Does your company have a sales team? Does your company do content marketing to create prospect lists?
Does your company acquire prospect lists for your sales and marketing teams?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you almost certainly want to use what Salesforce calls the Lead Object. To put it simply, in Salesforce, “Leads” are people that you want to become customers. By contrast, “Contacts” are people who are already customers or have been qualified by sales as very hot prospects.
Separating “Leads” from “Contacts” in Salesforce essentially creates a safe-haven for sales and marketing activity. For example, it might always be appropriate to send email invitations to leads for special product promotions, but it might only be appropriate for certain Contacts.
Typical Delineation of Leads and Contacts
Why Some Companies Don’t Use the Lead Object
Complexity of implementation – One common myth is that adding a distinction between Leads and Contacts adds additional complexities to implementation. But it’s really just a series o f decisions that Sales & Marketing need to agree on.
They don’t have a B2B business model – Another myth is that companies using the Lead Object are almost entirely B2B. This simply isn’t true. Take the insurance, personal electronics and travel industries as just three examples – each model typically requires a lot of marketing effort to amass large prospect lists (“Leads”) in hopes of enticing them into making a purchase.
They have a pure play eCommerce business – Companies that simply sell through their website or apps, and have no sales team, probably don’t need to distinguish Leads from Contacts. Their marketing programs are typically geared toward encouraging repeat business.
Four Good Reasons to Use the Lead Object
1. A Clear Hunting Ground for Sales and Marketing. It’s common for sales reps to begin working Contacts in Salesforce, only to find that they are customers, partners, or have been sold to before. This problem can be solved in a lot of ways, but when all else fails, the Lead Object provides a clear and simple differentiation between prospects and customers.
2. Accountability. Certain standard Salesforce fields such as “Lead Status” were designed to help sales managers monitor whether the qualified Leads earned by marketers are being worked by sales reps. Without this, getting visibility into problem areas in Marketing and Sales is more difficult.
3. Easier ROI Reporting. As a marketer, you’ll want to report on the number of qualified Leads and Opportunities for your sales team. Distinguishing between Leads and Contacts is an easy way to isolate marketing performance from sales performance. Can you still run reports on Contacts? Of course. But there are a lot of great out-of-the-box mechanisms in Salesforce that depend on the progression of Leads to Contacts and Opportunities.
4. Awesome Apps. A lot of Salesforce apps are built on the assumption that you’re using the Lead Object. In many cases, a great-sounding marketing or sales app simply won’t work if you don’t have any Leads in your system.
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