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  • Writer's pictureCorey Schwitz

Streamline Your CRM: The Best Practices to Merge Duplicate Accounts in Salesforce

Merge duplicate accounts and ensure data integrity with our direct instructions on how to merge duplicates effectively. This article delivers a no-fluff, step-by-step process applicable to Salesforce Lightning and Classic, tackling a crucial operation that keeps your data clean and reliable.

Key Takeaways

  • Duplicate accounts in Salesforce can lead to financial costs, sales inefficiencies, misguided business decisions, and user adoption problems; hence it’s vital to identify and merge them to maintain reliable data.

  • Salesforce Lightning and Classic offer different features and processes for managing duplicates, such as rules, alerts, and the Potential Duplicates component, requiring users to have relevant permissions to effectively execute merges.

  • Third-party tools can augment Salesforce’s native capabilities, offering mass merging options and customizable rules to handle duplicates more efficiently and maintain high data quality across the CRM platform.

Understanding the Roots of Duplicate Accounts

Duplicate data in Salesforce refers to multiple records in the database that describe one unique real-world entity with slight variations. This can lead to:

  • unnecessary costs

  • misaligned sales forecasts

  • wasted sales opportunities due to inefficiencies like multiple team members negotiating with the same lead separately

  • inconsistent customer interactions

  • erosion of trust in the Salesforce data

What’s more, inaccurate reporting and skewed analytics due to duplicate accounts can result in misinformed business decisions and artificial inflation of forecasts. Add to that the cluttered databases and the resulting slowdown of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and you have a recipe for reduced user adoption and hampered productivity.

Indeed, tackling the issue of duplicate accounts is crucial to maintaining a unified customer view for making informed decisions and accurate analysis of customer data. With our system, you can manage up to three accounts, ensuring that duplicate accounts are minimized.

Identifying and Merging Duplicates in Salesforce Lightning

Salesforce Lightning has made strides in managing duplicate accounts. Some features that can help handle duplicates effectively include:

  • Setting up duplicate and matching rules like the ‘Standard Account Duplicate Rule’

  • Activating the rules

  • Configuring alerts to page layouts

  • Salesforce Lightning’s Potential Duplicates component, which is automatically configured for business accounts, contacts, and leads, and can make identifying potential duplicate records more user-friendly.

Sales reps can be informed of potential duplicates through card alerts or temporary toast messages on the record home pages. Duplicate Record Sets, which group duplicates found by rules or jobs, can be accessed through the App Launcher in Lightning or the Duplicate Record Sets tab in Classic.

Duplicates within a Duplicate Record Set can be merged in Lightning Experience by following these steps:

  1. Choose the ‘Compare and Merge’ action.

  2. Make sure that users have the ‘Delete’ permission for the object they are merging.

  3. Ensure that users have Edit permissions on related objects such as Opportunities or Cases.

Navigating Account Merges in Salesforce Classic

For those who prefer the Classic version of Salesforce, the process of merging duplicate accounts involves navigating to the ‘Accounts’ tab, selecting ‘Merge Accounts’ in the Tools section, and following a few steps to complete the merge. However, Salesforce Classic’s Merge Accounts tool has distinct features, such as potentially requiring admin enablement, retaining account hierarchies and chatter feeds from the primary record, differing handling of team members in non-master accounts, and limitations on merging in the mobile app.

There are also special considerations when merging accounts in Salesforce Classic due to a name change or business takeover. In such cases, the name of one account can be edited to match the other, and the primary record’s hierarchy will be maintained in the merged account.

Mastering Merge Rules: Setting Up Your Master Record

When merging duplicates, it’s crucial to select a master record manually. This record becomes the primary record post-merge and retains the master record’s ID. But how can you streamline the process of identifying the master record? The answer lies in creating custom fields named ‘Deduplication Master Record’ within Salesforce accounts.

Having a master record is a powerful tool in the merging process. It not only helps streamline the merging process but also ensures that the necessary information is retained post-merge. With a correct master record, you can smoothly merge multiple records without losing essential data.

Leveraging Salesforce Tools for Merging Accounts

Salesforce offers a variety of built-in tools for merging accounts and managing duplicate Salesforce accounts. One of the key features is the ability to merge accounts in Salesforce, which can be found in the Salesforce Classic UI. The ‘Merge Accounts’ feature is located at the bottom of the Accounts home tab, while individual records have a ‘Find Duplicates’ button for Leads and a ‘Merge Contacts’ button used to find duplicate Contacts associated with the same Account. To perform a merge in Salesforce, users must have the ‘Delete’ permission on accounts.

However, Salesforce’s built-in duplicate identification often relies on a simple algorithm with exact matches on a few fields, which may not provide enough information on the page to determine if the matches are true duplicates. Within Salesforce’s limitations, organizations can only utilize two matching styles—exact and fuzzy—for defining duplicates and are permitted up to five active matching rules at the same time.

The Role of Third-Party Tools in Mass Merging Accounts

While Salesforce’s built-in tools are useful, they have their limitations. Enter third-party tools like ZaapIT, DupeCatcher, and DemandTools. These solutions offer the capability to mass merge multiple Salesforce accounts at once, surpassing Salesforce’s limit of merging only three accounts. These tools extend deduplication capabilities beyond Salesforce’s native options, enabling more efficient management of account duplicates.

Features of these tools include:

  • Intuitive user interface

  • Customizable matching and merging rules down to the individual field level

  • Custom merge strategies

  • Automation of the cleansing process

  • Regular scanning for and auto-merging of duplicate accounts

  • Flexible matching criteria

  • User-defined automation and merge rules

These features make these tools accessible and adaptable to various business requirements, ensuring consistently high data quality and accurate master records.

Streamlining the Merge Process for Person Accounts

Merging person accounts in Salesforce has its unique requirements. To streamline the process, you need to enable person accounts, activate person account matching and duplicate rules, and add the Potential Duplicates component to your person accounts layout. The account chosen as the primary account will retain its record type after the merge, influencing the selection process.

There are also special considerations when you need to merge person accounts. For instance, when merging a customer-enabled person account with a non-customer-enabled one, the customer-enabled account must be the primary record. Similarly, when merging a non-partner account with a partner account, the partner account must be the primary record to maintain its partner status.

Advanced Techniques: Merging Non-Duplicate Accounts

At times, you may find a need to merge non-duplicate accounts in Salesforce. For such cases, a manual workaround is necessary, as there is no built-in feature for this purpose in Lightning. The workaround involves editing the name of one account to match another, creating a pair of ‘duplicate’ accounts, which then allows them to be merged using Salesforce’s standard tools despite originally not being duplicates.

After applying the manual name change workaround, users need to follow these steps to merge the accounts:

  1. Switch to Salesforce Classic, as Lightning does not support direct merging of non-duplicate accounts.

  2. Locate the accounts that need to be merged.

  3. Select the “Merge Accounts” option.

  4. Follow the prompts to complete the merge process.

This manual process can help enable merge accounts and consolidate them, including merge duplicate accounts, when needed due to reasons such as a name change or business rebranding, making it an effective solution for mass merge accounts.

Data Hygiene Post-Merge: Maintaining a Clean Salesforce Database

Maintaining data quality post-merge is a critical step that often gets overlooked. Here are some steps to follow to ensure data integrity:

  1. Update related records to reflect the new account structure.

  2. Add a link to the duplicate job using the Lightning App Builder when necessary.

  3. Review and possibly adjust sharing rules and manual shares to ensure proper data access.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your data remains accurate and accessible after the merge process.

To maintain a consistent communication history, Chatter feed tracking should be enabled for person accounts when merging to retain posts and comments. Remember, the goal is to avoid the necessity of merging duplicate accounts frequently. A little effort in maintaining data hygiene post-merge can save you a whole lot of trouble down the line.

Automation and Efficiency: Tools for Ongoing Duplicate Management

Automation can be a game-changer in managing duplicate accounts. Salesforce provides Duplicate Rules and Matching Rules to automate the prevention and detection of duplicate records, which includes alerting users of potential duplicates or blocking the creation of duplicates. However, customization of these rules or creation of new ones might be necessary to suit specific business needs.

Tools like Insycle and DemandTools are excellent data management tools that can assist in ongoing duplicate management. They ensure data accuracy and reduce manual efforts in maintaining a clean Salesforce database. Services like DemandTools are integral to ongoing data hygiene efforts and are designed to tackle large volumes of data, making them suitable for businesses with extensive Salesforce databases.

Troubleshooting Common Merge Issues

Merging accounts can sometimes come with its share of hurdles. Unique custom fields in non-master accounts can block the process if they have values; these should be reviewed and managed appropriately. Hidden and read-only fields will carry over from the primary record, yet they are not visible during the merge process, demanding careful planning. To ensure a smooth transition, it is essential to maintain accurate account records.

Manual sharing is retained from the primary record, yet sharing rules recalibrate to the merged account, affecting record access post-merge. If you’re merging partner accounts, the partner account must be the primary record, and ownership cannot be altered if combined with a non-partner account.

Similarly, if you’re merging a person account where one is customer-enabled, the customer-enabled account should be the primary record to facilitate a correct merge.


By now, you should have a solid grasp of how to manage and merge duplicate accounts in Salesforce. We’ve covered the root causes of duplicate accounts, how to merge them effectively in Salesforce Lightning and Classic, and maintaining a clean database post-merge. Remember, the key to managing duplicates lies in understanding their root causes, leveraging Salesforce tools, and maintaining data hygiene post-merge. So, take action today and start improving your Salesforce data management practices!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are accounts in salesforce?

In Salesforce, accounts are used to store information about the customers or people you do business with, including business accounts for companies and person accounts for individuals. This helps you manage and track your business relationships effectively.

How do I merge household accounts in Salesforce?

To merge household accounts in Salesforce, search for the primary contact and then click "Manage Household" on the household record. This will guide you through the process of merging the accounts seamlessly.

Under what circumstances would you advise a client to merge accounts?

I would advise merging accounts if the client has accidentally created duplicate accounts for the same purpose or if they have multiple accounts serving a similar function, as this can streamline their financial records and simplify their bookkeeping process.

Why can't I merge accounts in Salesforce?

You can't merge accounts in Salesforce because you likely don't have the appropriate permissions to do so, including managing external users and editing related records like opportunities and contacts. Make sure you have the necessary permissions to merge accounts successfully.


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