded that does not fit.