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Easy Ways to Add Outlook Contacts to Dynamics CRM

This post is an adjunct to a great post written by a colleague of mine titled, “Extracting Data from Outlook for Dynamics CRM Data Migration”.  In it, he explains 5 methods for getting data from Outlook into Dynamics CRM.  Some of them involve multiple applications that can seem daunting to regular Outlook users who may not be technically savvy.

I’m going to show you 2 simple methods for getting your Outlook contacts into CRM.  I’ve found these options useful to customers who will rely on their salespeople to enter contacts from their Outlook files, which is typical in many organizations. I’ll let you decide which one best fits your needs. 

It’s important to note that you need to have the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client for Microsoft Office Outlook installed in order to use these.

1. ‘Track in CRM’

a.  With Outlook open, click on the ‘View’ menu item, select ‘Change View’ and select ‘List’.  Select the contacts you want to add and choose ‘Track in CRM’. You can either click the button from the ribbon or right-click and choose it from the pop-up menu.

b.  If you have existing accounts in CRM to which you want the associate these contacts, then use the ‘Set Parent’ to associate them to an existing account in CRM. You can either click the button from the ribbon or right-click and choose it from the pop-up menu.  The account name you choose in CRM will become the company name for your contact in Outlook.

Note: If you have multiple contacts you want to associate to an account in CRM, you can select multiple contacts in your list by using the CTRL or SHIFT keys.

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2. The ‘Add Contacts from Outlook’ Wizard

Prepare your Outlook contacts for import

If you have accounts already in CRM and you want to associate your contacts to those accounts, you will have to do steps 1 – 3 to prepare your contacts. This part will require the most time to complete, especially if you have many contacts.

1. Open your Outlook contacts. If you like, you can choose to sort your contacts by company to make this process easier.

2. Get a list of account (company) names from CRM.

3. Match the company names where possible and update the company name in Outlook with the exact name that exists in CRM. (I recommend copying and pasting the name to insure a match).

Add your contacts to CRM

4. Go to the CRM section in your Outlook left navigation pane and click on 'Contacts' (located under ‘Customers’ or ‘Sales’).

5. On the 'Get Started' pane above the grid, click on 'Add Contacts from Outlook'.

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a. If you don't see the 'Get Started' pane, click the little "down arrow" clip_image003clip_image004 in the center of the screen above the 'Search for records' text box.

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b. If you don’t see the arrow, click on ‘File’ in the Outlook menu bar, choose ‘CRM’, then ‘Options’ and on the ‘General’ tab check the box to ‘Show Get Started panes on all lists’.

6. You will be presented with the following window (depending on your version of Outlook, the window might look different). Click ‘Next’.

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7. You should then see the following screen. Click ‘Next’.

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8. You may get prompted about how to select contacts. If so, choose to select contacts based on the 'Company' field. Also, if prompted, choose to associate the new CRM records with existing CRM account records.

9. Next, you will you the screen below. DO NOT CLICK ‘Next’!!! It contains all of the company names in Outlook. The number next to it is the number of contacts in that company.

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a. If it is not already set, click the dropdown arrow to view by 'Company Name'. The other options are ‘Email Domain’ or ‘Categories’.

b. Make sure the checkbox for ‘Use Company Name to be the Account’ is checked.

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c. If you click the ‘Advanced’ link get the option to ‘Include Communications’ and ‘Set the Account’.

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d. Uncheck the checkbox next to ‘Number of Contacts’. This will remove the checkbox from all the checkboxes below it. Check only the company names containing the contacts you want brought in to CRM. If you’re like me, you have some personal contacts in Outlook that you don’t want imported into CRM so leave those unchecked.

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Note: If you've attempted to import contacts through this method or another, you may see some companies whose “number of contacts” are highlighted in green, red or yellow. Green signifies contacts already existing in CRM, red signifies contacts that aren't in CRM yet and yellow signifies that some contacts are in CRM already and some are not.

10. Next, click in the checkbox next to each company that you want to import into CRM. Then click ‘Next’.

a. In this example, we selected AKRO-PLASTIC for import, which shows as having 3 contacts. (Feel free to test the process by choosing 1 or 2 companies as a test and then you can re-run this import process again on the rest of your contacts.)

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11. You will then see the following screen. Depending on how many records you selected for import, this may take a few minutes.

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12. When the import completes, you will see the following screen. It shows that 3 contacts imported yet no accounts because the account already exists in CRM. Click ‘Close’.

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13. Now when you go into CRM, you will see the contacts you imported.

Once you’ve completed the import, the contacts you imported into CRM will be synchronized with Outlook so any changes you make in either system will update the record in the other system.

Note: CRM synchronizes with Outlook at a set time interval. This can be as little as every 15 minutes so it could take up to 15 minutes to update contacts in Outlook with changes made to those contacts CRM.

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