Do you have a list in Excel that you would like to import into Zoho CRM? If your administrator has not restricted your ability to import, the process is fairly easy to accomplish, but understanding the options can make everything go smoother. Watch the video showing how you can import data into your own Zoho CRM database and/or use step-by-step instructions below the video.

First you may need to prepare the spreadsheet

  1. Remove any extra rows from the top of the spreadsheet, like titles or blank lines. Row 1 should be the column headers. Row 2 should be where the data starts.
  2. Make sure that there is a column for any required fields and that it is populated. For example, if you are importing into Leads or Contacts, the “Last Name” field is required. Depending on how you set up your Zoho, “Account Name” (or Company Name if you are importing into Leads) may also be a required field. You can tell which fields are required by looking at a record in Zoho. Fields with red labels are required. Any records in your spreadsheet that are missing a required field value will be skipped on import.
  3. If there are any date fields in your spreadsheet, make sure that you format all date fields with a 4-digit year (mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm). Dates not formatted in this manner will not be imported. (Get more tips below on how to clean up your spreadsheets for importing.)
  4. Once you have the list, you can clean it up to delete records that you really don’t want to come over to Zoho. You may want to rename some column headers and delete other columns that won’t be relevant to Zoho (e.g. Initials, ISDN, Telex, Directory Server, etc.) Definitely look at the values in the columns and then consider renaming the column header to indicate what Zoho field it should import into. For example, is the Account Name stored in Company or another field in the export file? The field names don’t have to match, but it makes the import go more smoothly.
  5. IMPORTANT NOTE: Zoho changed their import mechanics a year or so ago. Zoho no longer automatically creates the Account from a Contact import. When importing a spreadsheet into Contacts (this is not necessary if you are importing into Leads), if the Account Name is not already in your Zoho Account, the Contacts will import with a blank Account Name. So, you now need to Import the file into Accounts first to create the Account Name BEFORE you import into Contacts (when importing into Accounts, be sure to select the Add option based on Account Name so that only new Accounts are added to the database without disturbing the existing ones). You will eventually get an error message about duplicate records being ignored, that is just the ones from the spreadsheet where you had multiple Contacts associated to the same Company. Just ignore the message.

Ok, you are ready to import.

Import your data into Zoho CRM

  1. Click the module you wish to import into (e.g Leads or Contacts or Accounts. You cannot import into Activities, Quotes, Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, or Invoices).
  2. Click the Import button at the top right of the module List view.
  3. Select the first option to Import [module name].
  4. Click the From File option (NOT ‘From other CRM’s’)
  5. Click the Browse button (or use the Drag and drop option) to search for and select the file to import. Click the Open button
  6. Click the Next button when the file has been uploaded successfully.
  7. If you have created multiple layouts for this module, use the drop-down to Select layout to import to use for the import
  8. This next option has 2 parts. Identify which records to import and identify the field (Skip drop-down) that you want Zoho to use to identify matching records. First select which records:
    • Add as new [module name] – Zoho will import the list as new records. If a record already exists in Zoho, it will be skipped.
    • Update existing [module name] only – Zoho will import the list and only update existing records based on the ‘Skip…’ field option you select. When you select this option, you many need to break up your import into multiple files with 5,000 or less records each.
    • Both – Zoho will import the entire list. If a duplicate record is found it will update the current record in Zoho. If the record is not found, a new record will be added.
  9. Then, Find existing [module name] based on – Select options from the drop-down.
    • The first option will always be the [module name] Id This is the system-generated ID that Zoho has defined for the record. You cannot see the ID in any view. You can only see this ID when you export the records. So, if you export the records in some way and then update the field values in the spreadsheet, you can re-import the updated values into Zoho, matching on the module ID field.
    • Any other fields identified as ‘unique fields’ will be displayed. For example, the Email field might be listed for Leads or Contacts. The Deal Name or Product Name or Account Name fields will be unique identifiers offered for record matching in those modules (though you may want to be careful if you haven’t been strict about unique naming). If you created an Accounting ID for the Account records, you could import revenue values based on that field. Unique fields are defined in Setup by selecting the field and editing the property to “Do not allow duplicate values”.
    • If you select Update or Both, you will see the option for “Don’t update empty values for existing records”. You will want to leave this one checked. For example, leaving it checked means that if the record has a Mobile Number and the file that you are importing has a Mobile Number column, but you don’t have anything in it for selected records, it won’t copy the blank field onto the field that has data. Sometimes you may want to wipe out old values, but usually you will want to keep it checked.
  10. Click Next.
    • Column labels in the file will display in the left column. The fields defined for the module will be displayed in the second column.
    • Start by clicking the Apply Auto Mapping hyperlink at the bottom left of the screen. Zoho will do it’s best to match what it thinks are the correct fields.
    • Review each of the selections in the second column for reasonableness. Use the drop-down to change any field links.
    • Click the Unmapped button at the top of the screen to see any remaining file values that should be mapped. Use the drop-down to select the matching field.Map each of the Fields in file to the Fields in Zoho CRM.
    • Any required fields in the database will need to be matched before proceeding.
  11. Notes:
    • Whichever fields you selected in step 9 above, you will be required to map that field.
    • If there are matching fields in the file, but you don’t want to use them to update any records in the CRM, don’t map them and those fields will remain untouched in Zoho.
    • When mapping the Owner field, if you followed the instructions a few pages back for ‘Assigning Record ownership’ to update that field with the email of the User, then you should select Owner – Email as well for the mapping.
  12. Once you have completed all the field mapping, click Next.
  13. Click Yes, Continue to confirm that you know that some fields may be left unmapped.
  14. Final Options
    • Assign Lead Source: This is only available in the Leads module. It allows you to select an option from the Lead Source picklist. Alternately, you could have created a column in your spreadsheet for Lead Source and filled in the values for all records prior to selecting the file for import.
    • Assign Owner: Select Users option to select the desired user from the drop-down list. Select Assignment Rule if you have created one. Assignment rules are good for assigning records based on conditions (State or Zip address fields, product interest fields, etc.). Or select Field Mapping if you created a column in the spreadsheet and assigned ownership with the user’s email login.
    • Assign Tasks: You can select a Workflow Task to be launched against each record if you like. You can read more about creating Workflows in the Automation chapter. In the example above, a Task is created for each record in 3 days to follow up.
    • Add Tags: Add tag to each of the imported records.
    • Enable Manual Lead Approval option is only available when importing into the Leads module. If you check this option, an
    • admin will need to manually assign users to each of the imported records.

Tips on Cleaning Up your Spreadsheets

Want more detailed instructions on how to get your Excel sheet ready for import? I have a detailed, 11-page guide on all of the different ways you can get your data ready for importing.

Happy importing.