The Salesforce Lead Record - dummies

By Tom Wong, Liz Kao, Matt Kaufman

You can use some basic tricks with Salesforce to convert leads into revenue. You need to get your existing leads into Salesforce, organize them in a logical fashion, and update them when you follow up with them.

A lead record consists of a number of fields that you use to capture information about a potential lead. A lead record has only two modes: an Edit mode, in which you can modify the fields, and a Saved mode, in which you can view the fields and related lists.

The standard record comes predefined with several fields. Most of the terms are immediately clear, but if you want specific definitions, click the Help & Training link in the upper-right corner of Salesforce. The following list describes the most important standard fields:

  • Lead Owner: The person who owns the lead. If no one owns the lead, Salesforce can automatically place the lead in a queue. You can then assign the lead to a group of users (for example, “Corporate Sales — West Region”), who can take leads in the order in which they arrive in the queue.

  • Lead Status: One of three required fields on a lead record. Lead Status is a drop-down list of values, and this field is critical if you want to follow a standard lead process.

  • Lead Source: A standard, but not required, field on a lead record. If you use it, you can define and track the sources of your leads by using this field.

Lead sources are the originators of leads that come knocking at your door. These can be related to broad communication channels (a toll-free number, cold call, or web form, for example), more specific types of marketing venues (trade show, print ad, partner referral, and so on), or a blend of both. It’s up to you.

Always remember to balance your desire to get really granular data with the tolerance of the users who often have but a few seconds to customize this field (alongside other fields). And if you really want to track granular details of where leads are coming from, seriously consider using campaigns or a third-party marketing automation tool.

When you first get a lead, you’ll likely want to qualify that lead to make sure that a sales opportunity really exists for you. For example, perhaps you want to be certain that the lead has the budget and a real interest and isn’t just kicking tires.

A marketing-qualified lead is a lead that meets your sales and marketing’s teams qualification requirements to hand over the discussion to a salesperson. Teams in the Marketing or Sales department can own this responsibility.

You’ll have your own definition of what qualifies as a lead, so jot it down, and then seek out someone to customize your lead record. You’ll have greater success with leads if you collect the right information.

Just like eating vegetables may be a reluctant chore for some of you, writing useful help text and descriptions for each field you create is vital to a healthy CRM system. It may seem laborious at first, and you may write terribly unhelpful descriptions.

But fast-forward 6–18 months when new team members are scratching their heads wondering why certain fields were created and you can’t remember why … do yourself and your teammates a favor. Write down who requested a field, and for what purpose.