Leads OR Contacts VS. Leads AND Contacts: REDUX

Four years ago to the day (whoa!) I wrote a blog that offered an explanation of and considerations for how to organize your Salesforce database in Leads and/or Contacts.  Now that we are irrefutably in the midst of the “Age of ABM” I thought it would be prudent to take another look at this topic considering the new implications of many organization’s ABM initiatives.

Leveraging Leads and Contacts Separately in Your CRM

As mentioned in my last post on this topic four years ago, I am certainly a proponent of using both Leads and Contacts for a variety of reasons.  Most notably, it provides better organization of the database for Sales and Marketing teams alike.  If we have a selling opportunity, then we often create an Opportunity in Salesforce and in turn convert that Lead into a Contact in an Account.  If instead, we are unable to engage that Lead then we disqualify them and they remain as a Lead since, after all, we never really had a chance to sell to them.

Leads and Contacts in Salesforce

A more important consideration for deciding how your organization will leverage the Lead and Contact objects in Salesforce is based on how we can actually track engagement across these Leads and Contacts.  Now when I refer to engagement, really what I mean is the ability to report on how we are interacting with the Leads/Contacts before an Opportunity is created.  For the organizations out there with two-tiered sales org (SDR’s and AE’s), this is even more important because as marketing creates Campaign responses, it’s absolutely critical that we be able to report on and see if / how our sales development teams interact with those people prior to an Opportunity being created.  Did the sales rep follow up, OR are these prospects starting to fall through the cracks because sales development lost sight of them?

Implications on Prospecting and Reporting Your Engagement Metrics

Well, the nuance of Salesforce is that the way we actually report on this engagement is through the use of that “Lead Status” field in the top right hand corner of all Lead records.

Lead Status

As our sales reps engage these Leads they should be updating this status and, as such, it affords marketing a wealth of information to report on, including when and how our reps engage these Leads.  BUT (of course there’s a but), what about those Contacts that respond to our Campaigns?  After all this is the “age of ABM”!  Its 2017!  We’re building target account lists!  We’re marketing to Accounts, and subsequently Contacts!  And for those Salesforce ninjas out there, you’re probably realizing that Contacts don’t have that great “status” field that Lead records do.  So how the heck do we measure engagement across Contacts within target accounts that we’re marketing to??  Some companies create duplicate Leads when a Contact responds to a Campaign, but we all know this is just going to create a bunch of junk duplicate data in Salesforce that will make it even more difficult to accurately report.

The Better Alternative

So what’s the better option?  If ABM is an initiative for your company in 2017, you’re going to NEED visibility and the ability to report on this stuff.  But I digress.  Realistically ABM won’t be the only focus of your overall marketing strategy for 2017.  ABM will likely be paired with a variety of response-based (or inbound) marketing programs.  Therefore, the need for analytics is substantiated by the requirement to be able to measure which approach and what balance of each is best for your company.  To bring it full circle (terrible I know, sorry!), I want you to think about how your database is organized and who you plan to market to in 2017.  Do you have visibility into just the Lead side of the database?  If so you’re missing a huge piece of insight that can impact your ability to effectively market to existing customers for cross and upsell, to nurture prospects that you’ve engaged with in the past and to those target accounts that are a part of that hallowed ABM strategy for 2017.  Realistically you need to look into a process and solution that can provide insight into and report on both sides of your database. I’ll provide you with a how-to and tips in my next post.  And I promise that it won’t be another 4 years!

For more on our views of ABM and RBM, check out our presentation deck and on-demand webinar on ABM vs RBM.

Jay Jennison

About Jay Jennison

Jay works as a Corporate Accounts manager at Full Circle Insights and previously worked within the corporate sales division at Salesforce.com. He attended Duke University for his undergraduate and graduate degrees where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in History and Markets and Management and focused the subject of his Master’s thesis on developmental strategy for third-world economies.