Get Started with Accounts and Contacts
You need insight into your business and your data and that starts with the people you're doing business with. In Salesforce, you store information about your customers using accounts and contacts. Accounts are companies that you're doing business with, and contacts are the people who work for them.
If you’re doing business with a single person, like a solo contractor or an individual consumer, you use a special account type called a Person Account.
For the purposes of this module, we’ll assume you’re selling to businesses only, and your accounts are all business accounts. But almost everything you learn here can be applied to both types of accounts.
Accounts and contacts are related to many other standard objects, which makes them some of the most important objects in Salesforce. Understanding how to use accounts and contacts is key to getting the most out of Salesforce CRM.
You’re on your way to a meeting with a customer, ABC Genius Tech Consulting. They're a head corporate office of a national company, and you think they’ll love the latest Cloud Kicks sneakers design. You need to brush up on their needs and buying history, and you want to wow them by knowing who’s who at ABC. You can find the information you need in Salesforce.
In Salesforce, the companies that you’ve sold to are Business Accounts. To prep for your meeting, you start by going to the Accounts tab and finding the listing for ABC Genius Tech Consulting. (If you don't see the Accounts tab, check the upper right-hand corner and make sure you've selected the Sales app from the app picker.) Click the account name to view details about the account.
When you open the account record, you see the information collected on the company as a list of records related to it, such people who work there, deals in the works, service requests, uploaded documents, and more.
To prepare for your meeting, you can review the details about the ABC Genius Tech Consulting company and click on anything listed in its related lists. For example, you see that ABC Genius Tech Consulting filed a service case about two months ago. Click the case to learn more about the problem they had with their order.
If you’re on the road without your computer, you can view most of the same account information using the Salesforce mobile app. In the Salesforce app, tap Account, search for ABC, and tap ABC Genius Tech Consulting.
Let’s create an account for ABC Genius Tech Consulting in Salesforce.
- Click the Accounts tab.
- Click New.
- Enter the account’s name.
- Enter all the information you’ve got about ABC Genius Tech Consulting.
- Click Save.
One of the most important things you need to know about a company is who works there and how to reach them. In Salesforce, the people who work at your accounts are called Contacts.
Your contacts at ABC Genius Tech Consulting are Alan Johnson and Leung Chan. In Salesforce, you have a contact record for Alan, listing his employer (Account), email address, and phone number. You have a second contact record for Leung, listing her employer (Account), email address, and phone number.
Because Alan and Leung already have records in Salesforce, you’d find them by clicking the Contacts tab and locating them in the Recent Contacts list, or selecting a view and clicking Go. And because both Alan and Leung are contacts for the account ABC Genius Tech Consulting, you’d find them both listed below that account’s record details. Click Leung or Alan’s name to view the full contact record.
Like an account record, a contact record can have its own related lists of information, such as cases that each contact has filed, meetings you’ve had, or logs of calls to that contact.
Let’s add Alan Johnson and Leung Chan as contacts.
- Click the Accounts tab.
- Click the ABC Genius account.
- Scroll down to find the Contacts related list, and click New to create a contact.
- Add all the information you have about the contact. You’re required to add at least the contact’s last name and to select the name of the account where the contact works.
- Click Save.
Notice that when we discussed Accounts above, we specifically discussed Business Accounts, which are optimized for selling to companies or other organizations.
If you have customers who are individuals, not companies, your Salesforce organization can be set up to use Person Accounts.
Person Accounts let you store information that applies to human beings rather than corporations, such as a first name and a last name.
Person and business account have a few important differences.
- Person accounts are forever. After they're turned on, you can't turn them off.
- If your organization uses both business accounts and person accounts, you’ll have to select which type of account you’re creating whenever you add an account.
- Person accounts can’t have contacts.
- Person accounts don’t have an account hierarchy.
- Establish naming conventions for accounts
- If you don’t already have standards for account names, now is a great time to establish some. It’s important to consider how best to record an account’s name, and how you can use naming to denote relationships between accounts. For example, if you work with multiple franchises, you might need to use names that make sense in a hierarchy but also help you differentiate between two stores with the same name in a similar geographic area.
- Don’t allow orphan contacts
- Always associate contacts with an account. Contacts without accounts—private contacts—are like a forgotten boat adrift at sea. They’re hidden from all users except their owner and system administrators, which makes them easy to forget, hard to find, and useless to colleagues.
- Audit your accounts and contacts
- Use exception reporting in Salesforce to find accounts and contacts without activities
in the last 30, 60, or 90 days.
Or create an “inactive” checkbox field on your account and contact objects, and use mass update to denote inactive accounts. Set up an automated process to mark accounts and contacts inactive for you, based on criteria you specify.
- Handle inactive accounts and contacts
- After you’ve located inactive accounts and contacts, you can handle them in many
different ways. For example,
- Organize an outreach campaign to re-engage with them.
- Exclude them from list views, reports, automated processes, campaigns, and more so you can focus marketing, sales, and service efforts on active customers .
- Maintain active ownership
- It’s hard to actively manage an account if it’s assigned to someone who isn’t using Salesforce. When an employee moves to a different position or leaves your company, assign that person’s accounts and contacts to new owners.
- Keep your records updated
- Use features like Social Accounts, Contacts, and Leads, and Data.com to gather up-to-date information. Make it a policy that all updated data is entered into Salesforce.