Importing contacts and leads using a CSV file

Rather than adding Contacts or Leads manually one at a time, you can add many users by importing a CSV (comma separated values) file that contains the customer's data. The following article goes over the import process, and how to ensure that you seamlessly import Leads and Contacts using the import tool!

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Pro Tip: You will import Leads and Contacts separately to Sell. Friendly reminder, Leads are potential clients that have not yet qualified to become a Contact in your sales process. A Lead will typically become a Contact once you’ve identified more specifics around what product or service they’re interested in, qualifying them to enter the first stage of your Sales Pipeline. For more information on how Sell defines Leads and Contacts, view our article on Leads, Contacts, and Deals In Zendesk Sell.

 Creating the CSV user data file

When you create a list of customers to import, you'll probably generate this list from some other user management system (see Where can I get a CSV file?). Most of these systems have some facility for creating a CSV export file. If you need to create the list from scratch you can use a program like Microsoft Excel or Calc.

Here are some important things to keep in mind when creating your file:
  • The file must be properly formatted CSV and saved using UTF-8 character encoding.
  • Every column in your file should include a label in the first (top) row- the Header - in order for the import to match your data properly to fields that already exist in Sell.
  • If you are not importing data for a field, do not list it in the header row.
  • Line breaks in the header row will cause issues in the import process, so ensure that these are not present. 

The following table lists examples of fields that you can include in the file.

Table 1. User import data
Field Description
first name Customer's first name.
last name Customer's last name. Last Name or Company Name required for importing new Leads. Last Name required for Contacts. 

Customer's full name - can be automatically split into first/last name during the import process. 

Note: Zendesk Sell categorizes Contacts as Person Contacts (Employees) and Company Contacts. The First Name and Last Name fields need to be included in each imported file - we need to know how to name your Contacts. Sell will also give you the option to import First Name and Last Name separately during the import mapping process. Company contacts do not need a First and Last name, only a name under a Company Name field.
mobile number Mobile phone number for Lead/Contact.
work number work phone number for Lead/Contact. 
email address Customer's full email address ( You can give customers more than one email address with additional email fields. 
company name

Last Name or Company Name required for importing new Leads. Customer's company name.

Note: If you'd like to associate Contacts with a company, include a separate column in your file that includes Company Name. Upon importing, Sell will match Person Contacts to Company Contacts, so that your Person Contacts appear as Employees when viewing the Companies in Sell. If you import Person Contacts without mapping a Company Name, these Person Contacts will be imported without an associated Company Contact.
title Customer's job title.
source (Lead) Channel from which the Lead or Deal was created. You can read more about Lead and Deal Sources here. This is a drop-down field, if an existing Source does not exist that matches your imported data, it can automatically be added to your existing list of Sources, and the mapping can be edited to modify the content to an existing Source if preferred. 
industry Customer's Industry to allow you to categorize and filter Leads and Contacts. This is a drop-down field, if an existing Industry does not exist that matches your imported data, it can automatically be added to your existing list of Industries, and the mapping can be edited to modify the content to an existing Industry if preferred. 
notes Notes concerning this customer. Notes can be added to the Lead, Contact, or Deal card as Notes or added to another field, if preferred (like Description). 
street (address)

Customer's street address. 

Note: When importing an address to a Contact, we suggest dividing the specific details of the address into multiple columns in your CSV file. This will allow you to sort or filter by these fields in Sell. You will want to make sure the following fields are separated into their own columns in your file before importing: street address, city, region/state, zip/postal code, and country.

city Customer's city.
postal code or zip code Customer's postal or zip code. 
state/region Customer's state or region.
country Customer's country. (Drop down field)
company address

Address for Customer's Company.

Note: If you’re importing different addresses for Person Contacts and Company Contacts, you'll need to create separate columns in your file that include Person Address columns and Company Address columns. Person Address columns you’ll want to include are person address (street address), person city, person region/state, person country, whereas Company Address columns should include company street, company city, company region/state, etc.
tags Specific tags added to Lead, Contact, or Deal to help categorize customers and quickly filter in Smart Lists and reports. See Using Tags on Leads Contacts and Deals for more information. Separate each tag with a comma.
owner Sell User who owns the Lead, Contact or Deal. 
Customer's website.
embedded link to Customer's Skype account.
facebook embedded link to Customer's Facebook account. 
twitter embedded link to Customer's Twitter account. 
linkedin embedded link to Customer's Linkedin account.
fax Customer's Fax number.
description Add a description to the Customer's profile. 
custom field

Custom fields can be matched to existing custom fields (or created during import). The following custom fields are supported:

  • Single Line Text
  • Paragraph
  • Number
  • Dropdown
  • Date
  • Multiselect
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Address
  • URL

The following table lists examples of fields that are currently not supported during the Import process.

Table 2. Unsupported field types for import
Field Details
custom field

The following custom field type is currently not supported:

  • Checkbox
status (Lead) Lead Status can be updated using our Leads API endpoint.
unqualified reason (Lead)  
customer status (Contact) Contact Customer Status can be updated using our Contacts API endpoint.
prospect status (Contact) Contact Prospect Status can be updated using our Contacts API endpoint.
billing address

This is an additional Address field that is available to Contacts that are associated with a Deal. 

Billing Address can be updated using our Contacts API endpoint.

shipping address  

This is an additional Address field that is available to Contacts that are associated with a Deal. 

Shipping Address can be updated using our Contacts API endpoint.

Additionally, the following suggestions should also help to keep your import under control. 

  • The import CSV data file should not contain more than 3000 rows of data (one row for the header and the rest for the user or organization data) for best results.
  • Ensure that there are no line breaks in your Header row, or the import will not import successfully. 


How do I upload my CSV file to Zendesk Sell?

  1. Navigate to your Settings menu
  2. Select Import.
  3. Select Import New Data.
  4. Select CSV.
  5. Choose whether you would like to Import Leads or Import Contacts and then click Select File to upload your document.
  6. Click Next to proceed
NOTE: Depending on the size of your file, Sell may take up to a few minutes to process your uploaded file.

Import Settings and Mapping

Import Your Data

When importing you'll provide additional details on how you want to import your data and click Next


During the import, I want to:

  1. Add new leads or contacts and make updates to existing leads or contacts - this option will be used if you are adding new Leads or Contacts, while also making changes to Leads or Contacts that already exist in Sell.

  2. Add only new leads or contacts currently not in Sell - this option will be used if you are importing all new data, such as adding Leads or Contacts that have never been imported into Sell before.

  3. Only update existing Sell lead or contact with new data from the import file- this option will be used when you already have Leads or Contacts in Sell that you’re working, but you have some additional data that you would like to add to their records. In order to avoid duplicates and be sure the new data is added to the appropriate Lead or Contact, you will need to select fields that are present on existing leads or contacts in Sell, so we know to match the new data to the corresponding record.

Updating Information:

Whenever you select an option that includes updating existing Leads or Contacts, there will be a choice for, "If data currently in Zendesk Sell does not match data in the import". This indicates that you will be making changes to your Leads or Contacts that already exist in Sell. The fields that appear on your Leads or Contacts can either have an existing value or empty and this indicates that you have the option for the new data from your file to override these existing field values or fill in an empty field.

You'll be prompted to choose:

  1. update only empty Sell fields with data from the import file  - this option will only put data from your import file into existing empty fields, and will not overwrite any fields that currently have a value. 
  2. update all existing Sell data with new data from the import file  - this option will overwrite all field values whether empty or not with the data from your import file. 
  3. automatically create a custom field to retain both values - this option will create a new custom fields (usually called Address# or 

If you’re only updating fields on existing leads and contacts by overriding existing fields, empty or not, with new data, select:

1) During the import, I want to: “Add new leads or contacts and make updates to existing leads or contacts”

2) If data currently in Zendesk Sell does not match data in the import: “Update all existing Zendesk Sell data with new data from the import file”

You will see an additional option if you are importing leads, which you will not see when importing contacts or deals:

If a lead in the import file already exists as a contact in Zendesk Sell:

  1. Do not import it
  2. Import it and create duplicate leads


On the mapping screen, you'll choose the fields that you would like to map each column of data to. If you use the default fields as outlined above, the importer will automatically make suggestions based on the column header.


You'll want to select the correct field to map each column. Here you can also map to custom fields that are already created, or, if necessary, add as a new field.

You may find that sometimes (most commonly with a Contact import) that you may have choices to make. Because a Contact can be imported as a Person or a Company, if your header doesn't specify, you'll be asked to clarify whether you want this data applied to the Person or Company Contact:


Note: If you want the data to be imported to both the Person and the Company, ensure that you have two columns in your CSV file, and it can be imported into both Contacts.

If the importer doesn't have a suggestion, such as a tag field), you can simply click on the Dropdown box to find the relevant default or custom field in your list. Notice that if you have a lot of fields, simply type in the name of the field and the importer will automatically filter the list for you:


Once you have mapped a field, you will see the options to Edit and Ignore:


Clicking Edit will allow you to change your import settings. If you select Ignore, the entire column will be ignore and the data not imported. If you accidentally select Ignore, you can simply click on Import this column to bring you back to the mapping settings. 


Review your Import Selections

This is the final step in the mapping process. Once all of your fields are mapped, you will be able to get one last glance at both your import settings and field mapping parameters, This will show you all of the fields you are mapping and example values from your CSV. If something is incorrect, you can return to the Mapping settings to make a change or click Import to finish the process. 


Where can I get a CSV file?

Most programs let you export your Contacts as a CSV file. For instructions on how to obtain your CSV from a specific source, find your link below. You'll be taken to the support article on how to export your Contacts as a CSV for that program. Don't see your program on this list? Contact Support and we'll help you find out how to export your Contacts.

Google Contacts
Capsule CRM
Nutshell CRM
Sugar CRM
Zoho CRM

Pro Tip: It's a good idea to check for duplicate contact records before exporting your CSV!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How many Contacts can I import at once?

You can have as many contacts as you want in your Zendesk Sell account, and you can import as many CSV files as you’d like. However, we recommend that you do not exceed 3,000 contacts per import. For instance, if you have 5,000 contacts in your CSV  file, it is best to divide it into two separate imports.

Can I assign Leads/Contacts to a User in my account during the import?

Yes. You will want to include a column in your file labeled ‘Owner’ that you will match to the Owner field in Sell. Just to be clear, Owner indicates which User in your account owns a particular Lead or Contact.

Can I undo an import?

All files that you’ve imported to Sell will show a date and time stamp within your Import Settings, where you will also find the option to revert an import. Select Revert Import to remove the data that was included in this file from your account.


Note: If an import contained 1,000+ entries, it may take up to 10 minutes for all data to be removed from your account.