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With so many different CRM and marketing automation platforms on the market, there is often confusion on what a lead is and how to use it. This is simply due to differences in nomenclature. If you’re a Salesforce.com user, this blog post is meant to clear up some confusion and review best practices for leads.

1. What is a Lead?
A lead is a person who has showed interest in your company, also known as a prospect. This could be someone who filled out a form on your website, called your business, or perhaps someone you met at a tradeshow where you collected business cards. Think of leads as essentially a holding place for you to continue to build out their profile and determine if they are going to convert into a customer.

2. What is the difference between Salesforce Leads and Contacts?
Every type of Salesforce object (Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities, Cases, etc) is a different table in a database. Or more simply, think of objects as separate columns in a massive Excel file. Leads are a separate object and are not linked to other users. Contacts are associated with accounts, and there can be several contacts per each account.

3. How are Leads qualified?
There are a variety of ways to track leads and a common one is by using the Lead Status field. When a lead is created, it will have a new status, and as the lead is worked by the marketing or sales, the Lead Status should be changed to show the progression of the communication. Ultimately, leads should either be converted to a contact/account, or eventually disqualified once you’ve determined they will never become a customer.

4. When Does a Lead Become a Contact?
As soon as it is determined that a Lead is qualified, then it will need to be converted by clicking the “Convert” button on the lead record. Once the lead is converted, it becomes a contact and is associated with the account (based on the Company field from the lead record). If an existing account does not exist, it can be created during the conversion process. Upon conversion, the lead record will no longer be available, and the user will exist under the contacts tab.
Salesforce lead conversion

5. What if a Lead is not disqualified, but not ready to be converted?
Typically, these leads are identified as not “sales-ready”, which is a great opportunity for the marketing team to nurture the lead until it’s ready. Nurturing leads can be very efficient and effective with marketing automation platforms like Pardot or Marketo. By using other values on the lead record, such as the Lead Status, Job Title, Product Interest, etc, the lead will automatically be sent relevant and timely information. The hope is that over time, the lead will show more interest, can be reengaged by a sales rep, and ultimately converted to a contact.

What questions do you have about using Salesforce Leads? Let me know in the comments below, or give me a call at 866-330-8263.

Jen Stretch

Jen Stretch is a marketing professional with a decade of web-based technical experience. Her core competencies include Salesforce.com and marketing automation consulting, implementation, and training. She is a certified Salesforce.com Administrator with five years of marketing automation experience.

Jen is also a enthusiastic cyclist and applies the same competitive spirit that she has on the bike to push businesses out of their comfort zone and beyond their perceived finish line.

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