associating leads to accounts in Salesforce
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Salesforce is a powerful tool for account-based marketing and sales. For many of the largest B2B companies in the world, it is the go-to tool for managing enterprise sales teams.

But your Salesforce ABM strategy is only as effective as your ability to organize data in a way that makes it easy to identify the most influential stakeholders within an organization and deliver messages that resonate with their personal experiences.

In account-based marketing, your ability to track many stakeholders across an organization and effectively engage with them ultimately plays a critical role in closing new, lucrative deals.

For many companies, account-based marketing represents a more structured way to engage with companies and generate fewer, but more valuable B2B leads for their organization. Companies that embrace ABM find that it outperforms other strategies.

87% of B2B marketers have agreed ABM produces better returns on their investment than other marketing activities.

Many users discover Insycle in an effort to prepare their customer data in both Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience to support their account-based marketing activities through the platform.

One of the primary issues that we see companies running into is appropriately associating leads and contacts to accounts, which presents numerous problems for many companies.

Why Associating Leads & Accounts in Salesforce is Difficult

If you’ve been using Salesforce for any period of time, you have likely run into this issue before. Linking and converting leads into existing accounts is, by requirement, a manual process within Salesforce. It is a common, time-consuming process that needs to be run frequently for most companies. And when you have multiple leads from the same company, converting them manually one by one is a hurdle to productivity.

This problem is compounded if you are importing leads, contacts, or account lists from .CSV files or other ecosystems. If you’ve done this, you probably realize that Salesforce and other Salesforce data transfer tools let you add new records and associate them with companies based on the data in your .CSV file.

But, what if the account name in Salesforce is Acme, Inc. and in the CSV file it’s named Acme. If you try to import contacts in the CSV file you may end up creating an additional duplicate account for Acme linked to the new contacts, instead of associating the contacts to the existing Acme, Inc account.

This is a big problem for account-based marketing and sales operations. Now you have all of these free-floating contacts or leads, unassociated with the company that they work for (or linked to duplicate company records in Salesforce, or even to the wrong company). When your marketing or sales teams go to engage with that company, not only are these people (and their concerns) likely to be excluded from your messaging but if you exclude the wrong decision-maker you could irreparably harm your brand’s reputation with that target account.

In the default Salesforce data model, “Contacts” are directly associated with accounts, while leads are not.

For organizations that implement ABM, the fact that leads and accounts are not linked can cause problems because new leads of existing accounts are not visible from the account record. If you are actively importing stakeholders as leads into both Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience, you won’t be able to link or view them from the account record without making some changes.

Some organizations choose to abandon lead records altogether for that reason only and instead use just the Contacts and Accounts records. Other organizations prefer to keep Leads and Contacts separate because it’s a better fit for their sales process. Your lead and primary contact relationship depend entirely on your internal processes. Both approaches are legitimate and can work well, the right approach mostly depends on your organizational needs.

Another alternative to consider is a simple workaround — creating a custom lookup field for “Accounts” — which you can find more information about at the bottom of this article.

Then consider how complicated these processs become when you have to associate a contact with multiple accounts. With multiple accounts, the difficulty in ensuring all records are accurate rises sharply. 

Insycle can help you to associate both contacts and leads to their appropriate accounts and make sure that no stakeholders are floating in the wind, even when you import lists from outside sources, entered by visitors on your website using forms, or fed into Salesforce from an integration.

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The Importance of Properly Associated Leads in Salesforce ABM & ABS

Ensuring that your contacts and leads are associated with the appropriate companies is critical for success in account-based marketing and sales.

Maintaining a Single Customer View

To effectively engage with leads, you must maintain a single customer view throughout the customer lifecycle. This single customer view delivers one source of truth that your sales and marketing teams can use confidently to engage with stakeholders.

This “single customer view” applies to both leads and accounts. For leads, you want to have a full record of your brand’s engagement with that person. You want to know what matters most to them and how their thoughts differ from the organization as a whole.

You'll want each account to have a primary contact, but also a range of contacts that work that the company.

In terms of accounts, a single account view means full coverage of your activities across the different stakeholders that you engage with at an organization. A free-floating, unassociated contact record or lead may mean conversations are taking place that you are not tracking, impacting future sales conversations whether you realize it or not.

Record-Based Segmentation

With proper association, segmentation becomes a lot easier. Let’s say that you wanted to put together a campaign for people that hold the “VP of Marketing” position at companies in the real estate industry with more than 250 employees.

Without proper association, you’re going to leave some vital stakeholders out of your campaign. If accounts are not associated with leads or single contact records, you cannot query for Account-level properties like the number of employees from within the lead. Further, your account as a whole could be missing out on important messaging and engagement.

Finding and creating campaigns for specific segments of your ABM audience is nearly impossible when your associations are a mess.

Reduce the Likelihood of Duplicate Leads & Accounts

Account associations provide a simple and effective way to identify (both before and after creation) duplicate Salesforce leads, contacts, and accounts in your ecosystem.

With many free-floating leads and contact records, you’ll have to find another reliable set of variables that you use to identify duplicate records.

Keep Sales Reps From Stepping on Each Other

The real problem with Salesforce association issues lies in the culmination of the challenges that it creates organizationally. When you have unassociated leads, they are less likely to be assigned to the correct owner. This may mean multiple sales reps attempting to engage with the same person. Just because a lead is misassigned in the system doesn’t mean that the rep with the assigned target account doesn’t need to engage with them too.

Association problems also increase the likelihood of duplicate leads and accounts, which can also lead to your sales reps stepping on each other.

Clean Salesforce associations allow you to run a clean and effective ecosystem.

Clean Your Salesforce Data

Use Custom Lookup Field to Associate Salesforce Leads & Accounts

Leads are not associated with Accounts in Salesforce, by default. This can be a problem and result in many of the issues we just discussed in the previous section.

Luckily, there is a very simple workaround that will let you, in effect, create that association yourself.

This is done by creating a custom lookup field for Leads. Your account and contact relationship can be defined using this process.

Here’s the process:

1. Create a custom “Lead” field called “Account Name”

This is the field we will use to create the association within the database. Here is the information you’ll need:

  • Field Label: Account Name
  • Field Name: AccountId
  • API Name: AccountId__c
  • Data Type: Lookup
  • Related Object: Account
  • Related List Label: Leads (account)
  • Child Relationship Name: Leads
salesforce leads to accounts association




2. Add the new “account” field to the lead page layout.


salesforce leads to accounts association



3. Add the “leads (account)” related list to the Accounts page layout.


salesforce leads to accounts association


And that’s it!

You can now successfully associate leads to accounts in Salesforce.

Bulk Salesforce Association with Insycle

Now the problem is that even though you can successfully associate leads with accounts in Salesforce, you still have to go through and manually associate free-floating leads by hand.

Unless of course, you use Insycle.

Insycle allows you to associate contacts and leads with accounts in Salesforce, in bulk, using any field for matching between the records.

salesforce leads to accounts association


When you first sign up for Insycle, the system will start auditing your Salesforce data and will generate a report. That report will detail the common data errors that exist in your Salesforce customer data.

The report will analyze your data on a daily basis and keep an up to date record and log of your existing customer data issues.

Included in that report are categories for association. Contacts missing account associations are included, and you can manually add lead to account association to the report using your custom lookup field.

You can also deduplicate across leads<>contacts in Salesforce using Insycle. This will help you to consolidate duplicate leads and contacts and ensure they remain accurately linked.

salesforce leads to accounts association

Improve ABM with Thoughtful Salesforce Association

Making sure your contacts and leads are appropriately associated with accounts in Salesforce is important for account-based marketing and sales. It’s also just a general pain point of many Insycle users.

Using Insycle you can:

  • Associate both contacts and leads with accounts in Salesforce
  • Create associations in bulk and rules for automatic associations
  • Track contacts and leads with missing account associations in the Health Assessment
  • Deduplicate across Lead and Contact records
  • Preview changes before they go live

To get started, fill out the form below then login to your Salesforce account at the Insycle login screen.

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