How do you track Contacts in your Lead Lifecycle model?

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How to manage Salesforce Contacts within a Lead Lifecycle process is a never ending debate. In Salesforce, a Lead is someone who needs to be worked–a Contact is someone who is known and belongs to an Account. The issue is Salesforce treats these two differently which poses all kinds of tracking and lead flow process issues.

So how do you track Contacts in your Lead Lifecycle model within Marketo?  There are two modes of thoughts (and probably more) on how to approach this dilemma.  Which side of the tracks do you fall on?

The Challenge

SF treats Leads and Contacts separately. SF provides some great Lead queue views for reps to manage leads through the lifecycle. However, once that Lead converts to a Contact and isn’t attached to an Opportunity, it can become lost in the process because it is no longer a Lead.

In theory, the Contact has been validated and now belongs to Sales. In reality, many reps convert Leads to Contacts and those Contacts get lost within an Account.

Approach 1 – Focus on Leads-Treat Contacts as a Detour

Under this model, the focus is on the Lead. Once a Lead is converted to a Contact, it is assumed the Sales rep is now responsible for working the Contact. If the Contact is not part of an Opportunity, it drops into the Contact Prospect detour bucket awaiting an Opportunity.


  • Ideal for companies with strong Lead processes.
  • Focus on Leads as the priority


  • Contacts become a detour until added to an Opportunity
  • Limited visibility into Contacts progress
  • Less flexibility for tracking Contacts


Approach 2 – Leverage Lifecycle Status Consistently (Lead or Contact is Irrelevant)

This approach uses a single Lead Lifecycle status field that works independently of the SF Type (Lead or Contact). For companies that work Leads and Contacts in parallel, this process gives more flexibility.  Here, reps and marketing focus on the Lead Lifecycle field, ignoring whether or not the person is a Lead or Contact. Only Contacts can have a Won or Opportunity stage.

For example, if a Lead with a Lead Lifecycle status field value of “Sales Accepted” is converted to a Contact, it will still maintain its Lead Lifecycle status value. This will allows the reps to work that Contact just like a Lead.  The big caveat is the Lead will no longer be a Lead in the rep’s standard Lead queue meaning the rep needs to manage the Contact using a different process (Like a report).


  • Complete visibility of a Lead and a Contact within a lead lifecycle
  • More control over what happens to a person (Recycle, etc)
  • People don’t get stuck in the Contact graveyard.


  • Companies and reps must develop strong processes for both Lead AND Contact management. Otherwise, this approach may fail.


 The Verdict

There is no right or wrong answer here and there are many shades of grey.

Which approach works best for your organization? If your organization is meticulous about only converting Leads into Opportunities, approach 1 may receive more consideration.  If your reps like to work Contacts from an Account perspective, approach 2 should be considered. Keep in mind that if you go with approach 2, you must setup a clear process for working Contacts.

What do you think?




Josh Verrill

Services: Strategy, Assessment, Ongoing Services

“RevEngine Marketing has helped Dyn reach amazing results. Within 60 days, REM helped Dyn establish repeatable best practices to improve marketing efficiencies over 50%. That enabled our business owners to focus on the business, not on our system.
With REM as our long term partner, we’ve seen marketing’s contribution revenue double over the past year. REM has helped us achieve success with everything from managing the lead lifecycle to gaining visibility into marketing effectiveness.”


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