Pardot Field Sync Behaviour Change – What to Do Ahead of the Winter ’20 Release

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There will be changes to Pardot Field Sync Behaviour between Salesforce and Pardot, taking effect on October 14, 2019, in line with the Salesforce Winter ’20 release.

You will have received an email last week, calling you to action: “ACTION MAY BE REQUIRED: Important update to Pardot field sync behavior on October 14, 2019”

Depending on how your Pardot fields are currently mapped to Salesforce, you may not need to take any action – but it’s worth checking, and not leaving it to chance!

I have had a few people ask me, what should I do? This post covers just that.

What is the Pardot Field Sync Behaviour Change?

This change is all to do with how Pardot and Salesforce fields behave when mapped together. When fields are mapped between the two tools, you have 3 options for field sync behaviour:

  • Choose Salesforce as the Master
  • Choose Pardot as the Master
  • Choose the most recently updated as the Master

This is great and easy to follow: whenever there’s a difference in the fields between SF and Pardot, you know which one will overrule the other.

However, blank fields are treated differently – known as ‘null value sync’. The fundamental rule to brandish into your mind is this: a field with a value will always trump a blank (null) field.

Currently, if Pardot is the master for a field, and it’s blank, it will retain an empty value – even if the associated lead has a value in that field. After October, any syncing Salesforce fields with ‘non-NULL’ values (basically, Salesforce lead or contact fields that aren’t blank) will be able to overwrite empty Prospect fields.

Reasons to Pay Attention

Aside from automatically populating prospect fields you want to keep blank, the change in sync behavior could have other consequences:

  • Could expose information on forms to prospects.
  • Your organisation may leave this field blank in Pardot to capture this data from prospects on forms.

What Should You Do?

There is some advice provided by Pardot:

“If fields containing empty strings in your Pardot prospects are intentional, replace those empty strings with a value that better reflects what you are attempting to indicate with the empty string (for example, NULL, None, N/A, etc.).”

What I have done is outlined this as a 3-step process:

Step 1: Identify Prospect Fields where Pardot is the Master

Find out which fields are using Pardot as the master. There is (currently) no efficient way to do this – for instance, you cannot export all Pardot fields at once to report on.

On the Pardot Settings tab, under ‘Prospect Fields’, first look at which fields have a reference in the “SALESFORCE.COM FIELD NAME” column.

By clicking into each field, you can see which side (Salesforce or Pardot) is the master.

Record the fields in a spreadsheet, with their field type, especially marking which fields have Pardot defined as the master.

You can make this part of a wider field audit/custom field clean up/Data Inventory project.

Note: don’t forget the default and custom fields are split out in separate sections!

Note 2: you will only need to do this for Prospect fields; Prospect Account/Opportunity/Custom Object fields are all read-only.

Step 2: Consider each field

Consider how each field works, asking yourself the question:

→ Is there a reason we are keeping this field blank in Pardot? (refer back to the “Reasons to Pay Attention” section for a couple of ideas).

Step 3: Update Data via Import

Be careful! Do not do any mass data updates unless you are entirely sure about what you’re doing! Once you have exported your prospect database, always copy and maintain an export of the current data, just in case.

As Pardot suggest, fill in placeholder values for the records that have blank values (eg. NULL, None, N/A), then reimport.

Also be careful of different Field Types involved…

Text fields are simple to work with. For Picklists, you may have to add a new picklist option in Salesforce called ‘[blank]’ or similar – but this is can cause havoc with formulas, automation, and reporting on the Salesforce side.

Remember to monitor sync errors for a few days following any big changes to syncing records.

Summary

I recommend you closely evaluate which Pardot fields you truly want to keep blank. When taking action and you are unsure of anything, seek help from a Pardot expert.

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