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How to format a spreadsheet for an import

The fastest way to get data imported into your Less Annoying CRM account is to import it yourself -- and that means starting with your data in a format that the CRM can read. But whether you're running the import yourself or asking us to take care of your import -- and we're happy to! -- your import file will need to meet some basic formatting standards to be usable. (If you request that we import your file and it doesn't have basically the right format, we'll probably ask you to make some changes before we can work with it.)

One other thing: We've designed our importing process to be as easy and straightforward as possible, but it's understandable if it feels a little nerve-wracking to run an import on your own for the first time! So before we dive in here, keep in mind: an import can always be undone. There is no way you can mess up your existing data with an import, and you can always undo an import if something doesn't seem like it worked right the first time.

Click here for a tutorial on how to undo a previous import

With that in mind, there's really nothing to be intimidated by! Let's spend some time looking at how to make sure it's formatted correctly.

Step 1: Ensure you're importing a spreadsheet of contacts or companies (or both)

Less Annoying CRM's importer tool is designed to accept imports in the form of spreadsheets (vCards, PDFs, Word documents, or other types of files won't work, unfortunately). The preferred format is a CSV (comma-separated values) file, but an Excel spreadsheet file (XLS or XLSX) typically works also. Regardless of where your contacts/companies are coming from (Outlook, LinkedIn, your lead generator, a previous CRM, etc.), the data will need to be in a spreadsheet format in order to be imported.

Furthermore, LACRM can only import contacts and companies. Our importer creates contact and company profiles in the CRM -- it cannot import spreadsheets that contain just tasks, notes, lead information, or other kinds of data. Your spreadsheet must contain contact and company information. Think names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and so on.

Step 2a: Open up your spreadsheet file, and delete unwanted/extraneous data

You'll need a spreadsheet editor to start editing your file -- most people use Excel, but Google Sheets, Mac Numbers, and various options of that kind work fine as well. Start by eliminating any data from your spreadsheet that you don't need. An easy first step is to remove extraneous columns from your file -- if you're running an import, the CRM will ask you to match every column in your spreadsheet with a field in LACRM. If you're asking a CRM Coach to run your import, they'll need to know exactly how you want every column imported, which can really slow down the process. The more unwanted data you can eliminate prior to importing, the more it simplifies the import process.

Take a look at your spreadsheet, and delete empty columns, as well as any columns that contain data that you do not want in your Less Annoying CRM account.

Some spreadsheets also have data broken into multiple tabs/sheets. The importer will only read a single tab/sheet of your spreadsheet file at any time -- specifically. the CRM will only import the first (i.e. leftmost) tab. Any other tabs/sheets will be ignored.

In the example below, only the leftmost tab "Customers" will be imported because it's the first tab of your Excel Workbook, even though you have the "Vendors" tab selected:

In this case, you might want to delete the "Customers" and "Prospects" tabs entirely, if you won't be importing them. You can also avoid confusion by saving your spreadsheet files as CSV (comma-separated values), or by turning each tab of your Excel Workbook into a separate workbook (i.e. Excel file) and then importing each sheet separately.

Step 2b: Add column headers to your spreadsheet (if not already present)

If you downloaded/generated your spreadsheet from another system, it will probably have column headers included by default (this is the first row of your spreadsheet that tells you what each column represents). But if your spreadsheet does not have column headers, be sure to add them in so that you can map each column to the correct field in LACRM.

Your headers must be in the first row of the spreadsheet -- if you have blank rows or any other data above your column headers, delete that extra space/data. The CRM will specifically read the first row of your spreadsheet to find your headers.

Step 3: Make sure you have one contact per row, and one column per field

Now that you've deleted any extra columns of unwanted data from your spreadsheet, and added column headers, you should have a spreadsheet that only contains information you want to see in LACRM. Let's make sure it's formatted the right way.

Our importer tool reads each row of your spreadsheet as a single contact. This means that all the information that you want to see on each contact should be on one row. If you split a contact's information across multiple rows, the CRM won't know which data goes with which person.

If you have four rows of information in your spreadsheet, the importer tool will create four contacts and/or four companies:

Everything in that one row will get mapped to the one contact and/or company. So every piece of information I want to save on Daniel Miller's profile page should be in the same row as his name, email address, phone number, etc. One row, one record in the CRM.

Our importer tool reads every column of your spreadsheet as a single field. This means that every column in your spreadsheet should represent one piece of information about the contact. If you have six columns of information in your spreadsheet, the importer tool will map those six columns to six separate fields in LACRM:

Step 4: Are there columns in your spreadsheet that will not match up with our default fields? If so, create custom fields.

Remember: Every column in your spreadsheet maps to one field in LACRM. There is one exception to this: you can map as many columns as you'd like into the Background Info field, and the all of that information will be stored in that one field as unstructured text/notes. But unless you're dumping a column into Background Info, that column should have a corresponding destination field in CRM account. Every LACRM account starts off with its own default fields. Here they are:

Salutation, First Name, Middle Name, Last Name, Suffix

Email Address (Work, Personal, Other)

Phone (Work, Mobile, Home, Fax, Other)

Street Address (Work, Billing, Shipping, Home, Other)

City (Work, Billing, Shipping, Home, Other)

State (Work, Billing, Shipping, Home, Other)

Zip (Work, Billing, Shipping, Home, Other)

Country (Work, Billing, Shipping, Home, Other)

Birthday

Company Name

Job Title

Website

Background Info

If you have a column in your spreadsheet that will not match with any one of those fields above, and which you don't want to drop into Background Info, you should create a custom field for that column before running your import. (This is why deleting columns you don't want in Step 2 is so important -- you don't need to worry about them anymore at this point!)

Click here for a tutorial on how to create custom fields

Pro Tip: If you have a "Notes" column in your spreadsheet, this column is most often mapped to the "Background Info" field.

Step 5: Run the import!

If you've followed every step above, and your spreadsheet looks something like this (with column headers, one row per contact, one column per field):

...your file is ready for import! Go ahead and give it a try, or let us know if you need help with getting it imported properly. Having a properly-formatted spreadsheet with all required custom fields already created goes a long way toward making the actual importing process a snap either way! For more info on how to actually import the file you've just cleaned up...

Click here for a tutorial on how to run an import

Next up:
How can I import my contacts?
Keywords:
Format spreadsheet, import spreadsheet, CSV