CRM Basics : Leads, “to convert or not to convert that is the question”


CRM Basics : Leads, “to convert or not to convert that is the question”

This is a topic I have written about several years ago and wanted to update my thoughts considering the new capabilities of the Lightning Interface. I feel like my title is a little misleading, pun intended, as the issue is not so much about converting Leads it’s more about what to do when you convert them. Perhaps a better title would be is there an opportunity for an Opportunity.

In a previous blog I wrote about Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities. The purpose of the blog was to both identify these terms as they relate to Salesforce and to provide some typical use cases and best practices. In this blog I wanted to reply to a question someone raised as well as dig a little deeper into the issues of Lead Conversion, when to create an Opportunity and what happens when the Opportunity is Lost.

As I pointed out in the previous blog, the Lead object may best be described as a business card as it contains the basic demographic information about someone and the company they work for. Not all companies use Leads but for the ones that do should think of Leads as a short-term container for people that might be interested in your company’s product or service. The emphasis here is that the Lead should be a short-term holding place that should be used for a cursory/preliminary qualification process that will result in either a true sales opportunity or someone whom we may continue to market to in the hopes of selling later.

Some companies’ especially larger ones may have someone or even a separate Marketing department that is responsible for receiving Leads; following up to qualify them, convert them and finally pass them along to the Sales Department. In some cases, the Lead is forwarded to Sales by re-assigning the owner. Your process will likely depend on how large your company is, how many Leads are being processed and how you organize the work load. Leads therefore are typically used for Marketing where Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities are for Selling. I have heard many folks lump the terms Marketing and Sales together but in my opinion Marketing and Selling are quite different things. Marketing should take more of a holistic view of a large group of potential buyers where Sales is more about one specific buyer.

Prior to Converting the Lead, you should make sure that the Account and Contact does not already exist by viewing the potential Duplicates component on your page layout.


Below is the page that displays after clicking the view duplicates link.


Make sure that your system administrator has configured duplicate rules to take advantage of this very useful feature.

Pressing the Convert button on the Lead page will take the information contained on the Lead object and allow you to create an Account, Contact and Opportunity.


Because there may already be an Account, Contact and/or Opportunity for the lead you are converting, Salesforce presents you with the option to either create a new Account, Contact and/or Opportunity or used an already existing one. You are also given the option via check box to not create an Opportunity. There are several Lead Conversion settings that control this process including:

  • Require Validation for Converted Leads
  • Preserve Lead Status
  • Enable Conversions for Salesforce Mobile
  • Hide Opportunity Section of Convert Lead Window
  • Select “Don’t create an opportunity” by Default in Convert Lead Window

These settings should be customized by the system administrator to meet your process and business requirements.

Below is a screen shot of the Lead Conversion page.


As a best practice you should consider using the company name followed by a dash and something that makes the Opportunity name unique like a main product or service. It is also possible to have a workflow rule that updates the Opportunity name based on some pre-determined formula, which is a convenience for users and ensures standardization of the naming convention.

As to the big decision about creating Opportunities during the Lead Conversion, the main thing to consider is your unique Lead to Sales process. As I already mentioned, Leads do all the heavy lifting for your Marketing process and Opportunities are where the rubber meets the road for Sales. The key is do we have what we need at the point of Lead Conversion to create an Opportunity. In my opinion there are several pieces of information that we need prior to creating an Opportunity. If the Lead has “passed” the initial qualification parameters, we should have an idea about what products and/or services the prospect is interested in, an initial dollar value and an expected close date, recognizing that all these can change during the sales process.

The upside of creating Opportunities during Lead conversion is that this step is done for the Salespeople and there is a way to measure and report on “all things Sales” using the Opportunity. The downside to creating Opportunities either by converting Leads or very early in the sales process is that you may wind up either deleting Opportunities (not recommended) or marking a significant number as Closed Lost.

Here are some of the factors to consider when deciding when to create Opportunities:

  • Who qualifies your Leads – Do you have a separate person or group that is responsible for qualifying and converting your leads separate from your Sales people?
  • Are you measuring and/or incentivizing your Lead qualification personnel?
  • How rigorous is your Lead qualification process? The more rigorous and better qualified your Leads/Prospects are, the higher percentage of Opportunities will represent real selling opportunities.
  • Are you using the out of the box Campaign tracking capabilities as the primary Campaign source will be passed along to the Opportunity during the conversion process?
  • How many Opportunities does your company Create? A higher number of Opportunities that don’t represent “real” selling Opportunities would result in many deleted or lost Opportunities.
  • How long is your Sales Cycle?

There is no one correct or definitive answer about creating Opportunities during Lead Conversion. I hope however, that I have provided some points consider and guide you through the decision-making process.

By Ken Erb, Senior Business Analyst/Architect at Nubik

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