What is a Lead in Salesforce?

What Advantages do Leads Provide Your Company?

Whether you’re a start-up or a Fortune 500 company, you’ll need a program that can help you collect, manage, and understand customer data. Salesforce is that program. Salesforce is an online customer relationship management or CRM program. It is designed to offer companies an affordable and easy-to-use program that will improve customer satisfaction. One of the main draws of the Salesforce program is its lead system. Today we are going to go over what a lead is, how to convert leads to customers, and methods of increasing your number of leads.

What is a Lead?

Salesforce defines a lead as an individual who has shown interest in your products or services. The definition of a lead may be different for some companies so establishing a baseline definition is good in order to keep confusion down. How companies determine what a lead is often boils down to the industry the company is in and the products/services the company sells. Think of it this way, a person who would be considered a great lead for a car insurance company may not be a great lead for a life insurance company. It entirely depends on what the company defines as a potential customer. Thankfully Salesforce allows the companies that use it to customize the traits it needs to search for when looking for leads.

In Salesforce leads can be default leads, imported, or created automatically through the use of external platforms. Default leads are created when the information for new contacts is added to your database. If the information for a contact is entered into your database manually it will be considered a default lead. Imported leads can be added to the database by external programs like Microsoft Outlook or other email services, these programs can be used to import your email contacts into the database in order to identify potential leads.

The Salesforce logo surrounded by icons related to what Salesforce can do.

Salesforce can be used to organize lots of user data, not just data related to leads. Image courtesy of Letsdesignblog.

Why You Should Use Leads to Your Advantage

Using leads can be useful to companies for a number of reasons. The main one being that leads allow you to separate your user data into two categories. One for existing customers who have already been converted, and the other for potential customers who have yet to be converted. Once a lead has been identified you can run through the qualification and conversion process, if both processes are successful, you can move that lead’s information over to the customer category and make room for new leads in the lead category. Companies can get the most use out of leads if they use two separate teams when dealing with these two categories of data. Have one team focus on the identification, qualification, and conversion process of leads and have the other team focus on the needs and satisfaction of your customers/clients once they have been converted. 

Another advantage leads can provide the companies that use Salesforce is the ability to filter out unwanted data from your database. Leads are identified based on your set parameters for potential customers. If an individual does not meet these qualifications they are not added to your list of leads. This effectively weeds out the data from individuals that don’t meet your qualifications, which helps reduce the number of people and data your team has to work through to find potential clients/customers. This is how leads save you both time and money.

A graphic that shows people view data.

Allow your teams to focus on what they do best! Image courtesy of Dentsu.

Converting Leads to Contacts

The term conversion can mean different things in different companies, but in Salesforce a conversion is the process by which a lead becomes a contact. The conversion process is the hands-on human process of ensuring that a lead is suitable for the contact/sales team to begin working with. Once again this entire process is designed to maximize efficiency. It prevents the sales team from wasting their time on individuals who have no interest in the company's products/services and allows the sales team to tailor their approach to the contacts that are interested based on the data collected during the conversion process.

We have used the terms lead and contact a lot so to avoid confusion let’s briefly go over what a contact is. Contacts are individuals in your database who have already been qualified and are likely to become opportunities. Basically, they are the people in your database who your sales team believes have a high chance of buying your product/service. The information related to your leads and contacts can be broken down and organized in Salesforce to your company’s liking to provide the most effective experience possible for your scouting and sales teams.

A sales team member telling the customer about a product.

Leads that are converted to contacts are easier for your sales team to work with. Image courtesy of Techbullion.

How to Increase Your Number of Leads in Salesforce

So we now know what a lead is and why they are important to any company selling a product or service. Now we need to learn how to generate leads so we can maximize our number of contacts. One of the best ways of increasing your number of leads is by asking customers who have already purchased your product or service for referrals. If possible, try to offer an incentive for referring a friend or family member. Maybe something like a discount on their next purchase from your company would be a good place to start. 

Referrals are great because no form of marketing is better than a recommendation from a friend or trusted family member. People are much more likely to take the word of someone they know closely on how good a product or service is rather than take the word of a random person trying to sell them something. So long as you're providing your customers with high-quality products and excellent customer service, people will be happy to share their experience with your company with their friends and family.

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