What are the Differences Between Contacts, Leads and Accounts in Salesforce?

Some businesses may rate it as a lead; others may classify it as an opportunity or even a new contact. When there’s a disconnection between sales and marketing, it can be hard to find quality leads, qualify them, and move them further in their purchasing journey.

How businesses organize their leads often depends on various factors, including their consumers’ buying cycle, their business, and what they trade.

For example, B2C eCommerce businesses have a notable short buying cycle. A new lead may grow to a customer in a matter of minutes. At the same time, B2B businesses tend to have much longer purchasing processes. They may need more granular groups like MQL and SQL to know a contact’s lead status for weeks — even months.

To learn these concepts more fully, we’ll look at how they are classified in Salesforce, one of the world’s most popular CRMs and sales platforms.

What are Leads?

In Sales, a lead is the default object produced when you get new contact information in your database. Leads can be imported, but they might also be made automatically through external marketing automation platforms, form submissions, and other inputs. For example, if you unite your Outlook email address with Salesforce, Salesforce may automatically import your email contacts to generate leads.

Conceptually, a lead is a raw, inexperienced prospect — a new individual or company in the system that might or might not be qualified, but one you haven’t tried in the past.

Salesforce will store this individual or entity data, including their title, name, contact information, and company name. You can then utilize this information to personalize any marketing focused toward them to qualify them. Finally, if they’re a good fit for your business, you need to achieve a “conversion,” which we’ll discuss momentarily.

Why Use Leads?

Creating leads is an outstanding feature of Salesforce for one specific reason: It limits insufficient data from accessing your system and clogging up your marketing and sales initiatives. Moreover, leads make reporting more manageable, so you can better examine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

There also needs to be an exact delineation between which targets your sales development reps (SDRs), and your account executives (AEs) focus on. Your SDRs need to be working on pre-sales contracts and potential prospects, whereas your AEs need to be creating contracts with contacts that are already vetted.

The lead conversion process in Sales makes it easier for SDRs to qualify leads ready for your use.

What is a Conversion?

“Conversion” is often a problematic term that gets used among marketers and salespeople. If you’re doing inbound marketing, you may contemplate it as a “conversion” if a website visitor fills a form to receive your blog updates. In some context, you might only consider it a conversion if a website visitor expresses an interest to buy.

Again, it’s not very objective — some businesses have a different idea of what conversions look like than others.

But in Salesforce, lead conversion is a particular process through which leads become accounts and contacts (the differences we’ll discuss in a moment). Lead conversion aims to let the user assess lead data, qualify the information, then “convert” that lead into either an existing account and contact or a new account.

This means the lead has been vetted by an actual human, not just an automated system. Sales representatives can then differ where and when in the sales process they modified from a new contact to a prospect worth selling to.

Contacts vs Leads vs Accounts vs Opportunities

By obtaining a complete understanding of these concepts, let’s disclose them down one by one:

  • Lead: A new business entity or individual that has got to your database. A fresh prospect that you haven’t sold to in the past. Your sales representatives should qualify and vet them before they can move further.
  • Contact: Clearly, in an individual whose contact information is in your database and has been qualified. Typically, they will be a piece of a business or industry you are trying to sell to. Still, they could also be a referral associate or even someone you know in person.
  • Account:  A business entity or organization you wish to market to whose information is in your database. You may have various contacts stored who are all part of the same account.
  • Opportunity: In Salesforce, an option is an arrangement in progress. The lead has been vetted and qualified, and your AEs may be operating with them to solidify contracts.

In the past, marketers began in leads as best they could, and salespeople attempted to close deals. But with the universality of so much good data in the modern sales environment and plenty of sales tools at our disposal, many B2B organizations now try to move toward an account-based sales (ABS) model than a leads-based sales model.

 Due to one research, 86% of marketing and sales professionals declared their B2B companies had begun applying targeted account strategies.

Records are no longer messy or incorrect. New methods and technologies have given sales teams the ability to communicate highly structured data like they never could before. With devices like those possible within Salesforce, sales representatives can access data about several people within the same target organization — almost, all their contacts across a complete account.

Not only does this insight assist in notifying the sales process, but it also enables marketing teams to reach more targeted and personalized account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns than ever before.