3 Reasons to move to Salesforce Contacts

Since the advent of ABM, companies have been debating how to best implement it. The most popular debate is whether or not you should use Salesforce leads or a 100% Salesforce contact model when embarking on an Account Based Strategy. There are pros and cons for both architectural models, but I think that there is no single answer to this question. It greatly depends on what your business goals are, your investments in technology and your company culture.

Some data points to be aware of leading up to the decision:

  • Salesforce uses ‘objects’ – leads and contacts, and there are limitations to reporting 
  • Leads is a non-related database to the Salesforce instance, not related to any other data in Salesforce natively.
  • Contacts may or may not be related to Salesforce opportunities.
  • ~30% of all enterprises have an all contact model according to Validity/CRM Fusion
  • Your SDRs or Sales team may be forced to work across two different objects if you have leads and contacts in current format.
  • If you decide to migrate leads to contacts, all lead activity will migrate to the contacts.
  • Lead source fields are natively on leads (and contacts does not have that value) and may be valuable reporting wise to maintain that integrity.
  • Lead status values native in Salesforce (that contacts also do not have natively) – could be built for contacts but lead history might be valuable.

It will be impossible to prescribe a solution to your exact situation as the outcome could vary based on questions that you should ask going into your situation.  So let’s frame up those questions.

  • Business questions
    1. What is your business objective?   Better reporting?  Less time managing duplicates?  
    2. Regarding reporting, are you doing an MQL model, an ABM/MQA model or both?
    3. How sensitive are you to the time your SDRs spend in Salesforce if you make a change to their existing process?
    4. What is the size of the database?   
    5. Are you okay changing how Marketing gets measured at the board/CEO level?  If so, consider moving to a contacts model.
    6. Who is responsible for data governance and how is data maintained?
  • Motions/Model
      1. What is your go to market motion today? (Freemiums – do not move to an all contact model!)
      2. How confident are you that you absolutely know your TAM?   If it is absolutely defined, then consider moving to the contact model otherwise do not move to an all contact model.
  • Technology
      1. What technology have you already invested in (that might be underutilized)?
        • Lead routing software 
        • Deduplication tool(s)?  – this can vary by tool type
        • Lead to account matching
  • Lead routing
    1. Do you have any lead queues set up as part of your routing process?  
    2. How important is round robining leads as part of the process?
    3. Do you have a partner channel?  That could impact how leads are routed.

Today’s Options based on the answers above

  1. Status quo – keep leads and contacts
  2. All contact model
  3. Maintain existing lead and contact model, augment with technology (L2A matching)
  4. Build lead to account matching capability and custom reporting object in Salesforce

Let’s summarize a quick chart of how to think of the options depending on your answers above:

Pro Con
Status quo  

  • No change to people process
  • Ineffective reporting
  • Time lost managing through duplications
All contact model (tech not required)
  • Reporting on one object in Salesforce
  • Some SDR benefit early (when data is good) having aggregated contact data associated to account
  • TAM (in some cases, not all)
  • Scalability for other models – freemium and/or TAM change
  • Contact data over time will go stale, impacting SDR productivity
  • Change to existing sales process (SDR or sales)
  • Routing implications
  • Dupe consolidation
  • Lead source and lead status need a new home
Status quo + tech
  • Effective reporting
  • Minimal change to sales/marketing process
  • Preserves TAM (and can grow TAM if it changes over time)
  • Preserves SDR time
  • Expensive in long run to buy lead to account matching software and to maintain it
Customize Salesforce 
  • Cost effective
  • Scales for any TAM change
  • Maximizes SDR time (fewer clicks)
  • Reporting preserved
  • Enables routing
  • Time to build
  • Expertise to build


There is no one sized fits all or easy answers to this problem.

How are you solving the problem?