Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

Arrow-Tip #16 Can I Import Contacts from Other Contact Management Software into Outlook?

Yes! Often prospective clients tell me that they are ready to make the jump to Outlook with or without HuntressPro, but they are concerned about losing all of the great data they have already input into another software program. I recently spent some time with my good friend Pat Dolen who is making the jump from Sales Logix to Outlook 2007 helping her get her contacts imported and thought you might be interested in some of the best practices we used.

Outlook has an Import and Export wizard (File menu/Import and Export option) which will import standard Microsoft Outlook contact fields into Outlook contact records. This wizard will walk you through the import, but here are some items you’ll want to keep in mind.

First of all, you should pay attention to field mapping which means making sure that each data fields in your import file (such as “Last Name”, “First Name”, etc.) match the correct field in Microsoft Outlook. For example, Outlook has several standard name, phone number and address fields and it is easy enough to make sure that a field called “LastName” in your data file matches “Last Name” in the Outlook import – Outlook will most likely map this field correctly for you automatically.

However, there may be some other fields that do not have an obvious place to go such as “Last Modified Date”. Last Modified Date is a read only field in Microsoft Outlook, so you are not going to be able to import that field directly into the same field name in Outlook, however, you can still import the information. You could use either a standard date field in the Outlook contact form that you don’t normally record such as “Anniversary” or you could import that information into the Notes field. Incidentally, Last Modified Date or Creation Date are great fields to have since they give you invaluable information about the contact.

Also, familiarize yourself with the names of the standard Outlook fields so that you know if there is one you were unaware of that will map to an imported fields. For example, Outlook has a field called “Referred By” which very few people know about because it does not appear anywhere on the standard Outlook contact form (HuntressPro contacts have this field on the General tab).

Next, make sure not to import records into the main Outlook Contacts folder. One of the most frequent complaints I hear from my customers is in regard to duplicate contact records – importing contacts from another program into your existing Outlook Contacts folder can easily exacerbate this problem if not done properly. This is a great time for database clean up so instead of just dumping all of your contacts into your existing Contacts folder, create a temporary sub folder and import them there. This will serve two purposes: 1) if you make a mistake, you can easily delete all records and start again and 2) you can take advantage of the Outlook check for duplicates feature. Make sure to scroll through several contacts before you assume they imported correctly. Once you have confirmed that all contacts have been imported correctly into the subfolder, you can copy them into the main Contacts folder, but make sure that the check for duplicates feature is enabled. You may want to take a look at How to Avoid Creating Duplicate Contact Records as well. Once nice feature of Outlook 2007 is that you can see more in the actual Duplicate Contact Deteced window without having to open the individual records.

Outlook 2007 users will also want to take into consideration that you may not have the ability to import contacts from another Office 2007 program – an interesting challenge that Pat and I ran into. Relax, just save your Office 2007 file to an earlier Office format like 2003 and you are good to go.

Unfortunately, there is no way to import contact information into custom fields created in Outlook or to import historical information into the Journal with the standard Outlook Import/Export menu. These records can however be imported programmatically (with code) – there are a few published articles on programmatic importing of data on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) website or you can call us.

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on January 15, 2008 in the following categories: Add-ins, Arrow Tips, Contacts, Front Page. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


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