Leads vs. Contacts in Salesforce.com

In my previous post on Using Leads and Contacts in Salesforce.com I gave a somewhat simplistic explanation of the distinction between leads vs. contacts in salesforce.com. When deciding between junk leads and qualified prospects the decision is pretty easy because it’s black and white. Unfortunately, the world is almost never truly black and white, and some companies decide not to use leads at all in their implementation. Ultimately, the decision to use leads in salesforce.com is not a questions of right or wrong. Any consultant you ask this question to will say that it depends on your business, and that is true. However, I can provide some tips from my experience in working with B2B software companies that will hopefully help guide your decision.

Tip #1: Leads offer many benefits for inbound inquiries. If your website is a prominent source of leads for your sales/marketing team, you should use leads in salesforce.com

  • Web-to-Lead, Lead Assignment Rules, and Lead Conversion are all out-of-the-box features that make lead management much easier.
    • Web-to-Lead: a really simple web form creator the generates the code for your website to route leads directly from the web into salesforce.com
    • Leads Assignment Rules: allows you to automatically assign inbound leads to the right people based on geography, email suffix, or any other data point that you capture on your web forms
    • Lead Conversion: this feature allows you to convert Leads to Accounts Contacts, and Opportunities – this is a key conversion point that is important for any company to measure

Tip #2: Leads are not easy to group into one company. If your team is only focused a smaller set of targeted accounts and you want to be able to track your penetration in to those accounts then leads may not be right for you.

  • Many contacts can be grouped on to a single account. This will allow your team to easily keep track of all of the contacts at a given company and see when they were last contacted right out of the box.
  • Accounts will also aggregate all of the activity that gets logged on any of its child object relationships.

Tip #3: Contacts and Account separate company info and person info onto separate records. If you need to easily be able to keep track of how many companies you are targeting as opposed people or opportunities you can only do that with Accounts and Contacts.

Here are a few links to some other threads on the topic:

http://boards.developerforce.com/t5/Nonprofits/Leads-vs-Contacts/td-p/39663

http://success.salesforce.com/questionDetail?qId=a1X30000000ItBqEAK

https://sites.secure.force.com/success/questionDetail?qid=a1X30000000HZbLEAW&sort=newest_oldest

Ori Yankelev
Ori Yankelev
VP, Sales

Ori Yankelev is Vice President, Sales at Own Backup. He was previously a Sales and Marketing Associate for OpenView.
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