Best Practice Roundup: Contacts and Accounts

When it comes to Salesforce, it’s fair to think of accounts and contacts as some of the main building blocks

3 min. read

When it comes to Salesforce, it’s fair to think of accounts and contacts as some of the main building blocks of the platform. After all, many businesses choose Salesforce because they want to be able to track and report data about their customers — and that data takes the form of accounts and contacts.

Given the central role accounts and contacts play in Salesforce’s core functionality, then, it’s essential for users and admins to understand and implement appropriate best practices. To help you get started there, we spoke with one of our experts to gather some of his recommendations. Read on to find out some of his top suggestions.

Account Best Practice #1: Develop a clean hierarchy for your different customers.

Most of the time, an account record represents an organization, and the contacts attached to the account represent individuals at that organization. However, when some of your customers are very large organizations with lots of locations or branches, things can get messy. If all of your sales reps are logging opportunities tied to that single account, you won’t be able to get nearly as granular with reporting — and that can negatively impact your ability to forecast sales and revenue. On the flip side, you don’t want to create a different account for every location, because then you’ll probably find it difficult to track the business you do with the company as a whole.

Your best option lies in the middle ground: Creating an appropriate account hierarchy. For instance, you might break down a larger customer into different regions. That way, a single sales rep could focus on a set of locations grouped in a close geography. This can help create a reporting “sweet spot” that allows you to see larger trends while still giving visibility into rep-level performance.

Account Best Practice #2: Maintain clean account ownership.

In Salesforce, every account must be owned by a specific user, and that user has easy access to all contacts and opportunities tied to the account. In general, this functionality is a good way to make sure the right person has the right access to the right information.

Here’s what you need to note, however: When an account gets created, whoever created it automatically becomes the owner. That means if a sales rep isn’t creating their own accounts, they might not be able to access related information. For instance, let’s say a rep wants to run a report on all open cases on their sales accounts. If they don’t own the actual account records in Salesforce, they won’t be able to run such a report.

The takeaway here? Have a process in place that ensures the right people are owning the right accounts.

Contact Best Practice #1: Create contact hierarchies.

By default, the contacts you create and attach to a given account won’t be related (other than by the fact that they’re all attached to the same account, of course). But wouldn’t it be useful to better understand the relationships within your customer’s organization?

For accounts with several contacts, we recommend creating a contact hierarchy. Doing so will allow you to quickly see who reports to who — valuable information when you’re trying to close a deal.

Contact Best Practice #2: Require at least some form of contact info.

It happens more often than you’d think: A Salesforce user will create a contact record with only a name and a few notes. No email, phone number or other way to contact the person in question. Given that Salesforce is designed to help businesses maintain better relationships with customers, it’s counterproductive to create a record that doesn’t include a way to contact those customers. Communication, after all, is the key to a great relationship.

To avoid this problem, we recommend making certain fields — email, phone number — required when a user creates a new contact.

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Danielle Sutton